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Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 30 January, 2021 05:27PM
Hear what you’re saying re dogs, Knygatin. I think dogs invest more fully in you and thus you in them. You’re their whole world. So while I’ve always shed a few tears when a dog of mine died, I’ve never done so for a cat. By extension, a dog will miss you. A cat will not (unless it’s hungry).

As Sawfish says, part of their charm is that they’re pretty independent but choose to spend some of their time with you. Which is nice.

Re Books vs. Cigarettes. My grandfather grew up in Galway and remembers two labourers comparing notes about what they got paid, one grumbling that his outlay on cigarettes and booze meant that he’d nothing left over to spend on himself. I was a smoker many moons ago, and that attitude is pretty representative. An addiction has to be fed, regardless of the cost - even if means skimping on other necessities like food. A packet of cigarettes is around fifteen euro in Ireland. A large paperback costs around the same. So I guess that’s 365 books that you’ll never read. But a smoker won’t see it that way (well, with the exception of Orwell!).

Another factor is that these days (if you have an ereader) you can download a lot of stuff off the net for free, as the older works are long out of copyright - e.g. I downloaded a Father Brown omnibus a few years back from the Internet Archive; the formatting was as good as any mainstream ebook. Also ‘Witchwood’ by John Buchan (based on Dale’s recommendation). So the monetary value you put on a book (especially if you factor in libraries) is very much a moveable feast.

That said, I can appreciate the pleasure of owning a physical book. I wonder how much this has to do with nostalgia, though? Most of the books I buy are duplicates of books I read as a teenager or in my twenties.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 30 January, 2021 06:04PM
"two labourers comparing notes about what they got paid, one grumbling that his outlay on cigarettes and booze meant that he’d nothing left over to spend on himself" -- what a great anecdote! I immediately read it to the missus.

"Most of the books I buy are duplicates of books I read as a teenager or in my twenties."

Thereby hangs a tale?

I've done some of that, for sure, & even bought books I read when I was just a boy, e.g. a couple of Robert Silverberg juvenile sf novels.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 30 January, 2021 06:20PM
Telling, huh? I used to have a lot of SF paperbacks. Not so much now. I only see one book on my shelf that I borrowed - and that was thirty years ago - ie, Lewis's 'Allegory of Love'. I did buy a copy of a book I loved as a kid only recently (which thankfully turned out to be every bit as good as I remembered): 'The Land of Green Ginger'.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 30 January, 2021 08:00PM
The Land of Green Ginger -- I'm thinking that was a book Lin Carter promised to reprint in the Ballantine fantasy series, maybe? Never did, though.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 30 January, 2021 08:29PM
I didn’t know that! I only discovered a few years ago it was written by the same guy who wrote the screenplay for The Wizard of Oz.

The Land of Green Ginger is a comical, arabesque fantasy: the kind of book that’s written quickly, but written well, and is usually a sort of one-hit wonder for the author. In fairness, Aridizzone’s illustrations are a big help.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 30 January, 2021 09:25PM
I'm going to have to get my hands on that book, Cathbad.

[tolkienandfantasy.blogspot.com]

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 31 January, 2021 07:20AM
Weirdly enough, of the books listed I have three - plus I bought the Prince Prigio hardback online (again a duplicate of the one I had as a kid). I don’t know how I came by the Sylvie & Bruno edition, which was as amiable as it was forgettable - except for The Mad Gardener’s Song, which I kind of liked, and which I used to know by heart. I read Face in the Frost a few weeks ago, based on a recommendation by somebody on another forum.

I’ve read quite a few of the others (MacDonald, Nesbit etc) but an equal number are completely unknown to me - and probably easier to source now (ie online) than they were back then, so I might just check them out. Thanks for the link!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 31 Jan 21 | 07:21AM by Cathbad.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 1 February, 2021 07:46AM
Thanks for your responses to my previous post.

