Magazine September 30, 2019, Issue

Reading Like a Child

Detail of an illustration from the cover of an edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses (Golden Books)
The rewards of approaching literature with a sense of our relative smallness

My first — and later, and late — impression of books has been that they are (both collectively and individually) too big for me. My parents were proud to join the new mid-century middle class, and they installed bookshelves in the old farmhouse where they raised their family. The shelves were just four pine planks on metal brackets, but the structure seemed towering to me as a toddler. The National Geographic volume on the ancient world that I had pulled off the bottom shelf sprawled beyond my lap as I sat on the floor with it.

There was the same sort

This article appears as “Literature from On High” in the September 30, 2019, print edition of National Review.

Sarah Ruden’s most recent books are the extensively revised second edition of her Aeneid translation and her new translation of the Gospels.

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