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The Time Machine (Dover Thrift Editions) by H. G. Wells

Froissart Chronicles by Jean Froissart

The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: A Novel by David Mitchell

When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie

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Member: baswood

CollectionsYour library (380), Wishlist (1), Currently reading (8), All collections (389)

Reviews349 reviews

Tags20th century (47), contemporary (39), novel (36), British (32), canon (29), American (27), English (25), 14th century (13), history (13), relationships (12) — see all tags

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About meBorn and bred in London, lived in a village in Derbyshire for 15 years and I am now retired and living in South West France in an even smaller village.

I Find myself becoming increasingly apalled by the consumer society that I am of course part of, however I do feel I have escaped some of this living in France.

About my libraryMy actual library is well over 1000 books, but I have decided to enter onto Librarything those books that I have read recently or that I can remember well enough to be able to rate/review.

Over the last 18 months I have read a fair amount of medieval literature, but this year 2012 I will start to make my way into renaissance literature

I like to be reading a few books at the same time and so I will be delving into 20th century literature as well as recent crime/detective novels and science fiction and fantasy stuff. Most of these I read from my wife's recommendations. She reads faster than me.

I have an extensive music library which covers most musical genres: classical, rock, blues, jazz and world music. I try and find time to read and to listen to music, but not both at the same time.

GroupsBully's Tavern, Club Read 2011, Club Read 2012, Club Read 2013, Club Read 2014, Fans of Russian authors, I became a fabulous opera, Infinite Jesters, Le Salon du peuple pour le peuple, Literary Centennialsshow all groups

LocationGers, France

Favorite authorsNot set

Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/baswood (profile)
/catalog/baswood (library)

Member sinceSep 29, 2010

Currently readingCollected Poems 1931-1974 by Lawrence Durrell
Collected Poems of Ted Hughes by Ted Hughes
Poetic Rhythm: An Introduction by Derek Attridge
The Age of Chaucer Volume I of the Pelican Guide to English Literature by Boris Ford
English Poetry, 1400-1580 by William (editor) Tydeman
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Well, I know all about books in boxes! Good luck with your remodel. Having space to work is wonderful.

Thanks for your comments re Norton. I downloaded the Penguin Classics version of the Book of the City of Ladies and I will keep a lookout for English translations of "Mutacion de Fortune" and "Chemin de long estude." My French still isn't quite good enough for this.
Hi Barry,

I just read your review of the Norton Critical Edition of Christine de Pizan's writings, which I had forgotten about. An article I just read talks about how her Book of the City of Ladies steals a lot from Boethius — in addition to Boccaccio. I must read this immediately! But I was contemplating buying the Norton Critical Edition until I read your review. Sorry that it only excerpts and does not present complete works.

But I was wondering . . . finally getting to the point . . . does the Norton edition include the poems "Mutacion de Fortune" and "Chemin de long estude"? Your review speaks well of something that sounds like the latter, but I am not sure of the length of either one. Perhaps you would be kind enough enlighten me.

Thanks much!
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Beautiful! Is this where you live? What a great view.
Hi Barry,
Just ran across your review of the Henry VIII book, which I enjoyed (your review, that is) and it reminded me that I am missing my daily dose of LT.

Been a while since I've been active on LT. Just moved into smaller digs at the first of the year and am having much difficulty adjusting to the smaller space. Still haven't dealt with all the boxes and am realizing I need to downsize even more than I already have. Still haven't a proper place for my computer and so it doesn't get turned on very often. Was hoping to get back into the swim of Club Read at the first of the year but did not make it. But light is visible at the end of the tunnel and I am getting restless to rejoin the fray. I have missed the stimulation provided by you and other LT friends. Hope to be "seeing" you more regularly soon!


I appreciated your review of Our Mutual Friend -- I have the same Audible version that you reviewed, and I've started it three times but can't seem to really get going. In fact, I picked it up at the library last week to see if actually looking at the pages would help! It's good to know I just need to plough through; I've been enjoying Dickens and gradually working my way through his novels.

