Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Pleasure of Books

An ordinary man can surround himself with two thousand books and thenceforward have at least one place in the world in which it is possible to be happy.
--Augustine Birrell

Quite some time ago, I read a biography of Giacomo Casanova, who is probably the most famous libertine of all time. As with me, the two greatest passions of his life were the pursuit of sex and books. Casanova spent the last part of life, after his virility had faded and he could no longer pursue new lovers, as the librarian
to Count Joseph Karl von Waldstein in the Castle of Dux in Bohemia (now Czech Republic). This was also where he wrote his autobiography, which is still in print.

The above quote reminded me of this, and I thought it was quite a fitting retirement for a bibliophile libertine. When the time comes for me that I'll no longer be able to catch the lovers I pursue (and not do them any good if I did!), the prospect of spending my last years surrounded by books and learning is not a bad one. Though my primary pleasure will then be just many happy memories, there will still be much pleasure to be had by reading. Nevertheless, I sincerely hope my "retirement" is still many years in the future.

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