Tome And Plume: Reading Fuels Your Imagination, Makes Your Felt-Tip Work Faster

Tome And Plume: Reading Fuels Your Imagination, Makes Your Felt-Tip Work Faster

Experts advise students to count more on offline material, develop reading habit, and consult only well-explored online documents

Arup Chakraborty Updated: Sunday, April 14, 2024, 12:24 AM IST
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Spilling gallons of ink over reams of paper will perhaps be insufficient to limn the age-old bond between pen and book.

The day Christopher Latham Sholes fathered a typewriter, authors and journalists fell in love with it. Yet they preferred a felt-tip to a typewriter to edit their keyed copy.

The typewriter keys gradually turned into a writing tool. And authors and editors used to take pride in carrying a portable typewriter.

As Mr Netwarlal or Google Baba was not even in ethereal stage those days, writers and editors used to count on their memory, a giant dictionary, and, on the books, published either by Oxford University Press or by Reader’s Digest or on the volumes penned by well-known authors.

They committed so many events to memory that they could easily rattle off important events. They could point out a wrong preposition even in the moonlight.

There is a saying that to write ten lines, you need to read one hundred pages daily.

Gone are the days, when two friends met each other after a long time, they discussed what they had read. If both had skimmed through the same book, they talked over it.

The two popular terms – voracious reader and book worm – once used for a zealous reader seem to have faded away from the common parlance with the advent of Mr Netwarlal.

Psychiatrists and teachers, however, advise students against counting too much on online documents. They tell them to fire their ache for reading offline volumes.

What experts say

About the habit of reading online books and consulting online dictionaries, professor of English in MLB College, Bhopal, Seema Raizada, says, “It’s more about sacrificing correctness for convenience … these days. The devices, like phones and tablets are so handy and mobile that gives results, alongside pronunciation, usage, synonyms, antonyms – all in one click.”

“So, even if the teachers advise students to consult offline books, I doubt there will be willing takers. Moreover, not all sites may have errors,” she says.

“Teachers can do extensive research and then publish select sites for students to visit,” Raizada says.

“Also, making it mandatory for them to carry a small paperback edition with them. They may be asked to draw comparisons and see the discrepancies between the print version and the online version,” she adds.

“Also, we need to know if the standard print dictionaries fulfil the needs of researchers and students. And are they getting the related matter at one place?” she asks.

Teachers can include book reviews, discussions and script writing in the curriculum, she says.

Parents can encourage gifting of books on important occasions to family and friends, Raizada says.

Consultant psychiatrist at Bansal Hospital, Bhopal, Dr Satyakant Trivedi, says, “I feel students should count on well-researched and branded works including dictionaries – especially the printed ones.”

“On the other hand, we cannot toss away the well-explored online texts. There is a point, though. The online material is easily available, and the students don’t have to work hard to lay their hands on it,” Trivedi says.

“This generally weakens their reasoning power and learning ability. So, parents and teachers should maintain a balance between offline and online material and encourage students to depend more on offline documents than on online texts. They may also be advised to use well-studied online articles,” Trivedi says.

Read books with a critical eye

It is a joy to leaf through each page of Jane Austin’s novel Pride and Prejudice. So, it seems oafish to mention a paragraph that is slightly offbeat in a classic. There is nothing grammatically wrong with the paragraph describing Elizabeth Bennet’s doubts about Darcy.

The vague and unsettled suspicions which uncertainty had produced of what Mr Darcy might have been doing to forward her sister’s match which she had feared to encourage an exertion of goodness too great to be probable, and at the same time dreaded to be just, from pain of obligation, were proved beyond their greatest to be true – Pride and Prejudice, Jean Austin

The relative pronoun ‘which’ has been used twice to qualify two nouns – suspicions and match – and this has spawned confusion. It is not known whether Elizabeth is scared of encouraging her suspicions or the match itself. Yet the novel is unparalleled in the realm of literature.

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