Boxing Day.

It was such a lovely Boxing Day morning here this morning - a definite chill in the air, everything edged with silver, an almost cloudless sky, and bright sunshine. Outside smelled cold and slightly smoky and there was thick ice on all the paths. The little fountain, the bird bath, and the huge puddle that looked as though it would flood the house on Christmas Eve had frozen solid, and the hens quickly retired to what was once the utility room (I suppose I should call it the "hen's room" now), and they slept in their baskets. The budgies sang in full force, and George watched a Disney film. It was a very peaceful morning, much the same as Christmas Day. It was indeed a good day and everything went smoothly. I had no disasters with Christmas dinner, I remembered sellotape this time for the presents, and there were no power cuts (I was so sure there would be). And not only did I have time to finish Middlemarch (I'll post about this properly in the next few days), but I also managed to read a little of Les Misérables (the first time I read it I found the first part 'Fantine' desperately boring, even though ultimately I loved the novel. This time around, I've no idea at all what my problem was with the first part - I love Bishop Myiel!). It was a very good day.

I got some lovely Crhistmas presents, one of which ... well, I can't believe it's mine. It's a carte de visite belonging to Émile Zola with his handwriting on: he has written on the top, "Avec mes plus vifs remerciements", and also his signature on a seperate piece of paper. It's absolutely incredible - I still can't believe that what is mine was once in his possession. My camera isn't quite fixed yet, but the moment it is I shall post a picture! A wonderful present, and I've been making up various scenarios about what Zola might have been doing on the day he wrote on his carte de visite and signed his autograph. I know it's from 1875, which was about the time La Faute de l'Abbé Mouret was published, though perhaps he was already working on His Excellence Eugène Rougon (Son Excellence Eugène Rougon), which was to be published a year later. A lovely, lovely present.

And I also got a few other books - Zola and the Bourgeoisie by Brian Nelson, and an old copy of The Dram Shop (L'Assommoir) by Zola from 1903, which I'm happy to have because I did want to read a few different translations of L'Assommoir, plus I'm enjoying the romance of the book being 110 years old! I also now have a bibliography of Zola prepared by Brian Nelson, which looks to be very helpful (if not a little complicated), and, something I've needed for a long time, Roget's Thesaurus.

So now, I'm planning on an early night: a drop of Baileys and a few chapters of Les Mis. Over the weekend I shall post about the last two books of Middlemarch and then a general review, and then... And then it will be the wind down, the last few days of 2013. Such a very fast year...

Anyway, that was my Christmas, how was everyone else's? What books did you get? :)

Comments

  1. You lucky girl! How precious and special and everything! One of the best presents I have read about on the recent Christmas posts.

    I got lots of book from my man (can't believe about how beautiful and perfect my edition of The Second Sex is) and I'll be getting another on the 6th of January since the Three Wise Men tradition in Spain is more popular than Santa.

    I love your plans for an early night. Kind of insipring another one for me :)

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    1. Lovely! Just looking at your post - your Great Gatsby edition looks gorgeous as well :)

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  2. I am speechless about your "carte de visite" present!! You must have been nearly speechless yourself!! I will wait (very impatiently) to see a picture of it.

    I received a number of books, among the highlights, Zola's The Kill translated by Brian Nelson, Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius, Gilgamesh, The Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine, Le Petit Nicolas, etc. I didn't get any old books, however, so your 1903 Zola story is making me want to visit a used book store or two!

    I have been getting caught up on a couple of books but I'm sure I'm falling behind on others. In another couple of days, we're off on vacation so I will focus on more reading then.

    Glad to hear your Christmas was so lovely. We were rather rushed ---- the perils of having both families close by ---- but it was nice to chat and visit. All the best in 2014!

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    1. It was astonishing - I keep getting it out of it's plastic wrapper and playing with it - I really need to stop doing that now!

      Of those books, I think I've read Boethius - will be interested to read your thoughts.

      And all the best to you too for 2014 - I can't believe how close it is now! :)

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  3. What lovely gifts to receive! I loved how icy and frosty it was yesterday morning, it was so lovely to wake up and snuggle up with a good book (after going for a run and nearly breaking my ankle - not the best decision). Enjoy your new books!

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    1. Gosh, are you ok?! It was so slippy here, I didn't dare walk faster than a snail!

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  4. Incredible present! I'd love to have something that belonged to a favorite author! I got myself The Human Part by the Finnish author Kari Hotakainen and I am loving it so much (mostly because it speaks in part about Finnish life and I am a tad bit very much obsessed with that country+the only way to actually buy it was to be in Finland and stumble upon a translated version).

    Hope you're enjoying les Mis. I started it last summer and somehow stopped until I had more time for such an epic work but actually liked it (especially the first part). Can't wait to read your thoughts on it.

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    1. I have read no Finnish Lit whatsoever, it's an absolute blank spot. I shall have to work on that!

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  5. I'm envious about the Zola postcard. Brian Nelson is my translator hero.

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    1. He's brilliant, isn't he? I wonder if he's working on any more Zolas...

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