“Any man is more than the greatest of books!”

What a hell of horror, I thought, to wander alone, a bare existence never going out of itself, never widening its life in another life, but, bound with the cords of its poor peculiarities, lying an eternal prisoner in the dungeon of its own being!…I sighed—and regarded with wonder my past self, which preferred the company of a book or pen to that of man or woman; which, if the author of a tale I was enjoying appeared, would wish him away that I might return to his story. I had chosen the dead rather than the living, the thing thought rather than the thing thinking! ‘Any man,’ I said now, ‘is more than the greatest of books!’

~George MacDonald, in Lilith


    1. I can think of so many times that I resented being called away from my book for any reason, even recreation with others. And the fact is, the book will wait easier and unchanging for me, while people deserve attention in the now!

  1. I treated of a similar concept last week; a discussion comprised merely of the book and myself is unlikely to change either of us at a recognizably deep level for instead of transforming my own ‘inner book’ when I read, my tendency is instead to find myself therein and approve. It is when I have to move beyond reading to interacting, allow the book to serve as an entrance to discussion that my reading becomes truly meaningful for then my book is exposed and I can at last read what I have hidden within my readings (by the experience of disagreement with the Other).

    This is an arresting passage in ‘Lilith’ and one worth not only pondering, but acting upon.

    1. Aye. As in that famous C.S. Lewis quote: “In reading I become a thousand men and yet remain myself.” Literature is important, but only if we learn from it ways to live our lives better, and ways to better connect with other people. And ways to better worship God.

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