Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Tattered cover, but still loved

Another book from home (they are enjoying their almost-spring field trip to the bookshop). This little item has a worn exterior, but is still attractive to me in its plainness: The Fellowship of Books, an anthology edited and published by T.N. Foulis (London 1914). The book is clad in brown paper, has gilt lettering on the spine and front cover, and my copy's hinges are starting to fray. It contains a few tipped-in color plates of people reading, by Byam Shaw. This copy also has some spidery pencil notations and underlinings. The typography approaches unreadability in a few places - on almost every page the small type and huge margins result in some lines of type feeling squeezed. Overall, kind of a plain Jane, but I do like it:

The collection contains essays or selections I know I have in other forms, but sometimes it's hard to resist a nice title. Within: a poem by Southey, Balfour's The Pleasures of Reading, Alexander Smith's A Shelf in My Bookcase, Detached Thoughts on Books and Reading by Charles Lamb, selections from Milton's Areopagitica and Richard de Bury, and other various odds and ends. Here's a selection from an essay entitled On the Buying of Books, by a Bookworm (who goes unnamed - this must be our editor himself?):

"Few among us can buy all the books which we like to read, but let us recognise literature as so great an essential, such an absolute necessary for our comfort and happiness, that since it must be had it ought to be paid for, just as much as protection from rogues, as much as dress and food. Then come the questions - how much should we pay for it? and how? As for the latter, it is easy to answer: we must buy the books which please us most." (pp.117-118)

He goes on to suggest, regarding the former, that we booklovers should pay for our habit by taxing ourselves "a good fifteen shillings in the pound." While the general reader should start at five shillings, because "Five shillings in the pound is the lowest rate that can be levied for literature."

I see I bought this book many years ago for ten dollars. Largely because of its title and cover. It's good to finally discover that its innards are also worthy.

I could hardly spend less on dress, and I do not eat a great deal, but I am clearly spending too much on " protection from rogues." Time to be braver and spend more on books!
Actually few of us can ever read all of the books we buy.
Quillhill, whenever someone asks me "The Question" (i.e. "Have you *read* all these books?") I now answer, "Some of them I've never read, and don't plan to, but some of them I've read FOUR TIMES."

Vicky - having recently mailed my shop insurance payment, I'm wondering if I need protection from the rogues WITHIN the protection industry...

Food - I love to eat well. I'll spend good money to do it. Clothing - I'm not much of a shopper, either. Perhaps I would be if I had any money (all spent on food and BOOKS).
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