Tag Archives: Books

Ex Libris

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant  www.drjeffreylant.com

Author’s Program Note.

First there was the thunderclap, sharp, unyielding sound overawing all, pulling me anxious from my bed; to be swiftly followed by a cascade of erratic sound, my sundered rest punctured by noises that made the end of the world seem puny and insignificant by comparison. I was alone and soon to be unhappy, bereft, no comfort, my world altered forever.

This is the story of what happened just the other day. I know that sympathetic folk worldwide will join me in my lamentation… for this is a tale any one of us could have penned and which all of us might easily share and could as easily experience.

I call it Ex Libris, and it is a sad tale.

“84 Charing Cross Road”

If you’re a Bibliophile like I am, I don’t have to introduce you to this cinema classic released in 1987. It features an adamant, opinionated, chain-smoking, wise-cracking, irreverent New York writer (is there any other kind?) expertly played by Anne Bancroft (1931-2005), a lady in love with books, the more obscure and esoteric the better. Her correspondent is a soft-spoken London-based expert in finding out-of-print English books. (perfectly rendered by Sir Anthony Hopkins b. 1937).

He has at first no clue quite how to handle this rather alarming customer; then discovers that she is what all writers and lovers of  language require, a Kindred Spirit, puckish, golden hearted, honest to a fault, friend, jousting companion, lover of words, lover of those who shape these words, dram at the ready but never to excess; willing to let the rest of us into their enthralling lives, changing us forever, even the ones who bathe infrequently and are too vocal about their ill-considered (and frequently
changed) politics.

I had absolutely no trouble adhering to the rites and precise rituals of their arcane mysteries, not just in London either, but New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Oxford, Chicago. Chicago?

Purists may wrinkle their fastidious noses but, yes, Chicago where I sprawled for hours (age 12 or so, thank you very much) in the magic caverns tottering in unimaginably lofty formations on Clark Street. Yes, Chicago, “my kind of town, Chicago is” where I often heard my mother warn me that I could have all the books I could carry but not one more. Then hear my practised wheedling for more and still more, for my mother believed in the curative powers of disintegrating fine tooled leathers and the cats which could lead you if they would to wondrous editions not yet found by my tardy and less persistent competitors. Yes, Chicago, too, by all means, and proudly.

Where have these discriminating tabbies and their erudite successors gone? I feel guilty and ashamed that I don’t know, such is the undeniable pull of these establishments and their silky inhabitants down my ages. Forgive me!

“The Look”.

I know now what I could hardly even imagine then; that I was either born with or early acquired the unquestioned demeanor and certain stance and undoubted swagger of a Bibliophile. That is to say, I was a lad for whom doors were open wherever I went, wherever books in all their aspects and appurtenances were favored, as they were widely and worldwide.

Unfavored school mates and taunting cousins (self designated sans peur et sans reproche, especially if a grid iron and locker room were involved) might deride, but they would do so at their considerable risk and undoing. Bibliophiles, remember, have the benefits of deep memory and the certainty that revenge is a dish best tasted cold.

In those long-ago days I brought home a steady stream of prizes with resounding names, grandiose certificates, the letters patent of our realm, and even Yankee cash on the barrel head. Such unanticipated (to them), irritating developments, which caused my more brawny, athletic peers to rethink their positions, and (no matter how reluctantly) to treat me with the reverence and veneration I so richly deserved. Parents of such sad scoffers might be heard, and in public, too, intoning this righteous sentiment: “Why can’t you be a scholar like Jeffrey?,” words which no doubt enlivened and encouraged the sorry lot. Their roles in life have no doubt been the better for it.

Every click a diminishment, a certain loss, a looming tragedy.

I live in the middle of the greatest constellation of words in the Great Republic, Fair Harvard and dozens of institutions of higher and other learning, over 70 such institutions just minutes away, the whole one of the greatest achievements of our species and a light to people everywhere who appreciate and advocate humane values and a world of peace, serenity, fairness, and equality, the hallmarks of this special place and its abiding message to the ages.

Generations from now historians and other researchers into our past will call this the Golden Age, the final days of what we have worked so diligently for a thousand years to create, foster, and maintain, including language and the books which enshrine it forever.

