Reading is Like Eating: Here’s How It’s Done

Pier Paolo Vergerio, de ingenuis moribus et liberalibus adulescentiae studiis, L:

“In learning, however, it often happens that that which should have been a great help turns out to be a great impediment – I am talking, of course, about eagerness for learning, from which it sometimes happens that students want to take in everything, but are able to retain none of it. For, just as excess food does not nourish the stomach, but rather affects it with disgust while aggravating and weakening the rest of the body, so does the great mass of facts heaped up into the mind easily slip away in the present, while making one’s mind weaker in the future. Therefore, those who are eager for learning should always read many things, but each day they should select a few which their memory is able to let simmer; in this way, they can register three or four things (depending on their mental strength and free time) as the profit of the day. By reading other things it happens that they can preserve by meditation those things which they have already learned, and can make those things which they haven’t learned more familiar every day by constant reading.”

A Renaissance book-wheel

In discendo autem solet esse plerisque impedimento id quod magno adiumento esse debuerat, multa videlicet cupiditas discendi; qua fit ut dum omnia pariter complecti volunt, nihil tenere valeant. Ut enim superfluus cibus non nutrit sed stomachum quidem fastidio afficit, reliquum vero corpus aggravat atque infirmat, ita multa rerum copia simul ingesta memoriae, et facile in praesenti elabitur et in futurum imbecilliorem vim eius reddit. Semper igitur multa legant disciplinae studiosi, sed pauca quotidie deligant quae decoquere eorum memoria possit; sicque tria aut quattuor plurave, ut cuiusque vis erit aut otium, pro eius diei praecipuo lucro seorsum reponant. Alia vero legendo id consequentur, ut quae iam didicerunt meditatione salvent, quae vero nondum, quotidie magis familiaria sibi legendo faciant.

3 thoughts on “Reading is Like Eating: Here’s How It’s Done

  1. Someone certainly consumed, digested, and regurgitated into his own words his Seneca (especially his second epistle).

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