William Lyon Phelps ( 1865-1943 ) was an American pedagogue. literary critic and writer. He served as a professor of English at Yale University from 1901 to 1933. His plants include Advance of the English Novel and Essays on Modern Dramatists. On April 6. 1933. he delivered this address during a wireless broadcast. His fear for books was non shared by everyone. particularly those in Nazi Germany. On May 10. 1933. the Nazis had staged an event unobserved since the Middle Ages as immature German pupils from universities. once regarded as among the finest in the universe. had gathered in Berlin and other German metropoliss to fire books with “un-German” thoughts.
The wont of reading is one of the greatest resources of world ; and we enjoy reading books that belong to us much more than if they are borrowed. A borrowed book is like a invitee in the house ; it must be treated with meticulousness. with a certain considerate formality. You must see that it sustains no harm ; it must non endure while under your roof. You can non go forth it heedlessly. you can non tag it. you can non turn down the pages. you can non utilize it familiarly. And so. some twenty-four hours. although this is rarely done. you truly ought to return it. But your ain books belong to you ; you treat them with that affectionate familiarity that annihilates formality. Books are for usage. non for show ; you should have no book that you are afraid to tag up. or afraid to put on the tabular array. broad unfastened and face down. A good ground for taging favourite transitions in books is that this pattern enables you to retrieve more easy the important expressions. to mention to them rapidly. and so in subsequently old ages. it is like sing a wood where you one time blazed a trail.
You have the pleasance of traveling over the old land. and remembering both the rational scenery and your ain earlier self. Everyone should get down roll uping a private library in young person ; the inherent aptitude of private belongings. which is cardinal in human existences. can here be cultivated with every advantage and no immoralities. One should hold one’s ain bookshelves. which should non hold doors. glass windows. or keys ; they should be free and accessible to the manus every bit good as to the oculus. The best of mural ornaments is books ; they are more varied in colour and visual aspect than any wallpaper. they are more attractive in design. and they have the premier advantage of being separate personalities. so that if you sit entirely in the room in the firelight. you are surrounded with intimate friends. The cognition that they are at that place in field position is both exciting and reviewing. You do non hold to read them all. Most of my indoor life is spent in a room incorporating six thousand books ; and I have a stock reply to the invariable inquiry that comes from aliens.
“Have you read all of these books? ” “Some of them twice. ” This answer is both true and unexpected. There are of class no friends like life. external respiration. corporeal work forces and adult females ; my devotedness to reading has ne’er made me a hermit. How could it? Books are of the people. by the people. for the people. Literature is the immortal portion of history ; it is the best and most abiding portion of personality. But book-friends have this advantage over life friends ; you can bask the most truly blue society in the universe whenever you want it. The great dead are beyond our physical range. and the great life are normally about as unaccessible ; as for our personal friends and familiarities. we can non ever see them. Perchance they are asleep. or off on a journey.
But in a private library. you can at any minute converse with Socrates or Shakespeare or Carlyle or Dumas or Dickens or Shaw or Barrie or Galsworthy. And there is no uncertainty that in these books you see these work forces at their best. They wrote for you. They “laid themselves out. ” they did their ultimate best to entertain you. to do a favourable feeling. You are necessary to them as an audience is to an histrion ; merely alternatively of seeing them masked. you look into their inmost bosom of bosom.