a quote from Senancour: communal solitude in the library

As I mentioned in a recent post, I'm reading Charles Rosen's The Romantic Generation.

Still immersed in the epic chapter 3, "Mountains and Song Cycles", I – as one who works in "libraries" (what, pray tell, does or doesn't a library make?) – found this interesting passage from the first chapter of Letter 11 of Etiene Senancour's Obermann.

Rosen's English translation is as thus:

Fairly often I pass two hours at the library, not exactly to learn something – that desire has considerably cooled – but because, not knowing what exactly to do with the hours that however drain away irreparably, I find them less painful when I employ them outside than when I have to spend them at home. Forced occupations suit me in my discouragement; too much liberty would leave me in indolence. I am more at peace among those who are silent as I am than alone in the middle of a tumultuous populace. I love these long halls, some lonely, others filled with attentive people, ancient and cold depository of human striving and all human vanities.

The French version from the work can be read on the Project Gutenebrg site here.

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