For what was it about books that once finished left the reader in a bit of a haze and made them reread the last few sentences in order to continue the ringing in their hearts a while longer, so as not to let the silence illumine the fact that reading, they had gained something – distance, a lesson, a companion, a new world – but now, after the last full stop, they had lost something palpable and felt a little emptier than before.

If passion was a substance I would say it is dark brown, and then blood red. It’s like wet grass, tons of it soaked in mud. It’s warm and it stinks like shit and it’s unaccountably and endlessly good. It’s thick and it goes on for miles and it isn’t so much deep as bottomless and it holds you in its grip, you never drown. And then it goes. That’s all you know.

Perhaps he even needs to have been a critic and a sceptic and a dogmatist and an historian, and in addition a poet and collector and traveller and puzzle-solver and moralist and seer and ‘free spirit’ and nearly all things, so that he can traverse the range of human values and value-feelings and be able to look with many kinds of eyes and consciences from the heights into every distance, from the depths into every height, from the corners into every wide expanse.

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