About Miss Darcy’s Library

“I cannot comprehend the neglect of a family library in such days as these” Mr Darcy famously observes.

I happen to agree wholeheartedly with that gentleman. While my own library is not as yet familial, but merely personal, and regrettably not of Pemberley proportions, I nevertheless find myself adding to it more frequently than my modest salary can reasonably permit. I would rather skip the restaurant and the movies than walk out of a bookshop empty-handed.

I have been fortunate enough to travel extensively, see many beautiful places, and meet many wonderful people. Yet it is to the quiet domestic settings of my world – the sofa in my Paris flat, the primrose silk elegance of the Louis XVI armchair in my parents’ drawing-room, the lamp-lit circle of my bed, or the scented sun-dappled warmth of the grass in the orchard – that I return with greatest pleasure, to immerse myself in the pages of a book.

There are books to suit every mood, interest, and desire. They open up unsuspected vistas of emotion, infinite horizons of thought. I never tire of the written word. Of its rhythms and cadences, its homeliness and its exoticism. I can find more pleasure at times in the mouthing of a certain lovely word than in closing my fingers about the velvety roundness of a new-plucked peach.

Solitude is sweet to me. I am not of those who grow easily bored or lonely. Nevertheless, there inevitably comes a time when one longs for company again, to share a moment’s warmth and liveliness with a friend and kindred spirit. And what a moment it is, when, casting aside day to day trivia, you discuss the pen-and-ink characters you are learning to know and greet as friend or foe, the ramifications of a plot, the choice of a word, the workings of narrative and style, the novel treatment of a theme! Eyes light up, faces grow animated, and the level in the teapot falls steadily lower. Words buzz about in your head, and are gradually sifted through and pigeon-holed. Or on the contrary trigger new chains of thought, spark new questions, set you on a track you never would have thought to tread before, perhaps even unloose within you a hitherto untapped fount of creativity.

I invite you, my friends and fellow readers, to share in this adventure. Most of you are too far away to join me at the tea table, and for this I am the sadder. But thanks to modern technology, there is a remedy, so come and join the bookish chatter!

© Florence Berlioz 2010

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9 Responses to About Miss Darcy’s Library

  1. Cécile says:

    One can be whoever one wants when reading a book… for just a moment, you can change your life and be somebody else.

  2. eminenza says:

    “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food…” Erasmus
    Hello my kindred spirit! I am not sure I wholeheartedly agree with Desiderius, but I am very much looking forward to blogging with you on this food of the soul!

    • I never got around to telling you how much I love this quote (and of course, how much I agree with it!). I hope you’ll rustle up the courage to write a few comments on the reviews you like the most… xxx

  3. Darlon Lerboiz says:

    “You are what you read” (motion picture “You’ve got mail”). I am convinced this statement is true. Nothing influences us more than a book. It shapes our personalities, determines the way we speak and think. One may have more or less imagination. The imagination is an organ that grows like the body of an infant, only reaching full development after years of exercise. To read a book is to enter the world a person has created for itself, to penetrate that person’s deepest thoughts. It is also a way of getting to know one’s self. Sometimes an epic adventure helps the tired and worn reader to escape from everyday life, working like a bridge in the form of a dream. Sometimes the words themselves have the power to stimulate. The letters, the page, the ink are beautiful in their form. In this sense, reading enriches our lives. It is an answer to our desires. We may travel back in time or explore the farthest corners of the world; meet ghosts of people past, present and future (a notion put to good use by Dickens). Reading becomes a catharsis: it contributes to our happiness and completes our lives. It plays an important role in them, guiding us in our choices.

    “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live”. These words from Rowling’s “The Philosopher’s Stone” are worth thinking about. When Harry looked into the Mirror of Erised in the forgotten classroom, he saw his heart’s deepest desire. Our choice of books is the reflection of that same desire. The danger for those who read a lot is to forget to live except through the pages of a book. Reading must be used as a way of understanding the world, of improving our experiences. This is made possible by suggestion, inspiration. There is no sense in trying to convince one’s self that life was better when King Arthur was on the throne. We idealize the worlds novelists (re)create for us because their romantic descriptions added to our own imagination make them heavenly. The books we read must beautify and complete our lives but must not replace them. They are only the reflection of our present thoughts and dreams. Writing these down consecrates them, but does not make them real.

  4. limr says:

    You had me at “I would rather skip the restaurant and the movies than walk out of a bookshop empty-handed.” 🙂

    An award for you is ready for pick up at http://asalinguist.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/and-the-winner-goes-to/

  5. Thank you again for the award! I’m being very geeky and telling everyone about it 🙂

  6. You create a lovely picture of your library. I look forward to exploring it further!

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