The proven vandals, the assured barbarians are not just at the gate, they are placed within our glorious precincts by our very children, placed here by committed parental thrift and scrimping; each more adept than the one before in their proven ways to eradicate what we have so loved, supported and honored; imposing standards which are no standards at all.
Come to Cambridge, to Harvard. The future is breaking here like a brand new, unwelcome dawn. As if by wizard’s wand, institutions once boasting that they were citadels of progress and the liberal arts now are teetering on the knife edge of extinction; buildings gone, faculties dismissed, the very idea of liberal arts and progress derided and dismissed; the potent weapons click by click on the agile fingertips of the young and careless, are dooming not just multitudes, useless cargo on Spaceship Earth, but our very species. Truly Father forgive them for they know not…

I’m forced to join the revolution

I have for the last many years, harbored a guilty secret. I cannot bear to send my books to other homes and foreign shores. I hide them in places where even I forget, but better work of literature misplaced by sympathetic hands than gone forever, a sacrifice to the savages and their wanton ways.

The books that fell were a small part of the thousands of books which have found sanctuary here and over the course of my entire life. They were stacked and crammed and buried and pushed and shoe-horned into a space sustained by the thickest of woods, mahoganey. Now and again I would look at them and sigh, for like “Sophie’s Choice” (1979) by William Styron, I knew I would have to make a decision, and that the decision would be unwelcome, whatever I decided to do.

And so, God stepped in, impatient with my inability to decide, and said, as sure as he’d send a telegram, “Clear the shelves of these books!” And He did.

Thus, my precious books, though only a few hundred of the total inventory, were marked for extinction, coming in the shape of the Goodwill truck from Somerville. They have pestered me often for them, and now, at last, they shall have their way. Of course I feel terribly, which is silly, isn’t it? Because as my assistant, Kris McNamara said as he helped me pick up the fruit of generations, “Everything you want is on the internet anyway, what’s the big deal?” But then, he is only 33, and can scarcely remember anything the outrage that I have lived with for so long. And so we in our turn shall be forgotten, too.

The Goodwill truck will come, life will go on, though admittedly altered and lessened. As for me, I have hidden as many of them as I can, in places no one would ever look. You see, I shall not go down without a fight, all flags flying, every page intact, every word. For even if I become known as the last man of suitable standards and goals, I shall accept that title, that honor, with gladness and pride, the stearnest demeanor… for even then there will be hope.

Envoi

Whether you have seen “84 Charing Cross Road” before (lucky), or, whether this is your first time seeing this magnificient film (lucky), this distinctly moving film, I advise you to go to any search engine and watch it. In the meantime, here is the film score to whet your appetite:

http://ow.ly/ZaYC304zvuM

In some ways, technology is a blessing.

About the author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant, Harvard educated, started writing for publication at age 5. Since then, he has published over 1,000 articles and 57 books, and counting. For information about his oeuvre, go to:

www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/

Remember, even rich and successful authors derive acute satisfaction from letters of ebullient content and affection.

Get a FREE Copy of “Create An E-Book Today. Publish It On Amazon.com. Profit From It for the Rest Of Your Life!” by Dr.Jeffrey Lant Get Your FREE Copy CLICK HERE

International Day of the Book. Celebrating Books a Very Unique Book…

It’s wonderful to celebrate books as in International Day of the Book.

We celebrating the winning of eight literary awards for a totally unique gloriously written book

A Connoisseur’s Journey: Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.”

Find out more at: http://writerssecrets.com/a-connoisseurs-journey-now-winner-of-8-literary-awards-come-meet-the-man-behind-the-book/

This book was written LIVE onscreen and video snippets were caught in the creation of  “A Connoisseur’s Journey: Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.”

 


 

Order TODAY and Get FREE Access  to:

  • Get over 40 video snippets of Dr. Lant live from the Worldprofit Live Business Center – the birthplace in the creation of “A Connoisseur’s Journey”
  • See the master at his craft developing his totally unique style of creating a memoir
  • Learn of his writer’s team, his choice of musical selections for each segment of his book, his thorough research using the power of the internet in a way never been done before
  • Follow the unfolding of this book chapter by chapter with readings by the author, Dr. Lant and some of his writing team, fresh after just having been written

Go to: http://writerssecrets.co/products/a-connoisseurs-journey-being-the-artful-memoirs-of-a-man-of-wit-discernment-pluck-and-joy

Turn your stories into books and we’ll help you do it at www.writerssecrets.com

Get a FREE copy of “Create An E-Book today. Publish It On Amazon.com. Profit From It for The rest Of Your Life!” Get Your FREE Copy CLICK HERE

More on World Book Day[1] or World Book and Copyright Day (also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Days) is a yearly event on April 23rd, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to promote reading, publishing and copyright. In the United Kingdom, the day is recognized on the first Thursday in March. World Book Day was celebrated for the first time on 23 April 1995.

