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Comfort Found in Good Old Books by George…
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Comfort Found in Good Old Books

by George Hamlin Fitch

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Epigraph
I love everything that's old:
old friends, old times, old manners,
old books, old wine.
—Goldsmith.
Dedication
TO THE MEMORY
OF MY SON HAROLD,
MY BEST CRITIC, MY OTHER
SELF, WHOSE DEATH HAS
TAKEN THE LIGHT
OUT OF MY
LIFE.
First words
For the thirty years that I have spoken weekly to many hundreds of readers of The Chronicle through its book review columns, it has been my constant aim to preach the doctrine of the importance of cultivating the habit of reading good books, as the chief resource in time of trouble or sickness.
Quotations
Don't take up a magazine or a newspaper when you have fifteen minutes or a half hour of leisure alone in your room. Keep a good book and make it a habit to read so many pages in the time that is your own.
To develop appreciation of Shakespeare I would advise reading the plays aloud. In no other way will you be able to savor the beauty and the melody of the blank verse.
Don Quixote is a man who is absolutely out of touch with the world in which he moves, but while you laugh at his absurd misconceptions you feel for him the deepest respect; you would no more laugh at the man himself than you would at poor unfortunate Lear. The idealistic quality of Don Quixote himself is enhanced by the swinish nature of Sancho Panza, who cannot understand any of his master's raptures. Into this character of the sorrowful-faced knight Cervantes put all the results of his own hard experience. The old knight is often pessimistic, but it is a genial pessimism that makes one smile; while running through the whole book is a modern note that can be found in no other book written in the early days of the seventeenth century.
Behind every great book is a man greater than his written words, who speaks to us in tones that can be heard only by those whose souls are in tune with his. In other words, a great book is like a fine opera—it appeals only to those whose ears are trained to enjoy the harmonies of its music and the beauty of its words. Such a book is lost on one who reads only the things of the day and whose mind has never been cultivated to appreciate the beauty of spiritual aspiration, just as the finest strains of the greatest opera, sung by a Caruso or a Calve, fail to appeal to the one who prefers ragtime to real music.
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