This is the second page in a longer blog entitled Antiquing–The Literary Way (A Book and Its Travels). Do click on this link and read the first page, if you have come to this page without doing so.
I was working on my master’s degree in English literature and writing a paper on Lady Macbeth’s “Unsex Me” speech from William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth (have a listen, click here). I was obsessed. I was an archaeologist exploring an ancient tomb. I was digging through all sorts of books, looking up nearly every word in the Oxford English Dictionary to see if there was some now obsolete meaning I was missing which would add depth to my exploration. I was looking at symbolism and language, and rhythm, and rhyme.
And boy did I love to talk about what I was uncovering with whomever was willing to listen.
My six foot five piano-mover (and computer repair) boyfriend at the time was friends with a history teacher at Middletown High School. While my boyfriend was obviously tired of hearing me speak Shakespeare, this man seemed most interested. With my boyfriend at his computer, working in his office–and doing his best to ignore us (can’t say I blame him)–I sat behind him, on the couch, beside the history teacher and monopolized the conversation.
The teacher must have become caught up in my obsession because days later, he returned with a book. A gorgeous, leather-bound 19th century edition of Shakespeare’s plays. I took it from him carefully, breathing in the old book smell, gently fingering the gold-gilded pages, opening the cover and turning the pages. Copy paper covered, protected each image throughout the book. It was the loveliest book I had ever held in my own hands.
“It’s for you,” he said.
Perhaps I squeaked. Perhaps I fainted. I really don’t remember. I had to recognize this for the momentousness of this kind act. Didn’t I?
“I have had this for some time, but I know you will really appreciate this, and I want you to have it,” he continued.
Sadly, I don’t remember this man’s name, and I have a vague memory of what he looked like, though the memory may be a romanticized image—beard, mustache, tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows. Yes, most likely a romanticized picture of him. However, forever I will be grateful for this amazing gift. I knew it wasn’t worth anything monetarily—not as if it was an original folio, but it meant everything to me. A most heartfelt gift if ever there was and still the most beautiful book I own.
And here ends the prologue, my friends, but this is not the end of the story, for time passed, a lot of time passed, and now at 41 years old, the story continues.
Having moved quite a lot, the book did not fare as well as it should have. While I always kept it together with other old books I had collected, the moving around a lot had done its toll on this special tome. The front cover was beginning to wear and was beginning to
split from the pages of the book. I thought about bringing the book to a book binder who could mend my treasure and restore it to its original gloriousness (gloriousity?). To make it pretty again.
However, without a recommendation from someone I trusted, I feared placing my jewel in just anyone’s hands.
Are you still here, my friends? If I have held you this long, perhaps you would like to read on? Click on the link below to follow me a little longer…