Saturday, February 4, 2017

Complete Sherlock Holmes - NOVA this week

Observations from my weekly wanderings, usually in Northern Virginia (NOVA).

Our local library was having a fundraiser with a big sale of old and rare books – these were not library copies, but books people donated for the fund raiser. I picked up a circa 1940s edition of Alice in Wonderland for my daughter, $1 and a two-volume, 1967 edition of The Annotated Sherlock Holmes (4 novels + 56 short stories). The box is in fair condition, but the books themselves are in very good condition. $8.

Don’t be jealous.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

MORE Miserable - NOVA this Week

Observations from my weekly wanderings, usually in Northern Virginia (NOVA).

I began reading Les Misérables; I’m only about 100 pages in, of 1300, but it’s very good so far.

But I must say that title is a terrible misnomer. Why Victor Hugo named it Less Miserable – silly French spelling aside – I’ll never know. I can’t imagine anything MORE miserable. It’s the story of poor Jean Valjean and I definitely think More Miserable would have been a better title.

Nevertheless, I’m using NOVA this week to display my Christmas gift from my son and daughter-in-law:

A two-volume, 1938 Heritage Press, Heritage Club edition of Les Misérables, illustrated by Lynd Ward and translated by Lascelles Wraxall. It is in nearly new condition and has the original slip case. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I have a hardcover edition of every book I’ve read on my quest, but this is now one of my most treasured.

(stealing the fateful loaf of bread)

(People don’t always get my sense of humor, and I’m sure it’s less obvious in print – so, I know the title is not Less Miserable.)


Monday, January 16, 2017

The Tempest by William Shakespeare

The Tempest was one of Shakespeare’s final plays, believed to have been written 1610-1611. It is the tale of Propspero the rightful Duke of Milan, who was supplanted by his brother Antonio, with help from the King of Naples Alonzo, and the King's brother Sebastian.

Prospero, along with his infant daughter Miranda, are set adrift at sea. Uknown to any of their betrayers, they land on an enchanted isle, where Prospero learns sorcery, and is aided by airy spirits on the island and the deformed and treacherous son of a witch who previously inhabited the island.

Some years later – I’m sure it gives the specific time span but I’ve forgotten, Miranda was three when they were exiled and is now a beautiful young woman – some years later fate brings a ship bearing all the betrayers close to the island, and Propsero conjurs – a tempest – to drive them ashore.

Now, you had to know, since I mentioned Miranda being a beautiful young woman that someone is going to fall in love with her. Indeed, none other than Ferdinand the son of the king.

Propspero, with the aid of his chief spirit, Ariel, separates the castaways into various groups and adventures.

This is a comedy, not a tragedy. In the end, Prospero forgives all his betrayers and all sail for Naples, anticipating the marriage of Miranda and Ferdinand.

I’d like to see this performed – you know, as plays are meant to be experienced. Still it reads pretty easy, once you have the characters memorized.

As in most of Shakespeare’s works, there are phrases taken from this play that have made their way into 21st Century vernacular.

Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows

We are such stuff as dreams are made of

And of particular note, when Miranda sees all the handsome young men, a sight she has never seen before, she remarks:  O Brave New World that hath such people in ‘t!

From which Aldous Huxley derived the name of his 1931 novel.