I have been working on my research/literature review for grad school and in my research I ran across this passage that says so much about those of us who read. It’s from the book Remembrance of Things Past.
These afternoons [of reading] were crammed with more dramatic and sensational events than occur, often, in a whole lifetime. These were the events which took place in the book I was reading. It is true that the people concerned in them were not÷Ïreal people. But none of the feelings which the joys or misfortunes of a ÎrealÌ person awaken in us can be awakened except through a mental picture of those joys or misfortunes ….A `real’ person, profoundly as we may sympathise with him, is in a great measure perceptible only through our senses…we should have to spend years of our actual life in getting to know [all the joys and sorrows in the world], and the keenest, the most intense÷would never have been revealed to us because the slow course of their development stops our perception of them. It is the same in life; the heart changes, and that is our worst misfortune; but we learn of it only from reading or by imagination; for in reality its alteration, like that of certain natural phenomena, is so gradual that, even if we are able to distinguish, successively, each of its different states, we are still spared the actual sensation of change (118-9).