Books Magazine

What Do You See When You Read?

By Robert Bruce @robertbruce76

This Slate article has been making the rounds recently, and it’s something we’ve talked about briefly here on 101 Books before.

That being, how do you imagine the characters in the novels you read?

Do you have a good sense of what they look like? Can you see them clearly in your head? Or is it more of a vague, kinda, sorta image that comes every time you read their name?

If you pick up on specific details the author writes, then you’ll have a decent sense of the character—but do most of us actually formulate images based on what’s written—or just how we want to imagine the character in our heads?

Specifically, for those of you who have read and watched The Lord of the Rings, how do you imagine those characters—and how did you imagine them BEFORE the movies were released?

Having just finished the novel a few weeks ago, I’ll say it was difficult for me to not see Orlando Bloom when I read about Legolas, or Ian Mckellan when Gandalf was mentioned, or Elijah Wood when Frodo appeared.

And that’s a shame, because very little was required of my imagination in that regard.

As this Slate piece says

Incidentally, one should watch a film adaptation of a favorite book only after considering, very carefully, the fact that the casting of the film may very well become the permanent casting of the book in one’s mind. This is a very real hazard.

That’s so true.

The author creates the world in which the characters live. But the reader is in control of how he or she imagines those worlds. Reading is a very subjective experience.

That’s why, sometimes, a movie can hijack your imagination and keep you from having a true reading experience. All that said, I doubt I ever stop watching films based on my favorite novels, but it’s certainly something to keep in mind when I walk into the theater.

Read more over at Slate.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog