“To the man of the world, the universe is a suburb.”
--Edward St. Aubyn, The Patrick Melrose Novels
In spite of that one minor triumph, it got me to thinking that books on the arts and social history, the categories in which Nick Harvill Libraries specializes, might seem inconsequential to a scholar. What the academic might fail to recognize, however, is that there can be great consequence to the inconsequential. Agreed, there is a danger of “not seeing the forest for the trees.” Yet, is it not just as foolhardy to experience only a conceptual forest, seeing no trees at all?
That is one of the points Edward St. Aubyn makes in his superb Patrick Melrose Novels. If one wants to know the universe, then it is advisable not to stare directly at it, because it is essentially unknowable. The best one can manage is to catch fleeting glimpses through one’s peripheral vision. With the accumulation of such glimpses, comes sophistication. As Cecil Beaton put it, “History is a shifting kaleidoscope.” The more experiences one has to input into that kaleidoscope, the greater one’s understanding becomes.
That is why I enjoy reading about a subject from a variety of conflicting viewpoints. And, though the veracity of no one book should never be considered absolute, in their totality, the books in this catalogue make great fodder for Beaton’s shifting kaleidoscope. They speak to many of the important themes of the 20th Century—the cult of celebrity, Modernism, feminism, war, and advancement in technology—but they usually do so softly, bundled in the pleasures and vices that make living so fascinating. One example I am particularly excited about this year is two-page spread on the electrifying London scene of the 1960s and early 1970s (pages 26-27).
As always, please feel free to telephone or email me to place an order. Also, you may purchase them from my website. If you have not visited www.NickHarvillLibraries.com recently, I urge you to do so. It has been revamped and contains additional details that are omitted from the printed catalogue due to space limitations. There are multiple pictures for each listing, including interior pages, images of signatures, and three-dimensional shots of the books. The new items will be going live on the website during the week of November 18th.
One final note: you will observe that in a small minority of the books, the description states that there is a facsimile jacket or in some cases, a facsimile over- or underlay of an original jacket that is in unfortunate condition. These items are priced accordingly and can bring some marvelous books within an acceptable budget for gift giving. One example is Elsie de Wolfe’s After All (page 8). A copy in original jacket will cost three times that of a copy without a jacket. Why not apply a facsimile cover? It adds minimal cost but makes the book a more visually appealing gift.