One Dollar Books

(15.jan.2016/upd.17.jan.2016) On this clear, cold january Sunday I managed to make my downtown city stroll end at the Heilig-Geist church (on the Copenhagen “Stroeget”) where today is a sale of old books at 5 kr per book (i.e. less than one dollar).

After about an hour of busy browsing I made my way out with two bags shock-full of books – 23 in all, at a cost of 115 kr (less than twenty dollars).

So what have we got?

1. Firstly there is a nice Penguin pocket book edition of Raymond Chandlers FAREWELL MY LOVELY.

As a matter of fact I have owned more than one copy of this classic detective novel for really many years. I have probably read it for the first time in my twenties, which of course is at least forty years ago.

But a large part of my books are still boxed and stored after the modernizing chaos in our building a couple of years ago, and my more than one hundred american detective novels have not surfaced yet.

I seem to remember having reread Farewell My Lovely only a few years ago. But I’am not sure exactly when and although Chandlers masterpiece of course hasn’t changed a bit, I may have. So although I may perhaps not enjoy it more, or even as much as during my first read, I may still find new pleasures in following this brilliant, honest gentleman that is Raymond Chandler.

About one week ago I bought its sister THE HIGH WINDOW (at a price of 30 kr / abt. 4.50 dollars). This novel is, I think, perhaps Chandlers most brilliant, although of course also very depressing, giving as it does a particularly piercing view on the American moneyed elites sick, depraved morals before the war.

2. JONATHAN SWIFT – ESSAYS ON HIS SATIRE AND OTHER STUDIES. By Herbert Davis. Oxford University Press, 1964, 292 p. Paperback.

Well, the subject seems all right. But beeing a collection of partly or even mostly university lectures these essays may still be a tad too formal to my taste. But as I have of course only bought the book a couple hours ago, I have to defer jugement to later.

3. Two volumes of Danish/Jutish author and poet JEPPE AAKJAER, with poems. They are both 1st editions from 1920, rather nicely bound in contemporary half calf. They should make a nice gift to my niece in Jutland who has a keen interest in local authors and their work. And imagine: two quite nice first editions of a well known Danish author and poet for less than two dollars!

4. JYDER. NY SAMLING. By Jakob Knudsen. Gyldendal, Copenhagen, 1917. 276 p. Nicely bound in private, contemporary half calf. 1st edition.

Again, this is a first edition of a well known Danish/Jutish author – for less than one dollar! And to boot it came with four other titles of the same author, of which three are also 1st editions. The fourth is in a 2nd printing, I bought this one also because it carries the signature of a previous owner, E. Kold.

The friendly lady at the pay-desk remarked that the books happened to have been hers, the author Jakob Knudsen being a distant relative of hers. And the signature E. Kold was that of her grandmother.

I asked her if Ms. Kold perchance was a relative of the well known Danish school-man Kristian Kold, but she didn’t know. My niece is a distant relative of Kristian Kold, and I fancy she might ofcourse have found it interesting to know.

5. SOMMERGLÆDER. By Herman Bang. Copenhagen, 1902, NNF, 169 pages. Privately bound in contemp. half-calf.

I believe this may also be a first edition (which in fact it is). I don’t normally read fiction – only exceptions are the classic american detective novels – like the above mentioned by Chandler – and perhaps a few historical novels.

Herman Bang is ofcourse one of the most prominent Danish authors from just around 1900. He had a jewish grandmother and fancied (correctly, I believe) that through his father he descended from some of the oldest known, high middle age Danish aristocracy.

He was thus, perhaps, a somewhat split personality – another split author-personality comes to mind, that of Johan August Strindberg (they both died in 1912) – he was also not physically strong and died rather young. But for all that I believe he was a honest genius, whose best work is well worth knowing, and this book should make a nice gift.

6. THE CONCISE OXFORD CHRONOLOGY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE. Ed. by Michael Cox. Oxford University Press, 2004. 830 p. Hardcover, nice copy.

This is an unusual and, I think, very interesting type of manual, and a steal for one dollar. For instance you may look under 1767 and see (among many others) that James Boswell in that year published DORANDO: A SPANISH TALE (fiction) or that Joseph Priestley published THE HISTORY AND PRESENT STATE OF ELECTRICITY.

7. BIDRAG TIL FOLKESYGDOMMENES OG SUNDHEDSPLEJENS HISTORIE I DANMARK – fra de ældste tider til begyndelsen af det attende aarhundrede. By Dr. F.V. Mansa. Copenhagen, Gyldendal, 1872. 369 p., hard cover, bound in paper.

I can’t believe I found this nicely kept, very unusual and hugely interesting book for less than one dollar. As a matter of fact i have it already, but as paperback in a very poor state, with loose spine and pages.

What makes this book so interesting is that the author takes the words Sygdom og Sundhed (sickness and health) in a very general meaning. That is, he gives detailed accounts of the “health” of the whole country or rather – much of the then known world.

For instance he gives acounts of catastrophies (“natural occurrencies”) of all sorts – floods, biting colds (walking from Lübeck to Norway over the frozen high seas!), plagues, comets etc. Here a couple of samples (sorry, but I have to cite in danish):

(s. 201) “Vinteren 1566 var særdeles streng. Frosten indfandt sig allerede ved Juletider 1565 og vedblev med en saadan styrke, at man i 9 uger kunde kjøre over vandene med belæssede vogne.

“Nytaarsaften brød havet ind i Limfjorden imellem Agger og Vestervig i Thy, en miil fra Harboøre Kirke, og gjorde et stort gab eller munding, 14 eller 16 alen (9 meter) dyb, hvorved stor skade på korn, foder og kvæg foraarsagedes. Vandet gik over hele sletten og selve Aalborg skal have lidt af høivande. Sommeren var regnfuld med hyppig torden og lynild og efteraaret meget stormfuldt”.

(s. 112) “1460 træffe vi i Danmark igjen paa en af de strenge vintre, hvori ikke alene Østersøen men og havet imellem Danmark og Norge lagde til med is, saa at man kunde gaa fra Lybek til Norge.

“Ogsaa i syden af Europa var kulden haard. Donau var ganske tilfrossen fra den 13. januar til den 11. marts. Sommeren i samme aar var hed og tør og fordærvelig for markernes afgrøde; hvorpaa der i Italien begyndte en pestsot, som i de følgende aar udbedte sig over det øvrige Europa.”

(s. 101) “Overalt herskede i aaret 1450 en forfærdelig smitsot. I Ditmarsken varede den i 3 aar. Alene i kirkesognet Lunden døde 2600 mennesker i løbet af halvandet aar. I aaret 1451 skal Sverig have været hjemsøgt af en af de mest dræbende farsoter, som have hersket i dette land og derfor ogsaa sammenlignes med det forrige aarhundredes digerdød. Alene i Stockholm døde af den ikke mindre end 9000 mennesker, blandt også Kong Carl Knutsons gemalinde Catharina.”

“1456 den 5te og 30te decbr. sporedes to forfærdelige jordskjælv, hvorved huse nedstyrtede og mange tusinde mennesker omkom. Aaret efter viste sig en komet. I de tre aar fra 1455 til 1457 herskede stor hungersnød i Sverig og paa enkelte steder endog pest.

“Vinteren 1458 var saa streng, at man kunde kjøre fra Lybek til Danmark.”


I have to leave it at that for to-day. Thanks for reading, and have a nice sunday evening!


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