Before blogging about Pierre Bayard's How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read (HB ++) I wanted to point to Shakespeare in the Bush, by Laura Bohannon, a text Bayard cites to support his (screen) thesis that readers should be completely unencumbered in their interpretations of books they haven't read. Laura Bohannon is of course something of a fiction, a trope, an author, a persona even, if not a pseudonym (one has to wonder), rather an ideal comic representation of the naive anthropologist. No doubt Bayard appreciates her sense of irony. Were I to summarize Bohannon's essay, I would say the point she argues that is that not only are interpretations of literature culturally constructed, but everything we consider knowledge or wisdom about what it means to be human is also culturally constructed. The phantom Pierre Bayard is no doubt aware of a tension between the ambition of freeing the reader from the restrictions of culture and the desire to embark upon journeys of self discovery. Selves and self discoveries may also be culturally constructed to a significant extent, and culture may be in its own ways an involvement that nourishes the growth of the self, provided, perhaps, that we have some skill in orienting ourselves in our collective libraries (another trope, surely not meant to be taken literally)I'm getting ahead of myself, as I only intended to make a preliminary recommendation to read Bohannan's essay. I'll be on the road again this coming week, after which I hope to take up Bayard's text again.