Georges Duhamel : In Defense of Letters


Portrait de Georges Duhamel (Berthold Mahn, 1919)




Georges Duhamel

In Defense of Letters

(1937)




Quotes




"Culture is at once the expression and the reward of an effort, and any system of civilization which tends to relax effort will suffer a corresponding depreciation of culture.“



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"It is an extraordinary thing that this civilization, which wears out our nerves and exacts an almost painful effort from us in all our doings, should be at great pains to spare the mass of people that intellectual effort which is the only measure of true culture.“


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"Today the man in the street is fed, morally as well as physically, on a mass of debris which has no resemblance to a nourishing diet. There is no method in this madness, which is the very negation of culture."



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"Radio and cinema are daily playing a more and more important part, not only in the amusements of the twentieth-century man, but also in the visible formation of his character.“


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"Radio is now the chief agent of imperialism. It does not purify the spirit of man, does not, like the book, bring him back to the sanctuary of solitude, but throws him to the lions, subtly preparing his mind for the blood and chains of public sacrifice."



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"... The cinema and the radio, and the effect they have had in weakening the impulse to spiritual effort.“



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„When I say, “Beware of the radio if you want to improve your mind,” I am warning the public against their worst enemy, conformity.“


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"For many people in the future, radio will take the place of an inner life."



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"Use your radio, but know how to distrust it — and do not let a day go by without reading and meditation if you want to save your soul, that soul which is yours and yours alone."



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"The book is one of the springs of creative individualism, that individualism which, in these uncertain times, remains the guardian angel of human society. For five hundred years the book has been, for the solitary mind, an incomparable instrument of uplift and liberation.“



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"If the public gets out of the habit of reading they will not come back to it. We shall enter a new phase of our history from which there is no turning back.“

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"If humanity were to lose its libraries, not only would it be deprived of certain treasures of art, certain spiritual riches, but, more important still, it would lose its recipes for living.“


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"In books may be found the recipes for manufacture of a steam-engine alongside the recipes for daily living — the prescriptions for the mind and the heart."



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"What a teacher imparts by word of mouth is nothing in comparison with what he teaches us to get for ourselves from books."



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"Books are the friends of solitude. They develop individuality and freedom. In solitary reading a man who is seeking himself has some chance of finding himself."




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