What makes us read novels more than once? It can hardly be a tense plot as we already know how the plot unfolds. It might possibly be the quality of writing - I have read Scott Fitzgerald on many an occasion just for the pleasure of the words - but it is a rare writer that can achieve such heights. It might, of course, be familiarity : a kind of literary comfort food - rice pudding printed in Times New Roman - but there are limits (I am told) to how much rice pudding you can eat.
I pose the question because I have just started reading C P Snow's "Strangers And Brothers" sequence of novels again: for the third time. I suspect it is a personal thing, a relationship between characters real and characters fictional, that brings me back to these eleven linked novels. As I read the books I keep coming across bits of my life, people I remember and people I have forgotten, incidents and events, even places : all mixed up, shuffled around, out of context like a lightly troubled dream.
I have just embarked on the first in the series - George Passant - and there are still another ten waiting for me. In a moment of unnecessary contemplation the other day I thought to myself "this will be the last time I read the sequence". But that is silly. I suspect I can manage one more full reading before I leave the library of life.