August 18, 2017

an enchanting bookshop



Today I visited a bookshop located in an old house. I rambled through rooms that seemed to be set together randomly; doors opened in unexpected places; it seemed unending. I kept turning a corner and seeing more rooms. And each was lined from floor to ceiling with bookshelves.

I could smell the fragrance of old books even as I walked towards the front door. I almost hyperventilated, trying to breathe it in so my heart and memory would be filled with it. There were books I would have wept over, and spent all my money on, if I was still homeschooling a young student ... a wonderful big vintage van Loom book! ... a beautiful set of Shakespeare's plays .. and a charmingly illustrated volume of Washington Irving's Tales of the Alhambra, which I had to bring home. And now I am watching North and South because of it.

I remember learning about the Alhambra years ago as I prepared lessons on it from lovely vintage sources. Such wondrous days. Really, I can never get enough of education; of history; of all the old tales. I don't wish to live in past times - but I do wish people lived now in a nobler, more beautiful, more romantic way, so that we were making gorgeous tales of history for the generations to come.


4 comments:

  1. this all makes so much sense to me. when i was little, i used to spend my days mentally living in other times that i had read about, or other places---real or fictional. any given week , i might be living in narnia, the atlas mountains, the mongolian steppes, arthurian britain, a palazzo in renaissance italy, the alps...i might be hiding someone from nazis, or stepping through a wardrobe into another world, or making bow and arrows as a native american might, living in heian japan, foraging for plants to make medicines, hauling supplies up into my treehouse a la "swiss family robinson"... i went through my school days behaving better because channeling my inner sara crewe. i read history and anthropology as voraciously as my beloved fiction and classics, and really LIVED them in a way. learning was never a chore, except (heavy sigh) for maths...

    and it does feel that nothing we are doing in modern times is beautiful or compelling enough to stand the test of time. could anyone really look back one day upon most modern architecture and feel about it as they could the alhambra?

    is there a link between our dead and deadening contemporary environments and lifestyles and the widespread apathy and anomie so many of us exhibit?




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    1. In reply to your last paragraph, I think yes. As for the rest of your comment, I do believe we are kindred spirits :-)

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    2. I loved this post, and nofixedstars' comment, too. I spent my childhood just as she described (I wonder if my mother ever knew?) I hoped that my own children would experience the same kind of education, but I do not know if they have/did. So much has changed in the digital age. Even the language we use to tell stories has been stripped down to appeal to shortened attention spans. More and more novels today read like modern architecture--stark and ugly--; short sentences in simple present tense without a single arabesque to sing to the soul and inspire the imagination. As children we recited lines from Shakespeare as we played. All of us made witches brew in the garden from mud, berries, leaves, and flower petals while happily chanting, "Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble..." Are children still doing this?

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    3. I agree with you Susan and infact I always used to say I could tell which children had been homeschooled because their vocabulary was so much better than that of other children, due to them reading old books. I am dismayed every time I see "experts" telling writers to do away with all adjectives and adverbs, and to simplify language for young adult books.

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