Essays

On the top of my list of essential collections of essays is one called C.S. Lewis: Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces. It is one of the benefits of rummaging through used book stores because it was printed in England and shows nothing about having come out in the USA. I don’t even know if I’ve read everything it has because I read an essay here and there every once in a while, and some of them a few times. I’ve been reading it for five or six years.

Another one that brings me joy is a collection of Borges called Inquisiciones/Otras Inquisiciones. He is good on a number of things, but I think now of his fondness for Chesterton–most illuminating. No believer, Borges, he was nevertheless a man of deep and wide sympathies, and that is a vital part of wisdom. And when I think of essays, the main attraction seems to me to be wisdom. Wisdom shining like a lamp through the shade of the essayer’s personality.

It is a companionable pastime, reading essays by oneself. Fills one up with thoughts too, and what could be more comfortable? Besides, Scripture tells us we should seek out wise companions, and how many of those will you find among the living? We can’t all be Roger Scruton’s friends.

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2 thoughts on “Essays

  1. Well said. And when we get to know those wise friends who are separated from us by lifetimes, it turns out that they spent a lot of time with friends who were likewise distant.

    I’ve known people for whom sustained physical proximity was equivalent with friendship. You could say nothing at all, just be there, and they would become attached to you and feel a keen pain when you were gone. A lot of people seem to fit that description, and they fascinate me. They tend to be people who don’t read much.

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