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A Five-Volume Set of Bird Illustrations Sells for $191,000 ?

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Yes, it’s true. AbeBooks has revealed that it sold an Italian ornithology on birds from 1765 for an astonishing $191,000 in 2015. Published in Florence, the set — commissioned by the Grand Duchess of Tuscany — contained more than 600 hand-colored engraved plates of birds. The book seller noted that the set’s “fine condition enhanced its value along with the fact that it is a scarce book – only 10 complete copies have been offered at auction in the past 40 years.”

Another book fetching a large sum in 2015:  A first edition of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (Inscribed by Dahl with the words “For Jane and Alex with much love Roald Dahl October 1964,” the set sold for $25,000.) Apparently Knopf only published 10,000 copies of the book in 1964. Go figure! AbeBooks notes: “This copy is by far the most expensive Roald Dahl book to sell via AbeBooks and probably the most expensive Dahl book to ever be sold.”  A golden ticket indeed.

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Meanwhile a Russian book, from 1856, on the development of geometry sold for $34,245 and a first-edition set of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, signed by  J.R.R. Tolkien was purchased for nearly $20,000.

Forget about finding the Rembrandt in the basement, lovies. Look for the Dahl in grandma’s garage!

My Obsession with Adrienne Rich

Here you can simply enjoy the nature and your life

The movie “Wild” made poet & writer Adrienne Rich famous among new generation of women.
Her book “The Dream of a Common Language” includes a chapter of 21 love poems.
I’ve read and re-read XVI tonight:

Moony, inlet-warm, seabathed, I watch you sleep
the scrubbed, sheenless wood of the dressing-table
cluttered with our brushes, books, vials in the moonlight–
or a salt-mist orchard, lying at your side
watching red sunset through the screen door of the cabin,
G minor Mozart of the tape-recorder,
falling asleep to the music of the sea…

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here on English Muse.

It’s so nice to be  back….

Joan Didion Honored at the White House

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Joan Didion was one of 24 leading figures in American arts and culture who gathered on Wednesday in East Room of the White House, where President Obama made the annual presentation of the National Medals of Art and the National Humanities Medals. She looked so frail as she made her way, with a special escort, to the stage. Obama reached out to try to keep her steady.

He told the crowd in his opening remarks: “Somebody like Joan Didion, who, rightly, has earned distinction as one of most celebrated American writers of her generation. I’m surprised she hasn’t already gotten this award. But in her early years, she was in school only sporadically, basically taught herself how to read while she and her family followed her Army officer father around the country. She obviously learned quickly. She won a contest for Vogue in college; gave up her dream of being an oceanographer, writing became her world. And today, decades into her career, she remains one of our sharpest and most respected observers of American politics and culture.”

I’m sure Didion would have made a fine oceanographer, if that’s what she had decided to do. But the fact that she became a writer instead gives us a deeper understanding of what it means to live a full life, complete with hurt and loss, in this world.

From the Desk of Jane Austen: 100 Postcards

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* Twenty * Women * Twenty*

Jesse Kornbluth, of HeadButler.com, this week exercising his feminine side and delving into women, women and more women.

It used to bug me how, at a certain point at parties, half a dozen of the most interesting women would get up and stroll to the ladies room.

Their reason, I came to understand, was neither cosmetic nor functional — they just knew a better party was to be had sitting on the edge of the bathtub, chatting among themselves.

One night I did what I’d wanted to do for years: I followed them.

An exception was made and — be still my heart — I was treated like “one of the girls.” And I understood why they fled the living room: A better time really was to be had without men. That is: greater intimacy, sharper sharing, edgier stories.

That is also true of Susanna Sonnenberg’s “She Matters: A Life in Friendships.” I’d read her first memoir — Her Last Death — and greatly admired her account of a childhood spent with a drug-soaked, sex-addicted, wildly destructive mother and an eccentric, distracted father. Sonnenberg’s story was compelling, but what really impressed me was the writing. By now pretty much anyone can serve up a lurid tale; Sonnenberg not only faced the truth about her family’s pathology, she crafted it with style, wit, and, remarkably, distance.

“She Matters” tells twenty stories: Sonnenberg’s intense friendships with twenty women. That number alone is impressive — I don’t think I’ve had twenty friends in my life. And I don’t know anyone who would say that friends are as crucial to life as oxygen.

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“Wow, Josh Ritter, holy freaking wow.”

Jesse Kornbluth, of HeadButler.com, this week cheering for the singer-songwriter adored by English majors and the men and women who adore them.

I love silent days crafting sentences alone, but if you put a gun to my head and told me I’d have to trade my maid’s room for the stages of music clubs and universal critical praise and the adulation of America’s smartest audiences.….yeah, I guess I could stand being Josh Ritter.

From his first release, a decade ago, to “The Beast in Its Tracks,” this guy hasn’t made a foolish move. As a writer, he produces lyrics that, if they were prose, you’d underline them. As a singer, he’s like Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake, Paul Simon; there’s one person he’s trying to reach, and that’s you. And in performance, backed by a crackerjack band, he’s mesmerizing: exuberant, goofy, unfiltered and absolutely delighted to be onstage. No one has ever had more fun at a Josh Ritter concert than Josh Ritter.

This time, newcomers may suspect an exploration of darker themes. “The Beast in Its Tracks” is being presented as a “breakup” record because he wrote these songs in response to his wife’s out-of-the-blue announcement that, after just a year, their marriage was over. I understand this shorthand, but I don’t think it will last long. As Josh takes these songs across America — he’s about to start a 37-city tour — I think they’ll connect with audiences more immediately than any music he’s made. And then “Beast” will become his “breakthrough” record.

For a writer who can toss off long, convoluted lyrics, he’s served up 13 fairly simple songs here. And they’re surprisingly jolly — he’s not cranking up the band for take-that-bitch revenge songs. He’s got a new lover; he hopes his ex-wife does too. (He hasn’t totally forsaken clever; in that song’s final line, he notes that if she’s still alone, “well, that would make me happy too.”) His new lover is “hopeful” for him. He’s thrilled to be “in your arms again.”

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