Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Liturgical Arts Quarterly

We recently unearthed a great pile of issues and bound volumes of Liturgical Arts Quarterly, a periodical which ran from 1931-1972, and which comprises 40 volumes (v.1 no.1 - v.40 no.3). I've had a great time going through these trying to constitute sets. The early volumes have some gorgeous images, but these gradually become stranger as the periodical moved through the years. These volumes provide an illuminating (and in my opinion, frightening) view of what happened regarding much of the western Church's architectural and practical liturgical changes over a critical span of time.

In the end, we managed to constitute one set of original issues and about four bound sets, one of which is already gone (best set here [SOLD], otherwise search our site [SEE UPDATE BELOW] by KEYWORD or telephone us). There are also many individual issues and volumes available if you need just a few or want to complete your set. [Do I get bonus points for creating so many links?]

UPDATE: 29 April
The "best set" sold today. The next one is here. And I just finished constituting one last hardbound set, which ought to upload to the site within the next hour (you can search by keywords "liturgical arts quarterly" on our site for it; don't use the title field in the search, as it needs, and is scheduled for, fixing).

UPDATE: 30 April
The "next one" sold today. Now for the next up, also a very nice hardbound set. There's also still the set in original issues, which is in excellent condition. And, of course, there are a great many odd volumes and issues. I'm glad there are people who find this periodical as interesting as I do.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Store Plants in Flower

The Crown of Thorns plant is much less scary now that it has burst forth in delicate, little, red flowers.

And Phyllis the Amaryllis has busted out two giant, lush, red flowers. Very nice.

I might note some of the books behind Phyllis. For, frankly, I find these more interesting than the plants. There's the Opera omnia of Melchior Cano, O.P., in three volumes, as well as an original edition of his De locis theologicis, 1569 (I covet these). That Küng book is signed. There's a book signed by Mother Teresa and several volumes on liturgical weirdities. And then there are three volumes of the works of Bl. John Duns Scotus (I'm looking for at least one more volume around here somewhere. Let me know if you see it.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

How Many Bookmen Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb?

This time it took two. Dealing with a fixture over 30 ft. above the floor is not simple, particularly when the dead bulb is detached from its base. Working from the nearby "Big Balcony", and armed with a pole, some string, duct tape (handyman's secret weapon) and some tricks I once learned in the Moscow State Circus, we got the old base removed. Getting the new bulb in was much simpler. Now the Thomistic, Liturgical Texts, Liturgical Studies, and Americana sections are much better illuminated.

Friday, April 23, 2010

St. Athanasius Day Sale - $25 free books online - 20% off in store

For patrons:

$25 credit for purchase of $50 in books

The deal is: spend $50 from now until May 2nd and receive a $25 credit towards your next purchase. Just enter the coupon code "Athanasius" at checkout (of your order of at least $50) and we'll send you an email with your $25 credit.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Martyrdom of Thomas a' Becket

Dear Misfits,

We had another delightful omnium-gatherum wherein we discussed Murder in the Cathedral, a compelling, highly readable play by T. S. Eliot based on the martyrdom of Thomas Becket.  The play is a dramatic demonstration that faith is especially alive when the faithful are ready to die for it.

The play is written as a dramatic poem with vivid imagery and striking dialogue.  The dramatization is in two parts with Part I describing the return of Becket to England from France where he had been in self-imposed exile.  Part II dramatizes the tragic murder of Becket by four of Henry’s knights in Canterbury Cathedral on December 29th, 1170  

The dramatic dialogue of priests, knights, Archbishop Becket is set against and enhanced by the Chorus of the Women of Canterbury.  Eliot uses the Chorus to explain and enlarge upon the events taking place.  Misfit Loome noted that it is likely that Eliot chose the form of a Chorus as similar to that used by Greek tragedians to develop and comment on the action of a play.  This seems to be the case with the Chorus in Eliot’s play.   The Chorus’ initial speech defines their role in the drama taking place: "We are forced to bear witness."

