Sunday, September 10, 2017

But Not About A Dog

Just the other day I came across a book I've known about for close to four decades but had never stumbled upon in a secondhand bookshop. I've never been one for seeking books out on the Internet. No chase there. Little serendipity involved. Desires are fulfilled too quickly with a perfunctory application of a keyboard.

Sometimes, however, books find you.

So, my wife and I were browsing the wonderful Attic Books in London where we always leave with a couple of bags, and there it was, on a lower shelf in the basement. A bargain. 

Conrad to a Friend: 150 Letters from Joseph Conrad to Richard Curle edited with an introduction and notes by R. C. / Garden City, New York: Doubleday Doran & Co., 1928.

It's not a rare or valuable book, but one of interest. A clean copy with a dustjacket, a volume to read, enjoy, and later put beside the two volume edition of Conrad's letters edited by G. Jean-Aubry.

The letter on page nine prompted me to write this. I really don't know why, since I've not written in this blog for a very long time, but . . . perhaps the reference to the telegraphic address, and a hint of Conrad's rare humour.

J. B. Pinker was Conrad's literary agent, often referred to as Pink, and his "telegraphic address" was Bookishly London. The email of its day. I have to wonder if many of the book related terms had already been used and he opted for 'bookishly.' Some things never change. Possibly.

Conrad's reference to "but not about a dog," reveals a rare touch of humour. 

A simple letter. Something to spark a thought or two. 

Why do we enjoy reading letters by authors when they often have little bearing on the work? The touch of humanity I would guess. Snippets of the quotidian. 

Supposedly Pinker was not much of a reader. 

A tough agent though.

And probably someone who used that euphemism in a pub from time to time.