The chapter begins with the commonplace book in which Mary Meredith made extracts from her reading in the months during which her marriage was disintegrating. Mary was a novel reader, as was Meredith. It was one of the things, I suggest, that made them and their generation different from the generations that had come before them. They were people who came to understand themselves and their world through their reading quite as much as through their other experience. They found themselves in their reading, and, just as importantly, novels allowed them to live in their imaginations alternative lives, lives they might have lived had they made different choices or had they been different people. The chapter ends by pointing out the particular importance to Meredith of his reading of Stendhal.