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Allen Ruppersberg: Certain of His Books

Every good book is essentially a mystery. What secrets might be revealed between the covers? Whose story is it that is being told? Where are we going? How will it all end? Can we ever really understand? Why is so much so easily forgotten? What is it that we are longing to remember? In the introductory notes to his university lectures on literature, Vladimir Nabokov described his course as a ‘kind of detective investigation’. For Nabokov, the ‘good reader’ is an active reader, a ‘re-reader’ endowed with an impersonal imagination, memory, a sense of artistic delight and a dictionary. ‘In reading a book’, he observed, ‘we must have time to acquaint ourselves with it. We have no physical organ (as we have the eye in regard to a painting) that takes in the whole picture and then can enjoy its details. But at a second, or third, or fourth reading we do, in a sense, behave towards a book as we do towards a painting.’