First off, the way this piece was written drove me crazy, but being able to listen while I followed along helped tremendously. (Thanks Clint!!)
There were a few quotes that really jumped out at me and made me think that they were going through the same dilemma as we are, with the “what is literature” question, just from a different angle. “I deny not, but that it is of greatest concernment in the Church and Commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how Bookes demeane themselves as well as men”. Demean is- to lower in dignity, honor, or standing. I do not see how someone could believe this. I’ve heard or churched not approving of plenty of books, but about books in general just takes it too far, I just really don’t understand that point of view. Also, if a book demeans itself, does that mean it is bad for itself or just bad in general for everything else? That’s another point I’m not sure how to interpret. I see how views can differ, but it seems we all have the same burning question, still, what is literature?? These people Aeropagitica is addressed to obviously believe their own version of what is right and wrong without even considering any book at all.
But when the writer says “For Books are not absolutely dead things, but doe contain a potencie of life in them to be as active as that soule was whose progeny they are..”I agree with it, books are not dead things at all. But if they were set in their ways about books, then I couldn’t argue with them, some people are just like that. Just like how I think certain things other people enjoy are mindless or demeaning, it all depends on how you look at it.
My favorite quote is “And yet on the other hand, unlesse warinesse be us'd, as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, Gods Image; but hee who destroyes a good Booke, kills reason it selfe, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the Earth; but a good Booke is the pretious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalm'd and treasur'd up on purpose to a life beyond life.” The part about killing a book is killing the image of God is pretty confusing though. I wasn’t sure, but they could have been referring to the Bible, which has been the image of God for ages. I see how killing that book could kill an image of God, but not to everyone, and not all books would.. It just made me wonder what he really meant by that. I do see that killing a book in a sense is killing something we can't touch or always see the same as others do. Books don't always mean the same to people, so killing one of them could be nothing to one person, but it could mean the world to someone else. It’s like killing a man ends that man and his life, but killing a book is ending a different kind of life, if that makes any sense at all. I see this was him meaning books are so much more than “just books”, they’re fantasies and places to escape to. Those who think they’re demeaning just might not know any better.