Sunday, February 25, 2007

What you don't know won't kill you.

When I was a junior in high school, my English teacher explained to my class that at Wellesley, they knew how to bluff their way through a conversation about a book they hadn't read. "You read the first chapter, and the last chapter, and then you know how it ends." But, he said, at Harvard they take it one step better. "You read the first chapter, and the last chapter, and one chapter in between. Then, when you're discussing the book, you can say, 'The part that I thought was particularly interesting was where . . . .'"

Mr. White might care to read a new French bestseller about how to talk convincingly about books you haven't read. Sarah Vine offers her two cents on Comment Parler des Livres que l’on n’a pas Lus ( How to Talk About Books that You Haven’t Read), though of course she hasn't read it.

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