Cataloguing one’s home library has its good points. Entering in ISBNs and publication information is a wonderful way to devour time. One also gets a chance really to look at one’s books; one so seldom has the opportunity. One buys the book, sometimes one even reads it,1 and then it goes on the shelf, jumbled with books both near and far to it in manner or content.
It was with some pleasure today that I found, tucked between a fat burgundy Faulkner and a dour blue history of England in the 18th century, the Letters of Sir Thomas Browne. More than two years ago I’d bought it, read a quarter of it, then packed it away and gave it no more thought.2 As I flipped through to find the publication information, I saw the following on the back of the title page:
This edition of Sir Thomas Browne’s Letters was originally issued in 1931 as volume six of The Works edited in six volumes by Geoffrey Keynes.
The unsold remaining stock of the sheets of volumes one to four was destroyed by enemy action in 1941, and the survivors, the two volumes entitled five and six, are now reissued separately with the addition of a few errata. Each volume is complete in itself.
So there it is.
- Lately I’ve been leaning heavily on the library for my browsing needs, so I am, happily, even more likely to read in its entirety a book I’ve purchased, which is, I think, a change for the better.
- By this afternoon I’ll probably have forgotten it again; certainly it will go in the stack of ‘books to read’, one of the many graveyards for good intentions.