The E-Sylum:  Volume 4, Number 33, August 12, 2001, Article 11


   Malgorzata "Gosia" Fort, wife of Asylum Editor 
   E. Tomlinson Fort, writes in response to David Lange's 
   piece about living arrangements when both a library and 
   spouse are involved: 

   "A word of support for all book collectors' wives. Yes, 
   we do need to have an "open and uncluttered home". 
   This usually has little understanding on the part of our 
   significant other. Tom and I had books absolutely 
   everywhere in our old apartment. 

   SO, when we bought the house, WE decided to change 
   the biggest room in the house into OUR LIBRARY. A 
   truly wonderful idea!  I think it would work fine, if we 
   had the same understanding what OUR LIBRARY 
   means. As it quickly turned out our views on the library 
   were slightly different.  I cherished the idea that we would 
   have a room full of books, a room where our collections 
   would be joined  and where, in the evenings we could sit 
   in comfortable armchairs and enjoy our mutual passion 
   for books.  [The rest of the house would be free of books, 
   of course] 

   Tom's idea of the library was to have a place for his 
   numismatic books only! And, I must admit, they really look 
   gorgeous neatly arranged on shelves by topic with a little 
   room in each section reserved for growth. But it is also very 
   obvious that, now we have both, the library and the books 
   in every other room! The only argument that I won (a rather 
   teary one) was to extend the room for my books from three 
   shelves to eight, which means that the rest of my collection 
   would stay indefinitely in my parents' house. All other 
   arguments ended up as arrangements of compromise 
   between two different approaches to book collecting. 

   I need the light to fully appreciate my books.  I take 
   enormous pleasure in petting spines of my books, enjoying 
   different colors, textures and smells.  Tom sees in light solely 
   its damaging powers, so we had to have curtains in the Library. 
   ["No curtains" was not an option, but I got the right to choose 
   one]  My "economy of space" approach helps me manage 
   better the limited space I have.  My shelves are adjusted to 
   different heights and books are arranged by size.  In my 
   parents' house I had my books arranged in two rows and 
   from time to time I would shift them to enjoy the books from 
   the second row for a while.  Oh, what fun it was!   This 
   approach is "criminal" in Tom's eyes.  All shelves should be 
   of equal size and the only reasonable arrangement of books 
   is by subject.  [He still complains that I forced my idea of 
   designing a small section in one of his bookcase with shelves 
   adjusted to the height of his tiny Loebs] 

   And then it comes the last difference.  Shall I admit that  I 
   bought quite a few books in my life that I did not care for 
   the text at all and I had no intention to read.  I bought them 
   because they were fine specimens of the art of printing and 
   looking at them gives me equally great pleasure as reading. 
   I have couple of books from 1932,  low circulation editions 
   with uncut pages and I am going to preserve this original state. 
   [And when I am writing this, Tom's voice with "if I paid so 
   much money, you can bet, I am going to read it" rings in my 
   ear] I would prefer any original first edition to the finest reprint 
   [but he already knows this] 

   Anyway, have a little bit more understanding for your wife's 
   desire to fight your passion.  If not fought, it would sneak out 
   from under control and spread around leaving not much more 
   room than for old traditional 3 Ks (Kinder, Kuchen, Kirche). 
   Fighting for "uncluttered" house, she is actually fighting for the 
   room in your heart." 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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