More specifically concerning: books
More laundry and packing and reading of A Concise History of Greece. Tidying things up in general, as a means of distracting myself from Roman history and the minutiae of Greek grammar. Also looking wistfully at the three library books I must return tomorrow; I’ve had them for six weeks, but have scarce made a […]
To be more joyful, and border less on abject self-pity, I have taken to pillaging the shelves in my former room (now the library – which is apt) for books to take away; I fear my parents shall be left with hardly any modern literature at all. They merely smile at me, though, as I […]
The first day alone; on my own. Faded grandeur of a forgotten self. Searching for lost books. Remembering old friends, neglected, of course, as they too often are. Baking scones, making tea. Existence in fragments. One cannot expect more. Even so. Just a note: I realized what it was, that most important thing that I’d […]
5.11.01 – Monday
I have come to the inevitable conclusion. Running into the eternal interrogative (thinking Forsterian here, can you tell?): the answer can, the answer must, for me at least, be yes. Not the ‘yes’ that means ‘no,’ not the affirmative that scorns, but that quiet ever so blank ‘yes’ which means everything & nothing, offers no […]
14.01.02 – Monday
Returned some few books to the library, thank heavens, and read a few articles I’d meant to peruse in November. Still feel vastly, horribly behind – only the cruelty of my own ambition forces me on (which can be a good or a bad thing, as you will). Speaking of ambition – St. Augustine: hmmm. […]
07.03.02 – Thursday
This is the way things are, then. Writing mediocre, unimportant essays, listening to Verdi and hoping they’ll all just stop singing & die already. Either that, or reading Boccaccio’s Famous Women. Which I enjoy. A great deal. However. It is procrastination. Yes. How reading medieval Latin texts came to be a form of procrastination I’m […]
In the Garden
Books take up space, and libraries, being confined by walls, must occasionally weed the shelves of injudicious pamphlets and books unborrowed through the centuries. That this should astonish or dismay comes as something of a surprise. That, however, is not my theme. I would like to return to the metaphor of libraries as gardens. It […]
It was the Distance
For no good reason1 I’ve been reading The Cambridge Companion to Emily Dickinson (ed. W. Martin, CUP: 2002). It is somewhat refreshing to find books which do not concern Cicero. And it is interesting to step outside the charmed circle of academics and then to peer back in, as though through windows. For one can […]
The Histories of Books
To write the much-lamented Cicero essay, I happened to check two small pamphlets out of the library, both Teubner editions of short works by Sallust (or an anonymous author in the style of Sallust). Both had been edited by A. Kurfess (who also edited the Teubner edition of Sallust’s other works ) and had belonged […]
Neither a borrower…
I have to remind myself it was only a book – mass-market paperback, pristine condition though bought used. I lent it to an acquaintance; I do not say she was a friend, because she was not. She was an acquaintance. At the time I would have compared her to a whirlwind, for wherever she went […]
It was very simple once; just a chronicle, a chronological exuberance bogged down in the details. E.g.: 13.01.2003 — Monday — Up late, then to the Bodleian, Gorgias, Blackwell’s (Sylvie & Bruno, £9.99 — cash), coffee, groceries, room, read… &c. But that is not quite right, is it? For who really wants to make of […]
For the words and facts of the ancients are as bricks, from which we build the fortresses of our arguments, ever quarreling over the lines of the walls. These walls are torn down and rebuilt with such haste and such fury, that it does not seem strange when they are torn down again, or prove […]
Ciceronis Epistulae ad Atticum, edidit D.R. Shackleton Bailey, Cambridge University Press.
I was and am an impressionable reader.
Influential Books (ii)
a Record of Consumption
Including: Sterne; Novalis; Keats; too many Brontës; Chopin; R.L. Stevenson; Chekhov; Modigliani; Kafka; etc. Among other things: Vico, The New Science; A.A. Cooper (Earl of Shaftesbury), Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times; Pepys Diary: 1665 (ed. Lantham et al., vol. 6); Dos Passos, U.S.A.; dental floss; shampoo; oat cakes; muesli; rice crackers. Also: tea (whole […]
errare humanum est
I picked up a copy of the book by chance the other day, and started reading it last night. Not that I’ve gotten very far enough to say anything about it, save that it is provoking: Being wrong is also about being displaced, about wandering, dissenting, emigrating, and alienating. The professionalization of the scholar, and, […]
on my desk
Book marks Books Alternatives to Athens Henry Auden’s Greek Prose Phrase Book (ca. 1949 — ‘It is similar to Meissner, but with the difference that it is not so elaborate and does not profess to contain everything, its object being rather to stimulate a boy’s own activity and suggest that he should add more phrases […]
Powell’s promises to tell me when these books come back in stock: Indexing Books by Ruth Canedy Cross Travels in Arabia Deserta, 2 volumes, by C. M. Doughty Garland of Philip, 2 Volumes, by A. S. F. Gow Book of Trances by Güneli Gün On the Road to Baghdad by Güneli Gün Alpha and Omega […]
hopefully, time won’t tell.
