This space has remained somewhat outside my thinking for a little too long. There is much to add here:
- I love my flat
- my books look good on shelves
- I am on a conference committee again – co-convening a 1 day programme no less
- I have a space to call my own
- my job continues to attract me, though I have no idea where to go next
- I am in the middle of sad times and anniversaries – but still I find a path through
- I have a much needed week off
- I am
But on to bragging. I’m in the midst of adjusting to having a proper mortgage once more; a bigger mortgage than I’ve had previously, though not painfully so. Yet, it must be said, that I need to curtail my spending. Especially on books; my spending in that regard has gotten rather out of hand in recent months. To which, all that know me, simply say “and?”. I have restrained myself for several weeks; for several weeks there have been no new orders winging their way toward me, whether of US or UK or European origins. Similarly, I have been remarkably reticient in the flesh. The lists that I have posted here (and the biggest is to come) are testament to the books I have desired but managed not to buy.
All such effort failed me today. I was in Berkelouw’s in Newtown and spied a tome in their cabinet; in their locked cabinet. It appeared to be a limited edition – Folio Society – of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. I have never read this book and, having spent the first half of my life as a shy reader, I even pronounced it incorrectly. The word I had in my head was something along the lines of …quick-zot-e…or thereabouts. I would hear Don Key-oat-ay pronounced as a classic but never suspected it was the same book. I realised my error a few years ago thankfully and have been on the lookout for a nice edition ever since.
When I spied said edition in the cabinet at Berkelouw’s, I experienced a pause, a moment; time ceased. It was a Folio Society limited edition (LE in Folio speak), #705 of 1,250 copies. Printed in 2005 to mark the 400th anniversary of first publication of this famous work (what is now known as Part I was published in 1605, its sequel, Part II, was published in 1615. The Folio LE combines both parts). The price: a mere AUD$300. The reaction: eep!
I went home. I spent hours online researching, with thanks to the FS denizens of LibraryThing and other sites, and realised it was a bargain. It currently sells for around GBP580 and US950. The important matter for me was not so much the value as to ensure that I wasn’t being ripped off. Certainly, I could not, nor would not, have paid the higher prices. The price was around that for which it sold initially in 2005.
So I returned to the shop, armed with the fruits of my research; my appreciation of its provenance. I examined it at a separate table: it did indeed include the additional essay by Miranda France, it was in a box (rather than slipcase), it was beautifully bound in goatskin leather. It had delicious illustrations by Quentin Blake, it was translated by Smollett. A note here: there have been later translations including a recent one that are regarded as far superior to Smollet, however the Smollett one does seem to convey a good sense of humour, which is rather promising. I suspect it hasn’t been read, given the way the pages open up, or rather don’t, when stood on its spine. It is, as new, as far as I can tell.
Needless to say, it is now mine. Now will I read it.