Saturday 23 July 2011

A Find - or Two

It's a red letter day when you find a new bookshop opening, rather than an old one closing down (I mean of course second-hand bookshops- I'm afraid I don't have much to do with the other kind these days). It happened to me this morning. I was walking past what used to be a thoroughly uninviting house clearance business and noticed there were a few bookstalls outside - but that was just the beginning; the inside was full of books - very full, and only partly organised. The pleasant young man in charge (who had been talking rather intensely with a woman, and pressed a book on her as she left) told me he'd just opened and was still getting things properly shelved, classified and alphabetised - but from what was already on show it was clear that this was a shop well worth browsing in, with a rich mixed stock which I shall certainly be examining in more depth soon. In the meanwhile, I pounced on an edition (a wartime reprint on thin paper) of Logan Pearsall Smith's All Trivia, his collected short aphoristic prose pieces. Who could resist a volume prefaced thus? -
These pieces of moral prose have been written, dear Reader, by a large Carnivorous Mammal, belonging to that sub-order of the Animal Kingdom which includes also the Orang-outang, the tusked Gorilla, the Baboon with his bright blue and scarlet bottom, and the gentle Chimpanzee.'


  1. I see you are a regular visitor to my stamping ground,the lovely Derbyshire, and wonder whether you have ever encountered Scarthin Books in Cromford. A labyrinth of a place where you pop in for a 20 minute pit stop during a precious Sunday hike and come out hours later, blinking at the brightness of daylight. For many years the bookshop marketed itself as never having had a mission statement. Irresistible.

  2. Ah but The Bookshop - on The Dale in Wirksworth has another quality altogether...well worth visiting. Small is beautiful!

  3. Pictures of the bookshop here, in case you've not been there:

  4. Oh yes Mary, I know Scarthin Books - but, like Tricia, I'm a devotee of The Bookshop in Wirksworth - a small stock, but what a stock! I always find something - and am always amazed at the low prices. In fact I've blogged about it - let's see... Yes, here's the link -

  5. From his Trivia (1917):


    "The other day, depressed on the Underground, I tried to cheer myself by thinking over the joys of our human lot. But there wasn't one of them for which I seemed to care a hang-- not Wine, nor Friendship, nor Eating, nor Making Love, nor the Consciousness of Virtue. Was it worth while then going up in a lift into a world that had nothing less trite to offer?

    "Then I thought of reading-- the nice and subtle happiness of reading. This was enough, this joy not dulled by Age, this polite and unpunished vice, this selfish, serene, life-long intoxication."

    Often quoted is his:

    "People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading."
    (From his Afterthoughts (1931))

    When asked two weeks before he died whether there was any meaning to life:

    '"Yes," he replied, "there is a meaning, at least for me, there is one thing that matters — to set a chime of words tinkling in the minds of a few fastidious people" — Cyril Connolly in the New Statesman and Nation, March 9, 1946.'

    For a review of his letters and All Trivia and a little about his life and family, see John Gross’s ENGLAND'S FAVORITE PHILADELPHIANS:

  6. Thanks for all that Dave - wonderful stuff - I feel I've stumbled on a goldmine. I've always been aware of LPS in the background - not least because my old English teacher/mentor/friend was a fan - but somehow I never read him nor owned a single volume until now. I look forward to much 'nice and subtle happiness'...

  7. Two new things for me to do: visit The Bookshop in Wirksworth and read L P Smith. Your blog is keeping me busy.