NCERT Class 11 English Elective What is a Good Book

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What Is A Good Book Class 11 English NCERT

Class 11 English students should refer to the following NCERT Book chapter What Is A Good Book in standard 11. This NCERT Book for Grade 11 English will be very useful for exams and help you to score good marks

What Is A Good Book NCERT Class 11

 

What is a Good Book?

The good book of the hour, then—I do not speak of the bad ones—is simply the useful or pleasant talk of some person whom you cannot otherwise converse with, printed for you. Very useful often, telling you what you need to know; very pleasant often, as a sensible friend’s present talk would be. These bright accounts of travels; good-humoured and witty discussions of question; lively or pathetic story-tellin  in the form of novel; firm fact-telling by the real agentsconcerned in the events of passing history—all these books of the hour, multiplying among us as education becomes more general, are a peculiar characteristic and possession of the present age: we ought to be entirely thankful for them, and entirely ashamed of ourselves if we make no good use of them. But we make the worst possible use if we allow them to usurp the place of true books: for, strictly speaking, they are not books at all but merely letters or newspapers in good print. Our friend’s letter may be delightful, or necessary, today: whether worth keeping or not, is to be considered. The newspaper may be entirely proper at breakfast time but, assuredly, it is not reading for all day. So, though bound up in a volume, the long letter which gives you so pleasant an account of the inns, and roads, and weather last year at such a place, or which tells you that amusing story or gives you the real circumstances of such and such events, however valuable for occasional reference, may not be, in the real sense o the word, a ‘book’ at all, nor, in the real sense, to be ‘read’.

A book is essentially not a talked thing but a written thing; and written, not with the view of more communication, but of permanence. The book of talk is printed only because its author cannot speak to thousands of people at once; if hecould, he would—the volume is mere ‘multiplication’ of his voice. You cannot talk to your friend in India; if you could,you would; you would write instead: that is mere ‘conveyance’ of voice. But a book is written, not to multiply the voice merely, not to carry it merely, but to preserve it. The author has something to say which he perceives to be true and useful, or helpfully beautiful. So far as he knows no one has yet said it; so far as he knows, no one else can say it. He is bound to say it, clearly and melodiously if he may; clearly, at all events. In the sum of his life he finds this to be the thing or group of things, manifest to him— this is the piece of true knowledge, or sight, which his share of sunshine and earth has permitted him to seize. He would fain set it down forever, engrave it on a rock, if he could, saying, ‘This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved, and hated, like another; my life was as the vapour, and is not; but this I saw and knew;  this, if anything, of mine, is worth your memory.’ That his ‘writing’, it is, in his small human way, and with whatever degree of true inspiration is in him, his inscription, or scripture.That is a ‘Book’.

Perhaps you think no books were ever so written? But, again, I ask you; do you at all believe in honesty or, at all, in kindness? Or do you think there is never any honesty or benevolence in wise people? None of us, I hope, are so unhappy as to think that. Well, whatever bit of a wise man’s work is honestly and benevolently done, that bit is his book, or his piece of art. It is mixed always with evil fragments—ill-done, redundant, affected work. But if you read rightly, you will easily discover the true bits, and those are the book.

UNDERSTANDING THE TEXT

1. What, according to Ruskin, are the limitations of the good book of the hour?

2. What are the criteria that Ruskin feels that readers should fulfil to make themselves fit for the company of the Dead.

3. Why does Ruskin feel that reading the work of a good author is a painstaking task?

4. What is the emphasis placed by Ruskin on accuracy?

TALKING ABOUT THE TEXT

Discuss in pairs

1. Ruskin’s insistence on looking intensely at words, and assuring oneself of meaning, syllable by syllable—nay, letter by letter.

2. Choice of diction is very crucial to the communication of meaning.

APPRECIATION

1. The text is an excerpt from Sesame and Lilies which consists of

two essays, primarily, written for delivery as public lectures in 1864. Identify the features that fit the speech mode. Notice the sentence patterns.

2. The lecture was delivered in 1864. What are the shifts in style and diction that make the language different from the way it is used today?


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