Proust on Ruskin:
Such are his resources that he does not lend us his words; he gives them to us and he does not take them back.Proust, Days of Reading, page 11
Which, of course, is what every great writer does; his words are a gift to every reader, and all the readers yet to come.
For the man of genius can only give birth to works which will not die by creating in them the image not of the mortal being that he is, but of the exemplum of mankind he bears within him. His thoughts are in some sense lent to him for his lifetime, of which they are the companions. On his death they return to mankind and instruct it.Proust, Days of Reading, page 1
I love this: that the words are themselves immortal creatures, coupling with us for a time, until we expire and they leave to teach the world what they’ve learned. That the words have more agency than we do is reason enough to covet their attention.