Not so much a full post this morning as a number of mini posts which don’t warrant the full deal but which I need to get out there.
First of all, a request. A friend is researching into stories and legends from any period and any culture that deal with foxes metamorphing into humans and vice versa. I think this was sparked originally by Helen Oyeyemi’s novel Mr Fox as that particular author is another of my friend’s research interests. Anyway, I said I would ask around for any suggestions that fellow readers might have and I know that she would be very grateful for any examples that you could come up with.
Secondly, a gloat. I’m sorry, but I can’t help it. Just look what I was given as a present last week. The Oxford Companion to the Book was published in 2010 and I had the pleasure of meeting one of the editors, Henry Woudhuysen, just days before its publication. It is a collection of essays that explores the history of the book throughout the world and from ancient to modern times. The subjects it covers range through bibliography, palaeography, the history of printing, editorial theory and practice, textual criticism, book collecting, and libraries but it also addresses more modern issues such as e-publishing. Perhaps most importantly, as far as I’m concerned, it addresses the question of how a society is shaped by its books and how books are shaped by the society out of which they grow. That inter-connectedness absolutely fascinates me. When this first came out I was desperate for a copy. I would have salivated over it, if it hadn’t been for the fact that in doing so I would have damaged something that was externally almost as beautiful as it was internally magnificent. But, it was way way beyond my means and I just had to hope that my university library would buy it. They never did! Then, just before Christmas, the brother of a friend died after a long illness. Michael was a collector, especially of books and CDs, and when my friend came back after the funeral she brought this with her and said that the family would like me to have it. That they knew it was something that I would love, would read and would cherish, not only for what it is but also in his memory. I cannot begin to tell you how moved I was and I will always treasure it not only because of its subject matter but because of the kindness of such loving people.
And, finally, a brief observation. Have you ever noticed how your reaction to the number of pages left in a book, or if you’re e-reading the percentage you’ve already read, differs according to the book you’re reading? I have two books on the go at the moment. One is really hard going and the pages just never seem to diminish, while the other one is giving me immense pleasure and the percentage left is declining far too rapidly. Shakespeare almost had something to say about this when he observed that time travels in divers paces with divers persons. I simply cannot believe that I am getting through these two volumes at a similar pace.