Friday, 31 July 2015

Libraries, book stores and such like.

A few weeks ago I bought a book by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, "El Prisionero del Cielo". The book promised to take me back to the Barcelona he had described in the book that made his name some years back, "La Sombra del Viento", set in post-Civil War Barcelona. I had enjoyed reading that book, now translated into umpteen languages and probably making Mr Ruiz Zafón into a wealthy man (I hope), so I decided to give this one a go. As a result, I decided I wanted to reread "La Sombra del Viento". I lent my copy to a young friend last year and doubt whether I will ever see it again. So we have now bought both "La Sombra del Viento" and its sequel "El Juego del Ángel" for the kindle. 

In "La Sombra del Viento" we are introduced to a place referred to as "El Cementerio de los Libros Olvidados" - the cemetery of forgotten books. Books that are no longer read have a place there. Those who are introduced to its labyrinthine corridors must choose a book, or let a book choose them, which they will vow to preserve and protect. (Hence the title of the novel, for the protagonist selects "La Sombra del Viento" and opens a can of worms when he tries to find out more about the author and why he can find no more of his books anywhere.) It's an interesting concept. 

My only quibble is that one of the characters in the novel selects "Tess of the d'Urbevilles", not really a forgotten book! But that is by the by. We are told that whenever a library or bookshop closes, its contents find a home in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Now, the Cemetery must be getting very full of English libraries, which have been closng at a furious rate of knots in the last few years! And I have never found out who, if anyone, pays the chap who works as a kind of curator of the place. Its existence appears to be unknown to the general public and only certain selected people are told of its whereabouts and initiated into its mysteries! These are the kind of things you have to accept in novels at times. 

I have moved on now to "El Juego del Ángel" where I came across an interesting expression. "Un señorito de cierto postín" seems to be a young gentleman of a certain class, of some standing. I found myself wondering if that word "postín" started life as one of those falsely created "English" words, in this case "posting". It is not beyond the bounds of possibility, especially as it could then have been "hispanified" into "postín". I must google it to confirm my suspicions. 

 Talking of libraries (well, I was a little earlier), I took some books back to Vigo library yesterday. They were overdue! One of the things I meant to do this time last week was phone the library and renew them but time slipped away and that task slipped my mind. So yesterday evening, I walked into town with the books, fully expecting the library to be closed. It usually operates a mornings-only schedule in the summer time. To my surprise the doors were open and people were going in and out. Ah, well, I thought, perhaps I should go in and return the books properly, facing the librarian's lecture about how I would now be banned from borrowing books for the next two weeks, and so and so forth. However, although I could get into the building, the inner door to the library itself was firmly closed. So I avoided the walk of shame and posted the books into the external letterbox labelled "buzón de devueltas". 

This is a splendid idea. All libraries should have such a letter box so that people too ashamed to return long overdue books could just post them anonymously! 

Post-script: I just looked up "postín" in an online dictionary. It gives me this: postín = elegance; de postín = posh; darse postín = to sow off, as in "se da mucho postín de que su padre es ministro" = he boasts about his father being a minister. 

There you go! No joy on the etymology front though.

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