Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kim, by Rudyard Kipling

"Thou hast loosed an Act upon the world, and as a stone thrown into a pool so spread the consequences thou canst not tell how far." -- from Kim, p. 220

It didn't occur to me to read Kim, serialized between 1900 and 1901, until a friend mentioned she'd read it recently, and that it was full of spy stuff. I never knew that! Nor did I realize that Kim himself wasn't an Indian boy, but an Irish orphan living by his wits on the streets of Lahore, a concept that allows Rudyard Kipling to have it various different ways.

Having always associated Kipling with the Raj -- for which I have no sympathy -- I was relieved that I wouldn't need to dread any "white man's burden" creeping into the depiction of a native character, and from the start I liked that the chameleon-like Kim, nicknamed the "Friend to all the world," is willing and able to associate with whatever different races and social classes he comes across.

 The plot of Kim is very meandery, as the character wanders about and meets people. He becomes the disciple of a wandering Tibetan holy man on a pilgrimage (mostly because he wants to travel, and to help  protect the old guy, whom he likes, rather than from any spiritual motivation). Along the way, he delivers a coded message to a British spy, which introduces him to the "Great Game," when Britain and Russia vied for power in Afghanistan and other areas of Central Asia, largely through subterfuge. Having read some books about Indian religions written in the 19th century, I was amused that studiers of ethnography are seen in the book as a front for spies. (p. 183, for one example)  

Once he's identified as a white boy, Kim is forced into an English school, where he trains for the Secret Service, but never gives up his loyalty to the lama, who he still considers his "master."

The novel's focus seems to be in a yo-yo between the epic and the everyday. The story is largely about complex international intrigues hidden behind mundane activities, taking place partly among Indians and partly among the British, and as such, "the Game is so large that one sees but a little at a time." (p. 178). In addition, the story ranges all over India, with characters from varied ethnic and religious groups, with so much variety that it certainly seems like a purposeful narrative strategy. Perhaps as an attempt to express some massive experience of India at a particular historic juncture -- but filtered through the life of one small person, who revels in the pleasures of ordinary life, and who becomes involved in bigger things, without really understanding them. Despite the largeness of everything, the most important thing in the book is Kim, looking for his next meal.

When he becomes self-reflective at the end -- "I am Kim. I am Kim. And what is Kim?" (p. 294) -- the question of identity comes to the fore. Kipling has monkey-wrenched his picture of life in India by creating a character who's neither an Indian or a white man, or who's both at once, and who defines himself as an individual, with individual loyalties.

If he's an Indian street urchin or a Sahib makes a huge difference to the rest of the world: he'll be treated differently, and will have access to different aspects of life. But the difference between those two identities can't be essential and meaningful if nobody can even tell which one he is.  If Kim lives in Indian society one minute, thinking in Hindi, and is suddenly identified as white, and whisked off to white society, it doesn't change anything about who he was, or who he is, although it might change who he will become ... which is the concern of the story.

The character definitely has a Huck Finn quality to him, saying of his integration into English ways: "This clothing grows no easier to wear." (p. 127) He also has an odd similarity to Kipling's Mowgli, from The Jungle Book, in that they're both about children raised apart from the world they would normally have been born into -- alienating them from their "hereditary" place.

Are these very different depictions of a similar nature vs. nurture argument? Kipling was born in India, taken back to England as a child, and then returned to India as a teenager, and one wonders how he felt his own identity as an Anglo-Indian. If he felt a part of both worlds as a young man, he might have created the character of Kim as an expression of that viewpoint. On the other hand, if he felt like he belonged to neither world, then his motive might have been a kind of wish-fulfillment, since Kim mostly feels he belongs wherever he is -- but least of all in the repressive English school, although he learns to take advantage of it to get what he needs for the future -- not a bad strategy.

So hey, kids: even though it sucks, put in your time, and learn -- not for THEM, but for yourself.

If I didn't always really follow the plot (especially the military stuff), I'm not sure it was  either my fault or Kipling's. I'm disappointed in Wildside Press, who've done better, for the "editing" in this edition: sentences break off at random points, punctuation is all over the place, and there's a world of difference between "the talk" and "the talc." (p. 34) When I felt like I was missing something, I might have actually been missing something.

