Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers

Not to be missed by anyone on their way to the British Museum is the Jarndyce bookstore. It specializes, I would say, in books of the nineteenth and very early twentieth centuries, and these are very fine, but during my visit it was adorned by a most remarkable window display.
It may be difficult to make out all of the titles in the photos, but just so no one misses out, right there in the window were such wonders as Living With the Dead, Indiscretions of a Magistrate, Shag the Pony, Invisible Dick, The Big Problem of Small Organs, Christ with the C.I.D., Christie's Old Organ, Roger the Scout, Scouts in Bondage, Correctly English in Hundred Days, and The Art of Faking Exhibition Poultry!
Some of the cover designs were especially fine, among them that of Invisible Dick (I did not get a satisfactory photo).
I would really like to know what's inside some of these books. In most cases I am not entirely sure, but I can report that Correctly English in Hundred Days claims to be "full of ordinary speak and write language." A related volume, The New Guide of the Conversation in Portuguese and English in Two Parts, is "clean of gallicisms, and despoiled phrases" and "may be worth the acceptation of the studious persons, and especialy of the Youth, at which we dedicate him particularly." I gather that its familiar phrases include "This room is filled of bugs," "He caresses all women," "Dress my horse," and "I have mind to vomit." Those are certainly phrases I hear on a daily basis and would not want to live without...
Not in the window were the likes of Lesbia's Little Blunder, Mated from the Morgue, and Kinky Finds the Clue. Ahem, and Newly Discovered French Letters, Old Dykes I Have Known, and Some Account of my Intercourse with Madame Blavatsky from 1872 to 1884.
To know more about these and other curious titles, you will have to investigate this section of the Jarndyce web site.


Blogger pk said...

Outstanding!! I had, I think, seen a list of unusually title books (probably that bizarre books link) but I didn't know there was an actual bookstore. The owner must spend their life skimming book lists. Thank you for this!

April 12, 2007 4:30 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

I don't want to mislead you... Brian Lake does collect bizarre books but most of what Jarndyce actually sells is a bit more normal. For instance, I leafed through an attractive copy of A Child's Garden of Verses from around 1905. Nothing about it struck me as at all bizarre, although I've read things that suggest its author was perhaps mildly peculiar. (After all, he did write Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.) The books in the window were largely not for sale.

April 12, 2007 8:46 PM  
Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Funny stuff! Bizarre Books is a great link, thanks! My favorites are have always been a bit less sophisticated and witty. For me, it's all about the art on the poster or the cover of the book. I love this sort of stuff, [ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ], but perhaps my favorite is the Vintage Paperback Portal.

I didn't know that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote jingles for the backs of children's cereal boxes. I had heard that he burned his first draft of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for fear of being called a looney, though.

April 13, 2007 7:10 AM  

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