Monday, March 11, 2013

The curse of the classics

Reading fiction is not a rationalistic act of enlightenment. Like life itself, reading novels has no definite final outcome, except The End. We are always changing throughout this campaign of page turning and our literary memories shapeshift too. Every book we read in some way nudges our stubborn psychological DNA into reaction and affects our impressions of the book we read before and the one we shall read after.

I have an aversion to being told what I should like or dislike so I abandoned reviews, critical consensus and the judgment of others long ago. For my answers I go where I always have - to second- hand bookshops. Meandering, you browse free of any concepts of canons and frantic opinions; the novels are refreshingly free of any order and the browser is exposed to a book display of random chance rather than of cultural weight, media promotion or the latest fad. The full variety and the exhilaration of all that humanity has written down can be right there. Or just Harold Robbins' complete works and 13 copies of Goldfinger. It is up to each of us to conclude which books we should not be reading. We might be missing out on something important, so we cannot trust anyone but ourselves. Let us not say we should celebrate a few select books. I say: profusion, abundance, read more, more, more!
--Alan Warner, The Curse of the Classics


  1. I linked to this article back in 2005 (I spotted it in my archives), but I didn't showcase this part!

  2. I love this. Book disarray is precisely why I love second hand book shops so much!

  3. I especially like the part about profusion.


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