Apr 062013

Kilito cervantesSome texts just remind you why you are in love with literature… And in Cervantes’ prologue to his most famous novel a “friend” gives him an advice from which all writers would benefit:

… there is no reason for you to go begging for maxims from philosophers, counsel from Holy Scripture, fictions from poets, orations from rhetoricians, or miracles from saints; instead you should strive, in plain speech, with words that are straightforward, honest, and well-placed, to make your sentences and phrases sonorous and entertaining, and have them portray, as much as you can and as far it is possible, your intention, making your ideas clear without complicating and obscuring them. Another thing to strive for: reading your history should move the melancholy to laughter, increase the joy of the cheerful, not irritate the simple, fill the clever with admiration for its invention, not vie the serious reason to scorn it, and allow the prudent to praise it.*

You may wonder why I’m reading Don Quixote right now? The answer is in Abdelfattah Kilito’s latest book, Je parle toutes les langues mais en arabe. More about it soon…


* Edith Grossman’s translation, Ecco paperback, 2005.

Jun 092012

It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they came from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them – with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself. Still illiterate, I was ready for them, committed to all the reading I could give them.

— Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings