We had book club last night and one of the guys in the group brought one of his prized possessions to show us. He had told us about it the week before and we were all drooling by the time he was done. I think I even told him, “You know I’m going to stick my nose in it, right?”
I still can’t believe he brought this out to the bar. If it were me, I would have this behind lock and key, in glass. He is getting it rebound soon, though, so he was happy to share with all of us book enthusiasts. And yes, I most definitely stuck my nose in and breathed in all those amaaaaaaaaaaaazing musty book smells. And it did not disappoint.
This my friends, is a gigantantic, gorgeous 1870ish copy of Dante’s Inferno.
I wish I would have snapped some pictures of the inside for you, because there are beautiful black and white print illustrations by Gustave Dore. The pages are gold embellished on the sides, and the covers have gold too, as you can see. The whole thing is just gorgeous. It’s a little beaten up…but it’s also 150 years old. It’s probably the oldest book I’ve ever held, flipped through, SMELLED. I felt guilty just touching it. And I wanted to keep going.
For those of you who wonder why us book addicts do what we do–hoard our collections, buy books that sit on our shelves for years before we read them, and…of course…sniff the pages at used book sales…THIS. THIS IS WHY. Because old books like this, there is just something magical about them, isn’t there? How many hands have held this? How many eyes have read these pages and interpreted this story? Not even this book specifically…but Dante’s Inferno itself. There is so much history here. So much beauty.
This is why the Book Community exists.