Monday, August 18, 2008

Whimsy, to gar the tyme be schort

Yes, he's there, or rather his near homophone is, at the other end of the same shelf as Steinbeck and RLS (who, at least, have California in common, before it went to perdition).

Malcolm is in the process of de-booking the house, shifting box-loads to shelves in the attic.

In the futile hope of being able, in future, to find things, some sense of order is required. So authors are finding themselves classified by genre. Drama and poetry are currently below fiction, but above history. It begins to look as if history will have to be hived off to further shelving, inevitably so with Will's venerable burthen yet to be hoiked up from the hallway.

Then, as the novels slowly went into alphabetical order, Malcolm noticed strange associations. A quirky caprice (is that a redundancy?) came to occupy his mind.

Do books talk to each other in the peace of the night?

Is it a quiet meditative, library murmur, or is it full-blooded
aunt calling to aunt like mastodons bellowing across some primeval swamp?
"Plum", of course, is down quite a bit, beyond the Great White Wilderness (Edmund, T.H., ...) where Updike and Gore Vidal can share a mutual scorn, kept apart only by Vernes surviving from Malcolm's childhood.

Does Joyce have anything to share with his coeval Kafka?

Perhaps they could exchange views on sexual guilt, or the decay of great empires.

There's celticism galore (adopted, affected, and the real McCoy) on a middle shelf where Nye butts up to O'Brian, while the fragrant Edna consorts with Flann.

Above their heads, Lord Horatio has to rub along with Sir Harry, with only the enigmas of John Fowles intervening.

Can anyone explain the coincident congregation of teccies and mysteries, where Connelly shoulders up to Crais, Deighton to Dexter, with Michael Dibden on close nodding terms to Dickens, just a shelf above Doyle? Does Morse show due respect to Bucket's precedence and age? Is Aurelio Zen too distant to converse with Guido Brunetti?

Verse and worse

But the real possibility of trouble brewing is much lower down.

Catholic Belloc close to Anglican Betjeman: hmm.

A whole clutch of Thomases: Dylan, Edward, and R.S.

Famous Seamus only a Henryson away from Hughes. Bibulous Kavanagh kept from Kipling only by vinous Keats.

These poets can be vicious.

And so Sunday afternoon was passed in productive reverie, and with the occasional piece (this one, last visited c.1964) of serendipity:
Sa lyis thair ane doctrine wyse aneuch,
And full of fruit, under ane fenyeit Fabill.

And Cler
kis sayis it is richt profitabill
Amangis ernist to ming ane merie sport,

To light the spreit, and gar the tyme be schort.
On second thoughts: modern rendering of that here.

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