Sunday, March 6, 2016

From 1886, Lang's delightful collection of essays on the wonder of books

In 1886 Andrew Lang, best remembered as a collector of children's stories, plublished a memorable book about books. Via the wonderful site Public Domain Review, here is a copy (you can also download it as a pdf). Just click the right arrow to turn the pages:
As he states in the preface, the work is “the swan-song of a book-hunter. The author does not book-hunt any more: he leaves the sport to others, and with catalogues he lights a humble cigarette”. The topics Lang reflects upon are wide-ranging: from “Literary Forgeries” to the “Bookmen at Rome”; from “Japanese Bogie-Books” to “Bibliomania in France”. This is a book for bibliophiles written by a bibliophile. An 1897 review in The Spectator called it an
amusing collection of essays, dealing chiefly with the love of books as books, or rather as things, a different passion, indeed, from the love of literature. They have a good deal less to do with each other than the body with the soul, or a man’s coat with his character. And yet it is a fact that one does not get on quite well without the other. … There is no doubt that many people, besides those who have a right to call themselves book-lovers, will find a great deal of amusement and information in Mr. Lang’s agreeable book.

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