Regarding buying books, I would never compare books to cigarettes or drinking. It is degrading. Like saying, "Since I don't smoke anymore, I can now waste my money on books instead". But it is true that drugs may leave you with little money for else. (I used to smoke for a few years when younger, and drink at bars, and could see it was a waste of money, as well as damaging to my health.)
I don't have a budget for books, and don't buy them on a regular basis or as habitual expenditure. I only buy the books I need and truly want, like clothes, furniture, and other household necessities. I should say bought, for I consider my personal book collection about complete. Today I rarely buy books. The last real investment I did in books, was some ten years ago, when I updated my Tolkien set with the HarperCollins 70th and 50th Anniversary edition. If it is something I am curious to read, but not necessarily needs to stand on my shelves, I either borrow it or get a pdf. I never buy ugly books. I always choose the nicest edition, within certain cost limits. I like cheap paperbacks about as much as hardbacks, as long as the design and cover art is to my liking. The most I have payed for a new book was $60 for an Underwood-Miller in slipcase and lovely marbling. The most I ever payed for an antique book was around $300; I would never go higher than that amount for a book, and don't like paying that much, but on the other hand, this was only a single occurrence. I don't mind buying print-on-demand books, if they look nice. But there has to be true dedication and passion behind the design and artwork. Occasionally I have printed my own books on a library Xerox, glued bindings, and made dust wrappers, when no other acceptable edition was available.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 1 February, 2021 10:32AM
This is an interesting thread, conceptually.

It's revealing two (at least) main ways of seeing a "book": as a concrete, manufactured object; and as the intangible content conveyed as ideas or intellectual revelations.

I truly enjoy handling a first rate hardbound book, and they are very pleasant to read, too. But thinking about why it is that I seldom buy books any more, and when I do seldom fork out top-dollar--or even close--it's because at some point I conceptually separated the content from the object, and as much as I like the object, the content assumed supremacy, and if I can get the content at low cost, or better still, for free, that's the way I'll go 9 out of 10 times.

That said, from earlier days I tended to buy books by authors that I liked, and I read, and re-read them. A great example for me is Raymond Chandler--reading his Marlowe series is like taking a vacation in both time and place. It helps that I spent a lot of time in LA, and lived there for a while, and actually saw much of the setting he described, but that's how that category of authors works for me.

Other favorites of this type: Robert F.Jones, Newton Thornburg, Hammett, Lovecraft, CAS, Hemingway, Machiavelli, Crane, and a few others.

It's odd, too, that the attraction of each of these authors differs somewhat. E.g., much of Jones' writing is a primer on actual, gut-level traditional masculinity, offered not as an observation, but thru credible modeling by the male characters. In this sense he is like Hemingway. And both handle female characters very poorly, in my opinion. Anti-Flauberts, I guess.

Similarly, Machiavelli tells you all you need to know abut hierarchical human interactions, all you need to do is to scale the observation to the situation you observe for a preview of what's coming, or is likely to come.

Crane is perhaps the most naturally visceral writer I've encountered. Not forced, but natural. Read "Manacled".

Some I have become saturated with and no longer go there regularly, others I re-read from time to time--CAS and HPL are among this number and basically that's why I'm here, folks.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 1 February, 2021 12:17PM
Sawfish wrote, "it's because at some point I conceptually separated the content from the object, and as much as I like the object, the content assumed supremacy, and if I can get the content at low cost, or better still, for free, that's the way I'll go 9 out of 10 times."

Most of my Machen is printouts in large type from free online sources. One reason I kind of like that is that, around Machen there hovers this mystique about the books -- rare editions coveted by connoisseurs, etc. I react against that.

I've just calculated my lifetime expenditure on books.* My estimate is $40,000. The average cost of a book must have well been under $10.

Dale Nelson

*This calculation was helped along by some records I kept. In 1978 I inventoried my books, coming up with 1,008 books whose estimated value was $2,039. I made a couple of further inventories in 1980 and 1982, but soon ceased to do so. However, beginning 1 May 1986, I recorded each book I bought and its cost, and I recently added that all up, as I may have mentioned. I won't rehearse all the bits of information I took into account to arrive at the estimated $40,000, but my guess is that that's a pretty good hunch. I've sold, traded, given away, or (rarely) discarded a lot of books, so at present I reckon I have 4,156. (A few years ago I counted all my books, and I've kept that figure up to date. I'm sure it's not 100% accurate, but it's a good enough figure.) A great many of them would be of little or no value to someone else. The most expensive book is the J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia at $175 (it costs less than that now), and Aids to Reflection in the Complete Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge would be the second-most expensive, at $135.

I might nominate Grant Uden's Dictionary of Chivalry, illustrated by Pauline Baynes, as my most beautiful book.

Most peculiar book is Coleridge's Constitution of the Church and State, not for the content but because it reeks of some fragrance (patchouli? -- it's the scent I associate with hippie girls in peasant blouses). I have to keep it in a padded envelope so that it doesn't contaminate its neighbors. If I ever read it, I'll have to stuff cotton into my nostrils. I believe I had some discussion with the mail-order bookseller about it (over 20 years ago), but whatever happened, I still have the book.

Oldest book I've ever bought is a Hand-Book of London from 1850. This was a book relished by Arthur Machen. I paid under $40 for it. Second oldest book was a book of selected table-talk of Coleridge, for about $25.

