Welcome to the Literary Encyclopedia

Joseph Priestley: a new chart of history in colour Joseph Priestley's New Chart of History, published in 1769

"If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, why then do we read it? So that it shall make us happy? Good God, we would also be happy if we had no books, and such books as make us happy we could, if need be, write ourselves.... A book must be like ... an ice-axe to break the sea from inside us.."

Franz Kafka, "Letter to Oskar Pollak", November 8, 1903; cited from Max Brod (ed.) Briefe, 190