I’m a big fan of re-reading. I don’t do it often, but each time I do it, I remember the self that was and realize some pretty cool things about the self that is. Like, when I first read Doomsday Book by Connie Willis? I had just started high school, and the travails of Kivrin, the grad student mistakenly transported to the eve of the Black Plague resonated really strongly my angsty adolescent self. I was at the right age to really over-identify with her cultural confusion, her isolation, and her wait for an adult to come help her. Now, when I re-read it? I’m Mr. Dunworthy, her elderly, single advisor racing against the clock to save her life. Even though I’m in graduate school now, like Kivrin, the panicky desire to save my students is ever-present.
PandoraKyss at LJ talks about similar things while reflecting on the multiple times he’s read Cry to Heaven , Anne Rice’s novel on Italian castratos, love, and revenge. PK first the novel over 10 years ago; re-reading it revealed some intense, new truths about his present relationships. More importantly, it became a way for young!PK to meet grown-up!PK. He writes:
But as I read reading it, something changed. It didn’t feel like a common story anymore; it didn’t have the same jubilance that it started out with. I found that I had related to Tonio, and to many of the other characters. And when these characters began getting torn apart, a change settled. Tonio and Guido’s love for eachother, for example. When I began reading about them, I was reminded of my own love, and smiled and felt rapturous when they made love, when they passionately discussed music. Even when Guido struck Tonio for Tonio’s indignation; I felt love. But, and I say this with the utmost of sincerity and desire to not sound like an emotional wreck. As this book continued, I began to almost hate it as much as I loved it. I did not hate it because it was a bad book, or a boring book. I hated it because suddenly my own pain began to surface inside of me.