We do not know the play. We do not even know whether we are in Act I or Act V. We do not know who are themajor and who the minor characters The Author knows.....That is has a meaning we may be sure, but we cannot see it. When it is over, we may be told. We are led to expect that the Author will have something to say to each of us on the part that each of us has played. The playing it well is what matters infinitely.
The books we read help to shape who we are. Reading offers us, as children, our first independence- allowing us to travel far beyond the confines of our immediate world. Books introduce us to great figures in history, narratives that stir our spirit, fictions that tug us out of ourselves and into the lives of a thousand others, and visions of every era through which human beings have lived. And in the process of stretching who we are, books also connect us to all others- of our own or previous times- who have read what we've read. In the community of readers, we instantly become linked to those who share our love for specific characters or passages.
A well-composed book,' says Caroline Gordon, 'is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.'
When evening comes, I return home and go into my study. On the threshold I strip off my muddy, sweaty, workday clothes, and put on the robes of court and palace, and in this graver dress I enter the antique courts of the ancients and am welcomed by them, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born. And there I make bold to speak to them and ask the motives of their actions, and they, in their humanity, reply to me. And for the space of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexation, fear poverty no more, tremble no more at death: I pass indeed into their world.
« Previous 1 » Next