Quilted quotations and the pleasure of the text
The first volume of Stephen's Hours in a Library begins with "Opinions of Authors," six pages of quotations from writers attesting to the power of reading. If libraries are safe places for outsiders, then Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next novels are safe places for readers. Beginning with The Eyre Affair (2001), Fforde creates an entire series of metacognitive reading events. Fforde recreates the British Library as a parallel world into which Thursday can escape the dangers of the real world when her day job as a literary detective leads her into danger, which it constantly does. The combination of silliness and erudition requires both knowledge of Tristram Shandy's quirkiness and a willingness to make fun of it that demands a certain intellectual flexibility. A knowledge of literature is expected, but one is never allowed to take it seriously.