You’re turning the pages and a very strange and very nice thing dawns on you.
This book gets you.
Obviously the author, who might have died centuries back,
never knew you at all.
But they write as if they did
It’s as if you’d confessed your secrets to them
and then they’d gone of and written this work around what you told them.
Transformed of course into a story about people with different names,
or into a essay that doesn’t cite your case explicitly.
But might as well do, because it’s so completely on target.
We never quite feel we are understood well enough.
Even by the people who we genuinely like and who are emotionally attached to us.
A permafrost of loneliness often persists just below the surface.
Even when things are broadly speaking going well enough.
所有这些 了解你的书 似乎都知道并且似乎能帮你改善
All this, the book that understands you, appears to know and to be able to correct.
The book in question might be one that speaks to millions, like the Harry Potter series.
Or it could be an almost unique discovery of your own.
Perhaps Schiller’s ‘Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Mankind’
Written at the very end of the eighteenth century
With it’s haunting efforts to fuse a noble idealism with political realism
It could be a self-help book about sex
but alights on just the things that are troubling you
Or you might feel that ‘Mademoiselle de Maupin’
Written by Théophile Gautier in the middle of the 19th century
And which tells the story of a man and a woman
who are both in love with a central character.
the operasinger Madeline de Maupin
Was written by historical miracle exactly for you
A book knows you by pinpointing
And taking very seriously, a major but often ignored problem
that happens to be looming in your existence.
For instance, when Harry Potter is with the Dursleys
the feeling of being an alien in a familiar environment
For long stretches of time Harry has to live around people
who have no idea of his real nature
They never acknowledge his actual strengths
He’s regarded as a contemptible freak
而他做的那些事 在其他地方 会让他变得重要受欢迎重要
for things that elsewhere would make him popular and important.
The book is hugely alive to the feeling of not being appreciated.
With many books we’re pleased because we encounter sympathy for things that deserve generous treatment
but normally don’t get it.
The darker aspects of one’s character are getting a tender hearing.
You’ve been heard, you’ve heard others
And the book says – I know
So often despite all the people around us
We’re lonely and ashamed
We’re haunted by the worry that no reasonable person
could feel anything but derision or contempt for our problems.
We feel that to share them with our friends
would lead to bewildered rejection.
A book that understands you is like an ideal parent or friend,
who makes it acceptable to suffer in the way we do.
Our weirdest sorrows or enjoyments
are recast as valid parts of human experience
which can be met with sympathy and kindness.
It is, even though the relationship is with paper and ink only, a kind of love.
And perhaps one of the deepest kinds of love we’ll ever know.