The connection between 23 April and books was first made in 1923 by booksellers in Catalonia, Spain[Book 1] The original idea was of the Valencian writer Vicente Clavel Andrés as a way to honour the author Miguel de Cervantes, who died on this date. In 1995 UNESCO decided that the World Book and Copyright Day would be celebrated on 23 April, as the date is also the anniversary of the death ofWilliam Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, as well as that of the birth or death of several other prominent authors.[2]

Read more at the source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Book_Day

On the matter of great books you have not read or even heard about, and one such book in particular, “The Leopard” by Prince Giuseppe Di Lampedusa.

Proudly presented from the Writers Secrets Article Series

Author’s program note. I am, have been, and always will be a book man; a man, that is, whose life has been enriched in every way by books. These books have been my joy, my obsession, always the source of bliss. And no wonder.  For in my own special corner with book in hand and my imagination, I have learned something of the utmost significance. Books can take you anywhere. With them you can be anyone… achieve anything…  experience everything. … This is what a book can do and what books for the last 65 years have done for me.

Books… the necessary and irreplaceable tools for education… boon companions and dearest friends for life, the solace of our older age, and where we look to assuage our grief when a loved one passes. Books offer us everything… for books are about everything… about everyone… about everywhere.

The only drawback to books… is that there are so many, so brilliant, so moving, so epochal, so packed with fact and incident that we time-challenged humans don’t have even a tiny fraction of the hours we need to know them, read them, think on them, and use them to improve the person we are and wish always to ameliorate. Books are always present, reminding us with their full assistance, how much better we can be… if only we open the cover and allow the words and pages that follow to take us to the superior place that is theirs to give to each of us.

Had we but world enough and time (Andrew Marvell, 1681)…

… but you see, that is the eternal challenge, for we do not… and this, then, becomes the particular puzzle of all our lives. How to know of, find, and find the time to read what must be read… the greatest books by our greatest masters; for as one grows older and older still, one discovers that time is too short to read anything else. That is why when people do me the honor to ask what books have influenced me, I am ever ready with the contents of my library to advise them. And so I take this opportunity to tell you about “The Leopard”, a masterpiece that was in 1957 so despised by Italian publishers that some said it would never be printed, was not worth printing… thereby breaking the heart of its author, Prince Di Lampedusa whose manners were so refined that he did not excoriate and rebuke the purblind publishers who thereby missed a work of high genius. It is this great book by an undoubted master that I tell you about this day.

But before I tell this tale, I wish to commend to you the incidental music to accompany this piece. It is the “valzerone e quadriglia” by that composer of cinematic magic, Nino Rota (1911-1979). Go now to any search engine and play it at once, for if “The Leopard” could possibly be improved upon, it would be by Rota and his mesmeric dance rhythms.  A novel about the Italy you know nothing about.

You cannot understand this book unless you know that its author was a bona fide principe, prince of ancient lineage and generations of hubris, condescension and perfect manners. He would not have liked you… why should he?… but you’d never know how exquisite his insults until long after he’d made his graceful exit from your unwanted company, the mark of a true aristocrat, a nonpareil who kills but never maims — unless he intends to.

But, and this too is crucial to understanding this book, this principe was not a prince of Italy, but a prince from Palermo, in Sicily, an island which had been since ships could sail the highly desirable target of one monarch after another, Dei gratia all.

As a result, there was a plenitude of titles on Sicily; grandiose, exalted, the residue of one temporary regime after another. Every noble knew how every title in the kingdom had been procured, by blood, valor… bedroom services or outright purchase. Thus the same title could mean wildly different things, of one order going up, while another was descending. Every nobleman and most especially his milady knew every nuance and secret. And so reputations wilted and died, scandals commenced and scandals reported behind delicate fans which at once enabled them to show their artistry and delicate wrists to best advantage while obscuring expressions which might well reveal too much.

This was a world the prince of Lampedusa knew well, every flutter of a fan, every patent of nobility finagled, every tittle of gossip, enjoyed, examined, twisted to best advantage. This is the arcane world, now as distant as the moon, that his excellency brought to life in “The Leopard”.

“Nothing much happens. They just talk.”

