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The Books in My Life The Books in My Life by Henry Miller
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“A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition. Like money, books must be kept in constant circulation... A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“الكتابة بخط اليد على الجدار ليست غامضة ولا مهددة لمن يستطيع أن يترجمها. الجدران تنهار، وتنهار معها مخاوفنا وترددنا. لكن آخر جدار ينهار هو ذاك الذى يطوّق الذات داخله. ومن لا يقرأ بعينىّ الذات لا يقرأ أبدا. العين الداخلية تخترق الجدران كلها، وتفك طلاسم الخطوط كلها. تترجم "الرسائل" كلها. انها ليست عيناً قارئة أو مخمنة، بل عين واشية؛ لا تتلقى النور من الخارج، بل تُصدر نوراً. نوراً وفرحاً. وعبر النور والفرح ينفتح العالم، ينكشف ليبدو كما هو: جمال يفوق الوصف، وخلق لا ينتهى.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“الطريقة التي يقرأ بها المرء كتابا، هي الطريقة التي يقرأ بها الحياة.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“أليست الكتب تساعدنا و ترشدنا في شق طريقنا الصعبة في البرية يقول نابليون لن يذهب بعيدا من يعرف مسبقا الى أين يذهب”
هنري ميللر, The Books in My Life
“يدهمنا اليأس فنتحول إلى الكتب، ونضع ثقتتا في المؤلفين، فنلجأ إلى الأحلام.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“إن الكتب التي يقرؤها المرء تحددها شخصية المرء نفسه.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“In this age, which believes that there is a short cut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest. All that is set forth in books, all that seems so terribly vital and significant, is but an iota of that from which it stems and which it is within everyone’s power to tap. Our whole theory of education is based on the absurd notion that we must learn to swim on land before tackling the water. It applies to the pursuit of the arts as well as to the pursuit of knowledge. Men are still being taught to create by studying other men’s works or by making plans and sketches never intended to materialize. The art of writing is taught in the classroom instead of in the thick of life. Students are still being handed models which are supposed to fit all temperaments, all kinds of intelligence. No wonder we produce better engineers than writers, better industrial experts than painters.

My encounters with books I regard very much as my encounters with other phenomena of life or thought. All encounters are configurate, not isolate. In this sense, and in this sense only, books are as much a part of life as trees, stars or dung. I have no reverence for them per se. Nor do I put authors in any special, privileged category. They are like other men, no better, no worse. They exploit the powers given them, just as any other order of human being. If I defend them now and then — as a class — it is because I believe that, in our society at least, they have never achieved the status and the consideration they merit. The great ones, especially, have almost always been treated as scapegoats.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“The principal aim underlying this work is to render homage where homage is due, a task which I know beforehand is impossible of accomplishment. Were I to do it properly, I would have to get down on my knees and thank each blade of grass for rearing its head. What chiefly motivates me in this vain task is the fact that in general we know all too little about the influences which shape a writer’s life and work. The critic, in his pompous conceit and arrogance, distorts the true picture beyond all recognition. The author, however truthful he may think himself to be, inevitably disguises the picture. The psychologist, with his single-track view of things, only deepens the blur. As author, I do not think myself an exception to the rule. I, too, am guilty of altering, distorting and disguising the facts — if ‘facts’ there be. My conscious effort, however, has been — perhaps to a fault– in the opposite direction. I am on the side of revelation, if not always on the side of beauty, truth, wisdom, harmony and ever-evolving perfection. In this work I am throwing out fresh data, to be judged and analyzed, or accepted and enjoyed for enjoyment’s sake. Naturally I cannot write about all the books, or even all the significant ones, which I have read in the course of my life. But I do intend to go on writing about books and authors until I have exhausted the importance (for me) of this domain of reality.

