The title is apt but the book is much more than some tome of how to read. It is a brilliant examination of the mind and work of seven great writers (Shakespeare, John Ford, Austen, Conrad, Walter de la Mare, Hazlitt, and Walter Pater) plus an opening chapter on the fine art of reading, another piece on the forms of fiction, and another piece on women writers. A great piece by Anatole Broyard in the NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, "The Price of Reading is Eternal Vigilance," should be tucked into its pages.
Do not think for a moment that its copyright of 1957 dates it or that the writers Lord Cecil deals with are not all worthy of our consideration.
Not only are Lord Cecil's analyses perspicacious but his writing itself is a wonder. Especially noteworth are the last sentences of his paragraphs--he, like Flaubert, is master of the last sentence in paragraphs.
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