Book buying

Yesterday, I went to the St Andrews and St Georges charity book sale which is an Edinburgh institution held every year in a neo-classical eighteenth century church on George St. I didn’t expect the queue on the opening morning to curl round the block.

I bought a modest collection of books for my library; they have a strong literature section but it depends on what is handed in to them over the year, which of course varies:

  1. Der Tod in Venedig by Thomas Mann. I already have Death in Venice in English but I want to try reading this in German. Like many German paperbacks, this book has a tactile textured cover.
  2. Gorky’s My Universitites. The third volume of Gorky’s autobiography which is said to have been Lenin’s favourite. It describes the detail of his student life in the 1880s and his meetings with a colourful if not motley range of people, including revolutionaries. Old style Penguin paperback illustrated with the Arrest of the Revolutionary by Repin.
  3. Montaigne’s Essays in Florio’s translation in a nice small hardback by the old Scottish publishers, Blackie. This is of interest to me because Virginia Woolf reckoned Montaigne a pioneer of honest autobiography. Arguably, Erasmus is just as revealing in his voluminous correspondence. Woolf and Lytton Strachey had a strong interest in what could and could not be said about personal life experiences in print.
  4. A World’s Classics (old OUP) hardback edition of the Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth with selected relevant shorter poems of William in the back. Due to the close collaboration between the Wordsworth sister and brother, it is appropriate to have their work in the same volume. Ideally this would include his longer poems too.
  5. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. I bought this because it is an American classic that I have been meaning to read for some time. It is an old leather Collins edition with pleasant title gilding on the spine, occasional illustrations in the form of robust black and white line drawings.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Simon
    May 15, 2011 @ 14:51:57

    You have very good taste. Sorry there was not more available to tempt you!

  2. Iain
    Jun 20, 2011 @ 19:41:16

    So you like Thomas Mann? One of my favourite authors. If you haven’t, you should read the big novels: Buddenbrooks, Doctor Faustus, The Magic Mountain – I’m in the middle of the latter – but have been for several years! I broke off and somehow didn’t ever get back to it – but I will! My bookmark still marks the page…
    I used to love his early short stories. Der Kleine Herr Friedemann is heart rending – you can feel the pain…. intensely! – and also his unsettling ‘The Dilettante’ – a salutory lesson, perhaps. These and the rest are just so well told. He was a master story teller.
    I have the complete volume of short stories (secondhand) in the original German, so same procedure as always – German text, English translation as a crutch, large dictionary, also a comprehensive German grammar book handy just in case…

    If you are reading Tod in Venedig you won’t sail through it easily unless your German is very good. Mine isn’t. He writes long sophisticated and complex sentences. What can one expect? He was a sophisticated man.

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