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Imperfect form of telepathy, where the thoughts of the writer are transferred to the mind of the reader through a set of conventional symbols known as words. The variety of reasons for writing is at least as large as the variety of reasons for reading.

For the moment, just one observation on this fascinating activity: it surely tends to start from the idea that the writer has something interesting or informative to say. Irritating, then, when the effort invested in reading only serves to discover that the writer has nothing to say; or, almost worse, that the writer does have something to say but is woefully incapable of expressing his or her ideas. It is not just reference works that need to be edited: many a novel would have been better for a midwife.