Also, the Hindi transliterations sometimes confused me, as when they referred to "buts." I was pretty far along before I realized: ohhh! Bhoots! (which are ghosts or spirits). I did recognize old friends like "chor" (thief) and "chup" (be quiet!), however, which made me feel vair smart. Similarly, the town referred to in the novel as Umballa is more generally transliterated as Ambala, so if you want to find out more about the British were up to there, that's helpful to know. I suspect I'm also more familiar with the Sikhs, Jains, Pashtuns and Afridi, among other who are mentioned without much, if any, explanation, so some readers might be wondering even more than I did what was going on.

It might not all be Wildside's fault, though: politics do tend to make my eyes glaze over, so I do have Peter Hopkirk's book The Great Game on my to-read list (hopefully in preparation for a re-read of Robert E. Howard's excellent El Borak stories). I aspire to revisit Kim at some point, in an edition with proper footnoting.

Kipling, Rudyard. Kim. Doylestown, PA: Wildside Press.

In Praise of Scribes, by Johannes Trithemius

"When we consider the care the ancients lavished on the collecting of books, our own efforts appear insignificant and childish." --In Praise of Scribes, p. 45

I came to In Praise of Scribes, first published in 1492, directly from a mention in Bibliomania in the Middle Ages. When I started looking for a copy, it was well over a hundred dollars for the English translation (an excellent, readable one, thanks to Roland Behrendt) from 1974. If I'd listened to King Alfred and kept up with my bygone Latin, things would be different. Anyway, when I got a copy through Interlibrary Loan, I was surprised to discover it had been put out by neighbors, globally-speaking, at St. Joseph's, in Collegeville MN.

Since the whole point of Trithemius' book is to address issues of reproducing and preserving manuscripts, the fact that it came from their "Monastic Manuscript Microfilm Library" (now the Hill Museum Manuscript Library) seems only too appropriate.

The author was a German abbot most remembered today for his writings on coded messages and occult practices, but this book is a defense of copying manuscripts by hand, despite the technological advances of the printing press and the creation of books as we know them. Since I am now in praise of books in the face of new technologies, I'm struck with how much I agree, at heart, with so much of what he says -- especially considering the relative rarity of this book, which I couldn't afford to buy -- just like a book in the middle ages! I could only get the translation through cooperative library lending, something that wouldn't, at this point, be possible if it were only available electronically, and not in print form.

At the end of the day, Trithemius was the abbot of a monastery, so there's a strong presumption of Christianity underlying everything he writes. He assumes that scripture first, then the teachings of church fathers, are the primary subjects of publishing and of study, although he does state pretty strongly that the classical, even heathen, writers, and the sciences shouldn't be neglected. So he's specifically talking about religious knowledge when he says "quia lumen eius a tenebris nunquam extinguitur" (p. 38) -- that is, darkness will never extinguish its light -- but it's easy enough to apply the sentiment to secular learning.

One of his main arguments is that copying manuscripts benefits future generations, by preserving learning and wisdom, and at the same time gives the copyists something worthy to occupy their minds. "He who gives up copying because of the invention of printing is no genuine friend of holy Scripture. He sees only what is and contributes nothing to the edification of future generations." (p. 65) I keep thinking of that phrase, "he sees only what is," in relation to the fast-paced, novelty-focused public discourse of our own age: only looking at what is, what happens to be in front of us, instead of thinking of what will (or should) last.

The author is equally impassioned about the need to preserve books, and the love of them in general. A few key quotes on the first point:

"The printed book is made of paper and, like paper, will quickly disappear." (p. 35)

"All of you know the difference between a manuscript and a printed book. The word written on parchment will last a thousand years. The printed word is on paper. How long will it last? The most you can expect a book of paper to survive is two hundred years. Yet, there are many who think they can entrust their works to paper. Only time will tell." (p. 63)

And bit and bytes? Who knows, but again, time will tell.

A favorite digression of mine addresses the monks who claim they are unable to copy, or who prefer outdoor work to study: "Why then did you come to the monastery if you are not willing and ready to live as a monk?" (p. 85). If someone had the nerve to say that to college students decades ago, we might not see so many students who think of themselves as entitled customers who think they paid for a class, so they should get a passing grade. (I know, that's a sweeping statement, but it certainly contains a grain of truth).

