Friday, February 17, 2012

As I close

In a used bookstore a few days ago, it occurred to me that I’m slowly but surely recreating the old library† in my hometown — not, perhaps, exactly as it was, but as I remember and imagine it. More and more these days, surrounded by these musty tomes, I have the sure feeling that whatever book I open will draw me in, lead me on, and give me satisfaction. As it was back then, so it is now, with the added joy of knowing that the younger readers in the family will find them useful when I’m gone, and revealing, too.

“As I close, I’ve a bewildering consciousness of having left out the very things I wanted most to say, and incorporated in their stead the unimportant. You will forgive me, though, I know.”

in a letter to Howard Taylor
Sept. 4, 1879

since torn down


Joseph Hutchison said...

I included my own home town Carnegie library here, William. Thanks for your example in lifting these incredible resources out of the past! It was at my Woodbury Library that I first read François Villon in the Lepper translation, and the top of my head flew off like a hat in the wind.....

William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Joe. I’d read your post before it was updated. I especially love the black-and-white photo of the Woodbury Library. I was living away from home when our beautiful Carnegie library was torn down. I don’t know the story behind it, and the loss is so painful that I don’t really want to. Villon, meanwhile, is waiting in the wings, represented in my collection in François Villon: A Documented Survey, by D.B. Wyndham Lewis. It’s an agreeably battered volume that contains an old newspaper clipping from the New York Times Book Review, which features a greatly yellowed (or browned) article on The Complete Works of François Villon, translated by J.U. Nicolson. (I think it says J.U. — I’m in poor light at the moment.)

And so it goes.... The James Whitcomb Riley book is engaging and worthwhile indeed.

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying your Friday rambles, and also wish to congratulate you on your forthcoming publications.