Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Literature enlarges my being

Still thinking about books and what they've meant and continue to mean to my life. So, in words better than my own, I give you these words to ponder:

Literature enlarges our being by admitting us to experiences not our own. They may be beautiful, terrible, awe-inspiring, exhilarating, pathetic, comic or merely piquant. Literature give the entree to them all. Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom realize the enormous extension of our being that we owe to authors. we realize it best when we talk to an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense but he inhabits a tiny world. In it, we would be suffocated. My own eyes are not enough for me. Even the eyes of all humanity are not enough. Very gladly would I learn what face things present to a mouse or bee.

In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in a Greek poem, I see with a thousand eyes, but it still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself: and am never more myself than when I do.
CS Lewis. An Experiment in Criticism, 140-141.

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