Best bargain? The elephant folios of the superlative Times Mid-Century Atlas of the World, five volumes at 25c each, bought as library discards. These are also my largest books. Smallest book? A 2 x 2" Book of Common Prayer from around 1900.

Book I still have that I bought the longest time ago? Probably the Whitman Classic edition of The War of the Worlds, bought on Feb. 4, 1967.

Most overpriced book? It's too bad, but I might say Zettersten's book on Tolkien. I'll paste my review of it.


Tolkien by a Colleague and Friend

by Dale Nelson

Arne Zettersten worked with Tolkien on the Oxford Early English Text Society’s multi-volume edition of all seventeen manuscripts of Ancrene Wisse. The first volume appeared in 1962; it was the final major scholarly work released in his lifetime by Tolkien. Zettersten saw the project through to completion in 2000. He has written J. R. R. Tolkien’s Double Worlds and Creative Process: Language and Life, published 2011 by Palgrave Macmillan (xi + 243 pp; ISBN 978-0-230-62314-9; $85).

The book is priced for the scholarly market but is poorly edited. It states that 9 August 1973 was “two weeks before Tolkien’s death,” but Tolkien died 2 Sept. 1973. It refers twice to Biographia Literaria as being written by C. T. Coleridge (pp. 27, 233). Tolkien’s secretary Joy Hill becomes Joe Hill (p. 35). An uncorrected misprint refers to the 1980s when the 1890s must be meant (p. 52). Tolkien’s essay “English and Welsh” is “English and Wales” on p. 161, “England and Wales” on p. 200, and “About the English and the Welsh” on p.232. We read of “Niemor” (for Nienor, a character in Tolkien’s Túrin cycle, p. 35), “buriel-mounds” (p. 13), and the bookstore chain Barnes and Nobles (p. 39), and that “today’s individual… have [sic] lost a lot of historical knowledge” (p. 221). The style bogs down: “the new digital picture archive from the [Peter Jackson] film production [was used] for all kinds of digital manipulation. If we take into account the whole reception of Tolkien’s ideas, we may adopt a different, and maybe unexpected, comprehensive view of his project, particularly if we take into account the effects of his ideas” (p. 217). Few readers will assume with Zettersten that “a radio or TV interview would have created a more relaxed setting [for Tolkien to speak in] than … a social gathering at a pub, or a lively meeting with colleagues after dinner in his own college” (p. 6). One frequently thinks that Zettersten is about to focus on one particular issue, but he draws off to something else. The book is repetitive. It was, apparently, first written in Swedish and the translation is not polished. Och, rather than English and, appears on pp. 174 and 231. The book needed a good editor.

Readers may shrug off such defects if the book brings Tolkien the man close to them and if what it says about Tolkien’s creativity is insightful. The book may be guardedly affirmed on both counts.

Having corresponded with him since May 1959, Zettersten first visited Tolkien in June 1961. He tells his first impressions of Tolkien’s appearance (“surprisingly robust physique,” “natural heartiness” of manner, hair parted on the left and thick in the back, bushy eyebrows, warm handshake, distinctive voice) and recounts his walk from the noisy center of Oxford to Tolkien’s Sandfield Road residence in Headington. These early paragraphs are enjoyable, and it is pleasant in the middle of the book to glimpse Tolkien’s conversational topics ranging from philology to his own subcreation to “various whiskies and their merits” (p. 113). So far as I know Zettersten is the only source in print for the list of eleven books from Tolkien’s schooldays (p. 78). Almost everything that Zettersten says about Tolkien the man, however, is already known from Tolkien’s published letters and books by members of the Tolkien family, John Garth, Peter Gilliver, Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond, Humphrey Carpenter, and others. Zettersten’s book is a useful condensation of their many pages. Zettersten’s affection for Tolkien pervades the book, but perhaps he waited too long to write it; his book mostly lacks the unique anecdotes that readers will have hoped for.