To have undertaken the thankless task of listing all the books I can recall ever reading gives me extreme pleasure and satisfaction. I know of no author who has been mad enough to attempt this. Perhaps my list will give rise to more confusion — but its purpose is not that. Those who know how to read a man know how to read his books.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“if my memory serves me right, here is my genealogical line: Boccaccio, Petronius, Rabelais, Whitman, Emerson, Thoreau, Maeterlinck, Romain Rolland, Plotinus, Heraclitus, Nietzsche, Dostoievsky (and other Russian writers of the Nineteenth Century), the ancient Greek dramatists, theElizabethan dramatists (excluding Shakespeare), Theodore Dreiser, Knut Hamsun, D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Elie Faure, Oswald Spengler, Marcel Proust, Van Gogh, the Dadaists and Surrealists, Balzac, Lewis Carroll, Nijinsky, Rimbaud, Blaise Cendrars, Jean Giono, Celine, everything I read on Zen Buddhism, everything I read about China, India, Tibet, Arabia, Africa, and of course the Bible, the men who wrote it and especially the men who made the King James version, for it was the language of the Bible rather than its “message” which I got first and which I will never shake off.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“And, though reading may not at first blush seem like an act of creation, in a deep sense it is. Without the enthusiastic reader, who is really the author's counterpart and very often his most secret rival, a book would die.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“Every man has his own destiny;the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
tags: humor
“Our whole theory of education is based on the absurd notion that we must learn to swim on land before tackling the water. It applies to the pursuit of the arts as well as to the pursuit of knowledge.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“One of the results of this self-examination — for that is what the writing of this book amounts to — is the confirmed belief that one should read less and less, not more and more…. I have not read nearly as much as the scholar, the bookworm, or even the ‘well-educated’ man — yet I have undoubtedly read a hundred times more than I should have read for my own good. Only one out of five in America, it is said, are readers of ‘books.’ But even this small number read far too much. Scarcely any one lives wisely or fully.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“Our world is rapidly drawing to a close; a new one is about to open. If it is to flourish it will have to rest on deeds as well as faith. The word will have to become flesh.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“Whereas our young in years see with a dim, blurred vision; they are filled with fear and fright. The thought which haunts them day and night is—will this world be snuffed out before we have had a chance to enjoy it? And there is no one who dares to tell them that even if the world were snuffed out tomorrow, or the day after, it would not really matter—since the life they crave to enjoy is imperishable. Nor does any one tell them that the destruction of this planet, or its preservation and everlasting glory, hinges on their own thoughts, their own deeds.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“I would say that the “masterpiece” was the creative act itself and not a particular work which happened to please a large audience and be accepted as the very body of Christ.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“I said that sometimes it is an esteemed author who puts one on the track of a buried book. “What! He liked that book?” you say to yourself, and immediately the barriers fall away and the mind becomes not only open and receptive but positively aflame. Often it happens that it is not a friend of similar tastes who revives one’s interest in a dead book but a chance acquaintance. Sometimes this individual gives the impression of being a nitwit, and one wonders why he should retain the memory of a book which this person casually recommended, or perhaps did not recommend at all but merely mentioned in the course of conversation as being an “odd” book. In a vacant mood, at loose ends, as we say, suddenly the recollection of this conversation occurs, and we are ready to give the book a trial. Then comes a hock, the shock of discovery.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“Read as little as possible, not as much as possible! Oh, do not doubt that I have envied those who have drowned in books. I, too, would secretly like to wade through all those books I have so long toyed with in my mind. But I know it is not important. I know now that I did not need to read even a tenth of what I have read. The most difficult thing in life is to learn to do only what is strictly advantageous to one’s welfare, strictly vital…When you stumble upon a book you would like to read, or think you ought to read, leave it alone for a few days. But think about it as intensely as you can. Let the title and the author’s name revolve in your mind. Think what you yourself might have written had the opportunity been yours. Ask yourself earnestly if it be absolutely necessary to add this work to your store of knowledge or your fund of enjoyment. Try to imagine what it would mean to forego this extra pleasure or enlightenment. Then, if you find you must read the book, observe with what extraordinary acumen you tackle it. Observe, too, that however stimulating it may be, very little of the book is really new to you. If you are honest with yourself you will discover that your stature has increased from the mere effort of resisting your impulses.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“قد يجد الفنان، حتى في عصرنا ، أن مخيلته تنشط بشدة ويتحسن عمله بقوة إذا علم أن كل ما لم يبذل فيه أقصى جهده سوف يوصله إلى المشنقة، بمحاكمة أو من غير حكم المحلفين

- هنري آدمز”
هنري ميللر, The Books in My Life
“The vast body of literature, in every domain, is composed of hand-me-down ideas. The question — never resolved, alas! — is to what extent it would be efficacious to curtail the overwhelming supply of cheap fodder. One thing is certain today — the illiterate are definitely not the least intelligent among us. If it be knowledge or wisdom one is seeking, then one had better go direct to the source. And the source is not the scholar or philosopher, not the master, saint, or teacher, but life itself — direct experience of life. The same is true for art. Here, too, we can dispense with ‘the masters.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“I can never forget that Chinese student I knew in Paris - Mr. Tcheou, I think it was. One day, upon asking him if he had ever read Hamlet, he answered: "You mean that novel by Jack London?”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
“في هذا العصر، الذي يؤمن بأن هناك طريقًا مختصرة إلى كل غاية، أعظم درس يتعلمه المرء هو أن الطريق الأصعب هي، على المدى الطويل، الأسهل. وكل ما بُثَ في الكتب، كل ما يبدو حيويًا وهامًا إلى أقصى مدى، ليس إلا مثقال ذرة من الأصل الذي نبت منه. وكامل نظريتنا عن الثقافة قائمة على الفكرة التافهة أن علينا أن نتعلم السباحة على اليابسة قبل أن ننزل المياه.”
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life