Great River Guys: Silent Reading

Photos_-_Dropbox-3Lee: Welcome to the Great River Guys in the Post.

Doug: Can you welcome people to a newspaper column?

Lee: I just did. Our readers will just have to imagine we’re talking.

Doug: You mean this column is written to be heard out loud? Like dialogue in a play?

Lee: That’s the idea.

Doug: Won’t that be confusing? I mean, when we speak out loud, we use language in a very different way than when we write. Look at that last response of mine – the second sentence isn’t even a sentence. “Like a play?” Where’s the verb?

Lee: Well, had you spoken it out loud, it would have been perfectly understandable.

Doug: Granted, but it’s hard to read off the page.

Lee: Yeah, just like a play by Shakespeare.

Doug: I see where you’re going with this. Maybe we should introduce ourselves and then we can continue.

Lee: Good thought. I’m Lee Gundersheimer.

Doug: And I’m Doug Scholz-Carlson, and we’re here every week to talk Shakespeare, the arts and anything else that catches our eye in Winona.

Lee: Two weeks ago we were talking about fear of Shakespeare.

Doug: So here’s a fun fact, the art of reading silently had to be invented. In ancient times, the only way to read was to look at the text, speak it out loud and listen to yourself. Saint Augustine wrote about being amazed when he met a man who could read without speaking out loud.

Lee: That’s a thousand years before Shakespeare, but even in Elizabethan England, the newspaper was posted in a public place and someone who could read-

Doug: Which was a rare skill-

Lee: Would read it out loud for everyone to hear.

Doug: So when we silently read a play by Shakespeare, we’re not using the text in the way it was intended to be used. It’s hard to understand.

Lee: Just like this column.

Doug: I know musicians who can look at a piece of music and hear what it will sound like, but that’s really hard to do. Musicians will usually hum along as they read, or take the score to a piano to find out what it sounds like.

Lee: Right, so if you got lost the last time you tried to read a play by Shakespeare, maybe you should take it to an acting company and hear what it’s supposed to sound like.

Doug: We’ll talk a little more about why that might help next week.

Lee: Wow, did you just end the column with a cliff hanger?

Doug: Just like a play before intermission.

Lee: So stand up, talk to your friends, get a cookie, and we’ll see you next week.

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