Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The Vanity of Human Hopes & The Abuse of the Printing Press
This summer I went to a gigantic used book sale. How gigantic? Books filled at least eight large rooms, some of which would probably be better described as "halls." Many of the books were hard to find and out of print, and nearly all cost under $5.
And yet, in what should have been heaven for a bibliophile like myself, I found only two books that I thought worth acquiring: a cheap copy of Meier Helmbrecht, and Critics of the Enlightenment. When I left the sale with only two books in hand, I realized that there was a reason why most of those books were out of print: Most of them weren't very good. How many of those authors had wasted their time producing mediocre books, whether in the hope of writing the next great novel or of making an original contribution to scholarship?
This thought reminded me of a few aphorisms by