“I think that the self, in its quest to be free and solitary, ultimately reads with one aim only: to confront greatness. That confrontation scarcely masks the desire to join greatness, which is the basis of the aesthetic experience once called the Sublime: the quest for transcendence of limits.
“Our common fate is age, sickness, death, oblivion. Our common hope, tenuous but persistent, is for some version of survival.
“Confronting greatness as we read is an intimate and expensive process . . .”