Thursday Thoughts: Downsizing



Thursday Thoughts
05 April 2018

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax,
of cabbages and kings,
and if the sea is boiling hot,
and whether books have wings.”

Downsizing: such a sad time. Over the last few weeks we have slowly and steadily packed seventeen boxes with a part of our precious book collection. We are giving it to the Harriet Irving Library at the University of New Brunswick, our local provincial university. The collection contains several specialist areas including Mexico, the State of Oaxaca, and five pre-Columbian Mixtec codices, the 1492-1992, quincentennial facsimile editions. Today the Mexico collection, minus the codices (which we will deliver later, by hand), departed.

Their departure has left an emptiness on our shelves and a sadness in our hearts. Old friends, they are. We sought for them in Oaxaca, chasing through old books stores, market places, state institutions, and the houses of friends. The result: a steady accumulation of literary gems. Clare, in particular, took a delight in the codices, learning first to read them, then to analyze them. Much of the Mexican collection centres on how to interpret these precious documents, one of which still bears the burn marks where a wise priest drew the manuscript codex from the Inquisitional flames and saved it for posterity.

When the Mexican collection settled down in the boxes, a little space remained and we filled one box with the first set of books from our Quevedo collection. This was La Perinola, the Revista de Investigación Quevediana. I lay awake most of the night agonizing on whether or not I should let this review series go. Then, at 4:00 am, I got up, put on my dressing gown, went downstairs and photographed the Perinola, in all its glory. When this was done. I returned to bed and was finally able to fall asleep.


The Perinola meant (and still means) so much to me. I still remember the thrill of being asked to sit upon the consejo honorífico, the only Canadian scholar, and one of only two Anglophones to be so honoured, my external reader being the other. To read my name next to that of the external examiner for my doctoral thesis on the love-poetry of Francisco de Quevedo (University of Toronto, 1975) was, and still is, an extraordinary honour. I still get butterflies when I see my name attached to this review. The butterflies settled, bit by bit, as I realized that I could preserve my personal memories with a photo while donating the series to the greater glory of Quevedo Studies in the wider world of Hispanic Academia.


14 thoughts on “Thursday Thoughts: Downsizing

  1. I was reminded not of our doensizing so much more of the archivist who lookes at the World War 1 documents that I have from our grandfsther. He recommended making copies and donating the originals to in our case the Regimental Museum for conservation and safe keeping. They then remain available for all and have conservation available where neccesary.
    As an educator, passing these books to the library is a continuation of that vocation.Feel good and proud that you have done this. The hardest part I found was when the items were in the hall way waiting for dispatch once they were gone it was easier.
    All the best

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Fran. That’s what happened with me: couldn’t sleep last night but feeling better and better all day. And that’s just the first installment. Thanks for your sort: much appreciated.


  2. To paraphrase Bette Davis, ‘downsizing is not for sissies.’ Have a glass of wine with a sympathetic friend, this evening. Cheers,


    On Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 11:59 AM, rogermoorepoet wrote:

    > rogermoorepoet posted: ” Thursday Thoughts 05 April 2018 Downsizing “The > time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things: of shoes, and > ships, and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings, and if the sea is boiling > hot, and whether books have wings.” Downsizing: suc” >

    Liked by 1 person

    • Too true, John. I guess we should all be hermit crabs and just move our bodies from shell to shell without carrying any luggage with us. So much baggage … I think of our house as a casa-museo, half-house and half museum. Still, as the old man on the cancer ward with my father said, “There’s no pockets in shrouds”. No bookshelves, either.


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