On Reading Slowly

Just a thought, nothing more:

I wonder if all the intellectual virtues can be had merely through reading carefully.

Usually we encourage students to get books done so we can start discussing the whole. But that quite obviously serves the end of rereading, of getting more out of the book the second time.

Rereading is one way to simply read well. There, one has to know the whole book in order to be able to truly appreciate its parts.

Patience, diligence, a sense of justice (only a well-constructed text can be given this sort of treatment), fraternity (in a sense, the author’s words are closer to one than some people), contemplation, appreciation all seem to attend reading one line at a time and trying to make the most out of it. To get one book done well is quite an accomplishment, and that’s what reading should be, no?

It would seem, however, that anyone who merely worships the book using this type of reading would be exceptionally crazy. If those virtues are indeed involved, they would be twisting those virtues towards an unnatural end.

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