Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Quote on True Reading by C.S. Lewis

On August 7, 1921, C. S. Lewis wrote to his brother about staying in the King Arthur Hotel in Cornwall. With nothing else to do there, he roamed into the lounge, where had found quite a few uniformly bound books including a Persian epic poem and Aristotle’s Ethics. This uniformity of binding somewhat perplexed Lewis until he realized that the books were part of a series of "The Hundred Best Books". Lewis went on: “How I abominate such culture for the many, such tastes, ready-made, such standardization of the brain. To substitute for the infinite wanderings of the true reader through the bye-ways of the country he discovers... (from Letters of C. S. Lewis, quoted by James Schall in Another Sort of Learning, p. 242)

As I've commented before, I used to be a slave to lists of "classics to read before you die." Now I've come to peace with my general love for the classics (which allows disdain for a handful of them) and my eclectic interest in other types of books. Hallelujah for the "infinite wanderings of a true reader!"

1 comment:

Kate {The Parchment Girl} said...

Great quote! I used to be a slave to the notion that you have to read certain classics to be considered "well read," but now I realize that the classics of today were the New York Times Bestsellers of yesteryear and I can be well-read without having to read every single major classic ever written. I am free to pursue my love of memoirs, popular history, medical books, Christian living, literary fiction, and general nonfiction. I still read classics, but I don't stress out about it.