Sunday, February 26, 2023

CBSE Class 12 English Flamingo Book Chapter 7 - The Interview - Summary Explanation Q&A

The Theme of the Lesson 'The Interview'

There are two stories in the interview. The first story focuses on how celebrities perceive interviews, with many famous individuals feeling that interviews are an intrusion on their personal lives. In fact, some have never granted an interview in their entire lives. This story highlights the theme of how freedom of the press can compromise an individual's privacy.

The second story is an excerpt from an interview with the renowned writer and academician, Umberto Eco. In this story, Eco shares his effective time management techniques that have contributed to his many successes. He provides insights into various factors that play a role in achieving personal and professional success.

Summary  of 'The Interview'

The lesson commences with an introduction to the interview, which has been a common journalistic practice for a little over 130 years. The author acknowledges that people have varied opinions on interviews, with some valuing it highly, while others despise being interviewed. Interviews can have a lasting impact, and an old saying suggests that one's true identity gets stolen when perceptions are formed. Many renowned celebrities, writers, and artists have criticized interviews, including Rudyard Kipling, who considered it a crime and an assault worthy of punishment. He believed that a respectable person would never request or give an interview.

The article features an excerpt from an interview between Mukund, a journalist from The Hindu newspaper, and Umberto Eco, a professor at the University of Bologna in Italy. Eco had already gained a reputation as a scholar in semiotics, literary interpretation, and medieval aesthetics before turning to writing fiction. The interview primarily focuses on the success of his novel, The Name of the Rose, which sold over ten million copies. The interviewer asks Eco how he manages to do so many things, to which he responds that he is doing the same thing. He explains that his books for children promote peace and non-violence, reflecting his interest in philosophy. Eco identifies himself as an academic scholar who attends conferences during the week and writes novels on Sundays. He is not bothered by being recognized as a novelist instead of a scholar since scholarly work is difficult to reach a wide audience. Eco believes that there are empty spaces, or interstices, in one's life, as there are in atoms and the universe, and he utilizes these moments to be productive. The Name of the Rose combines detective work with metaphysics, theology, and medieval history, making it a challenging read. Eco believes that had he written the novel ten years earlier or later, it would not have seen such great success, and the reason for its triumph remains a mystery.


(Page 69)

1. What are some of the positive views on interviews?

The author contends that interviews are instrumental in uncovering a person's hidden talents, revealing truths about people and events, and serving as a highly valuable form of communication. Interviews offer the most insightful glimpses into our peers and colleagues. In practical terms, conducting an interview requires skill and can differ in purpose, approach, and effectiveness. By asking questions, we can learn about the lives of public figures. It is important to recognize that an interviewer wields significant authority and trust.

2. Why do most celebrity writers despise being interviewed?

The majority of celebrity writers hold a disdainful attitude towards interviews, viewing them as an unwarranted intrusion into their personal lives. They believe that interviews somehow diminish their stature. This sentiment was shared by Rudyard Kipling who regarded interviews as a form of immortality, a crime, and a violation of his personal space. H.G. Wells, who likened interviews to "thumb prints on his windpipe," considered them to be a daunting and trying experience.

3. What is the belief in some primitive cultures about being photographed?

Numerous religious groups have orthodox members who hold a strong aversion to being photographed. Their belief is that taking a photograph of someone is tantamount to stealing their soul and granting the photographer control over their being. They contend that the process of being photographed results in a loss of a part of themselves.

4. What do you understand by the expression “thumbprints on his windpipe”?

Frequently, celebrities perceive interviews as a predatory act, leaving them vulnerable and exposed. Saul Bellow, despite being interviewed on numerous occasions, always felt uneasy. He famously likened the experience to having thumbprints on his windpipe, an assault on his personal being. The interviewer's approach created an overwhelming sense of tension and pressure, making Bellow feel suffocated and as if his windpipe had been constricted by thumbprints.

5. Who, in today’s world, is our chief source of information about personalities?

Interviews have become a ubiquitous feature of modern journalism, and are widely regarded as a highly effective form of communication worldwide. Thousands of celebrities have been interviewed over the years, providing valuable insights into their thoughts, values, and perspectives. Through questioning and interaction, we are able to gain a deeper understanding of their views and receive complete information about their feelings. Interviews offer unparalleled glimpses into the lives of our contemporaries, providing us with vivid impressions of their personalities and experiences.

The Interview Questions and Answers

1. Do you think Umberto Eco likes being interviewed? Give reasons for your opinion.

Mukund Padmanabhan from 'The Hindu' conducted the interview with Umberto Eco, during which Eco remained composed and displayed no sign of disdain or displeasure. He responded to the queries posed to him in a candid and gracious manner, much like V.S. Naipaul. Unlike some who view interviews as an unwarranted intrusion into their lives, Eco is modest and considerate in his responses. When Mukund inquired about how he manages to accomplish so much, Eco simply stated that he is always doing the same thing, similar to Rudyard Kipling. Eco does not perceive interviews as immoral, criminal, or an assault on one's person. Rather, he cooperates with Mukund and exhibits a keen interest in the exchange.

2. How does Eco find the time to write so much?

As a university professor, Eco spends his week attending academic conferences. He utilizes the empty spaces in his life, which he refers to as 'interstices,' similar to the structure of atoms and the universe, to write. For instance, if he is waiting for someone to arrive via the escalator at his house, he would use that time to write an essay rather than remain idle. Consequently, Eco considers himself a scholar who writes novels on Sundays.

3. What was distinctive about Eco’s academic writing style?

Typically, academic scholars create incorrect hypotheses, correct them, and then draw conclusions. However, Umberto takes readers through his research journey, citing all the trials and errors that led to his conclusions. His narrative writing style distinguishes him from others.

4. Did Umberto Eco consider himself a novelist first or an academic scholar?

According to Umberto Eco, he identifies as a member of the academic community. He is a university professor who spends his week attending academic conferences and reserves Sundays for writing novels.

5. What is the reason for the huge success of the novel, The Name of the Rose?

The novel, The Name of the Rose, stands out as a difficult read, setting it apart from other novels. It is a detective narrative that weaves together metaphysics, theology, and medieval history. Consequently, it caters to audiences seeking a more challenging reading experience, though not necessarily all the time. Nevertheless, the reason for the novel's success remains a mystery to this day. Umberto believes that if the novel had been written ten years earlier or later, it would not have garnered the same level of audience reception.

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