in place of content

Passages from Cynthia Ozick’s Heir to the Glimmering World that made me want to scrawl in the margin of the library book the words “IT’S SO TRUE!” (but I did not):

“He cared (though not crucially) about the opinion of his colleagues and acquaintances, and would send out a stream of self-castigation in order, he hoped, to nip their condemnation in the bud. His intention was to arrive at his own condemnation fast and first. It was a kind of exculpation. No one condemned him; no one paid much attention. My father had, as far as I could see, no friends.”

(Oh and Dad, that’s true of me, not you.)

“I had dreamt of Gothic arches and the worn flagstones of old libraries – where such a grand yearning came from, I hardly knew. Unaccountably, my heart was set on Smith or Vassar or Bryn Mawr; I imagined afternoon teas, and white gloves, and burning lips (mine, perhaps) murmuring out of a book. But that was all wistfulness – there was no money for such romantic hopes…”

(Me again…)

“My suitcases held only the sparest handful of the books I valued, since it had always been my habit – privately I felt it to be an ecstasy – to enter, as into a mysterious vault, any public library. I was drawn to books that had been read before, novels that girls like myself … had cradled and cherished. In my mind – I suppose in my isolation – I seized on all those previous readers, and everyone who would read after me – as phantom companions and secret friends.”

(Aaand me.)

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