Thank you!
Looks stunning. My girlfriend would love it there. :)
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Looks amazing :)

Are you a writer or journalist? You have written good book reviews of interesting book titles - vintage and classical studies/literature. Your reviews are worthy to be compiled into a book, this will give more exposure to the readers worldwide.I am very confident that some of the syndicated
newspaper publishers will have a regular feature or column in their week-end editions featuring your reviews.
Thanks for liking my review! I've been quietly following your threads all year, and enjoying. For some reason I feel a bit shy in Club Read, so I keep quiet. But I'm there!
I loved your review of The Wonderful Visit !
--- and I'm glowing that you liked my reviews!
I do take it with extreme pleasure that you visited my profile page and stopped to speak! I see that you are a speaking acquaintance of my good friend Lucy/sibyx and also of others whose talk I enjoy.
Do read the Mary Beard when you have a yen for things Roman. I'll be reading her more as I can afford to buy her books. I see that Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures, and Innovations is due out on September 9. Looks good!
Well met!
Thank you very much for your review of The Solid Mandala. I have nothing to add.
I note that you have rated Earth Abides at 4½ stars; I don't think I rated it that highly. On the other hand, I did give *Mandala* 4½ as compared to your 4. Oh well.
I have both the Unsworth and Roberts ready to read sometime soon, so I guess we share somewhat similar tastes. I certainly never listen to music when I read or the other way around!
I'm happy to have found you.
Fantastic review of one of my favorite books, The Plague.
I just found your review on the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and I have to agree with everything you said. Great review!
Barry, I am getting this warning when I try to go to your current Club Read thread:

Google Chrome has blocked access to this page on
Content from, a known malware distributor, has been inserted into this web page. Visiting this page now is very likely to infect your computer with malware.

Hi Barry,
Gee I didn't know you lived in France. How lovely.

Read your review of The Vivisector and was very interested to find that it has been your favourite PW book. I have never read it but shall look forward to it.
Amanda XX
I only thought it was interesting given your mention in your review of the detailed descriptions of Alafair's clothing in the Robicheaux books. I have not read either of them. Having lived in Portland and NYC, I may give the daughter a shot - but she'd have a hard time displacing the many other books I'd like to read!
Alafair is James' daughter and she also has embarked on a writing career.
Hi bas,

Thanks for your good words! I'll probably get back to the trilogy too, though I think I liked "Masks" better, hard to say for sure. It's brain candy that, unlike TV, has loads of vitamins and wholesome nutritional value. Those are some really nice pics you've got there.
Thanks, bas. I had no idea the book had ever been filmed. I'll need to check that out. I can totally see Nolte playing John Converse. Perfect for that kind of conflicted (corrupt yet good) character.
P.S. Great review of Hypnerotomachia. You did it more justice than I did. I seem to have been more caught up in the process and historicity of the book. Bravo!
Hey Barry
Sorry to have dropped out so abruptly, but I am in the throes of moving house -- packing all my books etc. Once I get settled I'll be back. Right now my internet connection is my phone and this is a very tedious way to communicate. I expect to be away from LT for a couple more months. Thanks much for your message.
Just wanted to let you know that I have, at last, replied to your very welcome comment on my Club Read 2012 thread!


I loved your review of The Novellino of Massuccio. I must get a copy. I want the same edition you describe ... but I guess that is not likely.
bas, Thank you for stopping in to tell me you liked my review of Keef's memoir. I love it when a book makes mincemeat of unexamined assumptions, replacing them with the substantial and also when I am unexpectedly catapulted into a wider net of inquiry -- relistening/listening to the Stones and the musicians who formed them....

What a beautiful place you've landed in. I've spent lots of time in France, which is strange, because I like Italy and, unaccountably perhaps, Ireland much better, but somehow....I tend to end up in France, but I have family there, and that does tend to trump pure pleasure.

