Tuesday, 31 January 2012

old books and remembered places

I love old books: the yellowing pages, rough-edged where they have had to be torn open by the book's first reader, the old-fashioned letter-pressed fonts, the sense that someone else's hands have held them.
This is something I'm currently reading, a book called Three, Six, Nine by the French early-20th-century writer Colette, one of my favourite authors.
Written in 1941-2, it is about all the different places she has lived. I love the way her memories of places lead us to her emotions at the time, as she describes her nomadic existence within the city of Paris, moving from apartment to apartment in the wake of failed love affairs.
Three homes become six, and then nine... all described with delicate poetry, telling us of the intimate connections between the places we live and our feelings, dreams and memories. I just wish I knew who first bought this book in 1946 (when it was published). I wonder where that person lived and dreamt, and what journey this book took in order to be sold to me over the internet in 2011?

Here is a little counterpart to these reflections: a song sung by Fran├žoise Hardy in 1966 about a beloved childhood home in the country that has now vanished, overtaken by the city's bricks and concrete.

Isn't she beautiful? I might have to write a post about Fran├žoise Hardy sometime!

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