Would it be the books on my shelves? Would it be which books on the shelves I’ve actually read again since reading in undergraduate school? Does slamming one’s way through a lot of Western and Eastern literature qualify me as man of letters? Cause, I didn’t. I’ve read a small smattering of what many folks feel is essential reading.
Am I ( or, is one ) a man of letters for having read enough and lived enough to be able to place experiences read about in context of real life experiences, therefore enriching both? Am I less a man of letters for feeling that I’ve learned a heck of a lot about human nature by reading Chaim Potok and Stephen King instead of Homer and Kafka? ( read Kafka. The man had issues. )
Or is it more of a process that is silently but directly linked to simply being alive for more than two decades?
Is there some acceptable definition? If I’d joined a Great Books Club in 1980 I might well have read the cycle by now. Does that matter? SHOULD that matter? I do realize that " a man of letters" may be a bit of a misnomer, so I am opening this question up to more than just literature.
At what point does your average avid reader and world-experienced adult have everything in common with the so-called man of letters?