23.5.06

Shopping and Ice Cream

First off, congrats to yet another TUWSNBN student who has successfully defended his prospectus. For those of you keeping score at home, I am now officially two years behind. But that is neither here nor there. It only matters because, had I not gone to his defense, I would not have been in the shoe store at 6:30 tonight, after dinner and celebratory beers. And Priya and I would not have decided to wander Bethesda in search of a bookstore that we knew was around somewhere.

Which we finally found, and because I didn't buy a pair of shoes, I treated myself to some lovely used books. For half off (the whole store was on sale! All the books! For very, very little money! I will tell you exactly how much money, and you will be jealous! And you will want to know where this store is! But I will not tell you, because I do not want you buying the books!)

Now happily waiting for a home on our bookshelves (and yes, there is a frighteningly long wait for shelf space):

Shoaf's edition of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde. I think this was the universe apologizing to me for the five shelves of medieval lit and history that I sifted through, only to find that not one of the books was in the original language. Not one. They had all been translated into modern English. Even the Chaucer and the primary source collections. Even my old standby for long train rides, Gawain and the Greene Knight. I don't understand--if it's been translated, it's hardly a primary source. T and C was on the other side of the store, misfiled under drama. I only recognized it because it's the same edition I read in college. I love this poem. And it was $4.25. I can't believe someone else hadn't already bought it.

Hanning and Ferrante's The Lais of Marie de France. Also not with the rest of the medieval lit. Translated from the French, but it's a good translation and pretty faithful to the original poems. Another old favorite, and one I've missed reading. Given the choice between spending $1.50 on a cup of coffee, and "Bisclavret," I'm going to go with the one about the werewolf.

In retrospect, I should have held on to more of the medieval poetry I read in college, because I've started to pull themes out of it for other writing. Nothing says "respect my authority!" like 12th century French love poetry.

Also, it makes me happy. There is little talk of causation in medieval literature. Things just happen, and people get on with it. Sometimes totally contradictory events happen to the same people. This is okay. No one is bothered by it. Everyone continues with the fighting and the falling in love and the venturing out into the forest in search of a good story.

Although, for the record, I think I'd have relocated Camelot after the fourth or fifth knight went to the corner store for milk and never came back. Maybe that's just me. The cost of replacement horses alone must have been staggering.

Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death. This is specifically for papers I'm submitting to upcoming conferences. Also, no self-respecting academic goes through life without a copy of this book to throw at undergrads. Not when you can own it for $2.50.

Le Blanc's A Short History of the Working Class. I had been looking for this, but the chain stores don't seem to carry it, and I've used up my Amazon allowance for, oh, about the next decade. At $6.25, it narrowly beat out a copy of How to Succeed at Globalization, which has entertaining cartoons but not very much informational value.

Dakota, by Kathleen Norris. I've just realized that I may already own this. I know I have the rest of her books, but can't remember if I bought this or checked it out from the library. I really ought to figure that out. Oh well--I can always send the extra copy to my mother.

Greenberg and Olander's International Relations through Science Fiction. Words cannot describe how brilliant this is. Not the book itself, which is good but not fabulous. But the fact of its existence. That 30 years ago, someone put together a collection of science fiction, added some analysis of things like balance of power, arms control, and the art of diplomacy, and published it brings me glee the likes of which I cannot describe. I would have paid much more for it than $1.25. And also? The LoC category says "International Relations--Fiction." Heh.

But that's not the best bit. Oh no, it gets even better. Hidden among the children's books, in a back room, next to the crafty how-to crap, are the old ratty not-quite-antique books. And there, for the criminally low price of $4.00, was a 1917 copy of Our War for Human Rights, by Frederick E. Drinker. (Who was the Well-Known and Popular Writer, Author of "The Lusitania, etc.") I can't describe it better than the original subtitle:

"An Intensely Human and Brilliant Account of the World War and For What Purpose America and the Allies Are Fighting. Including The Horrors and Wonders of Modern Warfare, The New and Strange Devices that Have Come into Use, etc."

And, just in case you're still on the fence: "Fighting for the Rights of Mankind and for the Future Peace and Security of the World." Don't forget, it's "Illustrated with 128 genuine pictures from recent official photographs, also outline map drawings made especially for this volume."

And that's just the title page. I haven't even told you about the Lustful Cruelty of the Germans or the Varied Occupations of Women or Chemistry in the War. Words fail me, even though Uncle Sam was Not Bothered. Long have I coveted this book. I have made visits back to my undergraduate institution in order to visit their copy, so that I could reread passages regarding the Dakin-Carrel wound-flushing system and picturesque Turkey.

What? It was for a paper. Honestly. Well, mostly. Did I mention the cover? With its silver leaf and shiny torch of goodness? First edition, people.

No, Loyal Reader, you may not borrow it. But if you ask very nicely, I might let you hold it and peer at the photo-illustration of Newton Baker drawing the first draft number. Maybe.

12 Comments:

At 5/24/2006 10:47 AM, Blogger Bionic-Woman said...

Yay you got Amusing Ourselves. I worked with Neil and he's the reason I started the Ph.D. thingy....I try to remind myself of that when I want to convince myself that writing everyday isn't as horrendous an experience [as it really seems to be?].

 
At 5/24/2006 12:18 PM, Anonymous serena said...

LOL you are too funny. so many books for so little...you will need more shelves I think...perhaps s needs more work!

 
At 5/24/2006 4:56 PM, Blogger Priya said...

Heh. I still think E needs an education in "books for a non-E 6-year old". Left to her devices, she would have probably picked a primer on Chaos theory for the GeniusNephew. Poor GN. No wonder he thinks movies make books irrelevant. He's just not read any fun ones ;-)

 
At 5/24/2006 5:16 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

What? He's related to me, so it stands to reason that he might share my reading habits. They make physics books with pictures.

Off to a write-in, and then I think I'll go home and stare at Our War for Human Rights some more.

 
At 5/24/2006 10:07 PM, Blogger Priya said...

Nah. Related-ness has nothing to do with sharing reading habits and they do make physics books with pictures. It doesn't make them any more fun, though we used to have a book on how to do experiments with stuff available around the house. Drove my Mum nuts.

 
At 5/25/2006 12:06 AM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I'm not arguing that he'll be terrorizing the local librarians in six months, or anything. Just that he's growing up in the same house I did, and chances are he'll read some of the same stuff.

Physics is better than Captain Underpants, at least.

 
At 5/25/2006 10:34 AM, Blogger Priya said...

But, you can use Captain Underpants (Okay, I had to look that one up on Google and now a CU book of my own) for physics. Not everyone finds physics fascinating :)

 
At 5/25/2006 11:00 AM, Anonymous serena said...

LOL you guys are funny...he could be reading the dictionary...that's what I did. :)

 
At 5/25/2006 10:25 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I did that, too. At least they won't make a movie out of it.

 
At 5/26/2006 12:05 AM, Blogger Priya said...

They make movies out of spelling competitions...and playing chess. I'm sure Dictionary-reading is almost Da Vinci Code-like by comparison.

 
At 5/26/2006 4:54 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I blame it on Say Anything. Not the Da Vinci Code. I don't know who to blame that on.

I wonder if I've got "One Night in Bangkok" on my itunes? I know I have the cd somewhere.

No. Must send proposal. Must resist urge to look for music. Must be productive.

 
At 5/27/2006 12:36 PM, Blogger Priya said...

Damn you, E! I've been humming "One night in Bangkok" and feeling homesick all day :)

Of course, there's also the scary link between Scandinavian cheesy bands, chess, Cold War and musicals. All in ONE song. They just don't make songs like they used to anymore.

 

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