Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The opsimathic reader

"That the Queen could readily switch from showbiz autobiography to the last days of a suicidal poet might seem incongruous and wanting in perception.  But, certainly in her early days, to her all books were the same and, as with her subjects, she felt a duty to approach them without prejudice.  For her, there was no such thing as an improving book.  Books were uncharted country and, to begin with at any rate, she made no distinctions between them.  With time came discrimination, but apart from the occasional word with Norman, nobody told her what to read, and what not.  Lauren Bacall, Winifred Holtby, Sylvia Plath -- who were they?  Only by reading could she find out.  

It was a few weeks later that she looked up from her book and said to Norman: 'Do you know that I said you were my amanuensis?   Well, I've discovered what I am.   I am an opsimath.'

With the dictionary always to hand, Norman read out: 'Opsimath: one who learns only late in life.' "

The Uncommon Reader  Alan Bennett

No comments:

Post a Comment