July 1, 2012 by Peter Gratton
He finds a Zizek quote that allows one to review a book without, um, reading it. And given the his Less Than Nothing is 1200 pages, that’s quite a help:
The same principle of “less is more” holds for reading the body of a book: in his wonderfulHow to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, Pierre Bayard demonstrates (taking an ironic line of reasoning which is ultimately meant quite seriously) that, in order to really formulate the fundamental insight or achievement of a book, it is generally betternot to read it all–too much data only blurs our clear vision. For example, many essays on Joyce’s Ulysses–and often the best ones –were written by scholars who had not read the whole book; the same goes for books on Kant or Hegel, where a truly detailed knowledge only gives rise to a boring specialist exegesis, rather than living insights. The best interpretations of Hegel are always partial: they extrapolate the totality from a particular figure of thought or of dialectical movement. As a rule, it is not a reading of a thick book by Hegel himself, but some striking, detailed observation–often wrong or at least one-sided–made by an interpreter that allows us to grasp Hegel’s thought in its living movement.
I must admit it’s my first thought when reading the quick reviews already out on the book: did they really read all of it?