14 January 2013

Safe-Breaking

Jacques Bonnet, Phantoms on the Bookshelves, tr. Siân Reynolds (New York: The Overlook Press, 2012), p. 53:
Every time you open a book for the first time, there is something akin to safe-breaking about it. Yes, that's exactly it: the frantic reader is like a burglar who has spent hours and hours digging a tunnel to enter the strongroom of a bank. He emerges face to face with hundreds of strongboxes, all identical, and opens them one by one. And each time the box is opened, it loses its anonymity and becomes unique: one is filled with paintings, another with bundles of banknotes, a third with jewels or letters tied in ribbon, engravings, objects of no value at all, silverware, photos, gold sovereigns, dried flowers, files of paper, crystal glasses, or children's toys — and so on. There is something intoxicating about opening a new one, finding its contents and feeling overjoyed that in a trice one is no longer in front of a set of boxes, but in the presence of the riches and the wretched banalities that make up human existence.