For a short while this morning the sun burst through the clouds. I was quite taken aback. A beam of light suddenly beat its way through my half-drawn curtains, lighting up the section of my book shelf devoted to classic whodunits. There, to my left, the spines of my Agatha Christies shone out brilliantly, the titles glinting in the unexpected radiance.
Sadly enough, my first reaction to this sunlight was to pull the curtains shut – the spines of the books on my shelves are already damaged enough. Then, I started to wonder whether I should take this as a reminder to re-read these (mostly) brilliant novels.
Reading in the sunshine can often be difficult. The light can glare off of the white page in such a way as to make it impossible to focus on the words. Sometimes it can be too bright.
I have, as it happens, read Agatha Christie’s books in the bright light of the Mediterranean sun. Several years ago I had the good fortune to travel to Greece. My reading on that occasion was incongruous to say the least: the Dame’s Hallowe'en Party and Mrs McGinty’s Dead. But, what would have been more fitting? If I had read Plato?
Actually, about a year ago I can remember reading Book VII of Plato’s The Republic in the English autumn sunshine. The light glared and I found myself slightly dazed. It was as though I had myself just stepped out of the cave of the famous allegory.
It has clouded back over now. I’ve opened the curtains once more. I no longer run the risk of being dazzled.