The book is the unit of measurement | Opinion

“Know that the world is like a book, that men are like letters, written pages are like time, and when one ends, the other begins.” A wonderful adventure story written in the fourteenth century, and Faris Zefar’s bookHe transformed us all into infinite letters of the alphabet and made the floor a series of pages in constant renewal under our feet. the sound the book (Latin phloem), Used in all Romance languages, it was already a happy medieval metaphor: to live means turning the pages. The creation of this picture was just another example of the books’ deep roots in the mentality and life of society, oddly enough so few are educated. Word the book It grows in our language, increasing the family of derivative forms (librarian, librarian…) And it leads to the emergence of wonderful phrases born of its apparent prestige. Here I will shorten it to three samples.

One of them is to understand that open books are symbols of honesty without deception. I write these words in Seville, in the neighborhood where Gustavo Adolfo Becker may have defined the rhyme in which the communicative gaze of a lover is compared to that of an open book: open book The poet said / Read below your pupils. Although we are very familiar with images like this, it is worth considering the importance of a metaphor like that of open bookBecause it makes this thing the equivalent of an expressive face or an eloquent look. The centrality of the book in Western culture is reflected in the appearance of this simile, which deposits in the book, a prominent verbal object, the same ability to communicate as the gaze, which communicates non-verbally.

Another image associated with books is the one that relates language ability and the ability to converse with them: “speaks like a book,” we say about a person distinguished by eloquence. Books are the main physical support for the transmission of verbal content, but writing is always secondary to what is being spoken; In fact, there are hundreds of unwritten languages ​​that are still important languages ​​and means of communication. Despite this, we symbolize the prestige of the written word compared to the spoken word in its most enduring product: the book.

Finally, books are also used as a yardstick that measures the accuracy or perfection of things, if something is “from a book” (“it is the object of a book”, “it is a book fraud”) then we assert that it is a perfect archetype of an imperfect reality. On the other hand, to be from a book is to be, in a category, perfect.

The position of the book as a giver of culture and knowledge, and a carrier of memory and material heritage, is manifested, in a nutshell, in all the considerations that have been made to this wonderful invention of culture from antiquity to today. But while this was happening in the language, while the speakers transformed the silhouette of the book into a formidable model and symbol, copies were stealthily entering homes, becoming part of the little privacy of people, becoming human. Silent reading, widespread in Europe since the late Middle Ages, placed the book in the homes of readers, not just in university libraries or choirs. Sixteenth century women kept prayer books, writings, and psalms in their skirts. Those who lived in the nineteenth century were already proficient readers of novels. It is precisely in that century when combinations such as “pocket book” or “bed book” appeared in our language. Around the same time, about 20 years after the approval of Moyano’s Law (1857), who attempted to improve education in Spain, the phrase “textbook” began to spread in Spanish as a way of naming a school directory. Homes and schools opened to the book as an everyday thing.

The book remains today in our language a prestigious unit of measure, pattern of enormity of knowledge and ability. It is such a great achievement that we venerate it in language in this way. It’s also a victory that this little machine changed the way we dream, enjoy ourselves and talk.

Today is a perfect week to honor writers, big and small. Because today begins that wide festival of readers and writers, the Madrid Book Fair. And because the city of Dos Hermanas in Seville held last Wednesday an end-of-year event for 24 reading clubs. One of them, Los Montecillos, was composed of old women who had no textbooks, had recently learned to read and immediately became diligent readers of novels. live them up. Long live books.

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