In Japan, after the Second World War, so many written characters were lost, that it was difficult, if not impossible, for the present day college student to read the works of the great classical masters. In Russia, even if Solzhenytzin were allowed to be read freely, it would not be easy for the average student to read his novels, for again, after revolution and war, vocabulary fell away. In one of Solzhenytsin's books his hero spends hours at night reading the great Russian dictionary which came out in the late nineteenth century, and Solzhenytzin himself draws on this work, and in his writing he is redeeming language, using the worlds of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, using the words of the people of the street, bringing language back to life as he writes.
from Walking On Water by Madeleine L'Engle
This idea of "bringing language back to life" is beautiful to me. The other day I was in my studio noticing how many of my paintings prominently feature books and it seemed it little strange. It made me wonder why this motif has become so important to me. When I came across the passage above I thought that it may be at least part of my answer. Perhaps there is a link between our ability to use language and our coming more fully alive.