On Reading

 

And if, by abandoning a book, we trapped the characters inside?

A few months ago I quit Herodotus’ Histories halfway through the first volume. It wasn’t out of boredom, more like a sudden change of taste, as the book I went on to read was Borges’ Fictions. When I left, Herodotus was telling of Egypt and its, according to him, eccentric inhabitants, of how they lived upside down compared to everybody else.

I can imagine him now stuck in some ancient Egyptian town, unable to tell, and thus to travel – for if traveling is the prelude to story telling, there can’t be any doubt that telling a story is in itself a journey, and in fact it allows us to re-live times and times again the same journey, to travel back to the starting point, and enjoy every bit of it with renewed amazement, its magic immortal through words.

Herodotus is now mute, unable to move, powerless. I stopped his journey halfway through, his memory is suspended, his words echo in the void of the unread. Until I turn the page, that is.

Who knows, maybe we, as well, are the characters of a long, endless, immense, novel, which slowly weaves its thread around us, and of which we are, simultaneously, authors and readers.

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