Tove. Tove Jansson was born 100 years ago this year. Best known internationally for her Moomin comics, she was also a very good novelist. A lot of her stuff is available in English this year, so snap it up.
Kegan Paul published the series of speculative essays To-Day And To-Morrow from 1923 and 1931. Each volume identifies an aspect of the modern (1920s) world and attempts to foresee how things will develop through the 20th Century. The books have a standard format: brown cardboard boards 6 3/8" tall and 4 5/8" across; labels pasted to the spine and front board; about 90 pages plus ten or twenty pages of ads for other volumes. Most of the books are titled according to the formula: X or the Future of Y, where X is a name from classical mythology and Y is the topic of the volume. In the pile above we have:
Achates or the Future of Canada, by W. Eric Harris.
"Canada's way to the future, then, is well defined. It is a path which leads to world service, within the Empire, and one of intimate co-operation with the United States in an endeavour to keep that influential and powerful nation working in co-operation with the Empire in the development of the peoples of the world, and in the promotion of world peace."
Cassandra or the Future of the British Empire, by F.C.S. Schiller.
"It is therefore by the way of financial influence and control that the political unification of the world can be brought about most easily and smoothly, though gradually, with a minimum of disturbance, violence and friction and with a maximum of peace and prosperity."
Hanno or the Future of Exploration, by J. Leslie Mitchell.
"The inevitable triumph of ballistics that will enable men to explore the lunar deserts may soon elsewhere uprear 'Upon the night's starr'd face/ Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance.'"
Lars Porsena or the Future of Swearing, by Robert Graves.
"To conclude, swearing as an art is at present in low water. National passion seldom runs high, invention is numbed, and there is no appeal of a politico-religious nature which will meet everywhere with the same respect. The only taboo strong enough to be worth breaking is the sexual one, and swearing shows every sign of continuing standardized on the basis of that for some time."
Lysistrata, Woman's Future and Future Woman, by A.M. Ludovici.
"The regeneration of man will immediately transform woman and her position; because, while her contempt for the male will vanish, she will recover both physically and spiritually that lost joy of looking up to her mate."
Morpheus or the Future of Sleep, by Professor D.F. Fraser-Harris M.D., D.Sc., F.R.S.E.
" A certain amount of legislation will be enacted in the near future in the interests of sleep, legislation exactly comparable with that we already have in the interests of pure air, pure food and proper drainage."
Achates was Aeneas' good and faithful friend. Cassandra had the power of prophecy, but nobody believed her. Hanno was an explorer. Lars Porsena swore by the Nine Gods in Macaulay's "Horatio at the Bridge". Lysistrata led a women's strike against the Peloponnesian War. Morpheus was the god of dreams.
A two-volume boxed set of the Edward Seidensticker translation of Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji, printed by Tuttle in 1976, purchased used at Schooner Books on Inglis Street in Halifax three years ago. Evidence that the original owner bought it in Japan in the late 1970s is a ticket to a Stylistics concert, printed in Japanese, and inserted as a bookmark. D
The Mongolian translation of Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 is out. Source. Contemporary Mongolian is written in the Cyrillic script, so altogether on the book covers you have four writing systems: Cyrillic, Latin (Q), Arabic numerals and the Chinese figures for 1 and 2.
The British Library is currently displaying the earliest known printed book, a Diamond Sutra printed from wood blocks in the year 868. This copy survived to our day by being sealed away for eight centuries in a hidden chamber in the Mogoa Caves near Dun-Huang on the Silk Road.
Consciously or unconsciously, men are proud of their firmness, steadfastness of purpose, directness of aim. They go straight towards their desire, to the accomplishment of virtue -- sometimes of crime -- in an uplifting persuasion of their firmness. They walk the road of life, the road fenced in by their tastes, prejudices, disdains or enthusiasms, generally honest, invariably stupid, and are proud of never losing their way. If they do stop, it is to look for a moment over the hedges that make them safe, to look at the misty valleys, at the distant peaks, at cliffs and morasses, at the dark forests and the hazy plains where other human beings grope their days painfully away, stumbling over the bones of the wise, over the unburied remains of their predecessors who died alone, in gloom or in sunshine, halfway from anywhere. The man of purpose does not understand, and goes on, full of contempt. He never loses his way. He knows where he is going and what he wants. Travelling on, he achieves great length without any breadth, and battered, besmirched, and weary, he touches the goal at last; he grasps the reward of his perseverance, of his virtue, of his healthy optimism: an untruthful tombstone over a dark and soon forgotten grave.
Joseph Conrad, An Outcast of the Islands, Complete Edition, page 197.
Jerry O'Brien operated a used book store at the corner of Argyle and Blowers from around 1961 till 1983. His store was known to some people as Black Cat Books because of the advertising decal -- for cigarettes or shoe polish -- left on the window by an earlier tenant. So far from having a store cat O'Brien fed sparrows that flew in and hopped around on the books. He also smoked cigars, which left ash around. He was a bearded man who could have passed for fellow Haligonian George Grant. In fact I'd be interested to hear from anyone who ever saw them together in the same room. Sherman Hines did his portrait. (Then picture source.)