Herman Wouk's The Winds of War

Response To Literature--

How Should One Read A Book?

While reading Herman Wouk's classic tale, The Winds of War, I came
across several passages describing a young man's vision of Germany.
Although the author supplies me with his ideas, his desire and his
provocative details on how this young Major views Germany at the time of
the second world war, I still find myself wondering and questioning aspects
of the written text before me. Apart from being drawn from my sub-conscious
state to a more subtle and unconscious condition, several questions begin
to from within my mind. Have I ever seen Germany before? What were the
political conditions? What did the SS Stormtroopers look like? What did a
concentration camp reveal? By triggering these sensors and somewhat
emotional queries within me, the author has already caused a clockwork
cycle to commence which will enlighten my reading and eventually create
enjoyment and furthering interests with his novel. This is what Virginia
Woolf focuses her composition about and emphasizes so very clearly

After reading her essay, I came to grasp and understand her theory that
one is best not to accept advice from another on how to read literature,
since the best advice is no advice at all. Woolf expresses the conception
that when one begins to read literature he begins to enter different stages
of interpretation that will ultimately improve his pleasure and
satisfaction. It was obvious to me that I had in fact indulged in forms of
interpretation when reading literature, but it had never dawned on me until
reading Woolf's essay. Whenever I am subjected to something in literature
that is not fully comprehensive, I begin to engage in several different
forms of interpretation. The first stage would reflect much of the
philosophy composed in the essay 'Against Interpretation' whereas I, the
reader, would observe the content and then translate the form. Literature
induces the reader to use his experience and memories to comprehend what a
person, place or thing is and then interpret it. Th econd stage would
involve translating where one begins a comparison sequence trying to link
their past knowledge with the subject introduced by the author. It is this
comparison which creates a variation of ways in which every person reads or
understands literature. Therefore, each individual is different in respects
to forms of interpretation based on their past experiences and knowledge.
It can be true to say that every man is only made up of his memories. I
would therefore agree with Woolf's analogy that there is no greater gift
than that of literature. Somehow, I felt illuminated by obtaining an
insight from Woolf in respects to how man must remain a reader and not a
critic. Every person on this world develops, is raised and educated
differently and it is this difference that makes literature so enigmatic
and complex.

I often find myself so deeply absorbed into a novel that the world
constructed within my mind, through my unique form of interpretation, is so
terribly realistic I cannot stop reading the book. My entire being is
enthralled by the work of this particular author who, through his style and
form of writing, has managed to throw me into an abyss of subconscious
interpretation. Woolf stresses the importance of how each individual
creates different visions and reactions to literature that lead to a
conclusion brought upon their own methods of interpretation. Although my
own method of reading has not been altered after reading her essay, it
allows me to put the whole concept of literature into perspective and how
it affects me in life. I have begun contemplating the different
characteristics involved in creative writing and how every person who reads
literature will analyze it. After all, this is what Virginia Woolf was so
willing to express in her own literature on the rewards of readin book
without discriminating or creating standards for something that involves
freedom, imagination and judgement.