Booking Through Thursday

It does seem like modern fiction just “tells the story” without much symbolism. Is symbolism an older literary device, like excessive description, that is not used much any more? Do you think there was as much symbolism as English teachers seemed to think? What are some examples of symbolism from your reading?

Many other people have answered this question today and have talked eloquently about symbolism, how it is the only quantifier between literature and mere fiction, how symbolism not only exists in modern fiction but is also just as necessary today as it was before. Some say that story is just a story and finding symbolism shouldn’t be necessary.

To some degree I agree with most of the above. However, I think that symbolism is in the eye of the reader – sometimes readers find symbols that the author didn’t put in because the reader and the author are different people and have had different experiences. Sometimes readers can’t find symbols that the author did put in. (I actually think that it would be pretty scary if everybody understood every text in exactly the same way regardless of wealth level, gender, age, culture or country you live in.)

I think it’s easier to pick up on references in older texts because the reader often knows about the myths and classical texts that an older text often refers to. The symbols in modern texts can be different and so require a different knowledge base to see them.

I also think that there’s nothing wrong with just wanting to read and let symbols and references come to you unconsciously if at all. It’s all up to the reader.

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