Precis Writing on The Test of a Great Book

Make a precis of each of the following passages. Suggest a suitable title also for your precis.

The test of a great book is whether we want to read it only once or more than once. Any really great book we want to read the second time, and every additional time that we read it we find new meanings and new beauties in it. But we cannot consider the judgement of a single individual infallible. The opinion that makes a book great must be the opinion of many. For even the greatest critics are opt to have certain dullnesses, certain inappreciations. Carlyle, for example, could not endure Browning, Byron could not endure some of the greatest English, poets. A man must be many sided to utter of trustworthy estimate of many books. We may doubt the judgement of single critics at times. But there is no doubt possible in regard to the judgement of generations. Even if we do not at once preceive anything good in a book which has been admired and praised for hundreds of years, we may be sure that by trying, by studying it carefully we shall at last be able to feel the reason for this admiration and praise. The-best of all libraries for a poor man would be a library entirely composed of such great works only books which have passed the test of time.
This then would be the most important guide for us in the choice of readings. We should read only the books we want to read more than once, nor should we buy any others, unless we have some special reason for so investing money. The second fact demanding attention is the general character of the value that lies hidden in all such great works. They never become old; their youth is immortal. A great book is not. apt to be comprehended by a young person at the first reading expect in a superficial way. Only the surface; the narrative is enjoyed. No young man can possibly see at first reading the qualities of a great book. But according to a man's experience of life, the text will unfold new meanings to him. The book that delighted us at eighteen if it be a good book will look to us different at thirty years of age. At forty we shall re read it wondering why we never saw how beautiful it was before. At fifty or sixty years of age the same facts will repeat themselves. A great book grows exactly in proportion to the growth of the reader's mind.


The test of a great book lies in the universality of ideas that are applicable in every age. The judgement of one person does not determine the real value of the book because this judgement is likely to be prejudiced. The greatness of a book is determined by the judgement of the posterity. A reader wishes to read again and again and discovers a new meaning contained in such great works. It is likely that the real significance of a great book may not be understood at first reading. As man grows older the context of our interest in a book also changes. The ideas of a great book are always changing as man advances in years. Therefore, the best of all libraries should contain such great works which have passed the test of readers of various generations. The ideas of a great book are perennial and truthful in all ages.