The Pleasure of Books

8 August 2016

William Lyon Phelps was a brilliant writer and teacher who treasured books and understood the significance of how the printed word can affect a person. Phelps co-taught at Harvard, and then moved to Yale to teach an English class full time. He was given countless awards for his strong intellect such as Life magazine doing an overview of his whole life, founding the Elizabeth club and more. Phelps had given the speech “The Pleasure of Books” on a radio broadcast in 1933. This speech discusses the importance of books and what role they play in human existence.

Phelps uses metaphors and repetition to convince the public that books are a fundamental and essential part of human functions and daily life. Phelps uses metaphors within his speech as a tool to convince the audience of not only the pleasure of books, but the importance of books. While referencing the intimacy that the listener/reader and an old book should have, he connects the revisit of memories going back into a book to visit favorite passages by using a metaphorical bridge “You have the pleasure of going over the old ground, and recalling both the intellectual scenery and your own earlier self.

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In this excerpt, he uses going through an old forest and recalling pleasurable memories to going back into a story and finding the older, truer part of ones being. Phelps plays off of the human habit of reminiscing to connect books to memories. Phelps also connects acquaintances and friends to the same intimacy levels that books have “But book-friends have this advantage over living friends; you can enjoy the most truly aristocratic society in the world wherever you want it” (2). Phelps even explains how books are almost better than humans due to easy access and experience.

Phelps uses metaphors to create a profile for books that convinces to public of their importance. Phelps uses repetition of certain words to direct certain points about the importance of books. In the beginning of the speech, the mention of “you”, as in the reader was used 5 separate times. This was done to make the speech personal; to personalize and tailor the speech to each specific person so each listener was personally affected. Also, the word “Friend” and other positive words like “pleasure” and “acquaintance” are repeated within the radio broadcast.

This is to make an unconscious association with happy things and books. The title of the speech is the Pleasure of Books, which when referring to the speech itself, you have to use a positive word to reference the speech. Phelps uses repetition to engrave certain words into the listeners mind, so when “books” are referenced, the positive words come subconsciously and automatically and give the reader pleasure. William Lyon Phelps is a brilliant educator and man. He uses his speech to promote books to the world. To do so, he repeats certain words and ideas to make a subconscious association between books and happiness.

Phelps also uses metaphors to connect events and books to the audience can relate to the speech on a personal level. This speech is very effective in convincing the readers that books are a pleasure of life by using reputation and metaphors to further prove his point. Phelps uses metaphors and repetition to convince the public that books are a fundamental and essential part of human functions and daily life. Rather than learning how the books are the pleasure of the reader; the reader learns that books are the pleasure of life.

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The Pleasure of Books. (2016, Aug 09). Retrieved December 5, 2019, from
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