Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Vintage Books, Frozen Climes and the High Seas

One of the pleasures of setting up out bookcases and taking all our books out of boxes is seeing our entire library in one place. We had books in two houses and an office before. I "saw" books I had not seen in a long time.

I have an oak barrister from the 1920s, which my grandfather Lynn O. Ramer bought as a student at Susquehanna University. Gary has a bookcase from his folks.

Balzac set from late 19th c, many pages uncut
In them are a complete edition of Balzac, my nine volume Diary of Samuel Pepys, our Heron Books anniversary edition of the works of Charles Dickens which we bought in our first three years of marriage, and both a vintage set and a new set of Jane Austen.

Arabian Nights 
We have 19th c edition of the complete One Thousand and One Arabian Nights by Burton, my grandfather's set of Edgar Allen Poe, and a two volume 1835 edition of Tobias Smollett's novels.
Volume One of Tobias Smollett works 1835
In the family room we have novels, nonfiction, children's literature, Gary's professional library, reference books, and more heirlooms. I have Little Journeys Into the Homes of the Great from Roycroft Press, Elbert Hubbard's press, that came from my Grandfather.
Little Journeys Into the Homes of the Great
Some books may surprise you. I have had a lifelong interest in Arctic and Antarctic exploration and in sailing days of old. The former interest may have its roots in Mr. Poplar's Penguins, a favorite book from elementary school days.

 I May Be Some Time: Ice and the Enlighten Imagination by Frances Spufford is a beautifully written book on Arctic exploration in the 19th c. and its influence on British society, literature and art. I read it over a long time, enjoying the writing style as much as the subject.

illustration from Cradle of the Deep by Joan Lowell
Cradle of the Deep enchanted me as a girl. Joan Lowell  wrote about growing up as on a merchant ship with her dad. I did not know it was meant to be an autobiography and read it as fiction. It was exposed as a "hoax". Still, ever since reading it I have enjoyed romances of the high seas, including the Horatio Hornblower books by C. S. Forster. And yes I did love the TV series with Ioan Gruffudd.

Horatio Hornblower novels
I read The Great White South about Robert Falcon Scott's Antarctic exploration as a girl and he became my romantic hero when I was about 12. I know today that Scott made serious mistakes but as a girl being stranded in the Antarctic and freezing to death seemed an  awfully big adventure.

The Great White South 
Then there are all the other books, some which I have had since the later 1960s and very early 1970s.