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It was, after all, only natural that she should put off going to bed, for she rarely slept for more than two or three hours. The greater part of that empty time, during which conversation was impossible, she devoted to her books. But she hardly ever found anything to read that she really enjoyed. Of the two thousand volumes she possessed all bound alike, and stamped on the back with her device of a cat she had only read four or five hundred; the rest were impossible. She perpetually complained to Walpole of the extreme dearth of reading matter. In nothing, indeed, is the contrast more marked between that age and ours than in the quantity of books available for the ordinary reader. How the eighteenth century would envy us our innumerable novels, our biographies, our books of travel, all our easy approaches to knowledge and entertainment, our translations, our cheap reprints! In those days, even for a reader of catholic tastes, there was really very little to read. And, of course, Madame du Deffand's tastes were far from catholic they were fastidious to the last degree. She considered that Racine alone of writers had reached perfection, and that only once in Athalie. Corneille carried her away for moments, but on the whole he was barbarous. She highly admired 'quelques centaines de vers de M. de Voltaire. She thought Richardson and Fielding excellent, and she was enraptured by the style but only by the style of Gil Blas. And that was all. Everything else appeared to her either affected or pedantic or insipid. Walpole recommended to her a History of Malta; she tried it, but she soon gave it up it mentioned the Crusades. She began Gibbon, but she found him superficial. She tried Buffon, but he was 'd'une monotonie insupportable; il sait bien ce qu'il sait, mais il ne s'occupe que des bêtes; il faut l'être un peu soi-même pour se dévouer