Thursday, August 20, 2009

Read again after a very, very long time

I used to read A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys, by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1852), at least once a year. The illustrations were from faded black-and-white plates, and the edition was from the nineteenth century (I think from Ticknor & Fields). I've since seen the version illustrated by Rackham, and I really don't like those pictures. I always liked the Wonder Book just a little better than Tanglewood Tales. Dover doesn't seem to publish Tanglewood Tales, or I'd buy it. I think it will have to come as two-in-one from the same outfit (Kessinger) that has reprinted the story of the yellow butterflies. At any rate, I didn't much care for the framing device then and I don't much care for it now, as I learned when I recently read the Dover version. My favorites then are still my favorites: the slaying of the gorgon and the story of Baucis and Philemon. In the story of Midas, I especially enjoyed reading about the breakfast menu: "hot cakes, some nice little brook trout, roasted potatoes, fresh boiled eggs, and coffee, for King Midas himself, and a bowl of bread and milk for his daughter Marygold."


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