On the whole we may conclude that Casaubon had strained his narrow means in this one direction of expense. Pinched everywhere else, he spent all he could save on books. Book-buying was to him not the indulgence of a taste or a passion, it was the acquisition of tools. While mere bibliomania is insatiable, the […]
splitted in the midst
Currently (and actively) reading (in no particular order): François Rabelais. Gargantua and Pantagruel. trans. J. M. Cohen. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1955.1 J. Innes Miller. The Spice Trade of the Roman Empire, 29 BC to AD 641. Oxford: Clarendon, 1969.2 Michel Foucault. The Archeology of Knowledge. trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith. London: Routledge, 1989 (1969).3 Goethe. Die […]
adventurous students always read classics.
Among the Romanes a Poet was called Vates, which is as much as a diviner, foreseer, or Prophet, as by his conjoyned words Vaticinium, and Vaticinari, is manifest, so heavenly a title did that excellent people bestowe uppon this hart-ravishing knowledge, and so farre were they carried into the admiration thereof, that they thought in […]
de arte poetica liber
To my great embarrassment, I mistook this overview of William Blades’s Enemies of Books (via) for a poem1; e.g.: Bagford the biblioclast. Illustrations torn from MSS. Title-pages torn from books. Rubens, his engraved titles. Colophons torn out of books. Lincoln Cathedral Dr. Dibdin’s Nosegay. Theurdanck. Fragments of MSS. Some libraries almost useless. […] The care […]
it was the distance…
meme (ex machina):1 Intrigue me?2 The impression is that the lay-out of the whole area resembled that of the Seraglio in Constantinople, with palaces, barracks, and other royal buildings set in an area of parkland.3 A house of sin you may call it, but not a house of darkness, for the candles are never out; […]
…the judgement that someone is unliterary is like the judgement ‘This man is not in love’, whereas the judgement that my taste is bad is more like ‘This man is in love, but with a frightful woman’. And just as the mere fact that a man of sense and breeding loves a woman we dislike […]
Books to be packed. She sat rather glumly looking at her own hands, her chin drawn in as though suffering from indigestion, or a surfeit of English. – Patrick White The Vivisector, p. 317. I am, as it were, at sea. The most difficult part of packing books is deciding which ones I am most […]
Relics of the book trade; but see also a more impressive collection. O. W. Holmes, The Poet at the Breakfast Table: Joyce Kilmer, Trees and Other Poems: ibidem H. W. Auden, Greek Prose Phrase-Book: A. Kiesling, ed. Seneca Rhetor: Newton & Treat, Outline for Review: Roman History: Lord Houghton, Life and Letters of John Keats: […]
springtime and Cyprus
return to stacks
books, libraries, and necromancy
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 […]
The trouble with epigraphy. A fog has settled in for the winter and, although the café is warm and bright, the bustle and noise merely accentuate the drizzle and dark outside. It is my favorite time of year. It feels right to be inside, to be making things with my hands and reading books. Not […]
My bookshelves look like a fighter’s mouth, full of painful and surprising gaps. Even books I thought I could not do without, books that shaped my taste and who I am, are gone. Let me explain. When we decided to move abroad I knew, of course, that most1 of the books would have to be […]
They took away sixteen boxes of books, a future, a past & a half-baked dream, and left a bill of sale, a cheque, and an increasing sense of freedom.
of the times
fallen pears fermenting on the pavement indecisive days too warm and too cold leaden-eyed maidens drooping into evening slouching easily on an afternoon bicycle slumped down reading in a pillowed chair
Under the window-seat in the back parlor, where wasps die and desiccate, the memories are kept, unlocked, unbidden, and inaccessible – mint-green florilegium, pallor bred under the western sun. The thought makes me sleepy.
