Books, They Are the Finest Thing

Petrarch, Letter to Giovanni dell’Incisa:

“One insatiable desire has me in its grip: I was not able to rein it in, nor did I wish to. I flatter myself that the lust for noble things is not itself ignoble. Are you waiting to hear the nature of my malady? I am unable to be fully sated with books, and I have perhaps more than is proper. But just as in other matters of life, so too in the world of books: success in getting them is really just a spur to further avarice. There is, rather, something singular in books: gold, silver, gems, fine clothes, marble houses, cultivated fields, fine paintings, decked-out horses, and other things of the sort have a dull and superficial pleasure about them, but books delight us to the very marrow of our bones, they converse with us, they advise us, and the are joined to us with a real living and finely-fashioned familiarity. Not only does every book insinuate itself deep into its readers, but it brings forth the names of other books, and every book creates a desire for yet another.”

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Una inexplebilis cupiditas me tenet, quam frenare hactenus non potui, certe nec volui : mihi enim interblandior, honestarum rerum non inhonestam esse cupidinem. Exspectas audire morbi genus? Libris satiari nequeo: et habeo plures forte quam oportet. Sed sicut in ceteris rebus, sic in libris accidit: quaerendi successus avaritiæ calcar est; quin imo singulare quoddam in libris est. Aurum, argentum, gemmæ, purpurea vestis, marmorea domus, cultus ager, pictæ tabulæ, phaleratus sonipes, ceteraque id genus, mutam habent et superficiariam voluptatem; libri medullitus delectant, colloquuntur, consulunt, et viva quadam nobis atque arguta familiaritate junguntur. Neque solum sese lectoribus suis quisque insinuat, sed et aliorum nomen ingerit, et alter alterius desiderium facit.

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