Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Library
By Xavier de Maistre (1763–1852)
From the ‘Journey round My Room’

I PROMISED to give a dialogue between my soul and the OTHER. But there are some chapters which elude me, as it were; or rather, there are others which flow from my pen nolens volens, and derange my plans. Among these is one about my library; and I will make it as short as I can. Our forty-two days will soon be ended; and even were it not so, a similar period would not suffice to complete the description of the rich country in which I travel so pleasantly.  1
  My library, then, is composed of novels, if I must make the confession—of novels and a few choice poets.  2
  As if I had not troubles enough of my own, I share those of a thousand imaginary personages, and I feel them as acutely as my own. How many tears have I shed for that poor Clarissa, and for Charlotte’s lover!  3
  But if I go out of my way in search of unreal afflictions, I find in return such virtue, kindness, and disinterestedness in this imaginary world, as I have never yet found united in the real world around me. I meet with a woman after my heart’s desire, free from whim, lightness, and affectation. I say nothing about beauty: this I can leave to my imagination, and picture her faultlessly beautiful. And then closing the book, which no longer keeps pace with my ideas, I take the fair one by the hand, and we travel together over a country a thousand times more delightful than Eden itself. What painter could represent the fairyland in which I have placed the goddess of my heart? What poet could ever describe the lively and manifold sensations I experience in those enchanted regions?  4
  How often have I cursed that Cleveland, who is always embarking upon new troubles which he might very well avoid! I cannot endure that book, with its long list of calamities. But if I open it by way of distraction, I cannot help devouring it to the end.  5
  For how could I leave that poor man among the Abaquis? What would become of him in the hands of those savages? Still less dare I leave him in his attempt to escape from captivity.  6
  Indeed, I so enter into his sorrows, I am so interested in him and in his unfortunate family, that the sudden appearance of the ferocious Ruintons makes my hair stand on end. When I read that passage a cold perspiration covers me; and my fright is as lively and real as if I were going to be roasted and eaten by the monsters myself.  7
  When I have had enough of tears and love, I turn to some poet, and set out again for a new world.  8

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.