From the 2nd-3rd-century Chinese scholar Chang Ch’ao:

Reading books in one’s youth is like looking at the moon through a crevice; reading books in one’s middle age is like looking at the moon in one’s courtyard; and reading books in one’s old age is like looking at the moon on an open terrace. This is because the depth of benefits of reading varies in proportion to the depth of one’s own experience.

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  1. Hence the aphorism, “You don’t judge the book, the book judges you.”

    Jeffery Hodges

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    Posted August 2, 2014 at 8:22 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Or Lichtenberg’s observation that “a book is like a mirror: if an ape looks into it an apostle is hardly likely to look out.”

    Posted August 2, 2014 at 8:51 pm | Permalink
  3. Do you have any idea where to find the Chinese for that?

    Posted August 3, 2014 at 3:56 am | Permalink
  4. JK says


    Posted August 3, 2014 at 5:21 am | Permalink
  5. Oh sorry — I meant the bit from Chang Ch’ao (with all respect to Google Translate).

    Posted August 3, 2014 at 7:02 am | Permalink
  6. It was rather hard to track down, but the original with a translation is to be found here:

    The quote would be:


    You get a nice distinction between three verbs for the three ages — “peeping” for youth (“窥”), “looking at something from a distance / gazing at” for middle age (“望”) and the last “玩” apparently means to enjoy or to appreciate something. The explanation admits of an alternate translation:

    “Altogether the depth of one’s gains is determined by the depth of one’s experience.”

    I’m sure the article must be very interesting as well. Great quote!

    Posted August 3, 2014 at 7:21 am | Permalink
  7. Είναι τα ελληνικά μου.

    Posted August 3, 2014 at 10:48 am | Permalink