„The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries.“

Last update June 3, 2021. History
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René Descartes45
French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist 1596 - 1650

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„I owe my conversion simply to the reading of a book.“

—  Heinrich Heine German poet, journalist, essayist, and literary critic 1797 - 1856

Religion and Philosophy in Germany, A fragment https://archive.org/stream/religionandphilo011616mbp#page/n5/mode/2up, p. 14-15
Context: In my latest book, "Komancero," I have explained the transformation that took place within me regarding sacred things. Since its publication many inquiries have been made, with zealous importunity, as to the manner in which the true light dawned upon me. Pious souls, thirsting after a miracle, have desired to know whether, like Saul on the way to Damascus, I had seen a light from heaven; or whether, like Balaam, the son of Beor, I was riding on a restive ass, that suddenly opened its mouth and began to speak as a man? No; ye credulous believers, I never journeyed to Damascus, nor do I know anything about it, save that lately the Jews there were accused of devouring aged monks of St. Francis; and I might never have known even the name of the city had I not read the Song of Solomon, wherein the wise king compares the nose of his beloved to a tower that looketh towards Damascus. Nor have I ever seen an ass, at least any four-footed one, that spake as a man, though I have often enough met men who, whenever they opened their mouths, spake as asses.
In truth, it was neither a vision, nor a seraphic revelation, nor a voice from heaven, nor any strange dream or other mystery that brought me into the way of salvation; and I owe my conversion simply to the reading of a book. A book? Yes, and it is an old, homely-looking book, modest as nature and natural as it; a book that has a work-a-day and unassuming look, like the sun that warms us, like the bread that nourishes us; a book that seems to us as familiar and as full of kindly blessing as the old grandmother who reads daily in it with dear, trembling lips, and with spectacles on her nose. And this book is called quite shortly the Book, the Bible. Rightly do men also call it the Holy Scripture; for he that has lost his God can find Him again in this Book, and towards him that has never known God it sends forth the breath of the Divine Word. The Jews, who appreciate the value of precious things, knew right well what they did when, at the burning of the second temple, they left to their fate the gold and silver implements of sacrifice, the candlesticks and lamps, even the breastplate of the High Priest adorned with great jewels, but saved the Bible. This was the real treasure of the Temple, and, thanks be to God!

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„I do not read a book; I hold a conversation with the author.“

—  Elbert Hubbard American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher fue el escritor del jarron azul 1856 - 1915

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„Books, like conversation, rarely give us any precise ideas: nothing is so common as to read and converse unprofitably. We must here repeat what Locke has so strongly urged—Define your terms.“

—  Voltaire French writer, historian, and philosopher 1694 - 1778

"Abuse of Words" http://www.gutenberg.org/files/35621/35621-h/35621-h.htm (1764)
C.f. Locke: "The names of simple ideas are not capable of any definition; the names of all complex ideas are. It has not, that I know, been yet observed by anybody what words are, and what are not, capable of being defined; the want whereof is (as I am apt to think) not seldom the occasion of great wrangling and obscurity in men's discourses, whilst some demand definitions of terms that cannot be defined; and others think they ought not to rest satisfied in an explication made by a more general word, and its restriction, (or to speak in terms of art, by a genus and difference), when, even after such definition, made according to rule, those who hear it have often no more a clear conception of the meaning of the word than they had before."
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) Book III http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/locke/locke1/Book3.html, chapter 4
Citas, Dictionnaire philosophique (1764)

Thorne Smith photo

„She reads a lot of books. Good things, books.“

—  Thorne Smith an American writer of humorous supernatural fantasy fiction 1892 - 1934

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„The only reason I read a book is because I cannot see and converse with the man who wrote it.“

—  Woodrow Wilson American politician, 28th president of the United States (in office from 1913 to 1921) 1856 - 1924

Speech in Kansas City (12 May 1905), PWW (The Papers of Woodrow Wilson) 16:99
Unsourced variant: I would never read a book if it were possible for me to talk half an hour with the man who wrote it.
1900s

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