Tuesday, February 19, 2008

a pause


For the third time in six months, the cat chewed through the power cord. It should arrived repaired later this week, but low battery power equates to no new postings.

reading books about books in the New Yorker:
Benjamin Franklin abridged his genius, his character, his life. But he reads better unabridged; and “The Way to Wealth” makes a poor epitaph. Maybe it’s wiser to repay his wit with irreverence, and remember him by the epitaph he wrote for himself, in 1728:

The Body of
B. Franklin,
Printer;
Like the Cover of an old Book,
Its Contents torn out,
And stript of its Lettering and Gilding,
Lies here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be wholly lost;
For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more,
In a new and more perfect Edition,
Corrected and amended,
By the author.

And sweet, tenderhearted Poor Richard? Maybe he’s best remembered by his annual farewell: “May this Year prove a happy One to Thee and Thine, is the hearty Wish of, Kind Reader, Thy obliged Friend, R. SAUNDERS.” ♦

Books Briefly Noted
"People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks (Viking; $25.95)
February 11, 2008

When an Australian rare-book conservator named Hanna Heath finds a butterfly wing, a salt crystal, a white hair, and bloodstains in the recently rediscovered Sarajevo Haggadah, a late-medieval illuminated codex of uncertain provenance, she sets out to solve the mystery of the book’s origins. To her disappointment, analysis of the specimens reveals little. “It’s too bad,” an organic chemist tells her. “Blood is potentially so dramatic.” Brooks, beginning where science leaves off, uses Hanna’s finds as entry points to richly imagined historical landscapes peopled by the Haggadah’s creators, protectors, and would-be destroyers—a female Muslim slave in Convivencia Spain, a Jewish doctor in fin-de-si├Ęcle Vienna, an alcoholic priest in seventeenth-century Venice. Their narratives alternate with Hanna’s own, and the final, multilayered effect is complex and moving.

weather foggy