Friday 5 April 2013

Alberto Manguel on.... Reading Aloud

The Library of the Palais Lanckoronski, Vienna (1881) - Rudolph von Alt

"The humanist teacher Battista Guarino, son of the celebrated humanist Guarino Veronese, insisted that readers should not peruse the page silently "or mumble under their breath, for it so often happens that someone who can't hear himself will skip over numerous verses as though he were something else.  Reading out loud is of no small benefit to the understanding, since of course what sounds like a voice from outside makes our ears spur the mind sharply to attention."  According to Guarino, uttering the words even helps the reader's digestion, because it "increases heat and thins the blood, clean out all the veins and opens the arteries, and allows no unnecessary moisture to stand motionless in those vessels which take in and digest food."  Digestion of words as well; I often read aloud to myself in my writing corner in the library, where no one can hear me, for the sake of better savouring the text, so as to make it all the more mine."

--- Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night, p.179


  1. But I read mostly when I'm outside, so I'd feel silly if people heard me read aloud :)

  2. Wasn't Dickens one of many writers who declaimed as they walked on long country tramps, returning after many miles to write down what they had composed? My own 'acid test' for creative writing is to read it aloud. When spoken, the 'uncomfortable lumps and bumps' of language become apparent whereas, read silently, they can hide away.

  3. I like this series, Simon. I must get this book as it sounds really interesting.
    About reading aloud, I personally prefer reading in silence. I think it’s more enjoyable and (for me) definitely less stressful. Few years ago I had an English teacher who made me read books out loud to him, so I can practise the pronunciation and improve my accent. He used to pick a different book each week and it was a good way to learn about new books (and I really enjoyed it), but I didn’t really like the idea of reading aloud. It didn’t really help with my accent either. But I think I’m quite shy and don’t like reading anything aloud even if nobody is listening or if I read something in Polish, when I don’t need to worry about accent or pronunciation. (It looks like I’m a really weird person)
    However I can imagine that for writers it’s a good way to improve their works and spot the mistekes.

    1. The books is so thought-provoking, Agnieszka! I've been savouring it for about two years now...

      I don't do much reading aloud, but once or twice I have read Shakespeare aloud with friends, and it's so fun! Especially if nobody is taking themselves too seriously.


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