Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The joyful release of meaning

"Until then, my forays into written French had been purely utilitarian, the completion of almost mathematical exercises. When I comprehended a new phrase, it was merely a bridge to the next exercise. Never before had I known the sudden quiver of understanding that travels from word to brain to heart, the way a new language can move, coil, spring into life under the eyes, the almost savage leap of comprehension, the instantaneous, joyful release of meaning, the way the words shared their printed bodies in a flash of heat and light. Since then I have known this moment of truth with other companions: German, Russian, Latin, Greek, and - for a brief hour - Sanskrit." From The Historian, (p. 188), a novel by Elisabeth Kostova (about Vlad the Impaler alias Dracula, about the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, about books, readers, libraries and historians) Interview with her at

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