“We come back in the end to Dr. Faustus, who was one of the most important folk heroes of the world of printed books and a rough contemporary of Don Quixote. Faust was a product of early modern learning, of all those books that were increasingly available to readers. Faust was Quixote’s serious side. Unlike the Don, however, who steadily devoured works of fiction, Faust tried to know too much about the world. He tried to surpass what could be known in a book, whether it was the Bible or the alchemical handbook. Faust, the fist, in other words, is our modern day demon, not Mephistopheles, his devilish double. Faust reminds us of the way books are totems against ceaseless activity, tools for securing the somatic calm that is the beginning of all careful but also visionary thought. If we believe in the value of rest, and the kind of conversional thinking that is makes possible, then we will want to preserve books and their spaces of readerly rest.
But Faust also reminds us not to hold on too tightly. He shows us the risks of grasping.”
—from Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times by Andrew Piper