Monday, December 04, 2006

Books as images of eternal life

I stayed up until almost midnight last night to finish reading a wonderful novel, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Spending time with good literature is a Sabbath practice for me - it has a different qualitative feel to it than reading nonfiction theology or research stuff or current issues or magazines. I wasn't an English major, but I might have been in an alternate reality. At any rate, here's a paragraph that particularly resonated with me on the significance of books:

"People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic." (p. 17)

1 comment:

Margaret Feinberg said...

Intriguing. Sometimes the written word preserves for better or worse..for brilliant or dull...