Monday, February 18, 2008

Loving Books

I was not going to blog about this today, but I can't pass it up.

Each morning I arrive at work about 7:00 AM. I don't have to start until 8:00 AM (though I'm not really on the clock and can set my own hours), but I come in early to miss traffic. That hour becomes mine. I have devotions and a prayer, a somewhat brief time with God, but becoming more meaningful the longer the habit continues. I print out my diary sheet for the day then lay it aside. I tear yesterday off my Dilbert desk calendar and enjoy the new laugh. I check out one or two of the writing web sites I either review or participate in, and sometimes make a post (made two this morning). Then I pull out something to read. For over a year I read a letter in the exchange between Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thomas Carlyle. These two giants of literature would speak to me through their words.

Once I finished both volumes of those letters, I picked up again Life And Letters Of Lord Macaulay, Volume 1, by Sir George Otto Trevelyan, Macaulay's nephew and literary executor. I found this book on Project Gutenberg, downloaded it, formatted it for printing, and printed it front and back. Several years ago I began reading it and read a good way through it, then laid it aside for Emerson and Carlyle. Now, without something new to read, I have picked it up again and read it for twenty to thirty minutes during "my" hour. Today I read (actually reading--I interupted it to make this post) his Feb 8, 1835 letter to Thomas F. Ellis. Macaulay was living in Calcutta, India, and was in the depths of despair, having learned in the previous month that his youngest sister had died in England. He makes this statement:
That I have not utterly sunk under this blow I owe chiefly to literature. What a blessing it is to love books as I love them;--to be able to converse with the dead, and to live amidst the unreal!
I thought that was an excellent observation, and pretty much sums up my feelings. Of course, for me it doesn't have to be "literature" per se. A textbook, and engineering book, even popular novel will do just as well.

Now back to Macaulay, to see what he says to Ellis about Pindar and Homer.

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