December 19, 2017

A HAUNTING INSTANCE OF WHICH... (self-reference alert):

When a used book has an inscription, it's like a visit from a ghost of Christmas past (Danny Heitman, DECEMBER 19, 2017, CS Monitor)

I have on my desk right now a first-edition copy of "Any Number Can Play," a delightful 1957 collection of essays from Clifton Fadiman. Fadiman was a big deal back then; his roles as a radio and TV personality, book critic, and general man of letters had endeared him to thousands as a great explainer of high culture to the broad middle class. He's all but forgotten now, although "The Wine Lover's Daughter," a charming new memoir by Anne Fadiman, has helped renew her father's profile.

In 1957, Clifton Fadiman would have been a hot commodity, his latest book a prized present to tuck under the holiday tree. My copy was once presented by "The George Cornelsmans" - that's the way married couples often identified themselves back then - to Annette Dickens as a gift on "Xmas 1957." Or so I see by the dedication, inscribed in blue ink, across the flyleaf.

It's odd to own someone's else's Christmas present, but Fadiman himself, who died in 1999 at age 95, was familiar with the phenomenon. In "Enter Conversing," his 1962 collection of essays, Fadiman offers a few words on Leigh Hunt, a now-obscure English critic and essayist that Fadiman enjoyed through an old edition inscribed "C.M. Baker, Dec. 25, 1892."

...was this.




Posted by at December 19, 2017 5:00 PM

  

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