Keeping Appointments One Never Made
Harold Bloom is one of those writers whose work is almost infinitely dense. He wastes no words and sometimes packs two or even three new and striking ideas into a single short sentence. I never find myself asking, “Why am I bothering to read this?” when I’ve got one of his books in my hand.
And so reading his book, How to Read and Why (©2000), is taxing. He fits so many motives and justifications for reading into the nine pages of his prologue that it would take me 25 pages to try to explain them all.
We read primarily, Blooms says, to learn how to live, and to die. “One of the uses of reading is to prepare ourselves for change, and the final change alas is universal.” We learn, if we read well, how to live with confidence and detachment.
Bloom quotes from Chaucer in “The Knight’s Tale”: “It is a good thing for a man to bear himself with equanimity, for one is constantly keeping appointments one never made.”