fiction of ideas
Between the limits of affection and antipathy for the author’s personality, the relationship of author and reader may take a score of different forms: admiration and respect without affection, as in the case, perhaps, of Thomas Hardy; exasperated affection as in the case of Kipling; devotion for Jane Austen; sheer worship or utter dislike for […]
Life is too short for this book which smells of potpourri and afternoons misspent in faded floretry. I cannot tell whether it is the cloying stink or the dullness of the matter (promising to tend where I do not care to follow: to gossip and muddle and the human failing of overestimated importance) that caused […]
Since selling off most of the books earlier this year, I’ve been trying to avoid purchasing more, which has led to increased, or perhaps simply more self-conscious library usage. The following are the books I have most recently checked out of the public and local university libraries (including three interlibrary loans): Aksakov: Years of Childhood […]
all the baggage
So I was reading Paul Fussell’s book about travel, Abroad. Of course it’s not just about travel, though he does spend some thirty-odd (or more or less, I’ve returned it to the library and cannot refer to it now) pages lamenting the impossibility of true travel1 in this degraded age of tourism, it’s about literary […]
Another man speaks satirically of those people who out of restlessness or curiosity embark on long journeys, who keep no diaries and write no descriptions, who carry no notebooks; who go to see things, and who either don’t see them or forget what they have seen; who are only anxious to look at unfamiliar towers […]
properly instructive (2)
How to behave in a library.
I always thought that he did himself injustice in his account of what he had read, and that he must have been speaking with reference to the vast portion of study which is possible, and to which few scholars in the whole history of literature have attained; for when I once asked him whether a […]
the local library
NB: This entry was initially published as a page to solicit donations to fund a project supporting the library; the campaign was successful. Goris is a small town located in the rugged mountains of Syuniq marz, which is the southernmost region in Armenia. Once the cultural center of the region, its situation on the road […]
a spring febricitation
on overstimulation and minor authors and spring-time
Books. There’s an invoice there, too.
paper bullets of the brain
After a while books grow matter of fact like everything else and we always think enviously of the days when they were new and wonderful and strange. That’s a part of existence. We lose our first keen relish for literature just as we lose it for ice-cream and confectionery. The taste grows older, wiser and […]
And in choosing, from the mid-afternoon drowse, between a biography of Virginia Woolf, some slightly silly essayettes,1 and English Society in the Eighteenth Century (which is, as it sounds, an introductory history to society in 18th century England), I must choose the latter – because its aims are clear, and it will not fight with […]
the common reader
…or observations on using a digital reader.1 My brain hasn’t figured out the digital reader yet.2 It doesn’t know how to process the small swiping screen of text with the same efficiency as even the most crabbed, cramped printed page. Of course that efficiency is the product of decades of practice, which obviously haven’t been […]
goats and sheep
books and souls, sheep and goats.
in which Boswell observations some annotations.
There are books which are too powerful, or which are too powerfully effective. I was reading such a book just a few minutes ago – but I won’t name it – about miserable people, leading miserable aimless lives in a gray and dismal country thousands of miles away. It is sunny here, and warm, as […]
on architecture, art, busts, and weight
a few remark’s on Tatyana Tolstaya’s dystopian novel, The Slynx.
a definite achievement
Wittgenstein on organizing one’s library
hours of indolence
…and of course one begins the year with the best of intentions, sweeping through books at a gallant pace, which one’s attempts at scribbling cannot match.
The Business of Books
André Schiffrin. The Business of Books. London: Verso, 2000. Schiffrin’s book is both memoir and anecdotal criticism of the publishing industry. Starting at the New American Library of World Literature (a Penguin clone) in the 1950s, he moved on to Pantheon which was then acquired by Random House, then S.I. Newhouse, and finally Bertelsmann. He […]
it would do beautifully
The inconstant reader. … I reminded him how often we had talked about my travels on the five continents and sixteen seas, and my inability to stay very long in one place. Although I was living peacefully in Pollensa, there was not guarantee it would be permanent. – Álvaro Mutis (Triptych on Sea and Land, […]
From Darley’s Bookbinding Then and Now (1959; printed opposite p. 85).
portrait of a bookbinder
Roger Payne, 1739–17971 Image taken as-is from Bookbinding Then and Now. [↩]
No snow, sadly. And of course expected – hoped for – snow at the mountain for Christmas; I’m sure there is, too, another few hundred feet further up. The only thing for it is to skate Skarphedin-like across the hardwood floors in stocking’d feet for another cup of tea.
