Friday, September 17, 2010

Fred Bason's 2nd Diary

I have a copy of Fred Bason's 2nd Diary, by Fred Bason, of course, but edited and with a Preface by L.A.G. Strong. The book was published in London by Wingate, 1952.

Fred Bason was a Cockney bookseller who published four diaries, among other works, about bookselling and his life. Known for his sense of humor, he had this to write to an anonymous reader of a copy of his 2nd diary (my copy now):

This is sold at a loss in a genuine endeavour to make one new friend. I am now entirely alone in this world--& that situation isn't pleasant.

There are said to be over 30 good laughs in this book. If you do not laugh I hope you will soon be well!

Very Sincerely
Fred Bason

I did laugh. Read more about Fred Bason in this 1951 Time Magazine review of his first diary.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Things which the human mind cannot conceive

"Things which the human mind cannot conceive" is what a young student wrote in the back of this textbook, English Literature: A Guide to the Best Reading, by Edwin L. Miller, A.M. (J.B. Lippincott, 1917). He or she then provides a numbered list of such weighty matters:

1. Absolute
2. God
3. Time
4. Space
5. Mind
6. Force
7. Matter
8. Life

The writer of this list started to add a ninth item, but "the mind could not conceive" it to even list it, perhaps. This list sounds more appropriate for Philosophy 101, but it must have factored into one author's work and, therefore, a lesson that prompted this note taking. And underlining. And margin notes. The book is full of blue ink all the way through. Very studious this young person from around 1917.

The textbook's author was a high school principal in Detroit, so this was likely a high school textbook. The handwritten list at the back of the book, whether conceived by the student or dictated by a teacher, contains those inconceivable items that philosphers throughout the ages have tried to conceive. Did a high school student in Detroit in 1917 stand a chance?

For more on this book and its author: Archaeolibris