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at hand. Without a map the information is vague and transitory.
After having read as much as your mind will easily retain, sum up what you have read,—endeavor to place in view the portion cr subject that has formed your morning's study; and then reckon up (as you would reckon up a sum) the facts or items of knowledge that you have gained. It generally happens that the amount of three or four hours' reading may be reduced to and concentrated in half a dozen propositions. These are your gains,—these are the facts or opinions that you have acquired. You may investigate the truth of them hereafter. Although I think that one's general reading should extend over many subjects, yet for serious study we should confine ourselves to some branch of literature or science. Otherwise the mind becomes confused and enfeebled, and the thoughts dissipated on many things, will settle profitably on none.'
Brandes on Reading
George Brandes, the Danish critic and man of letters, has written so wisely in his essay “On Reading” that we have taken many fine sentences from it. Instead of interspersing them throughout this chapter with similar ideas, we have kept them together, thus giving a very bare outline of the essay. It should be read in its entirety.*
“There is no best book, the ideal varying with the communities, and the individual, and even in the individual at different times of life.”
"Few people can be said to read at all, or enjoy reading, * From Brandes' On Reading. Copyright 1907 by Duffield & Comor get any good out of it. Out of a hundred people able to read, ninety generally read nothing but newspapers,—a species of reading which demands no exertion. Most people, for that matter, read without any particular attentiveness. Perhaps they select reading-matter which does not deserve any particular attention. What wonder, then, that they forget what they read?”
“In the domain of reading... it is regarded as a changeless rule that one time is no time at all, that a man who restricts himself to one reading of a good book knows little about it."
Why Should We Read?
“We are not to believe that we can attain to any wisdom simply by devouring books." Books “set thoughts in motion, which men seldom do. They are silent when questions are not asked of them; men are seldom so discreet. And books are seldom so inane as people. One feels frequently like applying to the mass of humanity those words of Goethe: 'If they were books, I would not read them.''
"We ought also to read so as to add to our own experience those of other men, greater and more competent than ourselves."
“Reading has power to make us keener and more susceptible to the value of things.”
"If reading affords no more than innocent entertainment, it is worth while in the wearisome and monotonous exertion of daily life.”
“We do not demand of an author that he should work to make us better. All that we can demand of him is that he work conscientiously, and that he have it in him to teach us something."
What Should We Read?
“There are two things one would wish for newspaper readers :—that they might read their favorite papers with some exercise of the faculty of criticism; and be not so satisfied with newspaper reading as to incapacitate them for
"It is perhaps best,” inasmuch as we are not prepared to understand the classics, written for former ages, “to begin with books written for those now living.”
"Find books good for you, as you find your friends."
"A book which is really to instruct must embrace either a single country, or a short, definite period.” “The infinite in itself is not immensely much; frequently it is best revealed by symbolic treatment of some significant detail.”
“Dangerous books are not only those which speculate in the youthful reader's sensual impulses, or appeal to his idleness or frivolity, but those also that represent base and low things as admirable, or disseminate prejudices, and throw a hateful light on liberal mindedness, or the pursuit of freedom.”
"It is a sorry superstition that leads people involuntarily to cherish a certain respect for earnestness and erudition that wearies them. Wearisome books discourage people from acquiring knowledge."
How Should We Read?
It should be our aim “to grasp clearly the meaning which the author has sought to convey through the characters presented in it. We reach through the book to the soul that created it."
“We ought preferably to read so as to comprehend the connection between an author's books.":
“We ought to read, too, so as to grasp the connection between an author's own books and those of other writers who have influenced him, or on whom he himself exerts an influence... ..Of course this mode of reading is not for
so to read as to appropriate from our reading the moral lesson that lies hidden behind it.”
“When we read so that we personally assimilate what we have read, we feel this is the central point in the course of circumstances, is the origin of actions, the central point of character, the central point of will, the central point of passion, the Archimedean spot whence the earth can be moved."
“Why should we read, then? To increase our knowledge, divest ourselves of prejudices, and in an even greater degree become personalities. What should we read? The books that attract us and hold us fast, because they are exactly suited to us. These are the good books for us.” “That book is good for me which develops me.”
"How ought we to read these books? First, with affection; next, with criticism; next, if possible, so that our reading has a central point, from which we may guess or descry connections, and lastly, with the aim of fully understanding and making our own the moral lesson to be found in
“A whole world can thus open out for us in a single book. We may become acquainted through it with some parts of human nature, wherein we shall not only recognize ourselves—changeable and rich in alterations and transformations,-but find also the unchangeable being and eternal laws of nature. Lastly, if we read attentively, we have the power to add to our moral stature, in so far as we vividly feel those things which ought to be done or left undone.”
HISTORY OF READING
Reading, as a subject, has varied retrospect. The methods involved in the compilation of text-books and in the teaching of the subject, have fluctuated between the extremes of form and thought. At times thought has been subordinated to form and word-study emphasized; at other times, and yet today, form is subordinated to thought and interpretation is exalted. Text-book makers have drawn upon every conceivable field for material and apparently have considered all equally acceptable for reading purposes. Religion, ethics, nature, geography, history, science, mythology, and literature, each has made its contribution, but the transition from the religious to the more strictly literary reader has been slow and laborious.
The development of reading as a branch of study began with the Reformation. This wide-spread movement necessitated, on the part of the common people, a familiarity with the Bible, and as a result
For much of the matter appearing in this section the writers have drawn heavily upon Carpenter, Baker and Scott: The Teaching of English; Huey: The Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading; Reeder: Educa. R. 18, 225-226.