To pick up where I left off in my last post … we were out of power for six days total, and have had it back for a little over a week now. I’m still not at the point of taking heat and electricity for granted, though, especially since we had a high wind warning yesterday, which came with the additional warning that there might be some scattered power outages. Enough of this! Fortunately, we didn’t lose our power again, and our house is toasty warm and well-lit. It is so nice to be warm.
One of these days I will write a book review again, but for now, I wanted to tell you about an awesome exhibit I went to last weekend at the New York Public Library celebrating 100 years since the opening of the library’s main building in Manhattan. I arrived at the library with only 45 minutes or so before it closed, so I had to rush through it, but it’s not a large exhibit, and I saw most of it. It’s divided into four sections, each with a theme — observation, contemplation, creativity, and society — and each section had an eclectic mix of objects, including rare books, journals and diaries, artwork, sketches, videos, cuneiform tablets, and interesting objects belonging to famous and not-so-famous people.
My two favorite objects were a lock of Mary Shelley’s hair — a beautiful reddish-brown — and Virginia Woolf’s walking stick, the one she had at the end of her life. There was also Charles Dickens’s letter opener, with his cat’s paw as handle (you can see a picture of it here if you scroll down a bit). I saw a page from a draft of “The Waste Land” with Ezra Pound’s handwritten corrections and deletions, Charlotte Bronte’s traveling desk, a page of Virginia Woolf’s diary, a page of Jorge Luis Borges’s handwriting, a draft of a speech Hemingway gave, and a letter written by Keats. There is a hand-written manuscript of the Declaration of Independence and a copy of David Copperfield marked up by Dickens in preparation for public readings. There was also a Gutenberg Bible.
I love seeing these kinds of things. There’s something mysterious and wonderful about laying eyes on an object that John Keats or Virginia Woolf touched. It allows me to imagine their mundane, physical existence and makes them seem more real. So, if you’re in New York City with some extra time on your hands, check it out.