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Reading as Protection and Enlightenment in Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief

Webb, Jean (2013) Reading as Protection and Enlightenment in Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief. In: Reading Fictions, October 11th, 2013, University of Glasgow. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

In 2009 the Arts Council England commissioned a report entitled ‘The future of reading: A public value project’ as part of their intention ‘to engage members of the public in a debate about the role and value of reading’ . One of the principal questions pursued was: ‘How do people understand their experience of reading, and the role it plays in their lives?’ Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief pursues such a question through the experiences of the central character Liesel, a German child caught up in the pre-war period in Germany and the associated Nazi activity. Leisure reading for the respondents to the Arts Council project was principally seen as an escape from the activities of normal life. For Liesel the need to learn to read is far more than the means to pleasurable escapism, it is a driving force in her dislocated and disturbed life as she has already suffered tragedy in the events leading to her being placed with foster parents in Munich. She is taught to read by her foster father. This shared night-time engagement is more than the process of learning a skill, it acts as a form of protection and healing from the nightmare of the traumas she has suffered which otherwise torment her sleeping hours. Enlightenment comes for Liesel from the power of the written word which is pursued by Zusak in differing ways through this complex narrative. This paper discusses the power of reading as protection and enlightenment in Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Keynote)
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Uncontrolled Keywords: reading, children's literature, Marcus Zusak, power of reading, fiction, enlightenment, protection
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PZ Childrens literature
Divisions: Academic Departments > Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts
Depositing User: Jean Webb
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2013 11:36
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2016 13:52
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/2760

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