Why exactly did the four knights decide to kill Becket?  We may never know.  Henry is said to have roared his frustration with his formerly cooperative Chancellor but now recalcitrant Archbishop. The King's exact words are in doubt and several versions have been reported. The most commonly quoted is "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?"  Another account by the contemporary biographer Edward Grim, relates that Henry words were, "What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?"  Four of his knights decided to rid Henry of his “turbulent priest”.  In so doing, they gave England and the Church one of its most revered martyrs.

The Drama ends with the Chorus chanting:

            That the sin of the world is upon our head; that the
                        blood of the martyrs and the agony of the saints
            Is upon our heads.
            Lord, have mercy upon us.
            Christ, have mercy upon us.
            Lord, have mercy upon us.
            Blessed Thomas, pray for us.

Now to the future:

May, 2010: As reported last month, we're looking for a "change of pace" and believe that it will be provided by reading The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien's wonderful fantasy novel.  The novel is set in a time "Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Men"; The Hobbit follows the quest of home-loving Bilbo Baggins to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. It was published on September 21, 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction. The book remains hugely popular and is recognized as a classic.  Misfit Druffner provided a set of maps for Middle-earth and other data on the land of the Hobbits.  I’ve read through this commentary.  It is definitely helpful if you are to fully understand the fantasy land and its inhabitants.  There is also an excellent Dummies web site for the Hobbit at:

June, 2010:  For our June meeting, we are going to read and discuss The Death of Ivan Ilych, a short story from The Great Short Works of Leo Tolstoy (Harper Perennial Modern Classics).  The book is available from Amazon for $12.47. 

July, 2010:  We will continue our summer exploration of great short story collections by reading Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground which is in Great Short Works of Fyodor Dostoevsky (Perennial Classics).  The book is available from Amazon for $12.47.  

August, 2010:  We will read and discuss another selection from The Great Short Works of Leo Tolstoy.  (This selection will be decided at our next meeting.)

September, 2010:  We will read and discuss another short work by Dostoevsky from Great Short Works of Fyodor Dostoevsky.  (This selection will also be decided at our next meeting.)

Warmest regards,

Misfit Buzz

From Loome Bookseller to Farmer - More

Meet the Dowells.

A couple posts ago I mentioned the Dowells and today I discovered the Catholic Spirit has a lengthy and meaty article about them.  Let me just say that I know where they go to get many of the books that inspire them - Loome Theological Booksellers.  Read some part of some book every day and you just might must read yourself into the family farm life.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Favorite Lutherans

Kind of like "My Favorite Martian". Remember that show? Retractable antennae and all? Perhaps I digress. Or do I?

Allow me to introduce my favorite Lutherans (Missouri Synod, mind) - Rev. Dean Bell & Rev. Jim "Antoine" Anthony, of Ada and Deer River, MN, respectively. These bookish characters stop in several times a year to crack jokes and find a few good books. Here they are pictured in one of their favorite sections: Reformation Studies. Dean made a quip about Calvin just before this photo was taken, which may be the reason for the smirk on his face.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy Feast of Bl. James Duckett!

James Duckett (d. April 19, 1601), an English Catholic recusant martyr, was brought to court and condemned for possessing Catholic books. He had had a number of run-ins with the law before that, however, and had spent several years in prison for having distributed Catholic literature. He was a convert, and was converted by having read a book which was given him by a friend. His trade was in publishing/printing and bookselling.

Bl. James was betrayed by his bookbinder, who turned him in in an attempt to free his own hide from prison. Nonetheless, both of them were sent to the gallows in the same cart. As related by Bl. James's son, John Duckett, later Prior of the English Carthusians at Nieuport, Flanders, Bl. James was offered a cup of wine on his way to martyrdom, whereupon he drank and urged his wife to drink to his betrayer and to forgive him.

Bl. James Duckett was executed this day, 1601. He was beatified by Pius XI on December 15, 1929. We at Loome's take him as a noble bookish patron.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Store Plants - Why Not?