In doing my research for this article, I came across the line above, sentiments posted online by a reader puzzled by this book. This is understandable, for unlike our action packed books and films, “The Leopard” moves at a very different pace… the pace of real life in the 1860s when the old verities of Sicilian life were giving way before the insistent realities of Italian unification.

You see, the unified Italy you know and which you may assume has existed for centuries is in fact a new reality. Since the fall of the Roman Empire, Italy had been broken up into smaller states. And these states spent their time intriguing against each other, gaining an acre here, losing a city there. It gave generations of princes and their privy counselors something to do during the delicious days of la dolce far niente. It was this ancient system that the princes reigning in Turin, the House of Savoy, were determined  to end… reigning instead over one nation, their patrimony.

It is towards the end of this opera-bouffe revolution that Lampedusa begins his tale, a tale based on the life of his paternal great-grandfather, a grandee of Sicily who saw everything changing, changing, changing to the detriment of the beautiful life he loved but could no longer afford.

And so “The Leopard”, Prince Fabrizio Salina, finds himself doing something he abhors but knows is absolutely necessary… allowing his beloved nephew, Prince Tancredi Falcorieri, to marry beneath himself… to the most attractive young lady of the district, Angelica Sedara, who is socially ambitious, endlessly calculating… and rich.

Thus while they live, think, intrigue, eat, dance and make love, the House of Savoy changes everything for everyone… Thus is the reader rebuked who thinks that nothing is happening, for in fact an entire world and everyone, everything in it changes forever right before your eyes…

… a riveting story told in language so beautiful, so poignant, so epigrammatic and apt one is forced to reread line after line so as not to miss a single limpid word. It is for this that “The Leopard” is a work of genius and the prince of Lampedusa occupies at last his just place in the literary pantheon.

April, 1993.

I read “The Leopard” in the spring of 1993; I know because I entered the date on the title page. I’ve been reading it again lately, and will come back again, perhaps only to read a page, or even a single paragraph, before my life is over. Classics are like that… drawing us back, insinuating themselves into our lives in ways lesser creations cannot hope to duplicate.

Now, therefore, go to any search engine, find Nino Rota’s valzerone written for Visconti’s 1963 grand film recreation of the leopard’s doomed world, open the book, turn the music on and commence reading from the first line,

“Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen. The daily recital of the Rosary was over…” but your pleasure has just begun.

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four college degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities, quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 50 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com

His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” available at http://www.drjeffreylant.com/shop.html  have garnered nine prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” You’ll enjoy the read by this man of so many letters.

Get a FREE Copy of “How to Be a Writer Who Makes Money, Flies High and Dazzles the Folks Back Home. Oh Yeah!” by Dr.Jeffrey Lant Get Your FREE Copy CLICK HERE

Ex Libris. A new day dawns for books and we bibliophiles are sad, resigned.

Ex_LibrisAuthor’s program note. This is an article about books and the people who love them…. people who are seeing what they love so much undergoing the most profound changes, challenges right before their eyes. Books, in all their glories, were we were sure as much a verity for us as for our grandparents. The only thing that could take them away from us was the kind of thought control dictatorship so convincingly drawn in “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury (1953).

But now, for us, it is not some menacing autocracy that threatens books… it is the very Internet you are using now. And so I went in search of a perfect sound for this article and while I was looking I remembered the superb musical theme when “Anne of Green Gables” and “Anne of Avonlea” made a most memorable television event. The touch- your-heart music was composed by Hugh Hagood Hardy, and you can find it in any search engine. Go find it now… and allow the music to create the perfect background for this article.

Anne was (as all bibliophiles, and some others, know) a reader of books, a collector of books, a writer of books. And now her theme garlands an article about the dwindling future of books. Anne would be distressed by this development and would wax eloquent, that “Something must be done.” Thus she would stand ready to mobilize her fellow kindred-spirits, but to what end, for what purpose: because we should do it, she’d say, because it is the right thing to do, because to go down fighting for a thing so important is just what bibliophiles should be doing.

From as early as I can remember…

I am the kind of person books were invented for. I love everything about them and always have. I love them in paper backs which can be spilled on and written in with impunity. I love them with tooled leather covers with seigneurial coats of arms and the mottos of kings and noble princes. I love textbooks… I love olde books… I love new books (but the pas goes to the olde).. I love the way they smell… I love the ways they pile up… and, so high, then fall down to litter the floor.

I love them when I can easily find them… and when, determined, I cannot.

