This question follows on from last month’s about rereading. As I grow older and reread some of my former favorites, I find that some of them have lost their luster. What formerly seemed so powerful and full of insight now shows its limitations. I might find it poorly written, or full of holes and inconsistencies I never noticed before, or simply uninspiring.
Is this due to age, or experience, or changing tastes? In what does the magic reside, and why does it sometimes flee?
I would hesitate to say it’s because I’ve become so much more wise and mature myself, and that anyone who adores these books must be on a lower level of literary appreciation. It’s more that some alchemical process has changed … some element has shifted in me and no longer wakens the corresponding reaction in the book.
If that reaction still occurs for other readers — fantastic! It was real for me the first time, and I’m glad it’s real for you.
But it leaves me a little sad, and longing for that wonderful, transcendent experience I once had. Fortunately, there are still so many books to discover and fall in love with, all over again. I hope I will never outgrow that.
Are there books you seem to have left behind, as you have changed and grown through life? Can you say what makes you feel that way?