Gentle Reader, please do not be alarmed at the size of this node or the curious formatting, all will become clear very soon. What started out as a simple idea has developed into a writing exercise for myself with all the workings included if you wish to view them, if not skip directly to The End of the node which contains the final text, all the commentary is confined to this font, the story begins here.
I adore finding threadbare little volumes in dusty back street bookshops or forgotten little corners, a collection of poetry by Shelley or an unknown Tolstoy being sold on for a pittance. At first glance the bindings are beginning to fray and the paper is yellow with age but the lure of words as yet unread is iresistable. You begin to pick out the faint traces of a previous owner, a library stamp or frontispiece gives you a name, maybe the book naturally opens on well thumbed pages that caught anothers eye... read those words with care and catch a glimpse of someone unknown. Flicking through the book you find little comments written with the delicate flourishes of copperplate that cause you pause for thought.
For Betty Keeanor who in the autumn of 1949 was studying at Felixstowe County School and reading the poetry of Keats, she left notes for anyone who followed in her footsteps. She loved this book with a passion, leaving little comments about where she read certain passages and what they meant to her. Betty turned an old book into a treasure trove of half imagined times and places, she added her own story to that book and now I am adding it here... I think she would have liked that.
The text above is almost unchanged since written, apart from the formatting and title which used to be old books can tell more than one story. All the softlinks below link to the contents of the poetry book. Another total rewrite coming soon to a node near here. Finally I am obliged to point out that Betty Keeanor actually returned the book in July 1951.
On a dusty bookshelf in a quiet corner of the elusive bookshop lies a threadbare Resurrection. Covers once a glorious crimson with delicately embossed curlicues accented in gold leaf. Now dull mottled red from years of hands, the corners are blunt and the bindings tired. A section of loose pages seems to be the worst damage, just slightly detached but all present and correct none the less. Not bad condition for a book of its vintage and just waiting for an interested party, Tolstoy would be pleased.
Tucked in beside that is a slightly smaller volume, author and title no longer legible on its spine but a single gold circled N adorns the cover. A bold stamp inside reveals that the Education Committee of Felixstowe County School like to clearly mark property. A torn library frontispiece gummed inside the cover informs you Betty Keanor checked this book out in the Autumn of 1949 and never took it back, what on earth would the education committee think?
Inside, the title is revealed as Shelly & Keats Contrasted by Guy Boas and that the committee were zealous vandals, skipping the introduction and looking for well thumbed pages that fall open naturally where you may find words read in repetition or recitation years before. Names of poems half remembered flip across the pages above dense stanzas, maybe one catches an eye or a memory. The poems you forgot.
Right at the end of the book on the last page beneath Keats's epitaph to himself, Here lieth One whose name was writ on water, in delicate copperplate with a light pencil is simply written Talk about false modesty. I think we may forgive Betty if she left any more little notes like that to liven up the poetry it may have all seemed a bit dull what with World War II. Then finally before the pages change texture and the book runs out, printed in tiny type with all the necessary serifs is THE END.