Ray Bradbury, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (1953)

A fantastic fable on 1950s US political consensus, an attack on our desensitisation, our reliance on TV. And, in these times of cuts to arts and humanities, a wonderful ode to thinking, creativity, reflection – a restatement of the perpetual value of the ‘intellectual’, of inquiry and of ideas. Nietzsche would love this. Robust discourse. The path of uncertainty – but of truth. Out with ‘reason’, in with the beautiful, the aesthetic and theĀ real.

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Marcel Proust, ‘In Search of Lost Time, Vol. 1: Swann’s Way’ (1913)

I’d give three out of four limbs to be able to write like him, and, even presuming that the limb saved was my writing arm, and that I had to spend as much time as he did in bed, ignoring for a second that it was due to asthma, an affliction we both share, it would still be highly doubted that I could be anywhere near as adept, majestic or grand with my prose, my memories, my faces.

Alan Bennett, ‘The Uncommon Reader’ (2007)

Seems to suggest that the Queen would abdicate, awaken to moral sensibilities, become a liberal, publicly attack the government, if only she readĀ literature! And quip! The Queen does not quip! She’s a miserable boot, icon of dreary, dull conservatism, shirts-too-tightly-buttoned establishment pomp. Bennett is smug. As if reading literature makes you a more worthy human being; as if it is a modern crisis that none of us read Proust. It is ahistorical nonsense. It is a poor tribute to Proust that so recklessly and dumbly recycles cliches about the Good Old Days.