Wednesday, January 2, 2008

4 degrees today, 56 this weekend. I love Chicago!

Let's welcome the American Philological Association to Chicago! A gentleman came in today and remarked that there were lots of classicists in town, so tomorrow Doug and I will be putting out a whole bunch of Classics material, for the delectation of all.

Happy New Year, everyone! I, Lydia, have returned. I don't know about you, but my desolate time away from the store was brightened by Alan's first blog entry of two weeks ago. * Go Alan! (I'll rope him into doing more blog entries -- soon, yes, sooooon. You mark my words.)

But for now, the blog is up to me, with my obscure and oft-bizarre tastes. Take, for instance, this week's Favorite:



These days, our "pillars of society" get multimillion-dollar book deals and write long tell-all autobiographies. Back in 1916, I suppose said pillars found that less interesting than other pursuits, so random people had to write about them instead. Or perhaps there weren't quite the same kind of invasive scandal magazines that we have now ... though I find that rather unlikely. At any rate, a Mr. A.G. Gardiner apparently found a market for a book that synopsizes the lives of various well-known contemporaries. These include many people I have heard of -- Mr. Roosevelt, King George V, Mr. Andrew Carnegie, Sarah Bernhardt, Prince Kropotkin, Mr. Churchill, Mr. H. G. Wells -- and many I have not -- Archdeacon Lilley? Mr. Asquith?

I wonder if all the names I don't recognize demonstrate lamentable ignorance on my part, or if these people are the 1916 equivalent of Britney Spears (who will no doubt be forgotten eighty years from now). Regardless, this book makes a fine compilation of anecdotes about various figures who were famous in 1916 (apparently King George V was raised as a sailor!) ... not to mention snippy backhanded side notes ("But with all his boisterous courage and frank hilarity, [Mr. Roosevelt] cannot be acquitted of sharp practice of the most flagrant sort."), all of which can be yours for $9.00.

My obsession with fonts and calligraphy would convince me to buy this week's Collector's Item if I had the wherewithal:



This beautiful limited edition (copy #73 of 115) is essentially a bunch of "visual interpretations" of Emily Dickinson. Almost every page is remarkable enough to give me pause. The design is spare and elegant, but vivid; some pages have illustrations:



... but many concentrate on a lovely page-border, or the perfect font. Some even do interesting things with the fonts' very orientation:



I have never been Emily Dickinson's biggest fan, but I even I was impressed by the way her poems fit with these designs. I spent quite a while admiring each page; I can only imagine the joy a Dickinson lover would gain -- all for $175.00!

When I returned from vacation, I found nine lovely Affordable and Interesting books in the window that I had never seen before:



These books, each about one particular decorative art, have quite a lot of color photographs. They distracted me for quite a while, especially the one on posters -- everyone loves bullfights!:



... and the one on 1920s style:



Can you imagine living in that room? I'd feel as though I was sleeping in a wedding cake.

My sharp eye for political incorrectness detected some 1960s-style social commentary in here (for instance, the book on Chinese painting talks a bit about the mysterious East -- hello, Edward Said!). People tell me sometimes that one of the great things about this blog is all the pictures, though, and I think these books are the same way -- just as you can take or leave my nattering here, you can take or leave these books' meandering discussion. There's 60-80 photos per book and each book is $7.50, so per picture that's a pretty good deal! I didn't get nearly as good a deal on my art textbooks in college.

Well, that's a wrap on our first entry for the year. Don't let January get you down -- it may be frigid now, but it's supposed to be a whopping 54 degrees this weekend!

* It wasn't really desolate. I had a lovely time over the holidays. (Hi Mom!)

4 comments:

Anny said...
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Anonymous said...

Ew. Wasn't Mr. Asquith the horrible (but brilliant) English surgeon who argued that women should have no rights at all? I seem to recall some outrageous letters to the Times, etc.

Natheless, the books look interesting.

I have some books from that same '60s series, inherited from my father. I think they are translated from an Italian art series, and are gorgeous, although the scholarship is sometimes a bit doubtful.

Alessandra

esotericus said...
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esotericus said...

I think Asquith actually refers to H.H. Asquith, the prime minister around the time of the Great War and a rather important figure in British politics until his death in the 1920s.

As for Archdeacon Lilley, he was, I believe, I notable advocate of social change from the Anglican Church. I came across his name in a couple of writings from the period, and I think it refers to A.L. Lilley. If I have the right one, he was from Hereford.