• It would have been impossible for me to have told anyone what I derived from these novels, for it was nothing less than a sense of life itself. [...] It had been only through books - at best, no more than vicarious cultural transfusions - that I had managed to keep myself alive in a negatively vital way. Whenever my environment had failed to support or nourish me, I had clutched at books; consequently, my belief in books had risen more out of a sense of desperation than from any abiding conviction of their ultimate value.