Life Story of a Technology
Nicole Howard. The Book: The Life Story of a Technology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2009 (2005). This is a solid introductory text about book history, primarily from a technological standpoint, including some information on supporting technologies such as paper. It divides book history into six periods, centering on the development of print. Much of the […]
A Publisher Speaking
Geoffrey Faber. A Publisher Speaking. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1935 (1934). A Publisher Speaking is a collection of five talks about the book industry given to various audiences between 1931 and 1934 by Geoffrey Faber, the founder of Faber and Faber. The contents of the volume are as follows: On Bookselling (i): A Publisher Looks at […]
A few books close at hand. Her favourite reading was a mouldy old book called Urn Burial, that she read in bed; and she liked creepy, rustling things like tortoises and cacti. She had a dark, haggard face that made one think of an old graveyard, but her eyes were so dark and deep that […]
pleasant & agreeable
It’s dreary out. He is a learned man, and has a power of college-books by heart: his greatest fault is, that he incessantly quotes passages from them in conversation, which is not agreeable to everybody. – Alain-Renée Lesage (Gil Blas, vol. 1, p. 149 (II.ix))1 Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d […]
the printer’s mark
Winsor McCay, A Good Book (not the book in question) It is not that the book is badly designed. No. The typeface suits and the pages are pleasingly laid out out. There are suitable illustrations, photos of the poet at various stages in her career – the ordinary image-making of an attractive woman. No. The […]
It is at this point in reading the Essays that I notice the running heads do not contain the titles of the essay but rather an arbitrary key point for the page – for the shorter essays this usually results in the title appearing as the running head, but the longer compositions generally have a […]
Books that currently ‘saved for later’ – either because I hope to find them at the library book sale, at the local bookstore, or I really don’t have need of them – offered without comment: The complete works of Elizabeth Gaskell The complete works of Constance Holme Thomas Love Peacock, The Misfortunes of Elphin and […]
At this point it is unlikely I will finish reading any more books this year, so I might as well make a list of the books I most enjoyed reading in 2015: Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon Dashiell Hammett, The Thin Man Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby Anne Garréta, Sphinx Mary Lascelles, Jane […]
It cost too much, to begin with. I really had no excuse for buying it, except that I was feeling out of sorts and aphoristic philosophy seemed like a good choice at the time; it seemed to be a clean copy, too, which would go a little way to excusing the price. At home, however, […]
These are by no means all of the books I read this year that I found enjoyable or good, but they are the ones that, when thinking back over the year, stood out to me as some of the better ones – or at least the ones that were the right books for me at […]
‘La Brioche’ (1763), Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin [Mais aussi quand j’avais une fois ma chère petite brioche, et que, bien enfermé dans ma chambre, j’allais trouver ma bouteille au fond d’une armoire, quelles bonnes petites buvettes je faisais là tout seul en lisant quelques pages de roman !] Car lire en mangeant fut toujours ma fantaisie, au […]
Alexander of Macedon and Diogenes engage in civil discourse, illustration to a 1696 edition of Quintus Curtius. On the pragmatist side we have only one edition of the universe, unfinished, growing in all sorts of places, especially in the places where thinking beings are at work. On the rationalist side we have a universe in […]
The days are warm; even the stacks of books at the local bookstore relax into a puddle on the floor, unable to withstand the heat.
good, better, bested
Of the books I read in 2017, I would recommend the following: Peter Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle – an engaging look at wealth and the early church. Barbara Comyns, Our Spoons Came from Woolworths – a better presentation of the limits of intellect than An American Tragedy. Northrop Frye, The Educated Imagination […]
Nothing is quite what I’m expecting at the moment. If November was a month in which I could read fluently and easily and joyfully and curiously, December is, or currently seems to be, a month in which nothing makes sense, and every word on a page makes me peevish. I am tempted to retreat into […]
These are some of the latest things I haven’t read, with the excuses I made for abandoning them. Penguin classics edition of Epicurus. I had hoped for updated notes and bibliography, something that I could point students (should I ever get another course as adjunct) towards, but it was a reprint of a book published […]
The other morning I happened to finish reading a relatively recent translation of The Encheiridion by Epictetus (well, via Arrian), which is a text I almost always find to be a tonic (if not taken in excess). In addition to soothing my temper, though, the present reading also left me somewhat unsettled, not with the […]
the guest-room bookshelf
Not quite a guest-room bookshelf, ca. 2012. So many books enter one’s life through happenstance, rather than through the ordered chaos of book reviews or bibliographies or the propinquity of a library or bookstore shelf (each good in its way).1 This aleatoric approach to book selection is something I associate with travelling, and I like […]
I don’t think the illustrator got the phthisical phiz of Lorry Slim quite right in this dapper sketch of a portly parson. Idleness does not cause disease primarily and in itself, but by means of excess. For parts of the body characterized by idleness become weaker and less robust, as each excess comes about due […]
It is a foolish question – what book is the most formally perfect? – because it assumes, first, that there is an ideal form for a book, and second, that perfection is attainable.1 The only perfection possible is the heat death of the universe – frozen droplets of iron suspended, isolated, in a deafening void, […]
A view of Constantinople, ca. 1635, by Matthäus Merian Somewhat jokingly I said that I wanted the shelves to reflect the great arc of history, not a hodgepodge of regional narratives. In the beginning, this was fine. There was room, narrative room, to arrange the books in something like a chronology to present something like […]