By Dale Salwak (eds.)
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Additional info for A Passion for Books
Speech, conversation, verbal instruction - all these seemed to me then, and sometimes still seem, imperfect, transitional substitutes for the real thing, that higher mode of communication which was so neatly sandwiched between cloth boards and which did indeed, when assembled in sufficient numbers, furnish a room with their agreeable miscellany of size, colour and pattern. This is a discreditable kind of deviance, I am aware of that: Casaubon's Syndrome. It is a thinblooded, less than fully h u m a n lifestyle - a denial of Life, in the sense so obscurely bruited by that obsessive bookman, F.
An addiction? Not really, for the invisible presence of such another world not only makes life itself far more interesting, but makes it more tolerable to live in the ordinary day-to-day one. Books are an escape, certainly; but for that reason they are also therapy for living. 'Escapism' used to be a derogatory term. When I was young it meant a reluctance to confront the stern realities of the real world, the political and social world. There is still plenty of escapism about, but it's seldom called that any more: the term has gone out of fashion.
But now I felt obliged to try, so I turned to and in four months produced a workmanlike job, mostly about my time in the army during and after the war. When published it turned out to be moderately successful, and was certainly no worse, if not greatly better, than the general run of fiction I had to read, many years later, for the Booker Prize. The point of interest is that I had joined, if inadvertently, the Gore Vidal awkward squad: those who want not to read but to write; and in so doing I was not writing as myself, the person I really was, but had invented a persona and a situation which made an excuse for putting pen to paper.
A Passion for Books by Dale Salwak (eds.)