I love the kinds of paper they’re printed on… I love the names of the companies which have published them… and most of all I not only love but venerate all the authors who have written them and, in their way, advanced and preserved knowledge (and ignorance) for future generations as yet unimagined.

As such whatever threatens books, threatens me, the life and pleasures I have known and wished to know forever, the purposes they were written for, and the utmost feeling of total satisfaction one gets on an early day in springtime sitting under a newly budded tree lost in a world conveyed between two covers and opening just for you.

Book stories…

When I was a boy in 1950s Illinois, mine was a house of books. All the denizens of 4906 Woodward Avenue (requisite two parents and three offspring) were book readers, book collectors, and (to a person) scribblers of profound thoughts and declarations running wildly in the margins. I know to this day, 60 years on, just what books they were; my mother fancied Carl Sandberg and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. My father liked Edgar Cayce, Napoleon Hill, and the Good Book. And the children had boxes full of books, each a “favorite” for a time, only to be replaced by the next, but never forgotten or (don’t even ask) loaned to anyone.

Our village was so small we did not have a good book store. That was a discovery yet to come. For us the annual school book fare took its place. Every year the teachers of the elementary school would arrange for a huge array of books to be shown and sold for the benefit of the school. We ended up “needing” a vast number of these books and had the wheedling of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles et al down to a science any publisher would have envied. So important the event, I could tell you precisely how the display tables were set up and who came amidst the throng of eager readers. I always walked away with a grand selection of the newest Landmark titles, principally on American history. I read them so often and thoroughly I can quote them today.

“King Arthur and His Knights”.

My favorite book growing up was based on Sir Thomas Mallory’s celebrated tale. Every page spoke to me… and the mere fact one had one hundred times thoroughly and carefully read it did not mean one would forego a hundred and first reading, just in case some small detail had been, no disrespect intended, overlooked. Like my Landmark books I memorized pages and pages… and made a positive fetish of ensuring I knew the name of every noble knight, his pedigree, and the complete details of each of his adventures. Bibliophiles are like that.

It was this book that produced the first great book trouble. My mother, for all that she loved books, thought her eldest child should spend less time inside “nose in a book” in the dismissive parlance of the day and more outside in God’s green acre doing the usual things prairie children did. Thus, on one never-to-be-forgotten day she came to my room, saw me and Sir Thomas Mallory tete-a-tete again and raised a broom, urging me with the utmost clarity and vehemence to go outside… and now! As she pushed me out the door and locked it, she screamed, “Now play!”

She might have known bibliophiles, especially those destined to write as many books and articles as I have, would have had a superb memory. I told this tale at the Parker House in Boston, when my suave and gentlemanly publisher Louis Strick, gave a party in honor of the publication of my first book, “Insubstantial Pageant: Ceremony and Confusion at Queen Victoria’s Court”. She wasn’t pleased but she had to admit the story was true, not ben trovato.

The Childcraft books.

My grandmother was not a great reader, unless you except her unmatched collection of recipes; under other circumstances she might have massaged them into a book. But for all that she was not a great reader… she understood that one of the myriad roles grandmothers play is to foster a love of books. Here she gets full marks, particularly for giving me a complete set of Childcraft books.

In the volume dealing with Boston there was an evocative line drawing, not a photograph, of Beacon Hill. There was that in the picture that made me want to live, not just in a similar place, but in that place. When I was a student at Harvard years later, I set out to find that street and, in due course, resided on it… where in a room with Ivy covered bow window, I joined the company of authors… so proud, so honored, so determined to keep writing and so remain in the best possible standing amidst so many such.

The end of Border’s Books.

All these reflections came to mind the other day when I read in my fast shrinking newspaper The Boston Globe (also being undone by the ‘net) that once proud Borders Books, once a significant chain which often carried my books, was now bankrupt, going out of business, another e-casualty. Life is constant change, old truths and venerable institutions tumble, their places taken by the “cutting edge” which will in due course be demode’ as well. I know all this. But there will be a void in the world now dawning where there are fewer books every day and fewer to rue their passing. But I shall always be one of them. I hope you will, too.

* * * * *
About The Author

2016 is fast approaching and with it Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s 69th birthday. He is, he likes to
say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age
5 continue. Twenty books. Thousands of articles. Untold radio and television programs;
worldwide recognition and enthusiasm, all of which culminated in the publication of
his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he has
delighted in the several awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.com. You will also want to join his writing
course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything
you ever write.

www.writerssecrets.com