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Literary Criticism Quotations

What’s become of books

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria

In times of old, books were as religious oracles; as literature advanced, they next became venerable preceptors; they then descended to the rank of instructive friends; and as their numbers increased, they sunk still lower to that of entertaining companions; and at present they seem degraded into culprits to hold up their hands at the bar of every self-elected, yet not the less peremptory, judge who chooses to write from humour or interest, from enmity or arrogance, and to abide the decision (in the words of Jeremy Taylor) ‘of him that reads in malice, or him that reads after dinner.’

Of course, now we could go a step further, and say that books are largely not read at all.

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