So that if you set a Philistine before a picture, he will be inevitably bored. He can do nothing to the picture except buy it, and that is soon accomplished. He is too active and industrious a man to stand gaping at it, pretending he enjoys the harmony of its color, the balance of its design, or the richness of its light and shade. And he is too honest to say that the picture represents anything more than a manâ€™s face, or a pretty view, or whatever else the subject may be. If the reproduction is accurate, as far as his perception goes, he will be pleased to notice the fact. But how the image of a face can represent anything besides, or the copy of a landscape be more beautiful than the original, he can never conceive. The comprehension of that depends on the awakening of many dim and profound suggestions, on the creation in the beholderâ€™s mind of some ideal of beauty or of happiness, on the quick passing of some infinitely tragic and lovely vision. And such things are not engendered in the Philistine brain.
When a reader falls in love with a book, it leaves its essence inside him, like radioactive fallout in an arable field, and after that there are certain crops that will no longer grow in him, while other, stranger, more fantastic growths may occasionally be produced. We love relatively few books in our lives, and those books become parts of the way we see our lives; we read our lives through them, and their descriptions of the inner and outer worlds become mixed up with ours — they become ours.