ANTAEUS was a literary journal that was published from the 1970s to the 1990s.  It contained a variety of college-type literature from around the world. I regret that I never heard of it until recently when I bought a copy at a jumble sale.  The issue was called “Reading As Pleasure”.  The cover shows a Bob Newhart-buttoned-down-mind sort of bloke on the cover reading like he means it.antaeus cover0001

I found more editions for sale at

 Here’s the table of contents from the issue:

Notes on Pleasure.  A collection of quotes about the pleasures of reading.  Probably collected by Daniel Halpern, the editor.


i. “Literature as Pleasure, Pleasure as Literature”. Joyce Carol Oates

ii. “In the Garden of the Word”. Lee Zacharias

iii. “Reading”. Richard Ford

iv. “On Reading”. Guy Davenport

v. “On Rereading”. David Long

vi. “Rereading: Not for Pleasure Alone”. James Purdy


i. “Books”. Joseph Conrad

ii. “The Pleasures of the Freedom to Read”. Josep Skvorecky

iii. “The Revenge of a Mortal Hand”. Stanislaw Baranczak


i. “ Reading Appreciation”. Roy Blount, Jr.

ii. “The Way to Say Pleasure”. Donald Hall

iii. What’s Really Going On”. Gail Godwin

iv. “Poetry, Baseball: The Pleasures of the Text”. Jonathan Holden

v. “Literature and Pleasure: Bridging the Gap”. Madison Smartt Bell

vi. “Reading Philosophy at Night”. Charles Simic


i. “The Pleasures of Reading the Classics in Translation”. James Laughlin

ii. “Literature as Pleasure”. A. L. Rowse

iii. “Nocturnal Habit: On Literary Addiction”. Mary Kinzie

iv. “Sensible Ecstasies”. Calvin Bedient

v. “loving/reading”. William S. Wilson

There’s nothing specifically stated that explains the ordering of the selections. The reader is pretty much left to infer their own rationale – and that’s okay. It’s a pleasure to divi your own criteria, especially when there’s so much material to work with. One of the things I like best about this collection is how the titles are down-to-earth. They’re not scholarly, professional-style article titles like, “Weeding the Chaff: A Brain-Oriented Holistic Approach to Helping Students Decode Their Metacognitive Processes Through Inquiry-Oriented Questioning.” Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Well, this ain’t that!

This particular issue, Autumn 1987/#59, is full of the beauty that is a reading habit. Beauty in the fullest sense of the word – beauty of spirit, beauty of love, beauty of wholesome pleasure. It is, too, a vindication. It seriously cheeses me off that readers often find themselves having to defend that part of their lives to pig-ignorant philistines who don’t deserve the time it would take to do it. Unfortunately, these are the people that tend to run the mechanisms that provide our daily bread.

There are so many beautiful ideas in these articles. I call them “ideas”, and not “words”, because the wording is just the carton of cereal and the idea is the prize in the cellophane packet in the bottom of the carton.

I wish thee as much pleasure in the reading, as I had in the writing. Francis Quarles. EMBLEMS (This could be my new motto!)

My highlighter went crazy in the entry by Lee Zacharias (I.ii.). She explains the “pleasure of reading by stages.” Stage 1 – reading for entertainment; stage 2 — “to satisfy emotional needs” . Best-selling authors stay well within stages one and two. Stage 3 – “the thrill of honing in on the meaning, the triumph” of discovering the great themes. Number three targets university students. Stage 4 – the recognition and appreciation of texture in writing – “the sine qua non of sensory details.” And I agree wholeheartedly that stage four comes later in life after a lifetime of reading. So it’s very sad that MOST people in their middle ages are still stuck in one and two. They haven’t experienced stage three since they were at uni and they absolutely don’t care or don’t recognize stage four – unless it’s a constant use of macho swear words and, in the case of women, how graphic the love scenes are. Then, and only then, do they care about texture and overall craft. Which leads back to stages one and two and not forward.

To a fifth? Can there be?

What are you willing to accept as good and dismiss as feeble? What are you willing to accept as daring and ambitious, but ignore as tainted? What makes James Joyce’s multitude of dashes okay, but Ivor Biggun’s dashes annoying? This is what I propose for Stage Five: the ability to identify a spectrum of qualities and apply them. Is this not an element of the richness of the reading life? Is this not the reason we spend money on some books and economize on others? The reason we keep and lend? The reason we RE-read! (Try saying that bit fast!)

…and then I finished reading the paragraph…

There is a fifth. Zacharias’s Fifth. “Conscious and legitimate delight”. You love it and you know why. You can explain why. That, too, is a pleasure.

Zacharias then goes for six. “In which all the pleasures unite and the work becomes whole for the reader”. In the end, it’s all about the love.


Meet an Artist:  Lee Zacharias


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