with cooperation. by Martine Burgos. – Ed. The Sicamore, 1982 Amount. Descriptions: 422 p. ; 21cm. – (Critical arguments.) 120 F
Jacques Leenhard, director of the group for the sociology of literature at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, published in 1982 the results of a long sociological research on reading. Undertaken for fifteen years in collaboration with the Hungarian sociologist Pierre Joz (who passed away in 1979, he failed to complete the joint work). Reading is primarily a double critical view: reading is taken as a subject and subject of research. ; on the one hand, in the activity of reading a book, the text is transformed through the act of reading; on the other hand, the reading process is read.
Conditions and origin of this research: Jacques Leenhard starts working on Les Choses G. Perek, published in 1965, which poses the problem of reconciling the satisfaction of consumer desires with the desires of freedom. In 1966, the book had already been translated in Hungary, and the idea was formed to see how it was received there; to enable a comparative study between the two countries, a Hungarian book translated in France is part of the analysis: Le Cimetiere de rouille, published in 1962 in Budapest and translated into “Lettres nouvelles” by Denoel in 1966. The selection of the two works is based on the following fundamental analogy : both work on problems that directly concern the contemporary reality of the readers of the countries in which they are produced.
So, to study what happens when a book circulates in very different hands, a sample of 250 readers in each of the two countries was chosen, 250 readers who had not read the novel before.
This is an experimental situation to “clear” the planned field. Indeed, Jacques Leenhard in the introduction recalls the dominant concerns of the sociology of reading that avoided reading a literary work of art (relating to buying books, visiting libraries, spending time, etc.).
Jacques Leenhardt and Pierre Jozsa will use the classic procedure. The 6 samples will be 6 socio-professional categories: engineers, paraintellectuals, employees, technicians, workers, small traders. It is interesting to note the choice of paraintellectuals, ie the voluntary selection of professionals for the text who can in themselves constitute the subject of another research: reading criticism, undertaken only for journalistic criticism during Chapters II (pp. 53 to 68).
The procedure used does not support the literary analysis of the text because the hypothesis was developed to conduct research that the reading process involves knowing yourself and your environment. We explore levels of perception and projection of the process of reading a literary text.
Among the conclusions: 1) it seems that the position of readers in the socio-demographic range essentially orients the options that characterize each of these readings; 2) the comparison of novels, domestic and foreign, emphasizes the distinctive role in terms of opinion, on the reality of the reference: twice as many disagreements about Les Choses en France than in the Rust cemetery; 3) the level of education is twice as discriminatory as age in terms of basic choices of reading systems; 4) it has been shown that the reference proximity, a national novel, forces the reader with a short education to identify, a distant “exotic” novel releases other reading potentials; This is the problem identified by researchers who, noticing that “a reader with a long education surrenders to the ease of flat reading, all enameled with stereotypes when faced with a piece whose referentiality eludes him, wonder why a reader with a short schooling, who lacks references, feels then in a position to embrace the novel from a global perspective? Why, when he interpreted things at the most immediate level of paraphrase, is he released in front of the Cemetery of Rust …? “; 5) we notice that the Hungarians fail to avoid moralization, unlike the French, who are more synthetic and who analyze the novel in terms of the internal causality of the book (which allows the verdict to be suspended).
This book, very rich in new questions, despite the unattractive aspect of the survey results (long articles give a whole two questionnaires) is easy to read for those who are wondering not who reads what, but who reads how.