Just to prove that some things haven't changed in the past -- geez, over 500 years -- Trithemius says, "There are some who reproach lovers of books for having many, or even too many, books ... They say to those who obviously have an attachment to books: 'Why do you bury yourselves under such a multitude of books? You cannot possibly read what you have now.' " (p. 89) Bwa ha ha! His response is that if it's wrong have so many books, it's an impious criticism of the church fathers who WROTE so many books. He adds, "You add to your gold and silver, you enlarge your lands ..." (p, 91), and those are material things, which don't help anyone gain knowledge or wisdom, so what right does anyone have to criticize the lovers of books?

 With all the resources we have today, it's frustrating that this book is out of print, but I guess there wouldn't be much of a market for it. Which does all seem to kind of prove its whole point.

Johannes Trithemius, In Praise of Scribes: De Laude Scriptorum. Lawrence, KS: Coronado Press, 1974. Translated by Roland Behrendt, O.S.B. Edited with introduction by Klaus Arnold.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Willing to Die, by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

"I have bought my knowledge dear. But truth is a priceless jewel. Would you part with it, fellow-mourner, and return to the simplicities and illusions of early days?" -- Miss Ethel Ware, Willing to Die (p. 4)

I've been trying to purchase a copy of J. Sheridan Le Fanu's final novel, Willing to Die (1872), for years, but when the boom in fly-by-night publishing houses printing public domain works started up, I hesitated.  At first, the only copies were overpriced hardcovers, for god-knows-what kind of editing or lack thereof. Then some complete unknown-quantity paperbacks. But since, clearly, no Oxford edition is forthcoming, I finally gambled on a CreateSpace copy (ISBN 978-1479173334), and was surprised to find not so much as a misplaced comma -- although it's so bare bones that there isn't even a cursory title page. The text literally starts on page 2.

His heroine may baldly state "I hate suspense" (p. 39), but Le Fanu is a master of it. In the early part of the novel, things happen that raise suspicions in the characters, but when nothing comes of it, they forget about it and go on with their lives, as people do. Nonetheless, the foreshadowing remains ... so as I was reading along with the ups and downs of events, no overt threat to anyone, I began to feel the press of tension and anxiety, just from waiting for the ax to inevitably fall.

Ethel starts the novel in a reminiscing mood, establishing her wry and candid tone: "I am not an interesting person by any means," and "If I cared twopence how I looked, I should probably look worse than I do." (p. 2) She was a sheltered girl, tucked away at a country manor by her high-living and increasingly impoverished parents. In the background is an assortment of men, nearly all of whom seem vaguely sinister: the intimidating neighboring lord, who hates Ethel's father; a mysterious old man who accosts her kindly young governess on a walk; a coarse "friend of the family" who gives the young ladies the willies; a neighboring priest, who may be in love with someone or just trying to convert them; and a handsome but mysterious fellow who gets wounded in a dual.

Most important of these characters is another young man, who survives a shipwreck and, recuperating on the estate, promptly falls in love with Ethel, even as he tries to keep anyone from finding out his name. Everyone warns her that there's something unsavory in his past, but, quite realistically, "the more Laura Grey warned me against this man, the more I became interested in him." (p. 96) His air of potential villainy doesn't render him any less attractive, and probably makes him more so.

The suspense-novel quality, with various players being set in place, though, doesn't end up seeming like the point. Life is lived, with sprinklings of moral homily and some good old-fashioned Gothic scenery: Le Fanu writes a dramatic thunderstorm with a firmly eerie hand. But (spoilers, sweetie!) the real meat of the drama comes from an unexpected direction.

Although Willing to Die is a well-written novel, and obviously a page-turner, at the rate I was turning pages, it was striking me as slighter, painted on a smaller canvas, than Le Fanu masterpieces like Uncle Silas and Wylder's Hand. But then, not long after Ethel goes to London and enters society, her father dies, and she and her mother are plunged into poverty.

"Young ladies, you live in a vague and pleasant dream. Gaslight in your hall and lobbies, wax lights, fires, decorous servants, flowers, spirited horses, millinery, soups and wines, are products of nature, and come of themselves. There is, nevertheless, such a thing as poverty, as there is such a thing as death ... When either lays its cold hands on your shoulder, and you look it in the face, you are as much appalled as if you had never heard its name before." (p. 214)

Later, "I saw young ladies get from a house opposite into a carriage, and drive away, as I once used to do. I hated them -- I hated every one who was as fortunate as I once was. I hated the houses on the other side with their well-lighted halls." (p. 224)

The loss of all their friends, hard work, and unceasing anxiety over money take their toll on Ethel, leading to a stark meditation when suicide occurs to her as an option: "There is nothing so startling as the first real allurement to this tremendous step. There remains a sense of an actual communication, at which mind and soul tremble ... Its insidiousness and power are felt on starting from the dream, and finding oneself, as I did, alone, with silence and darkness and frightful thoughts ... The temptation breaks from you like a murmur changed to a laugh, and leaves you horrified. I hated life; my energies were dead already. Why should I drag on, with broken heart, in solitude and degradation?" (p. 217)

The language blossoms into such vividness here that I almost feel like it's the reason the story was being told. As if the machinations of the suspense plot aren't motivated by formula, but by the fact that if this is going to be described, the character has to get into a position of loss and despair.

