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'Different worlds'

24 November 2003

'Reading is an especially focused experience, unfolding in private time, and that makes a fundamental difference. A play cannot be stopped and reprised in the way that pages can be reread, whether to relish something good or understand something better. A novel is all present at once, and can be gone over and back, re-entered, skimmed, sampled or devoured, just as required...

'The better the novel, the richer the possibilities it offers in this as in all its other dimensions (of pleasure-giving and the like). Perhaps "great literature" is literature which, among its other qualities, best discloses to us different worlds, or deeper aspects of our own world, and teaches us how to feel more generously, discriminate more finely, and understand more comprehensively, as a result.'

A C Grayling in The Times