While many readers will welcome a book on Tolkien, a philologist, written by another outstanding philologist, some may fear that it will be too esoteric. It’s not. For example, a nice explanation of “philology” appears on p. 79. (It could have appeared earlier in the book.) One might, again, fear that Zettersten would naturally emphasize philology at the expense of other elements contributing to Tolkien’s creativity, but the book is reasonably balanced. We read of Tolkien being captivated by the Gothic, Finnish, and Welsh languages, but also of his prewar friendships, Tolkien’s love for Edith and the importance of their son Christopher Tolkien as reader of LOTR as it was being written, Tolkien’s Great War experiences, the stimulus of the Inklings, and the role of pictorial art and calligraphy. Zettersten doesn’t let the philological perspective run away with him but uses it. Given his qualifications, one wishes he had commented on Tolkien’s philological essays such as “Sigelwara Land,” “The Devil’s Coach-Horses,” and “Chaucer as Philologist.” Since the “AB Language” in which Ancrene Wisse is written is a specialty of Zettersten’s, he is able to evoke the two scholars’ shared enthusiasm for it. He records too their interest in the fragmentary poem Waldere. He conveys the “code-switching” quality of Tolkien’s mind, adapting a linguistic term for a rapid alternation “between two languages, or between two dialects or between two registers.” Thus, “Tolkien could suddenly flit between the primary and the secondary world without the slightest difficulty or doubt” (p. 113). Yes: Zettersten really does seem to understand how Tolkien’s mind worked -- although I’m still mulling his notion that Tolkien would have published a finished text of The Silmarillion in his lifetime if he had been able to work on the book with a word processor (p. 36). During his last visits with Tolkien, Zettersten perceived that Tolkien realized that he would not see The Silmarillion through to publication.

Other than institutions with special Tolkien collections, libraries do not need to purchase this book.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 1 Feb 21 | 12:18PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 1 February, 2021 12:25PM
Knygatin wrote, "The most I ever payed for an antique book was around $300; I would never go higher than that amount for a book, and don't like paying that much, but on the other hand, this was only a single occurrence. I don't mind buying print-on-demand books."

I was favorably impressed by the work of the Indian print-on-demand publisher Gyan. One can buy facsimiles of old books from them. I have a special interest in the 17th century, and wanted to get Isaac Ambrose's War with Devils: [and] Ministration of, and Communion with Angels. It took a while, but the result was to my satisfaction. I think they work from microfilm. This was a 1769 edition with the S's that look like f's. At one point they emailed me with specimen pages to show that they were working with a copy that could be hard to read in places. Should they go ahead? Yes. It took a while before the book arrived, but I was quite pleased. The book is a well-made paperback, with pages in sewn signatures. I forget what it cost, but I think it was under $30 including postage from India.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 1 February, 2021 04:45PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Most peculiar book is Coleridge's Constitution of
> the Church and State, not for the content but
> because it reeks of some fragrance (patchouli? --
> it's the scent I associate with hippie girls in
> peasant blouses). I have to keep it in a padded
> envelope so that it doesn't contaminate its
> neighbors. If I ever read it, I'll have to stuff
> cotton into my nostrils.
>

That is very funny. I smell a long past trauma here.

My 1922 edition of Algernon Blackwood's The Bright Messenger has a slight reek of old pipe tobacco. At first it annoyed me, but then I grew to accept it as part of the book's personality.
I was unlucky at first with a beautiful copy of Jack Vance's Eight Fantasms and Magics (1960s psychedelic pop art cover at its best), for it unexpectedly smelled very musty. But I put it in a plastic bag together with baking soda; and after that fanned it. Now the mustiness is gone. Same with the 1975 edition of David Lindsay's The Haunted Woman, except it had a vile cigarette smell I removed.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: DrWho42 (IP Logged)
Date: 5 February, 2021 12:36AM

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 5 February, 2021 04:42PM
Knygatin wrote, "I was unlucky at first with a beautiful copy of Jack Vance's Eight Fantasms and Magics (1960s psychedelic pop art cover at its best), for it unexpectedly smelled very musty. But I put it in a plastic bag together with baking soda; and after that fanned it. Now the mustiness is gone. Same with the 1975 edition of David Lindsay's The Haunted Woman, except it had a vile cigarette smell I removed."

Ten years or so ago, our little town had very large covered recycle bins downtown, and one day I noticed, in the one for paper, that some books had been dumped. The sides of the bin had hatches through which one dumped one's contributions, and which were large enough for me to get through so that I could fish out the books, which included some old sf and Tolkien and even S. R. Crockett's The Red Axe in a clothbound copy with an 1898 copyright. The books did have a bit of a pong so I didn't bring them into the house but stored them in a former machine shop on our property. With time the odor went away and now the Crockett shares shelf space with some other antiquarian books in our living room.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 6 February, 2021 11:11AM
I remembered another book story. I have a Penguin Classics edition of major writings by Sir Thomas Browne, including his treatise on funerary vases, Hydriotaphia or Urn-Buriall. This copy was chewed by our pet rabbit. Before we rescued the apparently abandoned rabbit, it had been living in a cemetery.

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