Read or Barbarize

William Dean Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham (Chp. 9):

“All civilisation comes through literature now, especially in our country. A Greek got his civilisation by talking and looking, and in some measure a Parisian may still do it. But we, who live remote from history and monuments, we must read or we must barbarise. Once we were softened, if not polished, by religion; but I suspect that the pulpit counts for much less now in civilising.”

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, ‘The Reader’

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