Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Book and a Prayer

Not only do I have the Buzbee book I mentioned yesterday from my library but I have The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac by Eugene Field too. This is one of the books Christopher Morley mentions in The Haunted Bookshop. I am so glad my library has it and that I felt compelled to investigate. I started reading it last night and I am enjoying it so much I think I am going to have to see if I can acquire my own copy. The book consists of short little essays on Field's bibliophilic loves. The first essay is about his first love which he found on his grandmother's bookshelf when he was seven. One wouldn't think that the New England Primer would be a book which would inspire a lifetime love of reading, but for Fields it did. Though I think the girl, Captivity Waite (is that not an excellent name?), who was co-discoverer of the book and who sat next to Field and read along with him the stories in the primer, had as much to do with his love as the book itself. He even describes her at one point as approaching "closely to a realization of the ideals of a book." She was "a human book whose text, as represented by her disposition and her mind, corresponded felicitously with the comeliness of her exterior." Field has a delightful style, much like Morley's. Love Affairs was published in 1896. I've only read the first essay and have a bunch more to go with delectable titles like "The Luxury of Reading in Bed," "On the Odors which My Books Exhale," and "The Malady Called Catalogitis." The book has an introduction by Field's brother, Field having died just a few days after completion of this gem. In the introduction Brother includes a little poem:

The Bibliomaniac's Prayer But if, O Lord, it pleaseth Thee To keep me in temptation's way, I humbly ask that I may be Most notably beset to-day; Let my temptation be a book, Which I shall purchase, hold and keep, Whereon, when other men shall look, They'll wail to know I got it cheap.
I think I might just have to frame that and hang in a prominent place on my wall.