I always found it annoying that teacher’s put so much emphasis on symbolism. That might be why I am so bad at finding it, but I love literature despite my inability to find symbols in everything. I’m more of a character analysis person myself. I mean, look at the works of Jane Austen. The real gold is in the characters and how they interact with each other. Instead of searching out symbols, I think it’s more fun to see step back sometimes and see the big picture.
You always wondered if your college lit professor was just making crap up.
Turns out, maybe they were.
This article from The Paris Review offers a revealing take by many famous authors on how much symbolism played a part in their work.
Their comments were prompted by a letter from a 16-year-old Bruce McCallister in 1963. He was tired of the constant find-the-symbolism game in English class, so he took it upon himself to ask them what the big deal was with symbolism.
He mailed a simple four-question survey to more than 150 novelists. About half of them responded. The responses were varied, but most of the authors seemed to think symbolism is overanalyzed. Their comments were awesome:
The survey included the following questions:
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