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On Reading
On Reading

On Reading

By Marcel Proust, By John Ruskin, Foreword by Eric Karpeles, Translated by Damion Searls

On Series


112 Pages, 5 x 8

Formats: Trade Paper, EPUB, Mobipocket, PDF

Trade Paper, $12.95 (US $12.95) (CA $14.95)

Publication Date: August 2011

ISBN 9781843916161

Rights: US, CA, AU & NZ

Hesperus Press (Aug 2011)


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Collected here are rare Proustian reflections on this most cherished of activities, together with the work he arguably held dearest and which was to influence his own philosophy profoundly: Ruskin’s Of Kings’ Treasuries.

"To understand a profound thought is to have, at the moment one understands it, a profound thought oneself; and this demands some effort, a genuine descent to the heart of oneself . . . Only desire and love give us the strength to make this effort. The only books that we truly absorb are those we read with real appetite, after having worked hard to get them, so great had been our need of them." Reading was, for Marcel Proust, more than the pursuit of knowledge: a truly spiritual activity, it was a means of transforming and transcending the self. By reading great authors, he contends, we not only learn of great ideas, but are enriched by the fruits of the world’s most inspirational minds.


"Proust's glorious and much anthologised essay on reading originally appeared as a preface to his translation of some lectures by John Ruskin; the excellent idea of this volume is to bring together both "On Reading" and one of the Ruskin lectures, complete with Proust's own footnotes, plus a few other short Proustian prefaces, so that we may see the ideas of the famous essay being born." —Guardian

Author Biography

Novelist Marcel Proust (1871–1922) was a prominent figure in the French salons of the late 19th century, and is best remembered for his huge four-volume masterpiece In Search of Lost Time. Damion Searls won a 2007 NEA grant for his Rilke translations and a 2008 PEN Translation Fund award for his translations of the Dutch writer Nescio. Eric Karpeles is the author of Paintings in Proust.