Elizabeth D. Samet received her BA from Harvard and her PhD in English literature from Yale. She is the author of Willing Obedience: Citizens, Soldiers, and the Progress of Consent in America, 17761898 and Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point. Samet has been an English professor at West Point for over ten years.
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A Conversation with Elizabeth D. Samet, author of Soldier's Heart
Is it possible to be a good writer without being a good reader?
I don't believe so. Many good writers start out as good readers; others I know have had to work hard to become better readers. At some stage in almost every writer's quest to improve reading becomes a central pursuit.
Have you ever belonged to a reading group?
I have never belonged to a reading group per se, but for as long as I can remember I have been involved in more or less formal communities of readers--at home and at school. At first it was my mother, who constantly read books with and to me. Now my reading community consists largely of students and former students, whose insights enrich my perspective on new and familiar books.
What book(s) are you reading now or planning to read?
I usually have several books going at once. Just now the list includes The Letters of Noël Coward, edited by Barry Day; Félix Fénéon's Novels in Three Lines; Jonathan Spence's new history, Return to Dragon Mountain: Memories of a Late Ming Man; and, yet again, Charles Dickens's Great Expectations.
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