cryptic references in literature

I was asked a question about whether literature is filled with “cryptic references intended to baffle the reader” that we never notice.

A good writer can write in a lot more nuances than an average reader can read out. Even those of us who are good readers are often not paying attention. And besides that, many writers write from a narrow viewpoint, so that you have to stand close by to see the same things.

So I’d say that the literature around is filled with cryptic references, yes, but I doubt that most of them are intended to baffle the reader. It’s more that they’re intended to be seen by a particular kind of reader—maybe a rare one.

Original version, August 2009.
Updated and added here March 2010.