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Fadiman Anne "Never Do that to a Book" – a Comparison of Two Different Types of Book Owners

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In the essay “Never Do That to a Book” written by Anne Fadiman, she describes two different types of book owners, “courtly lovers and carnal lovers,” through a series of personal experiences beginning in the first paragraph. It becomes clear how the Fadiman treated their books when the hotel maid “found [them] guilty of rampant book abuse” in the second paragraph. She makes it clear that the “carnal approach” is best at the end as courtly owners miss out on opportunities when “the only thing they are permitted to do… is read them!”

The time and place that began Anne Fadiman’s “Never Do That to a Book” was at the “Hotel d’ Angleterre in Copenhagen” where a maid commented about her brother’s book manners. The rest of Fadiman’s experiences that she describes occurs “during the next thirty years” where she learns to identify different book owners. Her ideas are influenced from these thirty years with interactions from her brother, husband, friends, and even an old editor throughout her life time after this encounter.

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The audience of “Never Do That to a Book” written by Anne Fadiman is directed generally towards readers as she “loves books herself, so much so that she wants them to hear her mark.” Fadiman connects to her readers through personal experiences and validates her argument by referencing Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and more. She uses interesting examples of book owners like an emperor who “died after consuming the complete Book of Kings” in order to keep them engaged.

In Anne Fadiman’s “Never Do That to a Book,” her purpose is to make readers realize “what courtly lover miss” by being too careful with books. From her wisdom and experiences with different book owners, Fadiman wants to show benefits of “the carnal approach” and furthers her argument by describing main figures in history, an old editor, and friends. Readers are shown, through Fadiman’s experiences and examples, how much can be gained by treating a book correctly.

Anne Fadiman creates different subjects in her essay “Never Do That to a Book” such as her brother Kim, “courtly lovers and carnal lovers,” her old editor Byron Dobell, college classmates, and her friend Clark. She reveals these different ideas through a “rich series of anecdotes” relating to the care that different people give their books. She begins with a main experience that sparked an interest for years to follow. With her background, readers are exposed to all the types of conditions owners keep their books.

Written by Anne Fadiman, “Never Do That to a Book” has an assertive and reflective tone that is developed through her diction and recollection of experiences. First, she puts forth her opinion using words such as “always” or “absolutely none.” Fadiman argues against “Hilaire Belloc, a courtly lover” by repeating, “What would Belloc have thought…” as she describes carnal examples repeatedly, clearly showing self-confidence. When she says, “During the next thirty years I came to realize,” it begins a reflective attitude as her experiences are described.

The theme of Anne Fadiman’s “Never Do That to a Book” is that one is able to gain so much more mentally and physically through making “books their own” by ignoring the appearance. She explains how much careful book owners miss out on as “carnal lovers are likely to leave romantic mementos.” From Fadiman’s personal examples, it can be seen that a book is greater than just the ideas within, if the reader allows. She wants to share this lesson with the audience as an author through her experiences over the many years of being a reader.

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