What is genius but the faculty of seizing and turning to account everything that strikes us? … The greatest genius will never be worth much if he pretends to draw exclusively from his own resources…. Every one of my writings has been furnished to me by a thousand different persons, a thousand different things.
In the last couple of years, I have found myself asking two simple questions, Why do we read? Why do we write? One context for this curiosity is my facilitating classes of writing and reading, in homes and on-line. If you, too, want or need to engage in such self-examination, I recommend biographer Robert D. Richardson’s First We Read, Then We Write: Emerson on the Creative Process. You may find your own riches, as I have in what follows…
RDR: He glanced at thousands of books. He read carefully many hundreds that caught his attention. He returned over and over to a favorite few, including Montaigne, Plutarch, Plato, Plotinus, Goethe, de Stael, and Wordsworth.
RWE: It seemed to me as if I had written [Montaigne’s Essays] myself in some former life. … No book before or since was ever so much to me as that.
RWE: Each of the books I read invades me, displaces me. Read the rest of this entry »