Just after this, there's an audacious and, to me, legitimately shocking plot twist, which still manages to seem plausible and motivated by the circumstances. (Again, spoilers). With her mother near death, and ill, almost delirious herself, Ethel comes across the man who may have manipulated her wealthy aunt into giving all her money to the church, rather than her family -- and her reaction is to stab him in the chest, and run.

Before long, the crisis has passed, and Ethel ends up in another secluded country estate, the ward of one of those early sinister figures -- actually a good-hearted man who loved her mother. When handsome Mr. Shipwreck, Richard Marston, turns up again, still in love with her, and apparently trying to atone for his previous crimes, it isn't long before they're secretly engaged: "I had passed under a sweet and subtle mania, and was no longer myself ... Wayward, and even wicked he might have been, but that I might hope was past." (p. 290)

By this point, we're no longer dealing with a Gothic-esque villain and his innocent victim: the two have become obvious foils, both of whom have sinned, and have to fear the consequences of previous actions.

Even though she has committed a violent crime, the benefit of first-person narrative, and Ethel's condition -- exhausted, heart-sick, and dangerously ill -- work to show what can happen to a decent person under duress. It's hard to judge her too harshly for her moment of madness. Of course, Marston also believes that his past crimes had extenuating circumstances as well, and doesn't think he's really to blame. His position early in the novel -- turning up in a place where people know his history, and are poised to condemn him for  it -- is a mirror of the danger Ethel will later find herself in, when she could presumably be arrested at any moment.

As Marston tells the priest, one of the people warning Ethel against him: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive, et caea- eh? I suspect you sometimes pray your paternoster?" (p. 241) In the end, Ethel is right that Marston's past doesn't mean he's beyond redemption, but redemption still depends on the willingness to learn from mistakes and, crucially, not continue doing wrong.

Random thoughts:

An earlier novel, Tenants of Malory, was set in the same fictional vicinity as the early section of Willing to Die, so now I'll have to read that one too.

There's a nice shout-out to "Schalken the Painter" on page 20: "The delicate features of the pale ecclesiastic, and Miss Grey's pretty and anxious face, were lighted, like a fine portrait of Schalken's, by the candle only."

Speaking of Miss Grey, the whole subplot about her mysterious past seems as if it was supposed to be a more important parallel storyline, that ended up getting forgotten about and then quickly wrapped up.

Early on, the penniless Marston is visited by Lemuel Blount, his uncle's scrupulously honest man of business.  He says, "I have made one great slip -- a crime, if you like --", with this response:

" 'Quite so, sir,' acquiesced Mr. Blount, with melancholy politeness." (p. 88) It would not be possible for me to see Jim Carter, Downton Abbey's Mr. Carson, any more strongly in the role!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans, by Jeanne deLavigne

"No sensible person believes in spooks." -- from "The Magic of Aga Bab"

"He can laugh at supernatural things all he wants, but they gits you, jest the same." -- from "The Fountain Woman"

It's hard to imagine there was ever a time when ghost tours didn't crowd the corners of the French Quarter, but according to Frank de Caro, the idea of New Orleans as a particularly haunted city was popularized when Ghost Stories was first published in 1946. Aided, of course, by the indispensable, WPA-produced collection, Gumbo Ya-Ya, with which it shares a few stories -- although deLavigne's are more lavish in detail, especially when describing scenery, fabrics, and, yummm, French pastries.

Plenty of people still believe in ghosts, to judge by all those paranormal tv shows, but spectral behavior seems to have changed over the years. Many of these stories feature past events and places superimposing themselves over the contemporary reality -- so the room is suddenly filled, say, with a dinner party from the past. Even assuming this is strictly fiction, the way the metaphors work is pretty interesting, with the past continuing to have a "real" presence in the present. Nobody needs to hunt it down with electronic EVP recorders, because it's right there, interacting, mostly fairly directly, with the people and places that currently exist.

