Friday, January 02, 2009

Books or fish?

"What do we, as a nation, care about books? How much do you think we spend altogether on our libraries, public or private, as compared with what we spend on our horses? If a man spends lavishly on his library, you call him mad--a biblio-maniac. But you never call any one a horse-maniac, though men ruin themselves every day by their horses, and you do not hear of people ruining themselves by their books. Or, to go lower still, how much do you think the contents of the book-shelves of the United Kingdom, public and private, would fetch, as compared with the contents of its wine-cellars?....how long most people would look at the best book before they would give the price of a large turbot for it!"

"Bread of flour is good, but there is bread, sweet as honey, if we would eat in, in a good book; and the family must be poor indeed which, once in their lives, cannot for such multipliable barley-loaves, pay their baker's bill."

--John Ruskin, "Of Kings' Treasuries," in Sesame and Lilies

1 comment:

Sebastian said...

I watched 84 Charing Cross Road last night and little excerpts like this were sprinkled throughout the movie.
A lovely quote, but it humbles me to think that I have no idea of who John Ruskin was.

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