Thursday, May 28, 2015

We read

"We know that we are reading even while suspending disbelief; we know why we read even when we don't know how, holding in our mind at the same time, as it were, the illusionary text and the act of reading. We read to find the end, for the story's sake. We read not to reach it, for the sake of reading itself. We read searchingly, like trackers, oblivious or our surroundings. We read distractedly, skipping pages. We read contemptuously, admiringly, negligently, angrily, passionately, enviously, longingly. We read in gust of sudden pleasure, without knowing what brought the pleasure along.

"What in the world is this emotion?" asks Rebecca West after reading King Lear. "What is this bearing of supremely great works of art on my life which makes me feel so glad?"

We don't know: we read ignorantly. We read in slow, long motions, as if drifting in space, weightless. We read full of prejudice, malignantly. We read generously, making excuses for the text, filling gaps, mending faults. And sometimes, when the stars are kind, we read with an intake of breath, with a shudder, as if someone or something had "walked over our grave", as if a memory had suddenly been rescued from a place deep within us - the recognition of something we never knew was there, or of something we vaguely felt as a flicker of a shadow, whose ghostly form rises and passes back into us before we can what it is, leaving us older and wiser."

Alberto Manguel
A history of reading (1996)

I just wanted to share this passage from a book I am reading as I am finishing up my exam. Soon I can read whatever I want, though I do enjoy finding gems like the one above!

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