The Competition for your Reading Time

“If modern literature has any competition to dread, it is not that of the old classical writers, but of the daily, weekly, or monthly periodicals,  which fall as thickly round us as the leaves in Vallombrosa [‘autumnal leaves that strow the brooks, in Vallombrosa’ from Milton’s Paradise Lost], and go near to suffocate the poor victim who is longing to enjoy his volume in peace, whether that volume be of Sophocles or of Shakespeare, or of Goethe or of Burns. Or if by chance our would be student is one who for his sins is engaged in political contests himself, he may recall the position of Walter Scott’s Black Knight at the siege of Front de Boeuf’s castle when defeated by the din which his own blows made upon the gate contributed to raise.[Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott]. How, under such circumstances, he must wish that he was like Dicaeopolis in the Acharnians [Dikaiopolis, in The Acharnians by Aristophanes], and could make a separate peace for himself. ”

The Pleasures, the Dangers and the Uses of Desultory Reading
by Stafford Henry Northcote Iddesleigh

Publication date 1885

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