Friday, July 13, 2012

Father Z wants to downsize and agonises over his books

See his blog for details. (What does the prayer really say)

With 5,000+ volumes to make decisions about, I can understand a little of how he feels. It's no easy matter. Going along the shelves one has to pick up each volume and remember what it meant to you at the time it came into your possession, and how much it has meant since.. Well, one doesn't have to, but one will find oneself doing that.anyway. You see, the books in one's library tell the story of one's own life. Not just by what those books are about, but on how they came into your possession. For instance I have a copy of the full works of  Lewis Carroll brought back to me from Bangalore in the early 1950s - a tenth birthday present from my father's brother. For years it smelled of josticks.and opened my imagination to what my uncle's experience must have been like.  Before that, the original' 'House at Pooh Corner' given as a Christmas present by a cousin when I was five. Later I remember my first copies of 'Northanger Abbey and 'Pride and Prejudice'. As a young girl I responded to the romance of these Austen novels. As an adult I still reflect on what dear Jane observed. about the way in which men and women do, or indeed do not, relate to one another.

Then of course there was Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress', again given to me as a pre-adolescent gift. From a religious point of view this book was formative..  I didn't read it straight away but when I did, it changed my perception of human life. Fortunately, at the time I was a blank page and knew nothing of the argument between Protestant and Catholic. I was therefore able to not even notice Bunyan's polemic against the Papacy. I'm glad of that.

Well of course the above mentioned books were formative, even dear Pooh,, and I haven't even mentioned Shakespeare yet!. Love of his works began to develop when I was about thirteen, and has not ceased to grow since. Teaching his works has been one of the greatest privileges and pleasures of my life. As far as the current debate about his Catholicism is concerned, yes I think he was a Catholic. I was convinced of it by Patrick Stewart's performance as Prospero

'And my ending is despair
Unless I be reliev'd by prayer, which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself  and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon'd be,
Let your indulgence set me free.'

50 years separated me from first reading of the Tempest and  the more recent understanding that Shakespeare knew the meaning of the Communion of the Saints and the mercy of God. He may not have believed it of course, but he understood what it meant, true or not. 

Well this has taken me through my library until I was still a very young woman. I can go no further tonight.

All the same a library is the most personal thing. Plucking it apart is going to be most painful. .

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