Sunday 18 November 2007

Let's Put Shakespeare Among The Pigeons

Goodness, Booking Through Thursday brought out some strong opinions, didn't it? How strange - we all love the contents of books, but have disparate views about the vehicle for that content. A few of the comments made me ponder, and I'll meander through some musings - but this post is mostly about Billybob. My very lovely parents, Our Vicar and Our Vicar's Wife, heeded my unsubtle references this year, and I now have the new RSC edition of the Collected Works. Oh, it is BEAUTIFUL. I 'needed' another one, because of the scribblings in my old copy, and the fact that the spine has fallen off - and this one came recommended by Judi Dench. Says so on the back. (Just seen the Dame in Cranford, which was wonderful, though the odd amalgam of three sources was a little hit-and-miss). Anyway, my new Shakespeare. It comes in its own box, much like Folio books, and has that pretty yellow design on it. Feels great; smells great (and I'm not usually a fan of New Book Smell, preferring Old Book Smell. That's another interesting division for book lovers, with people firmly and resolutely in one camp or the other); can't honestly say it sounds or tastes great, but three out of five senses isn't bad. As Susan Hill wrote on her blog a while ago, I think, if one is buying a classic which is available everywhere, then of course appearances and so forth are going to influence one's choice. So judging by covers is positively sensible in this case.

And I warn you - write in it and heads will roll.
It's not that I think books are sacred objects - but neither is wallpaper. Wouldn't scrawl over that either. And while I love to make my own response to a book and its ideas, that has to go on in my head - I'd hate to return to re-read a book and discover I couldn't read th
e book - only read my previous response to it. Perhaps because there is something eternal about a book, and something so transitory about my thoughts when reading it. Contrarily, though, I enjoy finding secondhand books with people's opinions in them. Especially if they've been done in pencil, of course. That way I can read the book and make up my own mind, and see what they've thought - if it's my own writing, then I just feel slightly mad disagreeing with my previous self...

Just musing. No point in trying to convince anyone to see my point of view, or vice versa, because somehow one's sensitivity or otherwise to books themselves is inbuilt and impossible to alter. But there isn't the slightest chance of it stopping others reading, I shouldn't think, as there are enough scrawlers out there for it to be a valid option for anyone w
anting to do that. Just so long as people learn NEVER to do it in books they've borrowed (I know nobody visiting here would dream of it). Or in front of me, please.

For now, just admire my beautiful collection of Billybob - and I relish the fact that the words are even more beautiful. I feel a re-read of All's Well That Ends Well coming up next...


  1. What an absolutely gorgeous book. Just fabulous.

  2. Gorgeous edition, can smell it from here. I too like finding other people's comments in 2nd hand books. I can't stand it though, if they have pompously corrected spelling or punctuation. probably because I can't spell myself!!.....c.b.

  3. I was about to start reading Hamlet again - but have decided once more to only read things I haven't read before, so I expect the next Shakespeare will be King Lear. From my blank red copy of the plays.
    The only issue I have with this is the layout, which is necessarily cramped.

  4. Glad to have given you so much pleasure Simon - worth the pain of lugging it across Oxford! The layout, Colin, is SO much better than the usual format of double columns - you can ACTUALLY READ IT without getting a headache. Why is it that books on the 'desert island' (Bible and Shakespeare) are usually printed this way? Hardly user-friendly!
    As to your previous post... did anyone mention that heinous crime of turning down the corner of a page? OVW


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