Thursday, January 25, 2007


Feet up, reading

My pal Ben visited the shop yesterday and caught me, hard at work. I had already shelved some books, sold some books, done some paperwork (yet a pile mysteriously remains on my desk - perhaps it's self-regenerating?), blogged, and answered emails. What's left except the TLS, I ask you. About my attire: old jeans and clunky boots are for January, when I have five customers a day, if I'm lucky. The floaty linen lawn party dresses come out in summer. From The Reader's Encyclopedia, for today:

Salmagundi. A mixture of minced veal, chicken, or turkey, anchovies or pickled herrings, and onions, all chopped together, and served with lemon-juice and oil. The word appeared in the 17th century; its origin is unknown, but fable has it that it was the name of one of the ladies attached to the suite of Marie de Medici, wife of Henry IV of France, who either invented or popularized the dish.
In 1807-1808 Washington Irving published a humorous periodical consisting of a series of satires on New York life, known as the Salmagundi Papers. J.K. Paulding contributed a few of the papers. Their avowed purpose was to "simply instruct the young, reform the old, correct the town, and castigate the age." (p.983) (The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology notes origin unknown, though it also mentions that a variation of the word appears in Rabelais. There was also a Salmagundi Club in New York City, to which authors and artists belonged. I have one of their old membership books, published around 1910 or so.)

Schilda. The German Gotham, a city which acquired such a reputation for wisdom that the inhabitants (Schildburger) were forced to pretend to be fools in order to be left in peace. The legends concerning their folly were collected in The History of the Schildburgers (16th century). One of their characteristic acts was to build a house without windows and try to carry sunlight in. (p.998)

Seafarer, The. An Anglo-Saxon poem of the early 8th century, expressing the conflicting feelings of weariness of and longing for the sea apparently experienced by a veteran voyager. It vividly describes both the hardships and the fascinations of life at sea. (p.1005 - that's page one thousand and five!) (This poem sounds wonderful. Why have I never heard of it?)

Shay, Frank (1888- ). American book dealer, proprietor of Frank Shay's Book Shop in New York and Provincetown on Cape Cod. He has compiled and edited many books on the theater and collections of popular songs, as Iron Men and Wooden Ships (1923) ; My Pious Friends and Drunken Companions (1927); etc. (p.1021) (I have a few of Frank Shay's books - the woodcuts are primitive and rather glorious, and the reader feels as if Shay was constantly winking an eye at Prohibition laws.)

snark. The imaginary animal invented by Lewis Carroll as the subject of his mock heroic poem, The Hunting of the Snark (1876). It is most elusive and gives endless trouble, and when eventually the hunters think they have tracked it down their quarry proves to be but a Boojum. The name (a portmanteau word of snake and shark) has hence sometimes been given to the quests of dreamers and visionaries.
It was one of D.G. Rossetti's beliefs that in The Hunting of the Snark Lewis Carroll was caricaturing him and "pulling his leg."
Jack London wrote a travel book called The Cruise of the Snark (1911) (p.1044)

Stealthy School of Criticism. A term coined by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in allusion to critcism published under a pseudonym. It was first used in a letter to the Athenaeum, December 16, 1871, with reference to a psuedonymous attack on the Fleshly School of Poetry published in the Contemporary Review of that year. (p.1066 and all that)

stornello verses. Verses in which certain words are harped on and turned about and about. They are common among the Tuscan peasants. The word is from Italian tornare, "to return."

I'll tell him the white, and the green, and the red,
Mean our country has flung the vile yoke from her head;
I'll tell him the green, and the red, and the white,
Would look well by his side as a sword-knot so bright;
I'll tell him the red, and the white, and the green,
Is the prize that we play for, a prize we will win.
- Notes and Queries (p.1074) (I love repetitive phrases and words in poetry, and use them often in my own writing, and again, never knew there was a poetic term for this.)

sweetness and light. A favorite phrase with Matthew Arnold. "Culture," he says, "is the passion for sweetness and light, and (what is more) the passion for making them prevail." (Preface to Literature and Dogma). The phrase was used by Swift (Battle of the Books, 1697) in an imaginary fable by Aesop as to the merits of the bee (the Ancients) and the spider (the Moderns). It concludes:

The difference is that instead of dirt and poison, we have rather chose to fill our hives with honey and wax, thus furnishing mankind with the two noblest of things, which are sweetness and light. (p.1089)

sympathetic powder. In alchemy it was believed that if this powder were merely applied to blood taken from a wound, it would cure the wound. The title The Powder of Sympathy has been used for a book by Christopher Morley. (p.1092)

One of the longest letters in this book, I think, with the entry for saints alone stretching for about fifteen pages, and other long entries of interest about sibyls and the Sibylline books, The Slough of Despond, the many interesting Smiths, the sun, and sword (more named swords of legend and myth). Phew. My brain is full.

Sheesh, I must have missed the photo's of the floaty linen lawn party dresses.

Neat boots tho'.
No, no more photos around - the dresses are in the closet until summer. I was trying to gracefully hint that I don't always dress like a lumberjack.

I do have a penchant for Docs - must be a holdover from art student days. Clump clump.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?