Since Fr. Z has set precedent in blogging about his plants, I suppose we can feel at liberty to try the same. Here we have, perched atop the odd volumes of the CUA Canon Law Studies series, the only two plants in the store (to my knowledge).

On the left is the Crown of Thorns plant (which must be watered with caution). On the right is Phyllis the Amaryllis. The sun was rather bright through the window, but this silhouetted sort of shot looked better than the ones with flash. Phyllis is about to burst into flower. The Crown of Thorns will show little red flowers after some time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Old Bug in a Book

Behold! The latest squished ancient bug in a book:

I guess it was a spider. Unfortunately, I've lost track of the book out of which I took the picture, but I suspect the publication date was in the 17th century. For all I know, it's an extinct species and that book holds the only sample. I'm waiting still to come across the next squashed medieval bug; I've seen them before. It's a boyish joy to find such things in books.

Friday, April 9, 2010

From Loome Bookseller to Farmer

At Loome Theological Booksellers we are partial to the traditional ways and one of our traditional heroes are Shane and Chiara Dowell.  Shane worked at Loome Theological Booksellers for a couple months in 2008 and then threw himself and his family into traditional/organic farming just 15 minutes up the road from Stillwater.  The Dowell method of farming recently made our local press. Check out their blog too!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Is Small so Beautiful?

This week’s bibliosite comes with a story which poses a question I’m chewing on.  So here is what fell out of a book recently:

What a lovely looking bookshop!  And it’s been in business since 1847!  Wow.  Must be quite the place . . . a place you can depend on to be there forever, I would think.

Not so!

After doing some web research I found the following:

87 Park Street

Tel: 0117 927 6602
Fax: 0117 925 1854

Manager: Lindsey Stainer

George’s is now owned by Blackwell, the 2007 winner of the retail chain of the year award by the Retail Bookseller Awards.  George’s went from being the quaint independent bookstore everyone wants to succeed to selling out to the man.

Was this such a bad turn of events?

I can imagine Blackwell’s ownership is able to provide a level of service and efficiency that George’s was not able to provide.  I imagine Blackwell’s can provide a stability and health benefits to its workers that George’s could probably not provide.  So what makes us feel sad about the loss of George’s?  What was lost?

What do you think?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Both Books & Men were Made to be Strong and Good-Looking

They used to know how to bind books. In the good ol' days, books were bound for strength and for good looks (just as real men were). It was all-around a great thing. Paper was made well in those days, too. And the printing was often glorious! These days the drive is not for quality but for quick $ (though really, this trend started somewhere around the 19th century or even earlier, but it's markedly worse now). This is not to say that some book producers would not like to do better, but they are generally forced for economical reasons to go the cheap route. And so we see now cheap bindings which deteriorate and fall apart within a few years, cheap paper which yellows and becomes brittle at the same time, and the printing is typically (pun intended) unappealing. Contrariwise, the more ancient books, made by real men to stand the test of real time, far outlast our modern cheapos. Some of the best books I have ever seen (in terms of paper, print, binding, and overall beauty) were some of the oldest, i.e. 15th-16th century. The medievals knew how to make books! [And the new digital reading devices? They certainly lack the beauty of well-made books, but that is all I will say at present.]

Furthermore, an oft-overlooked fact: Good books usually smell good!

The book pictured here is not even the finest example of what I have in mind and the binding is a bit worn, but it still illustrates the point. It's a neat little 18th century printing of a work by the Jesuit preacher, Paolo Segneri (1624-1694), who has been regarded as the finest orator of the Italian Seicento. The binding is in a lovely arabesque sort of style with an episcopal coat of arms stamped centrally. The printing is good and the paper is generally white and free of nasty acidic discoloration. It is a well-made book.

Mind you, there are some few out there still who produce excellently printed books on good paper. And there are those still who bind or rebind or repair books, or who decorate bindings in a manner of excellence. More on this some other time...