For some reason, that line delivered so solemnly by the Duke of Albany in the final act of the play makes me smile every time. There are so many dead bodies piled on top of one another and the drama is so compounded of endless miseries, that his words somehow seem incredibly redundant, and make the unendurable tragedy of it funny. But that’s probably just me.
I’ve just completed another reading of Shakespeare’s play, this time from the Oxford World’s Classics annotated edition, in preparation for watching a performance in a National Theatre Live presentation tomorrow evening. Sam Mendes directs Simon Russell Beale as King Lear. Looking forward to it!
Painting: King Lear in the Storm (1881) by James Pittendrigh McGillivray oil on canvas 24 x 20 in. (61 x 50.8 cm.)
Can you spot the non-Folio title? It’s a 1972 LEC edition of a famous novel about illicit love.
A couple of Folios among old treasures
My mum’s been asking me to show her photos of my collection of Folio Society books for a good while now. It’s taken me a long time to honour her request because a) there isn’t much light filtering into my living room which is good for the books, but not for photo-taking and, probably more importantly; b) I hesitate to show just how bonkers I went last year when I decided I should buy ‘a few’ of their gorgeous books. Next thing I knew I was sourcing them from around the world; from the Folio Society directly (housed on Eagle Street in London, UK), where I became a member in April 2013, and from resellers found on AbeBooks and eBay who were willing to part with out of print (or recent) editions at fair prices. I shudder to think how much money was thrown away on shipping from the UK, where the largest cache of Folios resides. Perhaps a plane ticket to Heathrow would have been more economical. I have learned that a Folio Addiction is ruinous no matter what kind of budget one happens to have available. In my case, there was no budget, only a credit card company that is all too willing to advance funds whenever necessary. There is a ‘support’ group called the Folio Society Devotees on LibraryThing. Here the word ‘support’ being synonymous with ‘aiding and abetting’ because unchecked FAD (Folio Acquisition Disorder) is rampant among many members and all are Devoted to the cult of Folio. It was therefore rather worrisome last year when I was singled out by many group members as a virulent FAD case, and while some gently commented that I would find my ruin at this rate, others didn’t hide a certain admiration for my folly. What finally helped me put a stop to this unchecked acquisitive streak was the fact that my credit card finally reached the uppermost limit. But perhaps more importantly, I ran out of shelf space to store my treasures on, and the thought of having to stack my precious books on the floor filled me with so much dread that I vowed I would take an extended break and give the credit card a much needed rest. Presumably, this will give me some time to actually read a few of my gorgeous tomes, which I also like to fondle, and I’ve taken Winston Churchill’s advice in that direction to heart:
“If you cannot read all your books…fondle them—peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them, at any rate, be your acquaintances.”
I just read the following quote from A Passion for Books, posted by a LibraryThing pal (thanks Donna!). This book of essays is by Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), who was an American Congregational minister, author, and lecturer.
“Books are the windows through which the soul looks out. A home without books is like a room without windows. No man has the right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books if he has the means to buy them. It is a wrong to his family. He cheats them! Children learn to read by being in the presence of books. The love of knowledge comes with reading and grows upon it. And the love of knowledge in a young mind is almost a warrant against the inferior excitement of passions and vices.
Let us pity these poor rich men who live barrenly in great bookless houses! Let us congratulate the poor that, in our day, books are so cheap that a man may every year add a hundred volumes to his library for the price which his tobacco and his beer would cost him. Among the earliest ambitions…among all that are struggling up in life from nothing to something, is that of forming and continually adding to a library of good books. A little library, growing larger every year, is an honourable part of a man’s history. A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessities of life.”
As Donna said, the language here is dated and sexist, but the thinking behind it is worth sharing.