On Destroying Books by J. C. Squire (1884-1958)
Notes by Sheikh Tahir
Sir John Collings Squire (1884-1958) was a British poet, writer, historian, and influential literary editor of the post-World War I period.
What sorts of books were presented to the troops by the public?
Out of two million books, most were quite ordinary and suitable ones but according to the statement given by the troops, some people were sending them the oddments they did not want which included magazines dating twenty years back, guides to the Lake District and back numbers of Whitaker Almanac.
Was it interest in soldiers that prompted people’s action or was it the wish to get rid of useless books?
According to J C Squire, the indigestible books presented to the troops were implying that the senders had jumped at the opportunity of getting rid of the books they did not want. We can not ...view middle of the document...
Leaving books in the rented room and finding residence elsewhere is also not easy. Burning them in fire is also a troublesome task. Books die hard according to the author.
Why couldn’t the author burn the unwanted books?
He had a big number of books at his apartment. Having no kitchen range hindered in a sudden destruction of the books. He could not burn the scores of books on his gas cooker. His study fire allowed the burning of the books only leaf after leaf which was even more difficult.
How did the writer decide to destroy the books?
The writer pondered over all the possible solutions to the problem of destroying books. He found it difficult either to leave the books in the room and escape or to burn them. At last he had no other option than to stuff the books in a sack and consign them to the river. So he finally chose the last option.
Describe the writer’s midnight venture to throw the books in the river and the suspicions which his actions were likely to arouse.
While going down the road, he got confused to see a cop and fancied to be taken as a thief with swag in the sack. He imagined that the midnight time, a fling of his arms and a splash of water would make the onlookers think that he had thrown a baby in the water. He expected to be arrested for this action.
How did the writer muster up courage to fling the books into the river?
Being unable to accomplish his task for a long time made him contempt himself on his timidity. The utmost despair aroused some courage in him. He became reckless and calling himself a hypocrite and a worm, he decided to take the plunge.
Did the writer come to have a feeling for those books once he had got rid of them?
While walking home, he thought a little sadly of all the books falling into the cold torrent and setting on the ooze of the bottom of the river. He thought that the books would lie there forlorn and forgotten covered with mud into the opaque brown tides. He thought that their doom was more horrible than what they deserved.