Monday, April 11, 2005

Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the Four Classes of Readers

“Readers my be divided into four classes,” believed the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the famed author of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

The first of those classes Coleridge believed were the sponges. They were those, he said, “who absorb all they read and return it nearly in the same state, only a little dirtied.” Ouch! The second class consisted of the sand glass (moderns would know them as hourglass) readers. These retained nothing from their time with a book. Indeed, they were content to merely get through the book for the sake of passing the time. The third class? They were the strain-bags, like our day’s tea bags, who retained merely the dregs of what they read.
And, finally, Mr. Coleridge described the fourth class of readers as “mogul diamonds, equally rare and valuable, who profit by what they read and enable others to profit by it also.”

Mogul diamonds; that, of course, is the class to shoot for, becoming a reader that allows quality books to illuminate one's own life and then who gratefully passes the glistening shine on to others.