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Monday, January 8, 2007

Sacred trusts

...from The Enemies of Books, by William Blades
"It is a great pity that there should be so many distinct enemies at work for the destruction of literature, and that they should so often be allowed to work out their sad end. Looked at rightly, the possession of any old book is a sacred trust, which a conscientious owner or guardian would as soon think of ignoring as a parent would of neglecting his child."

The newest paperback edition of Iris Johansen is a book to own. One buys it, one consumes it, and one earns points with the book gods by lending it or giving it away. A single copy, out of 925, of the 1901 Mosher edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets is not a book to own. As Blades suggests, we may possess it, but we are only guardians, custodians, until it is sold or passed on to another with the same stipulations attached.

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