Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Books books books

Appendix de Grenouille #31

Dcup posted some of the Politits household books and invited the entire blogging famille. It began with my tres innocent display of a few books of Steve's, from his poetry shelf. Steve took more photos of moi and other household volumes that same day, and he wishes them posted post haste. So, voila.

Ici c'est moi with the guides of the field. Quel dommage, there will be no reference to moi even in the volume on reptiles and amphibians; I am a European in North America. In this house the dining room has no table or chairs and is called the library because it holds the majorite of the book cases and two computers. Here it is that Moomin Light writes her famous blog. This particular shelf is important because Steve and the oldest son prefer to know the names of everything they see. Oui, everything. The smallest moth, the most irresistible small gnat morsel.

Children's books are all over the house, in nearly every room, in fact, but mostly where small hands can reach them. This is a house where sometimes one hears the question, "Reading dinner?"

Classics are ubiquitous (the word is almost French), but the greatest concentration are on this shelf. This is the shelf tres intellectuelle. The grand book about America, by my countryman, de Tocqueville, is mentioned frequently, as is the famous play by another citoyen, Edmund Rostand, here in two copies, en Anglaise, et en Francais: Cyrano de Bergerac. At age 17 Steve thought perhaps he was Cyrano. Homer, Virgil, Tolstoy, Hugo, Montaigne, Barzun, (three more Frenchmen), Pushkin, Gogol, Defoe, Cervantes (the longest paragraphs Steve has ever read), the shelf descending with grace to Austen, Dumas, Oscar Wilde, C S Lewis, and finally Grisham (Skipping Christmas on tape, therapy for Steve), Graham (Poldark) and others not so classic.

But, perhaps not so shocking, more of the library is held by fantasy and science fiction. This is one and a half among three or four shelves the same. Le Guin, Williams, Heinlein, Zahn, Feist, Tolkein, Niven et Pournelle, Blalock, Card, Beagle, Donaldson, McKillip, Bear, Goodkind, Adams (certainement!), Bradbury, Crowley (author of one of Steve's favorites, Little Big), Zettel...

And at the last, here we have Steve's favorite encyclopedie, the 1958 Brittanica (but it is a French word, encyclopedie - how can the favorite be from Angleterre?). He jokes that this is the encyclopedie for those who already know. For example, here I sit on the page about star fishes, but would you find them under stars or fishes? Non. Rather you would find them under echinoderma. You do not know this? Then you cannot find out. And sea shells? But of course it is mollusca. It is a club exclusive. C'est un beau geste. It makes Steve feel smarter than he is.

8 comments:

Mathman6293 said...

May I borrow that book on insects? The kiddies at school are continously, freaked out by the insects in the classroom. There are many more spiders and ants in my room now than when I had a room in a trailer.

I also am always fascinated by the classic Greek stories and plays but can never muster the energy to actually read them. I guess that is what school was for.

Steve Emery said...

MathMan - one of the reasons I love Virgil's Aeneid is that it is broken into books that are good, separate reads. None are too long, and they have an episodic way of finishing things up. It's Latin, of course, not Greek, but it's "in the manner of" and some like it almost as much as Homer. I certainly do. Just a thought...

And about having more bugs in your classroom than you did in the trailer... ridiculous and so like life.

Mathman6293 said...

Yikes, my ignorance has leaked out. As they say it is all Greek to me, for real. Thanks for the lesson, learning is always appreciated for me - so that's the new thing for the day.

DCup said...

Merci, Msr. Grennouille. You books are very organized. Ours used to be. You know, MathMan is an Asimov fan, but I don't know if any of the books I photographed showed his Asimov collection...

I could imagine sitting and looking at the encylopedia over and over. Not that it would ever make me smart, just happy ;-)

Randal Graves said...

Oh how that Greek better be translated. Non-latin alphabet systems frighten my weak brain. Which is why I use books to appear smart.

I'm curious though, Monsieur Grenouille, would Cervantes be the Long Distance Paragraph champion or would Proust?

I wonder if I can score a federal research grant to find out. I haven't read Don Quixote in so long I cannot recall them!

Pagan Sphinx said...

Take a look at some of the Pagan Sphinx bookshelves, mon ami Grenouille, as there is a little pull-the-tabs book there about a fellow countryman named Cesar, whom I know you will appreciate.

Sherry said...

i came over from pagan's. i put my pictures up. i think it's a facinating idea.

Steve Emery said...

MathMan - I was hoping the Virgil might be bite-sized enough to fit into your incredibly busy life (kids, school, garden, fantasy baseball...)

DCup - I didn't see any Asimov, but it is no surprise. And our books are not so organized - these were little nuclei of organization in a lovely soup of literary chaos.

Randal - no worries - I can't read Greek and there isn't any on our shelves. Latin was plenty. I haven't read Proust yet - he might beat Cervantes... Good luck on that grant - better apply now while the bulb is still dim in the Whitehouse...

Pagan - Gotta go see soon - I'll let Grenouille look over my shoulder (Actually he'll sit on the keyboard - he prefers the tab key).

Sherry - I'll come look at yours soon - past my bedtime now...