Readers, get out your notebooks. My tutor told me, never read without a pencil in your hand. Books old and new, I am dedicated to the pleasure of reading, and the pursuit of writing. Old books in particular fascinate me with their voices from the past. I love to breathe in what William Hazlitt describes as ‘the pure, silent air of immortality’. Hazlitt, early 19th
century essayist, explains how old books ‘bind together the different scattered divisions of our personal identity. They are landmarks and guides in our journey through life.’ Quite a Proustian formula. However, no formula will work without the alchemist, and a central theme to ‘Mysteriosa’ is the preoccupation with the deep underlying consciousness that informs a writer’s work, what Henry James describes as ‘the figure in the carpet’. James maintains that ‘the artist’s prime sensibility is the soil out of which his subject springs’. So I will be searching for the writer – absent or present – behind his or her words, and I urge all readers to join my quest.