Friday, September 30, 2005

Why e-books will never steal my heart

This morning I learned that the University of Texas at Austin owns 34 of the 1,000 first-edition copies of James Joyce's Ulysses. I nearly swooned over this article in today's The Chronicle of Higher Education:

One copy [Of Joyce's Ulysses] -- which used to belong to T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia -- stands out for its full range of appeals to the senses.The volume has been rebound in sumptuous wine-red leather ornamented with gilt, and it gives every indication of frequent use, including a well-rubbed binding. Inside, on more than 150 pages, are pencil annotations about the Dublin landmarks in Joyce's masterpiece, as well as more than a few black smudges and even a couple of biscuit crumbs.

In addition, Lawrence's copy of Ulysses is remarkable for its smell. The book has been shown to many visitors and students over the years. When it is carefully removed from the shelf and ceremoniously divested of its acid-free box, which helps preserve the volume, even from several inches away you can smell a sweet, somewhat smoky aroma that suffuses every bit of paper and leather. Many people assume it must be the residue of pipe tobacco, perhaps the fruit-scented variety. The aroma is a spur to the imagination, summoning up romantic visions of Lawrence by his fireside, puffing reflectively on a meerschaum, immersed in the drama of Leopold Bloom.

Isn't that thrilling? Click over and read the rest.

I usually blog on Saturdays, but I missed the last two weeks and I'll be taking tomorrow off, as well. I know I've been whining a lot lately about being overly busy, but I expect to resume my normal routine next week. See you then. Thanks for reading my blog, everyone.


Josie said...

What I wouldn't give to hold that volume in my hands! Of course, I'd give even more to have met James Joyce in the flesh. Thanks so much for sharing the article!

Valerie Comer said...

Hope everything is well in your little world, Brenda. I've just finished reading your novel, and have posted about the experience here (grin):

Best wishes!

Julana said...

I was assigned parts of Ulysses in college and hated it. I can't understand what the fuss is about.

Brenda Coulter said...

It wasn't the first-edition Ulysses that excited me, Julana, but the fact that T.E. Lawrence owned it and loved it as a book should be loved.

Valerie, thanks so much for reading my book and for saying nice things about it. :)

Josie, I keep finding delicious articles like that in The Journal of Higher Education, but somehow I keep forgetting to bookmark the site and visit it regularly.

Julana said...

Yes, that part was very nice. Probably, with a western European upbringing and growing up in that time period, Lawrence had a better chance at understanding the content. :-)