Rose Macaulay on Mrs Hilary’s reading habits

“Mrs Hilary cared nothing for style; she liked nice life-like books about people as she believed them to be… But Mrs Hilary had learnt that intelligent people seldom liked the books which seemed to her to be about real, natural people,  any more than they admired the pictures which struck her as being like things as they were. Though she thought those who differed from her profoundly wrong, she never admitted ignorance of the books they admired. For she was in a better position to differ from them about a book if she had nominally read it – and really it didn’t matter if she had actually done so or not, for she knew beforehand what she would think of it if she had. So well she knew this, indeed, that the line between books she had read and  hadn’t read was, even in her own mind, smudgy and vague, not hard and clear as with most people.”

from Dangerous Ages (1921)

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