I recognized it instantly. It was a made-up story, a fantasy, the tale of four kids who went through a magic wardrobe and found themselves in a strange new world. I'd read it more times than I could remember, and although I sneered at the thought of a magical land with friendly, talking animals, there were times when I wished, in my most secret moments, that I could find a hidden door that would take us allout of this place.
It is untrue that fiction is nonutilitarian. The uses of fiction are synonymous with the uses of literature. They include refreshment, clarification of life, self-awareness, expansion of our range of experiences, and enlargement of our sense of understanding and discovery, perception, intensification, expression, beauty , and understanding. Like literature generally, fiction is a form of discovery, perception, intensification, expression, beauty, and understanding. If it is all these things, the question of whether it is a legitimate use of time should not even arise.
I read a lot. I always have, but in those two years I gorged myself on books with a voluptuous, almost erotic gluttony. I would go to the local library and take out as many as I could, and then lock myself in the bedsit and read solidly for a week. I went for old books, the older the better--Tolstoy, Poe, Jacobean tragedies, a dusty translation of Laclos--so that when I finally resurfaced, blinking and dazzled, it took me days to stop thinking in their cool, polished, crystalline rhythms.
Jude leaped out of arm's reach, and walked along the trackway weeping--not from the pain, though that was keen enough; not from the perception of the flaw in the terrestrial scheme, by which what was good for God's birds was bad for God's gardener; but with the awful sense that he had wholly disgraced himself before he had been a year in the parish, and hence might be a burden to his great-aunt for life.
Betsy was so full of joy that she had to be alone. She went upstairs to her bedroom and sat down on Uncle Keith's trunk. Behind Tacy's house the sun had set. A wind had sprung up and the trees, their color dimmed, moved under a brooding sky. All the stories she had told Tacy and Tib seemed to be dancing in those trees, along with all the stories she planned to write some day and all the stories she would read at the library. Good stories. Great stories. The classics. Not Rena's novels.
I find that the old Roman baths of this quarter, were found covered by an old burying ground, belonging to the Abbey; through which, in all probability, the water drains in its passage; so that as we drink the decoction of the living bodies at the Pump-room, we swallow the strainings of rotten bones and carcasses at the private bath - I vow to God, the very idea turns my stomach!
I can't help suspecting, that there is, or may be some regurgitation from the bath into the cistern of the pump. In that case, what a felicate beveridge is quaffed by the drinkers; medicated with the sweat and the dirt, and dandriff; and the abominable of various kinds, from twenty different diseased bodies, parboiling in the kettle below.
A man leaves his great house because he's boredWith life at home, and suddenly returns,Finding himself no happier abroad.He rushes off to his villa driving like mad,You'ld think he's going to a house on fire,And yawns before he's put his foot inside,Or falls asleep and seeks oblivion,Or even rushes back to town again.So each man flies from himself (vain hope, becauseIt clings to him the more closely against his will)And hates himself because he is sick in mindAnd does not know the cause of his disease.