Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Don't, Mr. Disraeli!


Thursday and Friday I made a trip to Hildesheim for cultural reasons. 
Husband exploited the situation to force beg me to look through some of the chests with clothes I hadn't (but might!) worn for years some time. 
Now, that most of the thousands of husband's books (no exaggeration!) are brought to a special very big room in the attic, I was asked to sort my books out, too. To our Berlin flat, husband and I brought only a small part of books from Hildesheim. 
But even that is too much. Soon, when you'll visit in Berlin an Oxfam Bookshop you might be surprised of the rows and rows of well assorted English literature. Some in leather and gold, some just Penguins. Most of them in very tiny print - and almost every one of them read by me. But it has come the time that I know (and admit ) that I will not read them again. Good bye, "Pamela - Or Virtue Rewarded" - thank you Mr. Richardson, I think I have been the only student at the University of Mainz who read all four of those very big tomes - and enjoyed it! - but I think I don't have time enough to repeat that. 
I'll keep the books I read again and again, but: Good bye, Mr. Trollope (except Barchester Tower), and to most of Mr. Thackeray - ("The History of Henry Esmond", which I translated for a German publisher I will keep, though I will not read that again either). 'Beowulf' I will keep, and Mr. Jonson, and I love 'Tristram Shandy', but I give away Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress' - though I keep "Mrs. Fytton's Country Life" by Mavis Cheek, hahaha, even if you cry "Don't, Mr. Disraeli!"  
See: now I follow only my own enigmatic judgement, no need to impress anybody, and I do as I please. 

PS: I did what you should NEVER do when trying to get rid of books - I thumbed through Pamela - my William Heineman edition from 1902 has nice reproductions of 'rare contemporary drawings and with plates for the text' - and then I started to read - and ... I like it... will keep those... (but I am hell-bent not to thumb through Trollope)


14 comments:

  1. I found a lot of ancient German books in a shop here recently, all in Gothic print. Maybe we should exchange?

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    1. An interesting offer, thank you - but it would not diminish the problem :-)

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  2. This is a very interesting post, Britta. As for me, the books that I no longer want to read again have caused a lot of problems so far, particularly, hardcover ones. They occupy a good deal of space and they are very dangerous in Japan when an earthquake occurs. I'm not kidding. They are really dangerous because my parents almost got killed by the avalanche of the books from a big bookcase in the Great Hanshin Earthquake(1995). I'm going to sell at least 50~100 hardcovers before the next big earthquake attacks us. I think the sooner, the better. I don't want to scare you but we actually have had many earthquakes since 2011. Might be Mt. Fuji will erupt in the near future...

    By the way, I really like the composition of the top photo. The books look so beautiful!

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  3. I understand you so well, dear Sapphire, and the shock your parents must have got when that avalanche of books came down! When our son was about three, one of the high bookcases (our rooms are over 4 meter high) started to come down on us - never in my life have I had so much strength in my arms as then, when I stemmed it against the wall and cried for Hans, who luckily was in another room and came to rescue us (and later plugged that bookcase to the wall). Son still remembers it - 26 years later - though we weren't badly hurt.
    I wish you all to be protected against Earthquakes - and a Kindle is a fine way to put (most of) the books into a "Cloud".

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  4. i nearly always find that when I get rid of a load of books I change my mind about one of them as soon as they are gone, and want it back,

    I like Don't Mr Disraeli, and even more No Bed for Bacon. I am fond of Barchester Towers but I have never been able to get on with Richardson.

    Louise

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  5. That is the conflict I more often have with clothes...
    You gave me a new wish: I don't know 'No Bed for Bacon' till now! Have you also seen The Barchester Chronicles on TV (I think you might - as Clive Swift from 'Keeping Up Appearances' is playing in it). As to Richardson: well - one can get used to him :-)

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  6. Good luck with the 'minimizing and simplifying' Britta. I am not very good at it at all. I find it very helpful to give my books away one at a time to people who would like read them, telling them 'please keep it, it's yours'. Of course this is a very slow way to reduce the collection.

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    1. As Pink sings: "And I try, and I try" :-) But I found out that I can move heaps of some books that I bought for my studies, secondary literature, or which are 'only' classic - or written in that tiny eye-powder print. Of course first of all I put them down onto the stairs of the entrance hall - and rapidly the German ones are gone - but English: that is too difficult for most of the neighbours.

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  7. 'I follow only my own enigmatic judgement, no need to impress anybody, and I do as I please.'

    I have a sense that this always has been the case and there's no really point in changing now!

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    1. Thank you :-) But I sometimes have to fight (husband really loves books - "look, such a wonderful preface!" or "Really - look, you can't buy that on a Kindle, it is rare!") That's why I silently bring them to Oxfam when he is not there (see: we donated 6.000 old German crime and detective novels - really, really valuable and sometimes existing only one copy in whole Germany, because nobody collected (old) popular culture - to the Marbach Literatur Archiv. If we need them for research: we can travel there) And when I turned round to look at the gaps in the bookcases: he had already filled them up...

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  8. Oh, it must be so hard to do! I hate having to reduce my possessions. I always go through them again just before I donate to a charity shop and end up keeping half! x

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    1. Yes, it isn't easy - that's why some staples are standing for a while at the side of a desk or in a quiet corner - time to think it over.

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  9. Oh my... You are so brave to part with your books! I find it a very difficult task. For many years I taught young children and was totally committed to reading several books each day to them. Over many years my collection grew... And grew...and GREW! When I moved to an administrative job I finally, reluctantly gave my lovely books, over 500, to a very dear friend. She is also a teacher so the books continue to be shared with little ones. Just think of the enjoyment your books will bring to their new owners! Brave... Indeed!

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    1. Children books are often so wonderful that I took quite a few with me to Berlin - the other loads are standing in chests on the attic in H., and I give the task of sorting them to son. Reading to children is so utterly rewarding - I did it (instead of playing cassettes) for such a long time, a treat for me too :-) Giving your books to your friend and thus sharing the delight to so many children is very generous and inspiring!
      But when I give away Carlyle's 'Sartor Resartus' I don't feel bereft - and if, I will buy it again :-)

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