The following quote is from the Victorian writer Thomas Carlyle’s Past and Present, which I confess I haven’t read, but now want to. I gleaned this quote from a novel I just finished, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Marry Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. My wife Kay urged me to read this book, and I’m glad I did. It is one of those rare books that makes you want to read other books that would otherwise seem too daunting or fusty to seek out. I won’t say more about the novel, except that it’s a moving and artful meditation on how reading creates communities that sustain people in believable and profound ways.

Here’s Carlyle:

Does it ever give thee pause, that men used to have a soul – not by hearsay alone, or as a figure of speech; but as a truth that they knew, and acted upon! Verily it was another world then … but yet it is a pity we have lost the tidings of our souls … we shall have to go in search of them again, or worse in all ways shall befall us.