The Higher Powers of Language

I’m currently reading one of my favorites kinds of books: Victorian gothic. I love the genre for its themes of darkness and light, its use of vibrant, elaborate, flowery language and shadowy characters, its expertly woven webs of complexity and intrigue, and perhaps most of all, for the undercurrent of a love for great literature. Victorian gothic novels feature principals that read almost as much as I do, and I find that this addition in character development supplements the storyline in ways that allow for greater intelligence, cunning, and imagination on the main character’s part. In essence, main characters who read make for better reads themselves.

Case in point, a quote from The Glass of Time, by Michael Cox, spoken by the main character’s tutor and remembered, written down, and conveyed to the reader by his pupil, Esperanza Gorst:

If we are insensible to the higher powers of language, then we are but crawling things upon the earth, mutely struggling towards the day of our extinction; but with the proper acquisition and use of language, in all its plenitude, we can contend with angels.

I, of course, immediately copied this bit down as well and haven’t stopped loving it since, and it got me thinking about other favorite novels that profess a passion for books, and I came up with a quick list. I think it’s clear my feelings about books like this, so by nature, these all come highly recommended.

P.S. The purpose of this post is to encourage reciprocal recommendations. Please, indulge me.

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

The Book of Lost Things, John Connolly

The Meaning of Night, Michael Cox

Atonement, Ian McEwan

The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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