It seems clear that the past doesn't have that kind of ability anymore. deLavigne could write with the assumption that her audience had a certain familiarity with old tales and local history, and the folklore she was relating (and/or embellishing) is all dated to the alleged time period of the original tales, from 1776 to 1927. New Orleans is a place that's hung onto its history better than most of America has, but still, I doubt we could assume most modern folks have that kind of easy knowledge with the lore and personalities of previous centuries.

Because of that, if reading the Life of King Alfred was a reminder of what we've gained from modern life, Ghost Stories is a poignant reminder of what's been lost. 1946 is pretty near to us in the scheme of history, and yet the world she describes has been almost completely swept away. The idea of "the old Creoles" still hearing the ghost of Pere Dagobert singing "between the church and the cemetery" (p. 15) seems incredibly bygone.

Fortunately, this new edition, from the Louisiana State University Press, may revive some popular interest in the area's history, since I was in two separate NO bookstores in November when customers came in and asked for it by name.

Readers should be aware that the book betrays its time period of origin in some uncomfortable particulars: casual ethnic slurs, racial dialects, and stereotypes, mainly of African-Americans, but Italians as well. (Just like the original Nancy Drew books, I couldn't help thinking).

Some of the tales are also surprisingly gruesome. A lot of ghost stories and thrillers gloss over the fact that bodies decompose messily, but deLavigne sure doesn't. "Golden Slippers," for example, could practically be an episode of Tales from the Crypt, and there are plenty of ghost sightings accompanied by horrible stenches (in "The Twin Green Spirits," a bystander actually throws up from the smell), along with corpses that wind up "bloated and disfigured and horrible." (p. 162) 

On of my personal favorite aspects of these stories is that they're often set at very specific locations, sometimes down to the street addresses. Some are vaguer than others, and I was frustrated every time a cemetery was mentioned but unnamed, although I assume that the "Old St. Louis Cemetery" is St. Louis No. 1. And speaking of which, I'm particularly thrilled that the forward gives us photos of the author's tomb, in the St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery No. 1.

At any rate, I may use this as a guidebook to my own personal ghost tour on my next visit to New Orleans.

de Lavigne, Jeanne. Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans. Illustrations by Charles Richards; foreword by Frank de Caro. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2013.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Life of King Alfred, by Asser

The Life of King Alfred is way shorter than I realized: I polished it off on a lunch break, what with skipping over the 100+ pages of footnotes. Much like The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, this is not a book full of rich, picturesque detail, but there is entertainment value in Assser's terse recitation of the facts -- like when he refers to "the Viking army of hated memory" (p. 78). Or the digression about the wicked Queen Eadburh, finally caught in her "debauchery," who was eventually reduced to starvation and beggary, with only "a single slave boy" to her name (p. 72).

Some details of Alfred's life seem peculiar to the modern eye, such as his praying for illness to help keep him chaste, and the incapacitating, but mysterious, lifelong ailment that first strikes him on his wedding day. If Bram Stoker or Mary Shelley made that happen to a character, most people would be like, hmmmm. However, Alfred does manage to father five children, not counting "those who were carried off in infancy by an untimely death" (p. 90).

The fellow lunch-goers in the break room at my place of employment asked what Alfred was king of, exactly, and in the early portion I was all, "Well, they're in Wessex ... and talking about the Saxons ... but then there's Mercia ..." Fortunately, I was able to cry out, "Bingo!" when "in the year of the Lord's Incarnation 866 ... all the Angles and Saxons -- those who had formerly been scattered everywhere and were not in captivity with the Vikings -- turned willingly to King Alfred and submitted themselves to his lordship" (p. 97, 98). I'd thought he was the Anglo-Saxon king, which confused me -- since I didn't realize they weren't Anglo-Saxons yet until he came along. Impressive, considering it's always easier to divide people than it is to unite them.

Of course, the main thing that brought me to Alfred, and made him my first official Classics Club review, was his reputation as the king who promoted learning and literacy so much to the British. I appreciate his Preface to Gregory's "Pastoral Care," where he theorizes that the learned men of the past hadn't translated books into their own languages because "they did not think ... that learning would decay like this" (p. 125), to the point where educated people wouldn't be able to read them in Latin. Yup, education was already going downhill circa 890. 

