Desert Island books

minnow at minnow at
Fri Jan 14 19:24:08 EST 2005

Fiction I can carry in my head (and much of what I love best I have
practically by heart anyway) and I can make it up too, so I'm inclined to
want things that will keep me thinking and learning and wondering about
them, rather than anything particularly light that I might get bored with
after a bit.

1. A. Fowler's edition of the Oxford Book of Seventeenth Century Verse.
(Not Grierson and Bullough's, good though that is.)
2. The Variorum edition of Spenser.  (All of it.)
3. the OED, whichever the most recent edition is that still gives the dates
properly and not in the woolly indeterminate way that the useless new
edition of the SOD does, bad cess to whoever was responsible for the
decision, rot their hides and drat their blackened hearts and may they get
mildew, the staggers, dandruff, the botts and and nasty attack of woodworm
behind their ears!  A murrain upon the anti-roll bars of all their cars!
4. The most recent edition of Cates' Dictionary of General Biography.
5. Andrew Wyeth, *The Helga Pictures*.
6. Latham and Matthews' edition of Pepys' Diary.
7. Owen Jones' *The Grammar of Ornament*.
8. A really good solid mathematics text-book up to A-level standard in
about 1970, but following from the Cambridge New Maths o-level course
rather than the Oxbridge or London traditional course.  Someone on this
list is bound to have one they can suggest... and I can't think of a better
opportunity than a desert island for me to try to correct the lack of maths
grounding I suffer as a result of really bad teaching when I was thirteen
and onwards until I could drop the subject.

I should like to have the Qur'an in a reliable translation, instead of the
bible, please, unless I am allowed to consider the whole Book as one and
have the Old Testament, New Testament, Apocrypha and Qur'an as one
entity... (Authorised Version for the Old, New and Apocrypha).  I'll stick
with a complete Shakespeare, but I won't settle for any old one-volume
complete, I want the Arden edition, and I want *all* the plays not just the
traditional canon, and I want *all* the editors' versions not just the most
recent, and I want all the poems too.  (And if nobody has ever called them
on that one, that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be possible!)

Music: Am I allowed the symphonies of Beethoven as a continuous cycle
(because they need to be, really, to be properly satisfactory)?  It's
rather a lot of records, but perhaps it might be compressed onto some
digital medium.  Given a choice of conductor, Solti, please, not van
Karajan, who gallops too much.

Luxury: given that I have the time and money to get a complete set of
dental implants before I leave (so that I won't get toothache on this
island and eventually have to cut my head off with a clamshell) and thus
don't have to take a dentist as my luxury, I would like a
white-ant-and-water-proof trunk containing a perpetually self-replenishing
supply of paper both writing and drawing, and ditto pencils of every grade
of lead, plus a set of compasses and a ruler.  Oh, and a pencil sharpener.
:-)  This trunk is always going to have room in it for any paper I put
back, sort of like a bag-of-holding, or it's no use.

If Ania is determined to restrict us in the end to a single book (apart
from the religious and the secular-religiose) then I'll go for the *Grammar
of Ornament*, but only if I am allowed the paper and drawing implements.  I
promise not to build a raft of pencils with a paper sail and escape from
the island that way!

I note Ania's "luxury (which cannot be a book)" -- is it allowable for
one's luxury not to be a book in the first place but to become one or more
books in due course of time?


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