Lovers of Light

“Be profound with clear terms and not with obscure terms. What is difficult will at last become easy; but as one goes deep into things, one must still keep a charm, and one must carry into these dark depths of thought, into which speculation has only recently penetrated, the pure and antique clearness of centuries less learned than ours, but with more light in them.”

“Often, after overwork in thinking, reading, or talking, he remained for days together in a state of utter prostration, — condemned to absolute silence and inaction; too happy if the agitation of his mind would become quiet also, and let him have the repose of which he stood in so much need. With this weakness of health, these repeated suspension of energy, he was incapable of the prolonged contention of spirit necessary for the creation of great works. But he read and thought immensely; he was an unwearied note-taker, a charming letter-writing; above all, an excellent and delightful talker. The gaiety and amenity of his natural disposition were inexhaustible; and his spirit, too was of astonishing elasticity; he seemed to hold on to life by a single thread only, but that single thread was very tenacious.”

“Both of them passionately devoted to reading in a class of books, and to thinking on a class of subjects, out of the beaten line of the reading and thought of their day; both of them ardent students and critics of old literature, poetry, and the metaphysics of religion; both of them curious explorers of words, and of the latent significance hidden under the popular use of them; both of them, in a certain sense, conservative in religion and politics, by antipathy to the narrow and shallow foolishness of vulgar modern liberalism; — here they had their inward and real likeness.”

From Joubert: An Essay by Matthew Arnold.

Hat tip to flowerville for adding both Arnold and Joubert to my reading list: her wonderful blog has shaped my reading more than any other.

4 thoughts on “Lovers of Light

  1. These are two writers I have wanted to spend more time with. I had a delightfully eccentric philosophy professor who was devoted to Matthew Arnold. His poetry and essays were major component of his courses, no matter the intended subject matter.

  2. thank you anthony for always saying such nice things and your attention…i never had much outward intentions for my blog, but if i ever would have had one and if anything good comes out from my blogging then i couldn’t be more pleased about sharing all this bookish beauty….and both joubert and arnold are great and then there is also blanchot’s wonderful essay about joubert (in the book to come)….it fills me with deep gratitude that books can be shared like this, and then beauty doesn’t get any less, it magnifies in its own splendid ways, without diminishment and without harming individuality. it’s i guess why some say that this is a pure untouchable good, literature… thank you anthony for being a literary companion.

    • I’ll read Blanchot’s essay about Joubert this weekend. I often wonder where my reading would have taken me if I hadn’t found literary companions like you. It is unimaginable. Thank you for those beautiful words and your companionship.

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