As cultivated people know (and, to their misfortune, uncultivated people do
not), culture is above all a matter of orientation. Being cultivated is a matter
not of having read any book in particular, but of being able to find your
bearings within books as a system, which requires you to know that they form a
system and to be able to locate each element in relation to the others. The
interior of the book is less important than its exterior, or, if you prefer, the
interior of the book is its exterior, since what counts in a book is the books
It is, then, hardly important if a cultivated person hasn't read a given book,
for though he has no exact knowledge of its content, he may still know its
location, or in other words how it is situated in relation to other books. This
distinction between the content of a book and its location is fundamental, for
it is this that allows those unintimidated by culture to speak without trouble
on any subject.
For instance, I've never "read" Joyce's Ulysses, and it's quite plausible that
I never will. The "content" of the book is thus largely foreign to meits
content, but not its location. Of course, the content of a book is in large part
its location. This means that I feel perfectly comfortable when Ulysses comes up
in conversation, because I can situate it with relative precision in relation to
other books. I know, for example, that it is a retelling of the Odyssey, that
its narration takes the form of a stream of consciousness, that its action
unfolds in Dublin in the course of a single day, etc. And as a result, I often
find myself alluding to Joyce without the slightest anxiety.
U.S. ebook sales up in 2012, but rate of growth is slowing(May 16 2013) In 2012, trade book sales (i.e. non academic book sales) rose 6.9%, to $15.049 billion, and e-book sales continued to grow, although the rate of growth...