Thursday 3 March 2016

My Parnassus on Wheels for World Book Day

Tonight I'm feeling more than a little illiterate, which is ironic on World Book Day. But let me start with an aside - how is it possible to start losing one's mother tongue when you haven't even started the local one properly? Since when did a marina become a 'pleasure harbour'? I mean it's a picturesque alternative but, it certainly raised some eyebrows. Still, back to the blog in hand. As you all know, I'm quite partial to a book or 100, so coming away with a limited supply was quite a challenge.

So if you had to choose which of your book collection to come on an extended jaunt, which would you bring? By the way if anyone else mentions 'Kindle' to me again, I don't care who it is, they are going to be severely reprimanded. I understand Kindles are the best things ever, and even I can see how great it would be to load them up with a stack of best sellers and hit the beach. But for the more interesting, old, rare, academic tomes, it is less than ideal.

As I was unpacking my long suffering friends, and placing them on the handy very wide window sill in the corner, it occurred to me that I should probably ask myself about the thought process involved in packing. Why these books specifically? So what did I bring? In no particular order, this is what I have.

Croatian Cuisine from the 1970s, as well as a modern Balkan cookery book. Given that you can only know a country by its language and food, it is important to know how to cook these wonderful new ingredients. I have some squid in the freezer and I look forward to doing something interesting with these.

There are a couple of books of Victorian erotica. Probably illegal here but never mind. It's in Victorian and I don't know what the English for pego is, let alone the Croatian.

Given I did a dissertation on the geography of art, which is obviously going to be bigger than the history of art, I brought the main text on that. Thomas DaCosta Kauffman is credited with getting me that distinction in my MA. Once kunstgeographie has lost its unfortunate Nazi connotations, it will be huge, trust me.

Following on from that there are a number of books on German art, including German Renaissance stained glass (2007) and South German sculpture (1974). There is a semi-related book on marquetry from 1954. But the most important book in this section is the tribute to my hero John Onians. Raising the eyebrow (again!) covers a multitude of art ideas, art, science, Neolithic caves, power, secrecy, Hollywood, and sanctity. It's a favourite - and includes a hard to obtain article on geography of art.

One of my other highlights is the life changing 'Promethean ambitions' (2004) This book helped me work through my other MA dissertation and it is plastered in post it notes and scribbles. The cover shows a photograph of the wonderful Palissy ceramic animals. 'Theatre of the world' (2006) completes the magic and alchemy section and reminds me that I must get to Prague at some point.

There are many maps and guidebooks of the Split and Dubrovnik area. There are also some travel writing guides and short stories. Not to mention a book on skippering motor boats. Not sure whether they are connected. There are also various Croatian language texts, which will no doubt be enlarged after Monday. Librarianship is represented by the BIALL Handbook to law librarianship, and a couple of ancient issues of Legal Information Management - some articles need updating so there are some potential library blogposts in waiting.

There a couple of fiction books; Andre Gide's The Counterfeiters which I kept meaning to read, as well as Dubravka Ugresic's Baba Yaga Laid an Egg which is extraordinary. I am also looking forward to Tracy Chevalier's The Virgin Blue, which I stole from work. Seemed fair.

Two of the major inspirational books I've ever read had to come with me. Ovid's Metamorphoses is represented by Ted Hugh's marvellous translation. This is a wonderful book and should be seen on every bookshelf. And finally my inspirational 1917 first edition Parnassus On Wheels which is one of the reasons I'm sat in Split writing.

Happy reading. What would you have brought?

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