Why Read?

Our Motto:

As for the enjoyment which is derived by a really discerning mind and a truly living heart from a thought beautifully expressed in the writings of a great writer, this is no doubt an entirely wholesome enjoyment, but, precious though the men may be who are truly capable of enjoying this pleasure–and how many of them are there in a generation?–they are nevertheless in the very process reduced to being no more than the full consciousness of another…he has added to it nothing…(VI,296)

I suppose that may characterize the limits of what you read here. I am cheered, though, when a page or two later Proust sees more value for the soul when reading others.

Through art alone are we able to emerge from ourselves, to know what another person sees of a universe which is not the same as our own and of which, without art, the landscapes would remain as unknown to us as those that may exist on the moon. Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world only, our own, we see that world multiply itself and we have at our disposal as many worlds as there are original artists, worlds more different one from the other than those which revolve in  infinite space, worlds which, centuries after the extinction of the fire from which their light first emanated, whether it is called Rembrandt or Vermeer, send us still each one its special radiance. (VI,299)

I would also add that reading or viewing or listening leaves our soul primed to feel more deeply.


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2 Responses to “Why Read?”

  1. Yefim Tovbis Says:

    Maybe we take a half of a step more than necessary in trying to define the purpose of art? Should reading, viewing or listening serve some goal and not just evoke by themselves that deeper feeling – the feeling that actually makes our lives human?

  2. Jim Everett Says:

    I think Proust would agree with you. That realization is the heart of his epiphany, portrayed in this section of the novel.

    If you are referring, however, to the humble author of this blog, I can only say they the key to my deeper feelings is in the way I read Proust and make selections you read here.

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