I always thought it was “Read at WILL”

“The critic said that once a year he read Kim; and he read Kim, it was plain, at whim: not to teach, not to criticize, just for love—he read it, as Kipling wrote it, just because he liked to, wanted to, couldn’t help himself. To him it wasn’t a means to a lecture or article, it was an end; he read it not for anything he could get out of it, but for itself. And isn’t this what the work of art demands of us? The work of art, Rilke said, says to us always: You must change your life. It demands of us that we too see things as ends, not as means—that we too know them and love them for their own sake. This change is beyond us, perhaps, during the active, greedy, and powerful hours of our lives; but duringthe contemplative and sympathetic hours of our reading, our listening, our looking, it is surely within our power, if we choose to make it so, if we choose to let one part of our nature follow its natural desires. So I say to you, for a closing sentence, Read at whim! read at whim!”
― Randall Jarrell

1 thought on “I always thought it was “Read at WILL””

  1. Well–duhhhhhh–yeah! Who in the world would think reading anything of your own free will was anything but GREAT–certainly not time(or a life!) wasted, in MY book!(ahem!)!!! My huge herd of books contains some of my best friends ever! And no matter how many times I reread my favorites, I get something new from them each read. You cannot POSSIBLY really know a book reading it just once, no more than you can know a person or animal after having just one conversation/interaction with them! I, too, reread MY favorite Kipling regularly too(perhaps not EVERY year, though)–"The Jungle Books"! Many's the time I have run with the Seonee Pack! "The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack!" I haven't had to read much of anything except just damn well what I WANT to since I broke reservation(graduated college) all those decades ago, so hard for me to even understand such a commentary as is on this post!…..L.B.


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