Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The constancy of a bibliophile's love

I think one of the special privileges accorded to the condition of being a bibliophile is a certain constancy in one's literary loves and passions. It is not always the case. Sometimes one returns to a well loved book only to discover that the reader has moved on and the excitement or significance no longer resides in the dead pages.

More often though, a bibliophile returns again and again to the magic of a particular tale or author and is rewarded with the same elixir of wonder, enchantment, excitement or fascination that first captured them. In a world of such unremitting progress and change, this constancy is a magical treat. Vincent Starrett (1886-1974), veteran journalist and Sherlock Holmes scholar, captured this special state of captured enchantment:

"Shall they not always live at Baker Street? Are they not there this moment as one writes? Outside, the hansoms rattle through the rain, and Moriarty plans his latest devilry. Within, the sea coal flames upon the hearth and Holmes and Watson take their well-won ease. So they will live for all that love them well: in a romantic chamber of the heart, in a nostalgic country of the mind, where it is always 1895."

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