Re-Reading

“The sure mark of an unliterary man is that he considers ‘I’ve read it already’ to be a conclusive argument against reading a work. We have all known women who remembered a novel so dimly that they had to stand for half an hour in the library skimming through it before they were certain they had once read it. But the moment they became certain, they rejected it immediately. It was for them dead, like a burnt-out match, an old railway ticket, or yesterday’s paper; they had already used it. Those who read great works, on the other hand, will read the same work ten, twenty or thirty times during the course of their life.”

—C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism (Cambridge, 1961), p. 2.

5 thoughts on “Re-Reading

  1. One of the conditions of re-reading is that a book be a ‘great work’.

    I just removed around 2 dozen books from my meager collection because they won’t be read again. But not because they are ‘dead’, just because they aren’t great!

  2. Wow, I felt immediate conviction come from this…I am so guilty about not re-reading, but this has challenged me to go back and re-read some books!

  3. I was just sharing this thought from Lewis with a friend recently. It is amazing how much Lewis read just one time, not to mention multiple times! We have so much available to read now as compared to past generations that it becomes a discipline to re-read something. It takes a bit of literary restraint to focus on a work to the degree that Lewis was hinting at. Thanks for sharing this quote.

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