[W]hen the moralists ask us what good we do by running our eyes over these many printed pages, we can reply that we are doing our part as readers to help masterpieces into the world. We are fulfilling our share of the creative task - we are stimulating, encouraging, rejecting, making our approval and disapproval felt; and are thus acting as a check and a spur upon the writer. That is one reason for reading books - we are helping to bring good books into the world and to make bad books impossible. But it is not the true reason. The true reason remains the inscrutable one - we get pleasure from reading. It is a complex pleasure and a difficult pleasure; it varies from age to age and from book to book. But that pleasure is enough. Indeed that pleasure is so great that one cannot doubt that without it the world would be a far different and a far inferior place from what it is. Reading has changed the world and continues to change it.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
"It is a complex pleasure and a difficult pleasure..."
Virginia Woolf on the duties and pleasures of reading: