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On Reading a Few Good Books

El Lazarillo de ciegos caminantes/A Guide for Inexperienced Travelers was written near the end of the 18th century by Alonso Carrió de la Vandera, a Spanish postal inspector for the Crown, under the pseudonym of his Indian guide (Calixto Bustamente), who himself took on the pseudonym of Concolorcorvo. (Yes, that is one author and two pseudonyms. Or, if you prefer, one author, one narrative personae, and one pseudonym.) Near the end of the prologue, a much too long prologue in which the Spaniard chastises the Indian for being too long winded, the story is told of a man who had a library of four hefty, well-read tomes. When asked if he had other books besides these four, the man responded no, that he knew those four by memory and that he would read from them every day lest he forget their content. Furthermore, said the gentleman, one should only read from a few, good books. When he was asked who the king of Spain and the Americas was, he responded Charles III; when asked who was his father, he replied, Charles II, of course.