In the Spirit of Reunification (of Books)

Yesterday I finally braved the loft again and got down a new set of book boxes. Sadly, quite a few boxes ended up with heavier boxes on top of them during 5 years of storage, so the books are not always in pristine condition. (Fellow booklovers who are equally obsessive about book spines remaining uncreased, corners unturned and therefore hardly ever lending books for fear of damage will understand my dismay!)

Small sample in a dusty bundle...
Small sample in a dusty bundle…
Spread out on the floor...
Spread out on the floor… with a nudge from my bright green slipper

From the English collection: one of the funniest books about anthropologists and one of my favourite Barbara Pym novels; Sylvia Plath’s rite of passage, the Metaphysical poets (which we were not allowed to study at university during Communist times).

From the Austrian collection: the stories of Arthur Schnitzler and Elias Canetti’s first volume of memoirs (given to me as a present by a friend who said it was his favourite book).

From the French collection, a charming coming-of-age story by Colette (perfect summer reading) and a grim childhood memoir by Herve Bazin (required reading in French class, but nevertheless memorable rather than sheer torture).

One of my favourite Romanian poets: Ion Pillat (I don’t think he’s ever been translated) – a lyrical nature-loving poet.

And finally a book that I haven’t read (there aren’t many of those in my loft): Fernando Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet, because I was translating a Romanian writer at the time who kept referring to Pessoa and was writing in his style.

Here are some excerpts from the Japanese collection against a background of bins:

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Ugetsu Monogatari is one of the lesser-known classical works of 18th century Japanese literature. A collection of spooky stories, it is perhaps better known as a masterpiece of Japanese cinema. The flowery cover is actually the paper wrapping that you automatically get at the time of purchase in Japanese bookshops for all your paperbacks. It covers Banana Yoshimoto’s Tugumi, which I haven’t looked at since I was a student (and probably won’t be able to read anymore). Finally, we were very excited to read Norwegian Wood with our Japanese professor during our student days, but this is the English language translation. And what a beautiful edition it is too, with its two small volumes encased in a golden box.

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Alas, alas, only a small part of the books have descended from the loft and we are already running out of space!

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14 thoughts on “In the Spirit of Reunification (of Books)”

    1. Well, Romanian is my mother tongue, but I grew up in Austria and went to an English school, so that’s 3 in 1. I then studied French at school and Japanese at university, but have forgotten most of the latter.

  1. Isn’t it a joy to re-discover those treasures? There’s nothing quite like that feeling, Marina Sofia, and I’m glad you’ve had the chance to look through your treasures. I just love how global your reading has been, too.

    1. And how random my packing to put up in the loft has been, as there seems to be little or no thematic link between books in the same box. I must have done it by size…

  2. What fun! I feel a little like this when I excavate the unexplored regions of my bookcase to find a missing volume – you suddenly start reconnecting with books you haven’t looked at or thought of in decades, and it’s a wonderful (and time-consuming!) experience. Happy delving!

  3. What a lovely post – I do wish I’d kept more of my books but they have been lost through the journey of life but then I don’t have enough room for those I do have so… Enjoy the sorting out of the new home Marina.

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