The Amenities of Book-Collecting and Kindred Affections

In which we are perfectly green with envy – twice.

It’s difficult to help being green with envy, actually, when reading of book-collectors of almost a century ago. Not that I would be able to afford the majority of the current prices quoted by A.E. Newton for items I devoutly desire, he’s already talking thousands of dollars. But the same items today would run into the tens, possibly the hundreds of thousands. I don’t suppose Newton’s copy of Johnson’s Dictionary happens to be on the market just now, but his mention of it is the first point at which I turned pea green – it is the copy inscribed by Johnson himself to Mrs. Thrale. *sigh* I don’t even want to think about the sort of money you’d have to part with to lay your hands on something like that today.

The book is a reasonably diverting and informative read. If you happen to be interested in Johnson, Boswell and «that set» parts of it are positively delightful. And the bits about collecting are instantly recognisable, even if Newton operates on a somewhat different level from us 21st C. mere mortals.

A book about books, what is there to complain about?

And the second point at which my greenness reached perfection? This (emphasis mine):

My interest in Oscar Wilde is a very old story: I went to hear him lecture when I was a boy