Not a bad book overlap 39 for 184 - I must go see what they are!

ciao! lucy/sib
No, Bas, I was quite serious--you used it appropriately and i was truly glad to see it. Please change it back. I opened myself to several charges in this book and I was glad to have it stated plainly. The review was quite brilliant.
If you're talking about the European renaissance generally, you must read Burckhart's "The Civilisation of the REnaissance in ITaly". Monica Bellucci's book about the Borgia's is also a must read. for literature Vassari's "lives of the artists", and Cellini's autobiography are great, as is Boccaccio. For French Renaissance, don't forget the poet Ronsard, and the other poets of the Pléiade are also worth looking at, but Ronsard is the best. oh, and Ariosto, as I know you love loooooooooooooong epic poetry.
Absolutely hilarious and brilliant.
Happy Christmas and New Year to you!
A xx
The Parzival reading sounds tempting.

Gawain was one of my first experiences with Middle English lit. I belief I read Tolkien's translation and really enjoyed it. Is the Armitage translation the one released in the last 5 years or so?

I had forgotten about Gardiner's book on Chaucer. I happened upon Chesterton's book through Harold Bloom's recommendation and the fact that I am already an admirer of Chesterton. I like Gardiner, too, though my experience with him has only been through his fiction and his books on writing. I will have to take a look at it.

I've tried to read Mallory a couple times. I have to admit struggling with it. I want to enjoy it, but the style seems dry and wooden. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it. Perhaps you'll inspire me to give it another go.

Hi, Bas. I found your review of The Discarded Image shortly after I started it. Hopefully I'll finish with it in the next couple weeks. I'm interested to see what other books you've found on medieval and Renaissance literature -- it's an area I'm increasingly interested in. I'll definitely check out your club read thread -- I wasn't aware of it.

I also noticed your interest in photography. Minor White caught my eye in an eclectic local exhibit some years ago. That was my first real exposure to photography beyond Ansel Adams and the f/64 group. I later saw an exhibit of just White's work. Fabulous stuff.

Thank you for your comment on my comments. I always fear I'm out in left field, at least in relation to the general group dynamics. I'm glad to know there are others who see more than just the dour aspect of the Middle Ages.

As I finish The Magic Mountain and The Discarded Image, I'll be reading GK Chesterton's Chaucer, then on to The Canterbury Tales with the Wright translation to help me get through the original. I'm open to recommendations if you have any.

Thanks again,

Hey Barry! Thanks for checking in. I had no idea anyone would notice! I'm hoping after Thanksgiving to get back in the swim. Got a lot of catching up to do. Haven't even been reading the threads and I'm behind on Magic Mountain. Just about to begin Chapter 6. But I shall carry on. This freelancing is not all it's cracked up to be. Thanks again!
Excellent review of The Allegory of Love. People tend to focus on Lewis's stories for children and his theological writings, and forget that he was also an eminent medievalist.
Just catching up with your threads - finally finished the second, haven't gotten through the third yet. Wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your jazz commentary. I enjoy it but am almost exclusively aware of New Orleans artists so it's nice to have some others to look into.
Hello Barry,
Thanks for the message. Regarding John Clare,I see that your correspondent (and Clare expert) dmsteyn has recommended a couple of books and I cannot do better than concur with him on these. I would just add that 'The Journal /Essays /The Journey from Essex', edited by Anne Tibble should be essential reading for anyone interested in the life of Clare. Another item of some interest is 'Catalogue Of The John Clare Collection In The Northampton Public Library',which if nothing else has some fascinating photographs of manuscripts and other related items.
Leicestershire and adjoining Northamptonshire are indeed different. We often travel the 17 miles over the county border to the little town of Market Harborough and throughly enjoy our visits. (a good selection of book-shops) My own County is a great love and a great interest to me (as you may see from the large number of books I own on the subject) It used to be known as the 'County of Spires and Squires' and also,more recently as 'The Rose of the Shires'. It is much less spectacular than many other parts if the country,but the gently rolling countryside cannot be bettered in my opinion.
Hi Barry,

Thank you for your time in responding to my posts. What I mean by saying Clare is 'neglected' is more in the sense that he isn't publicly known. I think, academically speaking, he is experiencing a bit of a renascence, thanks to the Jonathan Bate biography and the Oxford editions of his poetry in England, and maybe Bloom's qualified championing of him in America. But he has some very accessible poems which I think deserve to be better known. He is also a great poet to teach people the rudiments about poetry, like versification, etc.

