Reading’s intimate moments

The always thoughtful David Malouf addressed the National Library of Australia’s literature conference, ‘Love and Desire’, this weekend. His speech appears (in edited form) in The Age:

Nothing in the whole heady business of writing is more mysterious than the relationship between writer and reader. That is, the spell that is cast on the willing reader by the writer’s voice; the way we internalise that voice and make it, for the time of the reading, our own, so that the experience it brings us seems no less personal and real than what we experience in the world.
When we speak of being unable to put a book down, it isn’t that we can’t wait to find out what happens next. It’s that we don’t want to give up the close and quite tender intimacy that has been established; we do not want to break the spell.
… This is what we, as writers, deal in daily, a dimension, continuously negotiated, of mind, tone, language, where the writer’s consciousness and the reader’s imperceptibly merge, in an intimacy where, all conditions being propitious, I and other, mind and the world, are one.

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