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The joke in my family is that I like reruns. From leftover pizza to watching that same episode of “Friends” for the tenth time, I find comfort in returning to what I’ve already encountered.
While this belies a rather conservative streak in my character, I suppose, I have an additional explanation: re-watching or re-reading (or re-eating) can also be a richer experience, deeper and more rewarding the second time round than the first.
Read The Great Gatsby or The Sound and the Fury multiple times, at multiple points in a life, and you’ll find the novels change with each reading, with different scenes or characters or passages standing out at different times.
I was reminded of this idea (let’s call it the Raphael Rerun Principle, shall we?) not, in fact, while I was re-reading a great book, but while I read a sequel to a series I’d loved fifteen or so years ago, which made me want to go back and re-read the originals. In something now called “The Barrytown Trilogy” – The Commitments, The Snapper, and The Van – the great Irish novelist Roddy Doyle created an inexorably full, funny, and delightful setting and cast of characters. It’s the reason I went to Ireland for a week’s vacation in 1997, and returning to all of the lovely people and places in Doyle’s newest novel, The Guts, made me want to go back – to both the country and to his earlier works.
I’m sure that, when I do, I’ll see some things I missed before, and be touched by others that I wasn’t ready to handle yet. The Raphael Rerun Principle is real!