A Spring Day in the Unexamined Life

There are books that don’t lend themselves to walking and reading and Ernst Bresisach’s Renaissance Europe is one such. Four hours, 100 pages. In four hours you can usually do 200 pages. So the thing is going to take me 12 16 hours to read, rather than the today and tomorrow I had originally thought. Good weather for it though!

Part of the problem is that its is a heavy book; that is a nice workout on the arms, but draws one’s attention away, nagging downward all the time (the higher you can hold the book the faster you’ll walk, usually). Another part of it is that this copy has this ridiculous loose plastic covering glued onto it since the 70’s when it triumphantly entered the Bexley Public Library to be read repeatedly over the years. I have half a mind to help the artificial cover become unglued. Dust jackets, plastic wrappings, all such fiddly adiaphora get in the way of finishing books because they do not permit good and sensible purchase. This book has a durable heavy binding and the weighty paper is stitched. It will endure without the rattly plastic frivolity, O pedantic librarians. The final thing is the ten point font on foot-long pages. I think I’ve probably read 200 pages worth, and the book is just more formidable than it looks.

It is a good book, by the way, organized to the hilt as you probably can surmise, and not tending to induce a wandering of the attention. After the preface, the table of contents, the list of illustration you come on an Analytical Table of Contents that sometimes includes paragraph length subdivisions (I know what you’re thinking, but the answer is no: the pagination there is in Roman numerals; there are before the reader after all that still 404 pages of regular text). He planned his work and worked his plan, and he did it awfully well.

* * *
Just got the complete Dvorak string quartets. I’m starting to look very fit in the string quartet department. We’ll see how good they are, being a complete set, but at least I can begin to become properly familiar with them. I’m such a desultory buyer that I can be looking for something for years at Half-Wit and used book stores. But if I went online and just got stuff, I’d have no reason to go to book stores–used book stores, that is–and I like that so much better.

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