Locksley Hall in an Exquisite 144-Year-Old Tome

I like old books. Okay, who am I kidding? I love new books, middle aged books, ancient books… I’m just enchanted by tomes that smell, look, and feel like they’ve been loved by another, for a very long time, and often enough to give them character.

For my 36th birthday, my Piano Man gave me a 144-year-old illustrated copy of one of my favorite oldies: Locksley Hall by Lord Alfred Tennyson.

Look how Time has cracked his spine;
tattooing, “Yes, I’ve been read, loved, kept…” on his skin;
spelling the marks of readers’ stories on the face of his poesy.
 I wonder if the winter holidays of 1935 saw Shirley grin as wide as I grinned this past spring.
I hope she smiled and did a little dance when she first touched our book—I did ;-)

Locksley Hall was not what stirred my interest in Tennyson’s work. Not at all, my Luvs; it was the need “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” I felt during my readings of “Ulysses” that sent me searching for more treasures by the poet. And I’m glad this was the case, for in those days I was young enough to disregard the words of anyone who wrote, “Woman is the lesser man…”  
By the time I ran into Locksley Hall, life (and people) had happened to me. I had already learned that speakers could be bitter without their writer’s approval. And, yes, “words are wild…” 
sometimes, they are forced out of the mouths of “beasts with lower pleasures…” 
but regardless of how they are used by people, words will always be themselves under the cover.
Do you love old books? If so, which is your favorite? I, for instance, would do questionable things for original copies of Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (la edición española de 1967, and the 1970 English translation). Is there an old book you would just die for? 

27 comments:

  1. I love Love LOVE old books. My current favorite is "The Century Book of Facts" published 1906, which is sitting prominently in my bookcase. It was a gift from Archer on our first date, and has a story in our relationship, but what first drew me to it was the awesome window it provides to what America was thinking over a hundred years ago. Right next to that book (on the shelf and in my heart), is one called "Vivilore: the pathway to mental and physical perfection." It's a victorian treatise on how to be the perfect human being, primarily directed at women and printed in 1904. You can imagine, I'm sure, how hilarious I find this. Also, it makes my inner historian very, very happy.

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    1. I'm thinking about the things that could be written in a book about physical perfection from the early 1900s, and I'm giggling. I bet it makes for an amusing (and perhaps disturbing) read.

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  2. *stroke, stroke,stroke*...you know how bad I could be for such a treasure *sigh*. My newest fav old book is the one I am reviewing for ARC this month "Scenes of Clerical Life", written in 1800's by George Eliot/Mary Ann Evans. The language and wordyness of the whole piece is scrumptious. The history behind the publication and pseudonym is fascinating...and I bought my copy from a chusrch jumblesale in the early 90's, but I think this was one of the 1902 printings as it is still from the original publishers. The paper is thick and marked like wrapping paper, never had a book with pages like it....it had been a library copy from a private boys school, so all the information pages had been removed, such a shame. :D XXX

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    1. Oh, I do, I do, I do, and you know you're not alone. Yum, thick paper! That is one of the things I love about my copy of Locksley Hall the pages are almost as thick as the cover of some paperbacks. There is not dog earring these babies. And my Piano Man bought it from the estate sale of the original owner. I was all giggles, as you might expect ;-D

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    2. Owned by a "boys school," huh? I wonder if you've found any interesting notes...

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  3. Did you get it this year, are we year-mates? (1977)
    I love old things, but I'm not a book lover like you (although I do love language). I only have two really old books in my book case, with brown cracking covers like yours, and they are English-Swedish dictionaries. I picked them up for nothing at a yard sale long ago.