The mini-dissertation is still an ongoing project, but my basic theme is Clare's attempt to escape from his circumstances, whether through physical or poetic freedom. The asylum poems are often misrepresented

Oh, and I definitely agree that Clare was a difficult character - his alcoholism is well-documented, and his increasing mental derangement made him difficult to live with and to support.

Books that I can recommend are the above biography - it expands greatly on the 1920 one - and some of the critical works you can look at, if you want to get deeper into Clare, are Bloom's 'Visionary Company' (I know, many people don't like him, but he's good on all the Romantics, including the lesser-known ones) and Sales' 'John Clare: A Literary Life'.

You might like Adam Foulds's 'The Quickening Maze' - it's a fictional account of Clare's last days at Matthew Allen's asylum in the Epping Forest. I know Theresa has a good review about it.

Oh, and don't be fooled by my library - a lot of the book are yet to be read!
Hello Barry,
Having just read and enjoyed your review of 'John Clare : Poems Chiefly From Manuscript' I felt I must write and tell you.
I live in Northampton,which of course has many connections with Clare. When he was 'lodged' in Northampton Asylum,he often used to walk to the centre of the town and sit under the portico of All Saints Church. Just within the Church is a bust of the poet backed by the last poem you quote in your review.'I am,yet what I am...' If you go to my profile page,you can see a photograph of this. The Northampton central Library holds a wonderful collection of Clare papers and memorabilia.
We are also quite near to another (in my opinion at least) great poet, William Cowper,whose house in Olney,Buckinghamshire,is preserved and open to the public.
Best wishes
Hi Barry,

I really enjoyed your review of Clare's poetry - I'm actually doing a mini-dissertation on Clare's asylum poetry at the moment. I agree that he isn't of the eminence of his Romantic contemporaries, but I still feel that he is unfairly ignored.

Thank you for giving some more prominence to a neglected favourite of mine!

Hi Barry,

Just stopping by to note your posting of the Clare poem over at Club Read. I read a passel of Clare a couple of years ago and fell in love with him. Enjoy!

Hi Barry,
Your tax ordeal is sounding all sorts of alarums in my brain. I had to file for an extension because I've been so busy with work, so my day with the tax man is still ahead. Good luck with all that.

I'm unfamiliar with John Clare but just peeked at amazon where a preview was possible of a poem or two. The first one called "Helpstone" is quite beautiful. Seems like poetry was just made for Kindle.

My progress is slow on Bolano – am only about a hundred pages in. I have just been reading more reviews looking for someone who might be discussing the writing – not merely the narrative but the stylistic aspects. Of course, you could fill a book the size of 2666 talking about that, but I'm quite taken with Bolano's ability to adopt different styles as though he were changing clothes. I've been wracking my brain trying to come up with a word for it – whatever "it" is. The detail, the minutiae, the long sentences, the digressions, the chronologies including dates, the list of books written by Archimboldi, and I wanted to call somebody up and read this one paragraph that I just had to laugh at (p. 40-41):

"The first conversation began awkwardly, although Espinoza had been expecting Pelletier's call . . . The first twenty minutes were tragic in tone, with the word fate used ten times, and the word friendship twenty-four times. Liz Norton's name was spoken fifty times, nine of them in vain." hahaha Et cetera, et cetera.

Who writes like that? And is there a name for this style? It reminds me of something, but I just can't think what. It's somewhat disjointed – the mishmash of styles – but the writing is clear as a bell and deeply textured. Unfortunately, the nonacademic aspects of the four critics are totally unbelievable. Who carries on such a bloodless menage a trois? And it seemed unlikely that Espinoza and Pelletier could get worked up enough to half kill the Pakistani taxi driver. But the vignette with Mrs. Bubis was charming.

