Friday, July 13, 2007


Today I spent a few delightful hours reading a book by David Daiches on George Eliot's Middlemarch. Last week, I finished reading the novel (for the second time, after ten years) , and immediately started reading Daiches’ book. I had read the novel with care and attention, but I wasn’t ready just to put it down and walk away (perhaps for another ten years). That, it seemed, would be like visiting a Caribbean island and then simply going home: no photos, no travel dairy, no discussions with other visitors, and – worst of all – no reading of travel books written by island experts. To me, it makes no sense to read a great book and then merely shelve it and move on. The book, like the beautiful island, deserves all the attention I can bring to bear on it. So ... I read, and studied, Professor Daiches’ brief but illuminating book about the novel. It opened my eyes to countless themes, patterns, truths, and literary pearls that I had utterly missed. I felt like I was sitting with a man who really knew this book, and it felt just as wonderful as talking with a long-time island expert after visiting his paradise. Now, I’ve ordered several more books on Middlemarch, and I’ve already started re-visiting, yet again, selected chapters of this celebrated literary “island”.

* * * * *

This morning I read several excellent articles in the travel section of the NY Times, and it occurred to me that I was helping the environment by doing so. Instead of polluting the atmosphere by traveling by car, train, plane, cab, or subway to get to these remote places, I simply sat in my comfortable chair and traveled by means of my imagination. I used no gas, put no foul emissions into the air, and, by picturing the scenes clearly in my imagination, I felt like I was truly there.

Hmmm...not a bad way to travel.

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