Education is mostly about institutions and getting tickets stamped; learning is what we do for ourselves. When we’re lucky, they go together. If I had to choose, I’d take learning.

The novels we read allow us to encounter possible persons, versions of ourselves hat we would never see, never permit ourselves to see, never permit ourselves to become, in places we can never go and might not care to, while assuring that we get to return home again

of his need to assert responsibility for his own life. It may be that Adela does panic in the face of Nothingness, only recovering herself when she takes responsibility by recanting in the witness box. Perhaps it’s all about nothing more than her own self-doubts, her own psychological or spiritual difficulties.

IRIS MURDOCH ONLY WROTE one novel in her lifetime. But she wrote it twenty-six times. Anthony Burgess never wrote the same book twice. And he wrote about a thousand.

We have to bring our imaginations to bear on a story if we are to see all it’s possibilitiess; otherwise it’s just about somebody who did something. Whatever we take away from stories in the way of significance, symbolism, theme, meaning, pretty much anything except character and plot, we discover because our imagination engages with that of the author. Pretty amazing when you consider that the author may have been dead for thousands of years, yet we can still have this exchange, this dialogue, with her.

The process of dehuminazing the locals was under way, and it had very little to do with veracity. The Puritan narratives would continue that process and bring the devil into the mix. At least John Smith didn’t think Satan was involved.

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