ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Booking the Luddites

Rediscovering some gems in his vast repository of books, a veteran reader revives forgotten memories of Byron and the Luddites. 


Many who make a living by using words naturally accumulate books, their capital, over their working lives. In some cases, this accumulative itch persists even after the end of their working life. However, as so often happens, this capital is not properly used. It then becomes merely a stagnant hoard, the books gathering mould and dust in their shelves, a burden that can neither be discarded nor put to proper use.

This has certainly been the case with me. After having lived by my wits all my life and made a living, too, by using words, I gave away many of the accumulated books some years ago to a research institute. Since time and circumstance (highfalutin fancy words for old age and illness) have brought to an end my days of writing, I certainly do not need so many books around me. Even so, more books than I have given away remain, for there are few takers for the kind of books I have. The books—except two shelves of mostly dictionaries and other reference books, and about a hundred other books that I love reading again and again—are spread over five rooms in crowded shelves and cupboards. They have also become a bit of an embarrassment, sometimes forcing me to prevaricate when visiting acquaintances, in particular children accompanying them, ask if I have read “all these books.”

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