I should be a living treasury of knowledge and wisdom
(This post was a merit winner in the 2009 Power of Fiction competition.)
|Image: All Rights Reserved|
|London : Puffin|
“That, if it had been my good fortune to come into the world a Struldbrugg, as soon as I could discover my own happiness, by understanding the difference between life and death, I would first resolve, by all arts and methods, whatsoever, to procure myself riches. In the pursuit of which, by thrift and management, I might reasonably expect, in about two hundred years, to be the wealthiest man in the kingdom. In the second place, I would, from my earliest youth, apply myself to the study of arts and sciences, by which I should arrive in time to excel all others in learning. Lastly, I would carefully record every action and event of consequence, that happened in public, impartially draw the characters of several successions of princes and great ministers of the state, with my own observations on every point. I would exactly set down the several changes in customs, languages, fashions of dress, diet and diversions. By all which acquirements, I should be a living treasury of knowledge and wisdom, and certainly become the oracle of the nation.
I would never marry after threescore, but live in an hospitable manner, yet still on the saving side. I would entertain myself in forming and directing the minds of hopeful young men, by convincing them from my own remembrance, experience and observation, fortified by numerous examples, of the usefulness of virtue in public and private life. But my choice and constant companions should be a set of my own immortal brotherhood; among whom, I would elect a dozen from the most ancient, down to my own contemporaries. Where any of these wanted fortunes, I would provide them at my table, only mingling with a few of the most valuable among you mortals, and treat your posterity after the same manner; just as a man diverts himself with the annual succession of pinks and tulips in his garden, without regretting the loss of those which withered the preceding year.
These Struldbrugg and I would mutually communicate our observations and memorials through the course of time, remark the several gradations by which corruption steals into the world, and oppose it in every step, by giving perpetual warning and instruction to mankind; which, added to the strong degeneracy of human nature so justly complained of in all ages…”
* Struldbrugg: people who can live forever
Extract from the book Gulliver’s Travels
By Jonathan Swift
All Rights Reserved
London : Puffin, 1997.
Call Number: Y English SWI
Extract contributed by Nathene Chua Qi Qi, Methodist Girls School
Available at NLB
The voyage of the Dawn Treader
By C. S. Lewis
Call number: J English LEW
A wrinkle in time
By Madeleine L’Engle
Call Number: J English LEN
Death at intervals
By José Saramago
Call Number: English SAR
What would you do if you were able to live eternally?