Sartre on the Self-Taught Man

I love Borges, but I must say that, after covering his “Library of Babel” in class, I think Sartre gets more quickly to the punch:

I study [the self-taught Man] with a sort of admiration. What will-power he must have to carry through, slowly, obstinately, a plan on such a vast scale. One day, seven years ago (he told me he had been a student for seven years) he came pompously into this reading-room. He scanned the innumerable books which lined the walls and he must have said, something like Rastignac, “Science! It is up to us.” Then he went and took the first book from the first shelf on the far right; he opened to the first page, with a feeling of respect and fear mixed with an unshakable decision. Today he has reached “L”-“K” after “J,” “L” after “K.” He has passed brutally from the study of coleopterae to the quantum theory, from a work on Tamerlaine to a Catholic pamphlet against Darwinism, he has never been disconcerted for an instant. He has read everything; he has stored up in his head most of what anyone knows about parthenogenesis, and half the arguments against vivisection. There is a universe behind and before him. And the day is approaching when closing the last book on the last shelf on the far left: he will say to himself, “Now what?”
Yes, “now what?” This has been another message brought to you by the Committee to Read Again Some Sartre (CRASS).

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