Cutting the Pages

So I ordered a book through Abebooks a while back, and when it arrived, I discovered that all of the pages were uncut. In case you didn’t know, older printing technologies produced books whose pages had to be cut apart from each other before they could be read. This particular volume could have come straight from the library of Jay Gatsby, it was so pristine. And it occurred to me, as I had knife in hand slicing through all that paper, that I would be the first person ever to read this particular book, despite my ordering it used.

The thought entertained me briefly, but then the word “virgin” popped into mind in connection with this book. And I realized: the sort of people who promote the cult of virginity, of “saving oneself for marriage,” are the sort of people who think that cutting the pages is the most important part of experiencing a book. They are interested only in the ostensible newness of the volume–not in the story contained therein.

Fuck those people. This book is the third volume of a trilogy. I don’t have time to be cutting pages. Is Karl-Artur going to go through with his promised marriage to Anna Svärd? How will Charlotte Löwelskold handle her own reluctant marriage to an older industrialist? These are things I have to know, yet here I am, wasting my time cutting through some 300 pages.

Honestly, someone having read this book before me would have been doing me a great favor.


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