Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Life Without Books Would Be A Mistake

I was born in a book. This is not a metaphor. I was born to myself by reading. I was born to rejection, to excess, to enigmas, I was born to the incomprehensibleness of things, I was born to what is called the inner life thanks to a book. I was ten. I remember it well. The book was called "Sans Famille" (Nobody's Boy) by Hector Malot.
I belong to books. All other affiliations reduce me and sut me in. All other affiliations fill me with horror. The soil, blood, race, the family fill me with horror.
I belong to books. To the books I read in my childhood. To the ones that have marked the seasons of my life. I belong to the books of Cervantes, Rabelais, Pascal, Faulkner and Bernhard. But I belong too, to the books that I haven't read and which have founded the language that I speak, its spirit, its colours, its pace.
I belong to books. When the world is noisy, books give me peace. When life no longer makes sense, books know how to laugh at it.
As there is no god to take me in, no master to guide me, no root in the soil to hold me, I fear being crushed in the immanence of things. But the uneasy voice of great books leads me towards an unknown that calls me and keeps me moving forward.
I read, I live. Life without books would be nothing but a mistake. My life without books would be inconceivable. Like an existence with no secrecy. Like day without night.
Books are my day and my night.
-Lydie Salvayre
This quarter's issue of Label France has a special dossier on Books and People and has a special feature "Words of writers" in which 10 authors reacted to the question "What place do books have in your life?"
Read what other writers have to say (in French) at the official Label France site.
Disclaimer - I haven't translated the text. I merely copied it from the English edition I picked up at AFP..


pranabk said...

The first book I read, as far as my memory goes, was Exupery's The Little Prince. I was also probably 10 when I read it and I was quite fascinated by the illustrations in the book (specially the cover, of a lone boy standing alone on a small planet). However, right now, I don't seem to remember anything of the story. Maybe, I should re-read it.

Sh. said...

hey, i love this excerpt :) thanks for posting!

Plain Jane said...

Pranab K - Oui that's a book that can be read at several levels. A fable for children of all ages as they say :-) I have two copies of the book (in English) so you may borrow if you want!

Sh - You are welcome. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.