Today’s acquisitions

Hobgoblin and I just returned from a trip to Manhattan; we spent a lot of time walking around (my feet hurt!) and looked into a couple of bookstores, the Strand and St. Mark’s. Here are the things I brought home:

  • Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, edited by William Knight. This is an old book, published in 1930, and it has much of the Grasmere and Alfoxden journals, plus the entire Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland, plus extracts from other later journals. Up till now I’ve owned only the Grasmere and Alfoxden journals, although I’ve read Recollections in a library copy. I’m excited to have more of her work.
  • Sidetracks by Richard Holmes. The Strand had a copy of Holmes’s Dr. Johnson and Mr. Savage, but I decided to get that some other time. Sidetracks is a follow-up volume to his book Footsteps, which I read last winter and loved, so I’m excited to find more of the same. Sidetracks is subtitled Explorations of a Romantic Biographer, and it include discussions of a whole bunch of authors including Thomas Chatterton, James Boswell, Percy Shelley, Voltaire, and others.
  • Carlyle’s House and Other Sketches by Virginia Woolf (published by Hesperus). I saw this for only $2, so how could I resist? This is what the inside cover says: “Stemming from her own experiences, these sketches offer a precious insight into her thoughts on the society in which she moved — whilst also betraying the passions and prejudices of a troubled genius.”
  • Proust’s Way, by Roger Shattuck, subtitled A Field Guide to In Search of Lost Time. I didn’t intend to do this, but it turns out that I’m collecting a bunch of books on Proust to read once I’ve finished the novel, including Edmund White’s short biography and Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life. Shattuck’s book looks very good, with a discussion of themes and form, instructions on how to read the book (it’s a little late for that!), critical debates, and more.
  • Finally, Essential Keats, poems selected by Philip Levine. In a way this is a foolish purchase, since I probably already own several copies of all the poems the book contains — I own a number of anthologies that include his work. But I don’t like reading from anthologies unless I have to (it feels too much like work reading), and I really want to read some Keats, so a separate, short book with some of the best poems is perfect.


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12 responses to “Today’s acquisitions

  1. Cam

    Oh, what good choices! Every time I read about what people pick up at the Strand, I think “next time, I’m in NYC, I’m going there”. Just returned from a week in the area and once again didn’t make it to any of the wonderful book stores there.


  2. Sounds like a fun time! I have heard of the Strand–some day I’d like to visit! I was looking at the Woolf in the Hesperus catalog and was thinking about ordering it–you’ll have to let us know if it is good. Your other books sound good, too. I think the Keats is actually a good buy–it’s nice to have his work in one place rather than bits and pieces all over the place.


  3. hepzibah

    you can’t go wrong with more books 🙂 I always feel better whenever I buy books, and I don’t know why. I just feel better, and so I keep buying them. I have not read Proust….though you mention him….which book would you suggest by him?


  4. I love, love, LOVE book-hunting. Used bookstores especially. Burrowing in the stacks and seeing what I can find. I have Shattuck’s THE BANQUET YEARS and thought it was terrific. I’ve read a couple of PROUST biographies but have yet to tackle LOST TIME.
    Similarly, it took me years to work up the nerve to read Joyce’s ULYSSES, waiting until
    I’d pored through every bio or related text I could lay my hands on. It was worth it in the end…


  5. Phbt! You came to the city? Fine.


  6. Looks like you found many treasures! Buying online is never as much fun as browsing in bookshops and finding 2$ books!


  7. What fun! Some very good reading to look forward to. I dream of going to the Strand someday.


  8. I have Richard Holmes’s Footsteps, which I’m looking forward to reading very much. And the Shattuck is supposed to be an excellent critical reading of Proust. Look out for anything by Malcolm Bowie, as he’s a fantastic Proust critic. There’s one called something like ‘Proust amongst the stars’ that’s very good. What a lovely selection of books, Dorothy!


  9. Next time Cam! You’ll make it there one of these days! Thanks for making me feel better about my Keats purchase, Danielle 🙂 You would love the Strand, I think. Hepzibah — I feel better when I buy more books too (an addiction maybe?). I think it’s because of the wonderful sense of possibility new books bring. And if you’d like to read Proust, get Swann’s Way, definitely his most famous volume. Cliff, when you get to Proust, you’ll be well prepared, won’t you! I’m glad you like Shattuck — I’m looking forward to the book.

    Fendergal — sorry! We were on the upper west side for a bit, and I thought about you 🙂 (That is where you live, right?) Smithereens — absolutely, browsing is much better, at least if you’re not looking for anything in particular. Stefanie — like Cam, you’ll make it there one day too! Litlove, I hope you enjoy the Holmes book, and thanks once again for the Proust recommendations — I’ve got lots to add to my list.


  10. LK

    Great stuff, there, particularly Woolf and Wordsworth.

    A word on the Shattuck book: He drops spoilers. Personally, I’m going to go back to it once I’m through the 3rd volume.


  11. I love the Alain de Botton book on Proust. It was quite entertaining. I think it’s time to go back to another reading of Proust, soon anyhow. Maybe I should first read the Shattuck, which I have had sitting on the shelf for a good two years now…


  12. LK — I probably won’t pick up Shattuck until I’ve finished Proust, but thanks for the warning! Melanie — I’m glad you liked the de Botton; I’m looking forward to it.


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