Thursday, 2 December 2010

Trivia, by Logan Pearsall Smith

In one of my favourite bookstores in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, I found this little book by Logan Pearsall Smith, called 'Trivia'.
It has a very plain cover, but that is what attracted me to it.
 When I opened the book I found the next best thing. It has an inscription inside, saying:
'Alex, with love
from Philippa
Christmas 1924'

When I realised I was holding a book in my hands that was almost 80 years old I knew I had to buy it. It just makes you wonder who this Philippa was, why she chose this book for her friend (?) Alex. It was firstly published in April 1918. At this time Britain was still at war with Germany. It was republished in the years later and I think our Philippa bought hers from the stock that was published in 1922. I just love finding these sort of "clues" in books. Imagining that Philippa held ths in her hands and gave it to Alex and that it is now lying on my table.

One little Trivia I would like to share with you is 'To-day'.
I woke this morning out of dreams into what we call Reality,
into the daylight,
the furniture of my familiar bedroom-in fact into to well-known, often discussed,
but, to my mind, as yet unexplained Universe.
Then I, who came out of Eternity and seem to be on my way thither,
got up and spent the day as I usually spend it.
I read, I pottered, I talked, and took exercise;
and I sat punctually down to eat the cooked meals that appeared at regular intervals.
Somehow we never have poems about the structure of a day. At least, I haven't seen any yet. I like how he sees waking up as entering Reality, as if you were somewhere else in your dreams. He goes from something as big as Reality to his bedroom, to this personal, familiar atmosphere. And then he goes on to the 'unexplained Universe'. A Universe we have often talked about, often discussed.

'I who came out of Eternity and seem to be on my way thither'.
I think this is Smith's way of showing the transcience of life, which is something most people do not think of in their daily life. This Eternity isn't defined in any other way, in the way that the Universe is.
He then goe son to describe these daily matters, daily rituals, that we don't give a second thought.

There are many other Trivia's in this book. Another one I would like to show you. ]
It is called: 'The Full Moon'
Suddenly one night, low above the trees,
we saw the great, amorous, unabashed face of the full Moon.
It was an exhibition that made me blush,
feel that I had no right to be there
"After all these millions of years,
she ought to be ashamed of heself!"
I cried.
I think it is very beautiful, the way he describes being surprised by the beauty of the moon. I think everyone has once experiences something like this. You're walking down the street, it is dark and suddenly, from behind a big building, this pale circle appears. You look closer and you see that it is a ball, floating in space. You can see its craters, its white, radiating light. I know the Moon doesn't radiate, but it certainly seems like it.The moon, after all these yars, should be ashamed to stil lflaunts it almsot unreachable beauty.

Logan Pearsall Smithwas an American essayist and critic. As a young boy he lived in England and he went to college in Oxord. He became a British citizen in 1913.

What are your thoughts? What is your favourite little book?

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