“The covetous foraging for old and rare books,” is how Matthews defines “booking.” It is an act which leads naturally to the pleasures of adding them to one’s personal library, then reading them as instruments of light and measure in a murky and chaotic world. The understanding that books are intrinsic to civilized living is wisdom as old as civilization itself; it is affirmed here, in their various ways, by the people who inspire and inhabit these pages: the quasi-literate clerk of the steamboat Science on the Ohio River in 1835; a young fiction writer who got drunk one night and stole the bust of Edgar Allen Poe from the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia; and a guru of the computer age, who writes: “Books have always been important to me and to the people around me.”
Matthews explores the collecting of old dictionaries, whose definitions can be read as a sort of poetry; an 1840’s rhyming book once used as a mnemonic tool for small children; and the wildly scrawled annotations of an exuberant painter in a battered copy of Thomas Hart Benton’s An Artist in America.
In other essays, Matthews compares booking with Charles Darwin’s passion for collecting beetles; follows Nero Wolfe of the Rex Stout novels, who grew tentatively into a vivid and fascinating detective; and celebrates the zealous idealism of 1890s fraternity boys as reflected by some of their century-old publications.
In sharing Matthews’s adventures as an implacable bookman, readers will find, not an escape from life, but new entrance ways through old books.
Jack Matthews is Distinguished Professor of English at Ohio University and recipient of numerous writing awards. In addition to his novels, poems, and short story collections, he has published Memoirs of a Bookman (Ohio University Press, 1989), Collecting Rare Books for Fun and Profit (Ohio University Press, 1977, 1981), and Rare Book Lore: Selections from the Letters of Ernest J. Wessen (Ohio University Press, 1992). More info →
Save 20% ($31.96)
US and Canada only
Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center
Attitudes toward punishment and forgiveness in English society of the nineteenth century came, for the most part, out of Christianity. In actual experience the ideal was not often met, but in the literature of the time the model was important. For novelists attempting to tell exciting and dramatic stories, violent and criminal activities played an important role, and, according to convention, had to be corrected through poetic justice or human punishment.
The Voice of Toil collects poems, stories, essays, and a play that reflect ways in which work, one of the most recurrent and controversial subjects of nineteenth–century discourse, was addressed. The resulting anthology offers a provocative text for students of nineteenth-century British literature and history.
There are worlds within our own in which even the smallest victories are hard won, the tender moment is almost unbearable, and the understated rings like a bell. Belonging, a new collection by British poet Dick Davis, is an extended visit to these worlds.Deepened
Sign up to be notified when new Literature titles come out.
We will only use your email address to notify you of new titles in the subject area(s) you follow. We will never share your information with third parties.