22 November 2011

Grey days and browning leaves

If not winter, it seems autumn is properly here. Not the nice autumn, where chilly sunshine illuminates the last red leaves, but nasty autumn, where permanent drizzle makes everything grey. Every day is a staying-in day, and so it's time to start getting a bit studious again.

Luckily, there's a booksale to help with that. I've written before about the Blackheath Amnesty booksale, held in June. I didn't know they also have one in autumn, but they do, and it was on Saturday, and here are the books I picked up.

First, two pretty volumes of Verlaine published by Editions de Cluny in 1947/48. I'm sure I've got some Verlaine already but couldn't resist these, and look at the generous, elegant and timeless typesetting:
Then two writers whose names end in -o. (That's really the only link I can find.)
Ionesco seems to have gone out of fashion these days. This is a 1960 edition, with many of the browning pages still uncut. The original reader didn't get past the first two plays. I've never (I think) read any Ionesco, but I've just read the opening of La Cantatrice Chauve, which has made me laugh out loud. Here's my translation.
Scene 1
English middle-class interior, with English armchairs. English evening. Mr Smith, Englishman, in his English armchair and his English slippers, smokes an English pipe and reads an English newspaper by the English fire. He has English spectacles, a small grey English moustache. By his side, in another English armchair, Mrs Smith, Englishwoman, is darning some English socks. A long English silence. The English clock strikes seventeen English times.
MRS SMITH: Oh! It's nine o'clock. We have eaten soup, fish, potatoes and English salad. The children have drunk English water. We have eaten well tonight. That's because we live in the outskirts of London and our name is Smith.  
Perhaps I'm just easily pleased.

You would think you can guess quite easily when the Ariosto was published: it's such a 70s design. But the print was 1994, which surprises me.

Next, just because I feel I ought to have read more Pushkin:
And finally, because any help is welcome:
"New"? It was published in 1969 (when Ez was still alive), spent its life in a Greenwich library, and judging by its condition, didn't get out much. Unsurprising, given the terrible, terrible cover design.

So plenty of improving literature to read during these dark damp months. Only time will tell if I actually do.

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