Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Commonplace Entry


The bookcase of early childhood is a man's companion for life.  The arrangement of its shelves, the choice of books, the colors of spines are for him the color, height, and arrangement of world literature itself.  As for books which were not included in that first bookcase--they were never to force their way into the universe of world literature.  Every book in the first bookcase is, willy-nilly, a classic, and not one of them can ever be expelled.

from "The Bookcase" in The Noise of Time: Selected Prose by Osip Mandelstam, translated by Clarence Brown.  Northwestern University Press.  2002 (1986)


Brian Joseph said...

This is an intriguing quote.

I will say for myself that there is truth in this. There are books that are in my first bookcase that, die to being read so early, have had an impact upon my psyche way out of proportion to any objective value that they have.

James said...


I have had similar experience with books from early in my life. It is difficult to measure the impact after so many years.