Calvino writes in “Why Read the Classics” that
there ought to be a time in one’s adult life which is dedicated to rediscovering the most important readings of our youth.
I have often said that education is wasted on the young, which is just a cranky way of saying that it would love to go back to the books that were read to me as a child, to the books I read in school and university and do it all again, knowing what I know now and being able to bring to the second take all the layers of experience that I now can.
By making reading to my children a delicious daily priority, I get to have that second take with the books from my childhood. I am rereading books and reading for the first time books I never got around to but that form part of the collective unconscious of our literary heritage. It has been wonderful to bring it all back to the surface again, to have crisp images of the characters and their stories instead of the hazy blobs that dwelled on the blurred edges of memory.
As for the great books of my undergraduate years, for the past year, I’ve had lines from Paradise Lost rattling around in my head, so Milton will be on my rereading list this fall.
No more “pale ire, envy and despair” in the face of too many books and too little time.
What’s on your re-reading list?