In Alfred's time, "Alas, he could not satisfy his craving for what he desired most, namely the liberal arts" (p. 75). While I'm sometimes frustrated with the lack of respect for the humanities and the liberal arts in our profit-motive world, it's good to remember how much better we still have it. Our battles aren't more uphill than his, and what are the distractions of modern life compared with those of real live Vikings burning our cities down? I wonder what King Alfred would have given to acquire my library ...even if he couldn't make head or tail of all my Doctor Who episode guides.

Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources. London: Penguin, 1983.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Classics Club

I've decided to join the Classics Club, which is a good reason to read some of the many books I've bought, many of which I've started, then gotten distracted and never finished, through no fault of their own (that I'm aware of). Plus a few this gives me an excuse to pick up.

My goal is to finish them by December 31, 2018. I'd say it would easily go much faster, but it depends on how distracted I continue to get, so I'm playing it safe.

Postscript: I have changed this list many times, which I feel guilty about, even though it's perfectly fair according to the rules. I had barely begun when fascinating classics began throwing themselves at me, and I could neither pass them up, nor resist reviewing them. There are so many amazing books! Rest assured that what I've bumped off the original list is now hovering on the follow-up list, just waiting for me to finish this one.

My List:
  1.  Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri: The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition 
  2. Grant Allen: The Type-Writer Girl
  3. Asser: Life of King Alfred 
  4. William Baldwin: Beware the Cat (etext link
  5. Honore Balzac: Lost Illusions
  6. James Boswell: Boswell's London Journal, 1762-1763
  7. Hall Caine: The Manxman
  8.  Ernest Cline: Ready Player One
  9. Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Coleridge's Notebooks: a Selection  
  10. Jeanne Delavigne: Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans 
  11. Maitreya Devi: It Does Not Die  
  12. Charles Dickens: Dombey and Son 
  13. Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist
  14. John Donne: Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions 
  15. Arthur Conan Doyle: The Lost World 
  16. Lord Dunsany: The Curse of the Wise Woman
  17. Mircea Eliade: Bengali Nights 
  18. Henry Fielding: Shamela 
  19. Masanobu Fukuoka: The One-Straw Revolution
  20. Elizabeth Gaskell: Cranford
  21. George Gissing: New Grub Street 
  22. Francis Godwin: The Man in the Moone 
  23. Eliza Haywood: Adventures of Eovaii 
  24. Eliza Haywood: Anti-Pamela
  25. Frank Herbert: Dune  
  26. Yoshido Kenko: Essays in Idleness
  27. Frances Parkinson Keyes: Crescent Carnival 
  28. Rudyard Kipling: Kim 
  29. Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird 
  30. The Letters of Abelard and Heloise 
  31. J. Sheridan Le Fanu: The Cock and Anchor 
  32. J. Sheridan Le Fanu: Willing to Die 
  33. Gaston Leroux: The Phantom of the Opera
  34. Arthur Machen and A.E. Waite: The House of the Hidden Light
  35. Delarivier Manley: The New Atalantis 
  36. Kay Nielsen: East of the Sun and West of the Moon   
  37. Florence Nightingale: Her Diary and "Visions"
  38. L'Abbe du Prat: Venus in the Cloisters
  39. J.B. Priestley, Benighted 
  40. Pu Songling: Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio
  41. Samuel Richardson: Pamela 
  42. Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton: Who Would Have Thought It?
  43. Charlotte Smith: Celestina 
  44. Dodie Smith: I Capture the Castle 
  45. Snorri Sturluson: The Prose Edda
  46. Johannes Trithemius: In Praise of Scribes 
  47. Anthony Trollope: Can You Forgive Her?
  48. Edith Wharton: The Buccaneers 
  49. Ellen Wood: East Lynne 
  50. Emile Zola: The Ladies' Paradise

Intro to Bibliomania

"I am one of those who love to seek knowledge in the black lettered folio, and luxuriate in exploring the membraneous volumes of a monastic age -- who love to wander in quiet though among the ruined relics of other days, and delight to glean wisdom and content from the antiquities of a peaceful village sanctuary, and whose very soul is on fire when in thc midst of a library, rich with the literature of old."

-- F. Somner Merryweather, from his "Preface" to Bibliomania in the Middle Ages: or, Sketches of bookworms, collectors, Bible students, scribes, and illuminators from the Anglo Saxon and Norman Periods, to the introduction of printing into England