A True Example of Incredible Speed Reading

Carlo Pontifechio was born in Rome on 30 November 1645. His parents were very poor. He had no proper schooling and when a young boy he trained as a butcher. Carlo spent a lot of his time in the shop trying to work out what was on the leaflets and newspapers that were used to wrap the meat.

One of the butcher’s regular customers was a bookseller who noted Marco’s attempts to read the strange hieroglyphics before him. The bookseller took him to his own shop and Marco was at once able to recognise, remember and identify all the books. With the bookseller’s help, he eventually learned to read properly, then at colossal speeds. He also had phenomenal memorising techniques which enabled him to remember nearly all he read in their entirety.

Someone who doubted the boy’s reputation for speed reading, comprehension and retention gave Carlo a new manuscript that he could never have seen before, telling him to read it for pleasure. Carlo read the text at a very fast speed. The person pretended that he had lost his manuscript and asked Carlo to help him to remember what was in it. To his astonishment, Carlo wrote out the whole of the book for him, writing every word correctly, with every punctuation mark in place.

After some time, Carlo read at very fast speeds and memorized more and more books. He finally became so well known for the speed at which he read. Whenever he was asked questions he responded by quoting verbatim from the books he had read and memorized.

His fame spread throughout Italy, and he was then hired by the Grand Duke of Tuscany who invited him to become his personal librarian. So as to be able to handle the volume of material in the entire library, Carlo decided to develop his speed reading abilities to a superhuman level.

People around him reported that he could simply open a page at random, apparently taking in all the contents with only one or two looks. His reputation for speed reading grew and grew, until he was able to comprehend perfectly virtually anything that was put before him.

There is further evidence to suggest that his powers of concentration were so great that he didn’t even hear his name when it was shouted out aloud more than six times. And he was able to do all of this without ever having attended a course in Fast Effective Reading or Speed Reading as it is often called these days, more than three hundred years or so later.

If Carlo’s eyes and brain were able to perform such feats of speed, concentration, comprehension and retention, why do we crawl along at speeds which make us seem virtually illiterate?

The answer lies perhaps in the fact that we have actively and unwittingly trained ourselves to become slow. In other words, we believe we cannot read fast so we find it almost impossible. Such notions have destroyed our ability to read faster with good comprehension. Maybe rapid reading should be taught at a very early age when just about anything is possible!

David Aylwin
Founder Reading transformations ltd

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