Books: The Bookcase an Osip Mandelstam Moment


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A recent impending relocation made me realize books had to be packed along with the ten foot high shelving holding them.

Yes, of course I got sidetracked and started to look at some of the books. What book fanatic wouldn’t? Anyway what would a bookshelf look like if the books were placed on the shelf according to the color of their bindings, and how would you describe them? Just wondering.

One of the books in my hand The Prose of Osip Mandelstam translated by Clarence Brown had a chapter about the bookcase. Coincidence? A bookcase? Yes, a bookcase describing books taking us back to another era. I was engrossed in the eloquence of the description of the books and their effect on the author, on how he construed a backdoor into his heritage and the lost multicultural world he only knew as a boy. Have a read below, and you too will be fascinated.

Within a few pages Mandelstam creates a mood, a scene, a life and a family.

I closed my eyes and tried to envision what some of the books on my shelves would look like through the eyes of Mandelstam. What would one write about them and how could one explain the varied interests in some of the obscure topics.

Well, to give you some idea of what occupies my shelves, the visual use of the picture was chosen. Photography was and still is the technology which changed life for all of us. After all the picture sometimes is worth a thousand words. Peruse some of the photos below for a “Mandelstam” moment.