Why read old books? A case for the classic, the unusual, the neglected

Michael Dirda in The Washington Post:

In “What Is Literature?” Jean-Paul Sartre emphasized that authors shouldn’t think about posterity but rather write for their own time. This has always struck me as an obvious precept, even when poets and novelists can’t help but hope that somehow their best work might become, as Horace boasted of his odes, a monument more lasting than bronze.

At least journalists know that that’s never going to happen.

Ephemerality, however, simply makes it more urgent to read 2022’s best books right now: After all, they address the hopes and dreams, the anxieties and fears of this moment. They will also deliver considerable pleasure, add to your understanding and — to sound a bit corny — enrich your inner self. Not least, you will have done your part to keep literature, critical inquiry and scholarship vital and flourishing in what sometimes seems a barbaric age.

More here.