10 April 2020

Book Beginning: On The Art of Reading by Arthur Quiller-Couch


Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader. We share the first sentence (or so) of the book we are reading, along with our initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

In the third book of the "Ethics", and in the second chapter, Aristotle, dealing with certain actions which, though bad in themselves, admit of pity and forgiveness because they were committed involuntarily, through ignorance, instances 'the man who did not know a subject was forbidden, like Aeschylus with the Mysteries,' and 'the man who only meant to show how it worked, like the fellow who let off the catapult' ([Greek: e deixai Boulemos apheinai, os o ton katapelten]).

OK, so this is going to be a bit of a challenge, not easy stuff! I have read that it gets much less high-brow as he goes on with the lectures. An article in The Cambridge Quarterly of September 2014 says:

Vast numbers of self-help readers after the First World War were keen to develop their literary taste and gain confidence in navigating their way through the literary field; Quiller-Couch's innate understanding of this "new reading public" accounts for the extraordinary success of his published lectures.

It's always good to have a meaty book in the current reading pile!

Alexandra Lawrie, "Arthur Quiller-Couch, Taste Formation and the New Reading Public", The Cambridge Quarterly, Volume 43, Issue 3, September 2014, Pages 195–211,


  1. A meaty book indeed! Is this for a research project?

    Was just thinking this week about the lack of references in the majority of blog posts. Seriously. It is refreshing that you included one. I appreciate it.

    1. Not for a project, I just like reading about reading - and reading about books. I'm glad you liked the reference. I try to include links for further reading for non-fiction books. I always go off on a tangent after I read them, so I share what I find. Thanks for visiting!

  2. Sounds like a book with depth that could be thoroughly engaging. Thanks for sharing, and here's mine: ”SOMETHING SHE’S NOT TELLING US”

  3. I like this kind of nonfiction books. They are challenging, but afterwards they are so rewarding. I have recently read a Roland Barthes book and I have to admit that it was one of the most hooking books I've read in a while!

    Konna @ The Reading Armchair

    1. I have yet to tackle a Barthes' book but maybe it's time I did.