Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Provisions for the human journey

Ok, more Morley books! Today: Pleased To Meet You (Doubleday 1927). A pleasingly small book, measuring just under five by seven inches. An odd black and orange geometric paper cover over a black cloth spine. An orange paper spine label. The dust jacket matches (not shown here, for brevity) the striking cover:

The title page is another example of the kind of typography I admire - spacious, with room for a few ornaments, utilizing two colors, and a nice mix of small caps and italic. Morley dedicated the book to William McFee, another author whose work he championed at Doubleday. The title page has a quote from Twelfth Night: ""What country, friends, is this?' / "This is Illyria, lady.'"

This copy is not signed, but I show the book here anyway because I love its title, form, and presentation. I wish I could say the same for its content, but sadly, this is a prime example of Morley's more dilettantish efforts. Definitely a minor novel, about the political doings in the fictional but vaugely Austrian/Swiss country of Illyria, and the beautiful young daughter of the country's new president. Morley Lite. (Sorry.) Read Kathleen instead, then Kitty Foyle, for heroines of his that you can really believe in and even love. And admire this book simply for its twenties style.

I've almost finished straightening up the shop - got the boxes of junk out and gone early this morning - cleaned up some of the winter grime - and big news: if no customers interrupt me I am about to begin the final hundred pages of Montaigne's Essays. The end is nigh! I've even been virtuously postponing a few other books to ensure completion. When I finish, I'll post at length about him, but for now, here's just a bit - what Montaigne says about his books (p.628), and I couldn't agree more:

"...I cannot tell you what ease and repose I find when I reflect that they are at my side to give me pleasure at my own time, and when I recognize how much assistance they bring to my life. It is the best provision I have found for this human journey..."

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