Important note::Time limit 2 hours writing from scratch 6 pages
What is to be done? What is to be done? Only those
utterly indifferent to the suffering of others can forestall asking this
question for long.
How—and in what limited ways—might reading and writing be made to matter in the new world that is evolving before our eyes?
–Richard Miller, “The Dark Night of the Soul,” in Ways of
Reading, 422 and 424
Consider the following passage from Richard Miller’s essay “The Dark Night of the Soul”:
makes Into the Wild remarkable is Krakauer’s ability to get some
purchase on McCandless’s actual reading practice, which, in turn,
enables him to get inside McCandless’s head and speculate with
considerable authority about what ultimately led this young man to
abandon the comforts of home and purposefully seek out mortal danger.
Krakauer is able to do this, in part, because he has access to the books
that McCandless read, with all their underlining and marginalia, as
well as to his journals and the postcards and letters McCandless sent to
friends during his journey. Working with these materials and his
interviews with McCandless’s family and friend, Krakauer develops a
sense of McCandless’s inner life and eventually comes to some
understanding of why the young man was so susceptible to being seduced
by the writing of London, Thoreau, Muir, and Tolstoy. Who McCandless is
and what becomes of him are, it turns out, intimately connected to the
young man’s approach to reading—both what he chose to read and how he
chose to read it. (429)
When Miller is writing about Krakauer’s Into
the Wild, he seems to suggest that what we read, and how we read, can
say something about who we are and about what we might become. This is a
very bold claim.
Richard Miller says that Jon
Krakauer as a reader can gain insight into “McCandless’s actual reading
practice,” and, as a result “get inside McCandless’s head” in order to
“speculate” about why McCandless lived and died as he did.
has provided you with an essay that may allow you to “get some purchase”
on his own “actual reading practices.” Choose two or three passages
that—for you–represent Miller’s work as a reader, as represented in
his essay. Use these passages to identify, interpret and illustrate
what you see as his “actual reading practices.” What does Miller do when
he reads? What does he read? And how does he chose to read it?
of a book that made a difference to you, that captured you, maybe one
you have read more than once, maybe one that you’ve made marks in or
that still sits on your bookshelf. Or, if not a book, think of your
favorite song or album or movie or TV show, something that engaged you
at least potentially as McCandless was engaged by London, Thoreau, Muir,
and Tolstoy. What was it that you found there? What kind of reader were
you? And what makes this a story in the past tense? How and why did you
move on? (Or if it is not a story in the past tense, where are you now,
and are you, like McCandless, in any danger?) Imagine this part of
your paper as being part of the conversation about reading that Miller
has begun about “how reading might be said to matter in the new world
evolving before our eyes”?
Finally, pull these
two parts into a complete essay. You can use headings or any other
framing devices that help you make these two parts into one essay on