In reality, every reader, while he is reading, is the reader of his own self. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument, which he offers to the reader to permit him to discern what, without the book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself. The reader’s recognition in his own self of what the book says is the proof of its truth.
Marcel Proust, Le temps retrouve. Epigraph from A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
As long as social damnation exists, through laws and customs, artificially creating hell at the heart of civilisation and muddying a destiny that is divine with human calamity; as long as the three problems of the century - man’s debasement through the proletariat, woman’s demoralisation through hunger, the wasting of the child through darkness - are not resolved; as long as social suffocation is possible in certain areas; in other words, and to take an even broader view, as long as ignorance and misery exist in this world, books like the one you are about to read are, perhaps, not entirely useless.
Hauteville House, January 1, 1862. Epigraph from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Lord! When you sell a man a book you don’t sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue—you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night—there’s all heaven and earth in a book, in a real book I mean.
Christopher Morley, Parnassus on Wheels. Epigraph from The StorytellingAnimal by Jonathan Gottschall
Go then, my little Book, and show all
That entertain, and bid thee welcome shall,
Thou dost keep close shut up in thy breast;
And wish that thou dost show them may be blest
To them for good, may make them choose to be
Pilgrims better, by far, than thee or me.
Tell them of Mercy; she is one
Who early hath her pilgrimage begun.
Yea, let young damsels learn of her to prize
The world which is to come, and so be wise;
For little tripping maids may follow God
Along the ways which saintly feet have trod.
adapted from John Bunyan. Epigraph from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott