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Through the Magic Door: On miracles and wonders of books

“My judgments may differ very far from yours and my likings may be your abhorrence; but the mere thinking and talking of books is in itself good, be the upshot what it may.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle takes readers to the wonder land, which is in the other side of magic door, in his book-length essay “Through the Magic Door”. Indeed, books are the magic doors to escape “the world and its troubles, hopes and fears, headaches and heartaches, ambitions and disappointments”.

Arthur claims that reading books is an intellectual exercise which gets readers abs in their brain. Books help to develop thinking power, to enhance creativity, to learn history of human race, and to grow mentally. “Hereditary impulse, personal experience, books—those are the three forces which go to the making of man.” Books are the medium to be a wise and sociable human.

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In “Through the Magic Door”, Doyle plunges readers sometimes to the character of “Ivanhoe” by Walter Scott, sometimes thrusts followers to the life of Johnson through the lens of Boswell, sometimes leads believers to the life story of Gibbon, and sometimes leaves achievers to explore diary of Samuel Pepy. Doyle focuses and urges readers to taste the flavors of actual knowledge while hiding themselves into the pages of books.

“I do not think good work is often overlooked. Literature like water, finds its true level. Opinion is slow to form, but it sets true at last.” Arthur believes in the power of books. He introduces the four books of George Borrow, which revives the past century, and Jackson’s “pugilistic” narratives. He marvels the progeny of Edgar Allan Poe’s style full of detective and crime fiction elements in his short story and lauds novelty of Rudyard Kipling’s short narratives and essays.

Books are the repository of knowledge. “Here behind this magic door is the rest house, where you may forget the past, enjoy the present, and prepare for the future.” It helps to learn the past of human race. To give the glimpse of the past, Doyle opens the pages of historical novels “The Cloister and the Hearth” and “War and Peace” by Charles Reade and Leo Tolstoy respectively.

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These historical novels, according to Arthur, contain a blending of knowledge with imagination, which makes it stand alone in our literature. Through the memoirs of Napoleon which represents the richest French literature in memoirs, he hints readers the other aspect of the life of a conqueror. Arthur sings the praise of Henly’s “Song of the Sword” and travels world with the Captain Scott’s “Voyage of the Discovery in Antarctic”.

Doyle also considers three authors: Fielding, Richardson and Smollett, each with three books which give the most important and distinct branch of English Literature. “The best is always the most natural.” Jules Verne’s “Voyage to the moon” based in science-fiction deals with the future in the most appealing way. He believes that Darwin’s “Origin of Species”, Myre’s “Human Personality”, and Flammarion’s “L’atmosphere”, all the books of science, signifies great charm in any branch of literature.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s essay “Through the Magic Door” reveals the miracles and wonders of books. “They picture only one side of life and that is a strange and exceptional one.” All in all, books are just the imitation of real life.

Notable Quotation from the book:

  • The coward who has sense of duty enough to overcome his cowardice is the most truly brave of mankind.
  • The ideal biographer should be a perfectly impartial man, with a sympathetic mind, but a stern determination to tell the absolute truth.
  • Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind over tasked.
  • Writers are like a conduit pipes from the infinite reservoir of the unknown.
  • The essay must always be a somewhat repellant form of literature, unless it is handled with the lightest and deftest touch.
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