Anyway, as you can see, I'm caught up in the minutiae, which has captivated me in an odd sort of way and I will keep at it as time permits. With regard to Porius, part of me wants to and I'll probably end up doing it. From what I've read, it may be right up my street. There aren't enough hours in the day. If only it were available on Kindle. I am now resenting when I can't get a book in that format.
Re the 2666 thread, I too am uninspired. Wish there were more structure to it somehow -- or content. And yeah, Rick is a piece of work, isn't he? Most of the time I have no idea what he's talking about. Oh -- and thanks for your confirmation of my suspicion regarding the geography question. That really stopped my clock. Frisia next to the Black Sea??? I don't think so. But enough of that.

Also like you, no way I'm going to read it out of order. But I'm loving the texture of the first part. I hope I can catch up in time for any wrap-up that may ensue. BTW, I checked out that 2666 website you gave me the link for. That's quite a gold mine. I have just read a few of the reviews but I'll get to the rest in due course.

I sure wish 2666 had been available for Kindle. The small print is killing me. And speaking of your Kindle, Two more sold! I AM impressed. Am I permitted to ask what you are reading thereon?
Barry, Finally, I have begun 2666 and although barely started, it looks to be an amazing read. But already I'm hung up on some details. Can't stop thinking about that tour de force of a run-on sentence beginning on page 18 in my edition, if that helps, beginning: "And when the shadowy writer, who was Swabian, began to reminisce . . ." Right off the bat, "a Frisian town, north of Wilhelmshaven, facing the Black Sea coast and the East Frisian islands . . ." caused a disconnect and raised multiple questions: I know where Wilhelmshaven is, just south of the eastern end of the East Frisian Islands, and I know where the Black Sea is, and . . . well . . . what gives? Is this one of those thousands of corrections Bolano wanted to make? Is there something locally referred to as the Black Sea coast? Or is this one of those tricks some authors like to play to see whether the reader knows his geography and/or is paying attention? And is there more of this sort of thing to come?

I was a bit overwhelmed by all the minutia and dates and whatnot as the four critics were introduced. Also, it would seem Bolano is trying to write in a whole variety of styles simultaneously piled up on top of one another.

Intriguing, to say the least.

Hey Barry, I have been wondering whether you had received your Kindle. And I'm relieved to hear that you are so enthusiastic about it. Wow! Three people sold! You've outdone me. Actually, my only complaint about the Kindle is that there is not an easy way to toggle between where one is reading and the endnotes. Seems like most of the books I read have notes. So I have to keep track of either the page or the location number of the notes page. You can just hit "back" to get back to the text, but you have to laboriously type in the numbers for the notes. If you haven't received one already, Amazon sends an e-mail address for feedback, so I wrote to them extolling the virtues of Kindle, but did take that opportunity to ask them for some kind of a software fix where you could toggle between any two places in a book. Don't know whether that will bear fruit or not. We'll see.

Regarding 2666, I look forward to your review. I am so overloaded right now, Hoping to get to reading it before the group is finished. I'm doing freelance work, and it's feast or famine. But since I've gotten involved with LT, I find myself really resenting it when the work is interfering with my quiet enjoyment of reading, etc.

Thanks for letting me know. I'm pleased that you are pleased.

Here's my review of "In Pursuit...", that biographical novel about Katherine Mansfield:


I hope you will enjoy the Kindle inasmuch as I hyped it to death. The copyright thing is a mystery. Maybe French copyright laws are different, but anything published since 1923 is fully protected in the US regardless of medium. The copyright payments are covered in the price, i.e., author royalties, etc. Books published before 1923 are considered here to be in the public domain.

But that's a whole other issue. I'm glad you found a workaround.

Now that I've had my Kindle for a while, I'm actually resenting having to read a regular book, largely because of the weight/bulkiness and type size. The ability to enlarge the type is absolutely spoiling me.

