The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own. -- Adam Gopnik



January 8, 2013

Starstruck







Today, after work, I finally did something that I've been meaning to do since September.  On my way home, I walked over to the rare books library to see a special exhibit {it's closing on Saturday} of a small number of the thousands of books, manuscripts and letters that poet (and book collector) Amy Lowell left to Harvard. Seeing the announcement of the exhibit was what prompted me to read about her, which was enjoyable enough, but today, in the same display case, I found

  • a manuscript, in her own lovely, delicate handwriting, of an Emily Dickinson poem
  • a draft of a contract written by Madame de Stael for her publisher
  • George Eliot's copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin
  • a tiny notebook, maybe three by four inches, called a 'quarry' -- as in a place where she could dig? -- in which George Eliot {oh, my} had written a list of the chapters in Book Five of Middlemarch, and then re-arranged them into a different order, and on a facing page, listed the motives of some of the characters
  • a letter {oh, my} written by Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra
There was much more -- a letter and an autographed book sent to Amy Lowell by Robert Frost, Keats manuscripts {she was an important collector of material relating to him} and books connected to all three of the Bronte sisters.  But these were the things that I stood so unbelievably close to, and connected with, and the things that lifted me.



2 comments:

Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

Wow, that sounds like an amazing exhibit. Thank goodness you made it there before it closed! I think the Austen letter would have been the most exciting item for me.

Alex in Leeds said...

*swoon* What a wonderful set of artifacts to have on display. I'd love to have seen the Eliot notebook with her thoughts on what her characters were up to.