The moment you step into the Huntington Gardens, you are surrounded by the heady scent of roses. The path from the parking lot to the visitors entrance is lined with rose bushes.
Here is a list of things self saw in The Huntington Library (San Marino, CA) today:
- The Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, opened to the monk’s tale, with eight red wax seals lining the bottom of the page
- An early edition of one of Shakespeare’s Folios. On the wall, directly above it, a quote which ended with “Doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love.”
- A copy of Missions in the New World by Francesco Severio Clavigero, published in Venice, 1789
- the “elephant edition” of John James Audubon’s Birds of America (This book was almost as tall as herself; she’s not kidding)
- Henry David Thoreau’s journal, which became the basis for Walden. The quote above it: “I wished to live deliberately.”
- Jack London’s manuscript for White Fang, 1905. The quote above it: “He was a silent fury.”
Can self tell you how moved she was to see handwritten letters by Charles Dickens, displayed in the same room as Thoreau’s journal and Jack London’s handwritten manuscripts? She imagines the writers’ hands moving across the paper in methodical fashion. Knowing that these keepsakes survived makes her feel very worship-ful. Also, the fact that she’s seeing them on 9/11, and most of the paper that got blown about that day (retrieved from as far away as Long Island — how they made it across the water is a mystery) were office memos, scrawled-over office calendars, graphs, worksheets — ordinary, human things.
Paper is fragile; thoughts aren’t.
Where is she going with this?
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.