And you hit on the main reason I wasn't going to participate in the 2666 group read -- i.e., it is not on Kindle. I wrote to amazon and complained. It is the type of book that SHOULD BE on Kindle! But I found a copy on sale here and bought it. Haven't started yet, but I plan to this weekend. Now that my Hypnerotomachia binge is over -- or at least in abeyance -- there is actually more to come on that subject, but not yet -- anyway, I'm ready for some good solid entertainment. Am enjoying the Confidence-Man immensely.
What a joy! Birthday in Bordeaux. Happy Birthday, Barry!

It just occurred to me that you can try out the free Kindle software on your notepad or laptop or whatever. You may have noticed at the Amazon website it gives you a number of options. That was one of the things that pushed me into the "buy" column re the Kindle. You can read a book on any platform you choose. To try it out, you'll have to download a book, but there are lots of freebies. You can get a rough idea of how the type face and sizing works, etc. Also, if you are worried about wifi connections, etc., you can download books to your computer and from there to your Kindle if necessary.

I'm not trying to be a salesman for Kindle, don't misunderstand, but I amaze myself at my own enthusiasm for it. Now I'm disappointed when I have to read hard copy. For instance, 2666. A big book like that is made for an e-reader.

One other positive and that is the incredible clarity of the screen. It is sharper than most actual pages, and you are in control of the type font and size. I have read for literally hours with no signs of eyestrain.

On the down side, there are some aggravations. For example, if the book you are reading has footnotes, not all the books have the text linked to the notes, so you have to go through a cumbersome procedure to go back and forth between text and notes. And don't even try to read a book that has a lot of illustrations or maps. Better to get the physical book. But nothing is perfect, and one figures out ways to work around these little annoyances.

Best wishes,

Barry, I was wondering what you think of 2666? I was hesitating to participate in the group read because I've got so much else on my plate just now, but just going through the thread tells me this is too good to pass up and convinced me to go buy the book, which I now have done. Was hoping it would be available on Kindle because it's 900 pages and I can read twice as fast on there. By the way, that's one of the things I like most about the Kindle. You can increase the type size so that there are only a 3-4 words per line, and the eye veritably flies down the page. It doubled my reading speed with no noticeable decline in comprehension. If anything, it is enhanced. Of course, if you want to read slowly and savor, you have several type size options. But I digress. Looks like I'm going to join the party.

Excellent reviews of Colette's biography and of The junior officers' reading club!
Hi Barry,

I just left a post at your thread in Club Reads. I'll try to keep up with you there in future. Have been trying to crawl through all the threads on there to find the ones that really suit me. Some are very interesting and entertaining. I love the energy of the group.

Now that I see the depth of your reading around the 14th century I feel very humble. Wish I had the time to do all the reading I'd like to. Undoubtedly, our reading will intersect, and I look forward to the interchange.


Hi Barry,

Yes, LibraryThing is amazing! It is unbelievable that I missed the first five years of its existence, being the bookish sort that I am. There are so many resources here, and now that most of my books are catalogued, I'm finding time to explore some of the groups that intrigue me. Are you the only member of your family who has been bitten?

I dare say your French is better than mine. I haven't done much French reading of late because I dropped everything and decided to brush up on Latin. Don't ask me why. It's just one of those things that I've been itching to do for years. And I'm getting tired of reading all these musty texts that are repleat with untranslated Latin quotations. That's what I get for delving into antiquity and the Middle Ages. But I love the "idea" of knowing Latin well. We'll see how far I get. I'm to the point where I would really like to find a tutor to check my "work."

You are very brave to move to a foreign country with a foreign language. As for me, I have daydreamed for years about sojourning in England -- and you've just left! It's amazing! I will say that the last time I was standing in a taxi queue at Victoria Station, a couple who had just returned from a holiday in one of the British Caribbean spots -- can't remember which just now, not the Bahamas, more obscure -- were scouting around for a place to move to. I protested that "I love England, how can you leave?" And they said ruefully that it wasn't the place it used to be. I am aware of some of the problems that you Brits have been facing, but forgive me if my Anglophilism is stuck somewhere in the 18th century -- or possibly the early 20th. It's really too funny. We Americans make our forays to Britain and Europe and long for "the good old days." But really! What good old days? When you stop to think of it, the glamourous veneer we tend to place on our European and British heritage leaves out a lot of facts. So I'm more and more content as time goes by to be an armchair reveler in past glories. Not that I haven't enjoyed my various trips abroad, believe me, I have been in tears over some of my wonderful experiences, but realistically, I think I have a tendency to romanticize a lot about the cultural past we all in the West have inherited. I am thankful for that, and at the same time trying to tone down the enthusiasm.

