Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Letting Go (of Books etc.)

Stanley Fish, Moving On, NYTimes (May 27, 2013):


"I have sold my books. Not all of them, but most of them. I held on to the books I might need while putting the finishing touches on a manuscript that is now with my publisher. I also kept the books I will likely need when I begin my next project in the fall. But the books that sustained my professional life for 50 years ... are gone.


"The ostensible reason for this de-acquisition is a move from a fair-sized house to a much smaller apartment. It is true, as Anthony Powell said in a title, that books do furnish a room, but in this case, too many books, too little room. But the deeper reason is that it was time. What I saw on the shelves was work to which I would never return....

"... I had always thought that I could return to my annotated copies of familiar texts and pick up where I left off. That fantasy, I now see, was part and parcel of the core fantasy that I would just go on forever, defending old positions, formulating new ones, attending annual conferences, contributing to essay collections, speaking at various universities, teaching the same old courses, confidently answering the same old questions.

"I’m not going to go on forever. ...

"... Behind these musings is a word I can barely utter — 'retirement.' ..."


I recently retired from full-time teaching - but not from writing. So I threw away some of my books, but not most of them. In any event, quite a few of my books are for purely personal pleasure and are still unread. So I can't throw those away, can I?
  • Addendum: Some of my "academic" interests survive my retirement; some of the questions I ask myself genuinely interest (and preoccupy) me.

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