Sunday, October 28, 2007

Old Books in the Old World - by Rostenberg & Stern

Old Books in the Old World
By Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine Stern.
Oak Knoll Press 1996

This is a diary of Rostenberg and Stern's buying trips to England and Europe in the decade immediately following World War 2. It's not written in narrative, but as a diary. The ladies kept journals for those years (1947 - 1957), and excerpts of their diaries are printed, along with updates (or Retrospects as they are called).

In 1947 the first year they went to Europe, the ladies sailed to England by boat. The trip took 7 days from Hoboken (Across the Hudson River from NYC - in New Jersey I think) to Southampton, England. I'm not familiar with any of the English Antiquarian Bookshops - except one. Marks and Co at 84 Charing Cross Road. But there was no mention of Frank Doel. The ladies also took another boat to Calais, and then to Paris where they purchased more books. Later on the same trip, they also went to Strasbourg, Basle and The Hague.

In later years Misses Rostenberg & Stern visited London regularly, also Oxford, Cambridge, Vienna, Milan, Zurich, Florence, Geneva and Brussels. In 1954 the ladies FLEW to London for the first time. That trip took just seventeen hours rather than seven days. But then they went back to taking the boat.

Even after 1957, they still made the trip every summer, but they no longer recorded the shops they visited or the books they purchased. By then they were so well known, they were being welcomed everywhere they went. Prices were also rising as well.

This book is not for reading like a novel, since it's not a narrative. You have to be a real Bibliographic fan to read all the book titles and various phrases in French and German. It would have been helpful to have a small language glossary at the back. Otherwise it was a good book.

Oh yes, and this is my third and last book for the Bibliography Challenge. I will continue reading other books about books (I have quite a few), but I need to work on the Canadian Challenge before the New Year and all the New Challenges start LOL.

1 comment:

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Ha, just before I came to your sentence about 84 Charing Cross Road I was thinking "This sounds rather like 84 Charing Cross Road!" Might be a bit too much for me, but it does sound quite interesting. I wish I could've sailed across the Atlantic every year to buy books, wow! Thanks for sharing a book I probably would never have heard of, otherwise.