2.03.2007

Curse your library

Trawling the Endicott Studio blog archives to see what I've missed, I found this great post about bookplate curses; it's a brilliant idea, setting forth on your bookplate in evocative verse just what will happen to book thieves, page-folders, spine-breakers, dog-earers, margin-scribblers and other book abusers should they mistreat your library. I love this one:

Who folds a leafe downe
ye divel toaste browne
who makes marke or blotte
ye divel roaste hotte
who stealeth thisse booke
ye divel shall cooke.


Or this:

For him that stealeth a book from this library, let it change into a
serpent in his hand & rend him. Let him be struck with palsy, & all
his members blasted. Let him languish in pain crying aloud for
mercy, & let there be no surcease to his agony till he sink to
dissolution. Let bookworms gnaw his entrails in token of the Worm that
dieth not, & when at last he goeth to his final punishment, let the flames of
hell consume him forever & aye.


Here's a more modern (and rather gentler) one:

By him who bought me for his own,
I'm lent for reading leaf by leaf;
If honest, you'll return the loan,
If you retain me, you're a thief.

Neither blemish this book, nor the leaves double down,
Nor lend it to each idle friend in town;
Return it when read, or, if lost, please supply
Another as good to the mind and the eye.


The post links to a nice collection at the Virginia Commonwealth University Library site (where all the above examples came from), which in turn links to an e-mail to the Exlibris list containing even more.

I'm very wary of lending books to even my most trusted bibliophile friends (how are those Paris guidebooks doing, Ladysusan?), but perhaps if I copy down a few of these poems in them first, I'll feel much better about the whole thing.

UPDATE: Ladysusan just shared this gem, a sign posted in the Salamanca library. Rough translation: His Holiness reserves the right to excommunicate any persons who steal, take, or in any other way remove any book, parchment, or paper from this library, without the possibility of absolution until the above should be completely reinstated. Nice.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Melissa:

This sign posted in the Salamanca library is a favorite of mine. Translated, it reads something like "His holiness reserves the right to excommunicate any persons who steal, take, or in any other way remove any book, parchment, or paper from this library, without the possibility of absolution until the above should be completely reinstated." Tourists love it.
By the way, your lj feed seems not to be working--all this time I thought you weren't updating!

13:18  
Blogger Melissa:

P.S. Saberhagen, huh? What do you think?

17:03  
Blogger bluewyvern:

That sign is awesome.

I remembered Saberhagen being especially good, and rereading the Swords books confirmed it. His writing is just really enjoyable, and usually feels less forced than a lot of fantasy writing. I also like the big time jumps between volumes that let you see whole swaths of the characters' lives -- they are all very well developed. As a bonus, I remembered almost nothing, so it was like an entirely new book.

What was it that you wrote to him about? Something about someone acting out of character? Barbara? (Or did you write about a different series?)

So the lj feed is broken? I remember it not working very well, lagging behind, showing things out of order. Shame. I was wondering why you never came to visit any more.

22:04  
Blogger Melissa:

I wrote him about the Changeling Earth series--how it frustrated me that he would develop characters and then just drop them. Until the end of the last book I was waiting to hear about certain characters and their fates, and they never came up. Also I felt that the main character is suddenly distanced from the reader halfway through, which frustrated me. So Saberhagen wrote me a really nice letter back and said that when he wrote Changeling Earth he wasn't as good at character development.
He seems like a good guy. You know he's Curran's favorite fantasy writer--in fact, Curran recently wrote him a letter and also got a nice reply.

23:28  
Anonymous Sarah:

How about this one that I remember from school:

Hic liber est meus
Testis est deus
Si quis furetur
Per collum pendetur

...which roughly translates as:

This book is mine
As God is my witness
Whoever steals it
will hang by their neck!

18:07  

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