Edmund Wilson on the Pleasures of Literature

With how sure an expectation of solace, amid the turmoil and perplexities of our time, do I turn, when the fires of evening are lit, to my silent companions of the library! Here the din of the city dies away; here the feverish antagonisms of men reveal themselves sub specie aeternitatis. . . .

What a sovereign remedy is a book for the distempers both of the mind and of the body! How it protects us against sordidness and boredom! . . .

O indispensable books! O comforting alternative worlds, where all discords are finally resolved, if not by philosophy, then by art — how without you should we reconcile ourselves to this troublesome actual world?

–from “The Pleasures of Literature,” in The Shores of Light: A Literary Chronicle of the Twenties and Thirties


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