Wednesday, February 4, 2009

from "Pure English" [a review in the Times Literary Supplement, 15 July 1920]

          Virginia Woolf

Although readers seldom admit it, an irrational element enters into their liking and disliking for books as certainly as it enters into their feelings for people. It would never do for a professional aesthete to leave it at that. It scarcely does for a private person. No sooner have we recovered from the shock of feeling anything than we find good reasons for having felt it. Nevertheless, at any rate where the ordinary reader is concerned, it is his feeling, and not the reasons he gives for his feeling, that is of interest. That is genuine; that is the root and motive of the greater part of our reading, the sap which causes books to go on budding from the tree.

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