Sunday, April 25, 2010

Howards End is on the Landing (II)

Some passages that I would like to take down :

The start of the journey (a year of reading from home) also coincided with my decision to curtail my use of the internet, which can have an insidious, corrosive effect. Too much internet usage fragments the brain and dissipates concentration so that after a while, one's ability to spend long, focused hours immersed in a single subject becomes blunted. Information comes pre-digested in small pieces, one grazes on endless ready-meals and snacks of the mind, and the result is mental malnutrition.[pg2]

There is nothing essentially sacred about a book just because it is printed on paper and bound between covers. Only look at the rubbish available in book form. Some are quickly read, been, gone. You don't read many thrillers twice. Others served a temporary practical need. ..... You don't have to pay its rent just because it is a book.[pg7]

Today's crime novel and police procedural is far more graphic than the detective story ever was and yet there is an exhumation in The Bellona Club which, with its subtle suggestions and hints of little things heard and seen as the men go about their grim work, is somehow, infinitely more unsettling than the full-on description by one of today's popular writers of a headless, handless, disembowelled murder victim.[pg15]

How many thrillers can you re-read? They are disposable, open and shut, throwaway, leave-on-a-train books. To stand up to years of repeated readings there has to be more than blood and thunder, especially as, once you know what happens next, you lose the element of surprise.[pg107]

On my travels round the house in search of just the right book for tonight, I passed so many reasons why the book works as well as it ever did. Tall thin reasons. Huge, heavy, illustrated ones. Small, neat, square hardbacks and pocket-sized paperbacks. Reasons with drawings, with photographs, with colour. Shiny ones. Matt ones. Cheap ones, expensive ones. Chunky ones. Some smell musty. Some have the signature of the author. A few are dedicated by the author, either to one of us or to someone unknown and long dead. Some have pencil marks scribbled in the margin. ......

No one will sign an electronic book, no one can annotate in the margin, no one can leave a love letter casually between the leaves. It is true that if I had no books but only a small, flat, grey hand-held electronic device, I would only need a very small house and how tidy that would be with just a small, flat, grey ... [pg77]

(I wholeheartedly agree with her.)

All writers are asked about their influences and it is hard question to answer correctly because almost everything we read is an influence, and usually quite unconsciously. Other people's ways of writing surface in one's own years later, influences but barely recognisable as such. But a few are known and those few are the ones that strike a chord at the moment of reading.[pg142]

(Isn't it the same? Everything in this world, big or small, obviously or unknowingly, has some affect on us, and eventually shapes who we are. Our very own personality that developed gradually through experiences, is very much a large part from the environment we are in.)

I LOVE THE BOOK. I love the feel of a book in my hands, the compactness of it, the shape, the size. I love the feel of paper. The sound it makes when I turn the page. I love the beauty of print on paper, the patterns, the shapes, the fonts. I am astonished by the versatility and practicality of The Book. It is so simple. It is so fit for its purpose. It may give me mere content, but no e-reader will ever give me that sort of added pleasure.[pg178]

I love her words. They are charming and full of passion. All chapters are fascinating, but I couldn't help to favor Bad Bed-Fellows the most. Intrigued by a novella about the perils and dangers of books and book owning, The Paper House by Carlos Maria Domínguez, the author inevitably made a careful observation on how her books were placed. A tall book shelters a small book, a huge folio bullies a cowering line of Quartos. A child's nursery rhyme book does not have the language in which to speak to a Latin dictionary. Chaucer does not known the words in which Henry James communicates but here they are forced to live together, forever speechless. Does Elizabeth Bowen find Swift congenial company ? If I set Richard Dawkins beside the Oxford Companion to the Old Testament, will there be the sound of raised voices ?

Oh gosh !  Looking at my own bookshelves now, should I re-assess the arrangement to find my books some good bedfellows, the least a companion to have a good starting. The main problem is that I do not have much space to play with. Most of them, willingly or unwillingly, are squashed together tightly to provide more opportunity to add in another fellow. Alas !

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