Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Old Books

Anna's Bible
We live in a time when books stores are becoming extinct, literature can be downloaded to a screen and page turning is being replaced by a tap of the finger. And yet, for me, there is nothing like a real book. Second hand books especially are my favorite because the carry their own histories to be guessed at in addition to the story they hold printed between the covers. If a used book is marked with clues of its past lives, I hold it all the more dear. Today I share with you three books owned by my Great Grandmother's sister, Anna Esbensen. The three books are really the Bible in three volumes and its written in Danish. Anna was a nurse who came to the USA and settled in Utah. She was quite formidable I hear. I love to turn these thick old pages, wonder at the Danish script printed in a fancy type full of flourishes. They feel dry and rather ancient, as if they will start to crumble if handled with anything but the most loving touch. Somebody in my family has clipped a type-written card to give us the barest bit of information about them. Gently turning the pages I find other clues to the former lives of these three that traveled together from across the sea. Some of the other clues include water stains, Anna's signature including her middle name of Christine, the mysterious #38 written in different locations, two small flowers pressed between the pages long ago, faded now and delicate, a four leaf clover that sheds light on the flowers perhaps because an old receipt for a print bought at an arts and craft shop dated 1962 was found between the pages with the clover and it carries my aunt Janice's name. Could she have also pressed the flowers? I love the lives of old books! What Kindle carries the crumbs of past days or whiffs of little mysteries between screen shots? If I ever get the chance someday, I would love to pour over even one page of an ancient codex handwritten and illuminated by cleric scribes on vellum. In the days that saw the dawn of the printing press, the literary world wailed with woe over the cheap quality of the books it turned out in comparison to the handcrafted variety. I remember this fact when I feel like wailing over the advent of books read on screens. The books on screen have their uses no doubt. Embrace the old but treasure the new, I rememind myself. And these old books are certainly treasured.

Type written card
Each volume has a lot of wonderful engravings

From a long ago summer
Luck between the pages sent from the past

1 comment:

  1. I think what amazes be about old books and Bibles is that is all they had to read and how they treasured these items!