Sunday, February 03, 2008

suitable for the virgin?

Here's my latest treasure from the local Oxfam shop. First, let me explain that Liz has been recommending Zola's novels to me for quite some time and I've finally caved in, after Karen posted rave reviews of The Paradise of Ladies aka Au Bonheur des Dames(which I bought on Thursday and drank in enormous gulps, leaving me bereft when I finished!) so imagine how great my glee was when I spotted this today:

At first I hesitated a little, as the plates of "8 illustrations by George Jeannoit" have been cut out by a vandal at some stage in the book's history, and someone has spilt coffee/tea over it in 2 different places! It is, mind you 108 years since it was printed, and I'm sure I'll have had rather more misadventures should I reach that age... I also love the floral motifs on the cover, which look rather like sprigged muslin given a Japanese spin.

And then I read this irresistable announcement:
M. Zola has sought in this charming story to prove to the world that he too can write for the virgin, and that he can paint the better side of human nature in colours as tender and true as those employed by any of his contemporaries. ... It is a beautiful story, admirably told." (The quotation comes from a publication called, simplySpeaker). Sold!

I've only had time to read a few pages (and those, believe me, are packed with virgins:one little waif and no fewer than 7 virgin martyrs) but I'm utterly hooked!

I got so immersed in The Paradise of Ladies, that I totally forgot about this year's silent poetry reading for St Bridget's Day, which took place yesterday. Today, however, is the feast of St Blaise, "[who] was widely popular in Britain from the eighth century to beyond the Middle Ages" (see Roud, Steve, The English Year, Penguin 2006, p41) and he rates a mention here at Caught Knitting because in England he was:

adopted as the patron saint of woolcombers -- and important ans widespread occupation before machinery wiped it out. Every year on or around his feast day, the woolcombers organized a trade procession, which eveni in small towns was an impressive event, and in larger centres of the wool industry these processions became truly spectacular affairs. (Roud, ibid)

Well, I've not been together enough to organise a revival of the traditon this year (and no doubt my beloved--he who goes to church several times each week-- would point out that there might be something rather strange in a pagan like me organising a revival of a saint's day, but we'll gloss over that...). But here's a picture of some of this week's woolwinding (which is close as I've got to woolcombing):Don't you love my vintage metal woolwinder, which belonged to my grandmother before I inherited it? (Fortunately I can't remember which of my KTog friends told me that it looked like something that had fallen off Sputnik!)


picperfic said...

my concentration won't let me read lately, what a beautiful book, so sad about the cut out pages but I am pleased you decided to love it. Love your wool winder, it looks interesting, but what a gorgeous piece of family history!

Mary deB said...

A sweater's worth of the green tweed on the far left, please!

Oh, not taking orders...?

Scarlet said...

ahhh Book abuse! what could be worse, apart from... knitted garment neglect!

Karen said...

So glad you liked The Ladies' Paradise!