San Francisco used to be my home -- for almost my entire life, as a matter of fact, and speaking of bookshops, there are some wonderful ones there. But a few years ago I moved to a place called Henderson, Nevada, which is in the same valley as Las Vegas. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and I'm actually not sorry I moved, but this place is so new and squeaky clean, the bookstores are pathetic. We have one or two used-book stores (not to be confused with antiquarian) and the major chains, and that's about it. And if it weren't for Amazon and, I'd have to go to San Francisco once a month to satisfy my book-buying proclivities.

Glad you found the Walsh translation of Consolation. My only complaint about that book is the margins are too narrow. I'm one of those people who like to make notes in books I'm reading -- only paperbacks, mind you.

I envy your proximity to Paris -- probably the most glorious city in the world, at least in my estimation, and at least of the cities I have actually visited. There are some I haven't visited that would probably be on somebody's list. The "France 1500" exhibit sounds wonderful.

Regarding medieval art, I do have a book to recommend. It is Masterpieces of Illumination: The World's Most Famous Manuscripts 400 To 1600, published by Taschen. It is a huge tome, but with illustrations on every page of a gazillion manuscript illuminations. I have died and gone to heaven with that book. Books of hours especially intrigue me, and I have quite a few books, some better than others, on that subject. A great introduction, which actually goes into the contents of these little treasures, is by John Harthan, The Book of Hours. It has a lot of illustrated leaves from various manuscripts. Introduction to Manuscript Studies and The Art of Illumination might be of interest to you as well. These are quasi-coffee table books -- oversized, somewhat expensive and copiously illustrated, but worth every penny. I suggest you look them up on Amazon and get fuller descriptions there. If you go to my tag cloud, you'll see "Books of Hours" and "Illumination" are subject areas listed. Click on those and you'll see everything in my library that is related thereto. If you want more info about any of said books, I'll do my best to give you a good description.

I was intrigued that your world begins with the 14th century. You are way ahead of me. I'm still stuck in the first five centuries of the common era, although I do dabble in later centuries as interest permits -- particularly with respect to illuminated manuscripts, medieval art, literature, etc.

I see you are reading a lot of poetry. Even though I majored in English way back when, poetry has always been a neglected area for me, except for the obvious Shakespeare, Chaucer and Milton. Beyond those, I'm hopeless. I will say that I really enjoy good poetry read out loud. I seem to "get" it better when I hear it. I'm befuddled by the creative arrangement on the page.

I've gone on long enough.

All the best,



I have found your library via your comment at the Medieval Europe group. In reviewing your profile I see we have a few common interests. I am both an Anglophile and a Francophile having spent limited but precious time in both countries. I have taught myself to speak and read French a bit, but I cannot write it and am now quite rusty as it's been five years since I last visited.

Currently I seem to be reading a lot of books about Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. If and when you get around to The Consolation of Philosophy, I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do. I, too, am retired and only finally read it in 2010, having tried the Chaucer version a couple of decades ago and found it wanting. There are several modern translations but my favorite is that of P.G. Walsh, published by Oxford. It has an excellent introduction and copious notes, which I love. Let me know how you like it, as I said, if and when . . .

Best regards,

Suzanne (Poquette)
I agree-it did much to open me to poetry. The "Mersey poets" in particular felt very accessible to a teenager in the 60's-I would not have envisaged then I would spend much of my life near Liverpool. I notice we also share Wolf Hall and McKisack's "Fourteenth Century". It is long since I opened the latter I'm afraid! I really enjoyed Wolf Hall-and trust it has gone some way to dispel the prejudice against "genre" fiction which has seen a number of excellent works overlooked for literary prizes.
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