John Galsworthy

“I suppose that many think we live in a cheap and sensational age, all sky-signs and headlines; an age of advertisement and standardization. And yet, this is a more enlightened age than any human beings have lived in hitherto. For instance, practically all of us can read. Some of you may say: ‘Ah! But what? Detective stories, scandals, and the sporting news.’ No doubt, compared with Sunday newspapers and mystery stories, the Oedipus, Hamlet and Faust are very small beer. All the same, the number of volumes issued each year continually gains on the number of the population in all Western countries. Every phase and question of life is brought more and more into the limelight. Theatres, cinemas, the radio, and even lectures, assist the process. But they do not, and should not replace reading, because when we are just watching and listening, somebody is taking very good care that we should not stop and think. The danger in this age is not of our remaining ignorant; it is that we should lose the power of thinking for ourselves. Problems are more and more put before us, but, except to crossword puzzles and detective mysteries, do we attempt to find the answers for ourselves? Less and less. The short cut seems ever more and more desirable. But the short cut to knowledge is nearly always the longest way round. There is nothing like knowledge, picked up by or reasoned out for oneself.”

John Galsworthy, Candelabra: Selected Essays and Addresses
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Candelabra: Selected Essays and Addresses Candelabra: Selected Essays and Addresses by John Galsworthy
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