return to stacks
This library is a catacomb in which each book is a tomb; and I who disturb its quietness visit the grim place like an improvident necromancer. I revive, as the whim takes me, one or another of the dead, where but for my unwholesome arts would decay peacefully each uncharmed compost of rags and glue and oak and macerated wood splinters. I offer an initiatory strange sacrifice, of time and eyesight…
– James Branch Cabell, These Restless Heads, (p. 195)
Which reminds me of a passage in Kenneth Dover’s autobiography (which I read after drifting through Martha Nussbaum’s review of it (no longer online, sadly), where he says that death is like the returning of a book to the stacks, and so he is unable to get worked up over the act of dying, though he had empathy enough for any suffering caused by it. Since I imprudently returned that book to the library, though, I am unable to provide an exact citation, and the reader must be content with the knowledge that the sentences in question occurred about a third of the way through, on the top part of the right hand page.