Wednesday, December 20, 2006

French Treasures

Look at these beautiful treasures I found in Paris! Clearly, my photography skills (serious lack of) don't do them justice...although something tells me that no photo could really capture their tremendous beauty. Their aged bindings, gorgeous texture, intricate details, and previous owner's names handwritten in them...they are so precious to me.

I found these beautiful treasures on the Left Bank of the Seine in St. Germain-des-Prés, purchasing them from one of those book carts along the Seine. I love beautiful old books in general and I really want to get my book-loving hands on some more old French books so that I can have them all over my house one day. But for the time being, I was so happy to have found these three. In addition to being beautiful, each is meaningful to me in its own way. Believe me, it was so difficult settling on just three but I really took my time pouring through the vendors' collections and I adore the three I chose.

"Les Deux Nigauds" seems to be a comedy, published in 1913. Translated, it means, "The Two Numbskulls" and how could I pass that up? Not only did I buy this book because it was beautiful and I love the title, but I am going to use it to strengthen my French. I will probably read portions out loud, then read through them again, and then translate it in a notebook. Yes, major nerd alert...I'm very excited about doing this!

The second is a dictionary, "Nouveau Dictionnaire de Poche de la Langue Française," published in 1821. Translated, it is "Latest French Language Pocket Dictionary." It is definitely not pocket-sized by today's standards but rather compact when compared to most dictionaries. It has aged so beautifully, with its yellowish brown spots on the pages and the distress of the leather cover. I really am a word/language person and of course, adore the French language in general. To know that this dictionary is almost 200 years old just makes it even more precious. How many people relied on this dictionary and what were their lives like? I love getting lost in those thoughts.

The last one is "Manuel Épistolaire ou Modeles de Lettres Sur Différens Sujets." Translated...Epistolary Manual or Models of Letters On Different Subjects. This is a guide on appropriate letter writing published in 1787! There are models for "Félicitations" (Congratulations), "Invitations," "Justifications" (Justification/Proof), "Narrations/Descriptions," "Obligeantes" (Obliging/Kind) and other categories. Just as with the dictionary, I get lost in thoughts of who used this book and what their lives were like. One of the things that I deeply respect about the French is their high regard for appropriate language use. I will definitely be blogging about that one of these days...about the Académie Française and the French regard for preserving and protecting their language.

I really did not expect that I would bring something so special home with me from Paris. I brought wine and Ricard to share with my family and I grabbed a few postcards and took a lot of photos, but finding these gorgeous books just made my trip so much more incredible. So, here they sit, on a ledge above my computer. I look up at them daily. In part, they remind me of my solitary adventure to a city I had longed to see for so long. And then they also serve as these objects of beauty, with their own unique history, and just the simple fact that they are French charms me every time!


Kim/Thomas said...

hey someone was just telling me about these floating book shelves...where you take this thing and attach it to the wall and put books on top of it...and it appears that they are floating without anything under sounded cool:)

i'm so glad you told this story..i've been dying to know what you did in paris:):)

b said...

kim...well, i will definitely be sharing more paris stories, so stay tuned!

Pam said...

What a lovely treasure!

Run Around Paris said...

Wow...I am so impressed with your find - and your love of old treasures such as these wonderful books. Having lovely old French books lining the shelves of your home is a very romantic notion - leave it to you to come up such a great idea!

I hope that you and your family have a safe and happy holiday - you really deserve it.


Anonymous said...

The books you brought back are beautiful b. I can really feel your passion for Paris and life in general. You seem to have such a positive outlook on life even when dealing with the hardship your mother was/is going through. It is amazing how simplistic things such as these books can undeniably bring so much fulfillment and harmony to ones soul. Truly beautiful.

Richard said...

I love books! (I have a lot of them). A lot fo the older ones are very beautiful (and often very well written and informative). I have quite a few books more than 80 years old. Many still in very good condition.

b said... i said, my photos do not do them justice but they really are lovely. Do you see many old books in markets/shops where you are at in France?

Run Around Paris...thank you. My family had a wonderful Christmas. I hope yours did as well. Yes, a romantic notion indeed where the books are concerned. :-) Something tells me you are not so anonymous. I am touched by the thoughtfulness of your comment. I'm also inspired by your comment. As bright and positive as I try to be, I allow myself to get dejected at times. Your comment helps remind me to focus on the simple but incredibly fulfilling things that life is full of. Thank you so much.

Richard...yeah, I have a lot of books and not just for the sake of having stacks of books. All of the books fascinate/captivate me in some way...classics, books on art and graphic design history, architecture, and yes...these gorgeous French treasures. I love how beautifully bound those older books can be too. Good to know that others can relate to my passion for books!

Richard said...

I don't think passion is the word Sofia would use to describe my love of books - more like obsession.

b said...

Richard...haha, yes. Most people in my life would call it an obsession as well. But hey, it's a matter of one's perception, right?!

The first gift I opened at Christmas was a trio of books from my sister. Everyone had just about finished opening all of their gifts and I was still looking through these three books!