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    1. Year-mates we are, my dear luv ;-D

      I love old things, too. But yes, you are right, books and words are usually at the top of my list; oh! and blades, I love an old blade, too. I have a 150-something-year-old dictionary (also from my Piano Man) I love the damn thing; especially some of the front matter information. There is a bit that says that the dictionary is “Authorized literature of the first Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts.” In case your word-search makes you feel like a sinner or something ;-D

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  4. What a great gift! He certainly knows you well!
    The book cover is enchanting... it looks like it'll tell us a story worth a million other stories... I do love books too, new and old, and beautiful and not so. We have an old book at home, which I also put on my witchcraft website on the right side bar. It is a Russian book, which was published in 1964...
    Well, I always wish I were able to visit the biggest libraries and archives of Europe and see what treasures they keep.

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    1. I feel the same way! I'm attracted to all sorts of books. I have a 1946 copy of a Spanish translation of the Birds Were Different Then: Mayan Legends of the Long Ago. I swear that it has to be one of the worse translation jobs I've read, and the actual story? Oh my freaking gods! But it's okay, I still love the book. It's yellowing pages, the dedications (it was given as a present twice) and, yes, even the mistakes. It's a book with character ;-D

      I love visiting library archives. Maybe, the day we meet, we'll visit the closest book empire together!

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    2. And the book's sounds wonderful too, doesn't it? :)
      Oh yea, "the day we meet"... my cousin lives in NY..so may be... some day... :) and visiting libraries and museums, and beaches too? :)

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    3. It sounds like a plan ;-)

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    4. I always plan good things! :)

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  5. My husband's family lived in Long Beach, Ca. where Acres of Books carried old books like the ones above... his family went there often and the original editions of various books I have.. Its fun to see the names of the original owners written down in them.. Sadly, Acres of Books is gone- too much competition out there forced them to close and the fact that books went digital didn't help... I will always choose a book over a Kindle. Nothing like the scent of a book!.

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    1. What's happening to independent bookstores is very sad...

      I love stories in any format. I appreciate (and sometimes drool a little over a) cute paper book, but I adore my Kindle, too. Mr. Konka (my Kindle ;-) helps me read more books than I would be able to read if I didn't have him. Text-to-speech is sacred in my life lol. And living in NYC, the idea of having an enormous personal library is not very practical for me--not enough space. So I love the fact that I can walk around with over a 1,000 books in my Kindle. And when I get home, I can fondle my paper copies ;-D

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    2. One day, I will break down and get a Kindle... u are right, whenever I have moved, I have carted those boxes of books.. some I give away, I don;t have the heart to part w/the old books that my husband has from Acres- some are first editions..My MIL has most of the Oz books which were passed on to my daughter who loved the WOfOZ

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    3. I was in the Marine Corps, so I understand everything about carting books around. Mr. Konka has been a blessing for me. There are books I have in paper and electronic format *giggles* that way I can enjoy the best of both worlds whenever I feel like it ;-)

      Oh, an antique copy of The Wizard of Oz! I have a friend that would do all kinds of things just to touch it lol

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    4. I had no idea there was more than one book.. a whole series leading up to the Wizard of Oz that we all know... unbelievable...

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    5. About 16 of them, methinks.

      Have you read Wicked by Gregory Maguire? It's my favorite retelling of the story.

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    6. No, I never have... looks like that's another one to my endless list!
      have u seen Return To Oz? that was made years ago... could have been a sleeper.. and yes, the title is self explanatory... except, there is a lot of evil in it... the characters all take on an evilness, all except, Dorothy...my middle one use to be afraid of the Wheelers which were monkeys that wheeled around Oz looking for Dorothy...the sound of the screechy wheels could raise the hair on your head...

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    7. Wicked is dark and delicious, so you might like it. And no, I haven't seen Return to Oz, now I'm really interested ;-D

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  6. I use to have a lot of old books. Before I moved from KY I'd go to flea market and yard sales and I'd buy the oldest books I could find. Didn't matter the content as long as it was fiction. When I moved I couldn't take them with me. I think I ended up donating them to Goodwill.

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    1. I always ended up giving away most of my books before a move. Except a few volumes, which no one will get until. Not until my ashes are flying in the wind lol

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    2. so glad u clarified that! :-)

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  7. What a gorgeous gift! I love the cover ;o) I love discovering old books. There is so much life in them! Hugs my friend ;o)

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