Sunday, March 08, 2009

Omnia Opera Migne Patrologia Latina

So this sweet old man calls me the other night. Man of the cloth, coming to visit bookstore. We discuss religion, metaphysics and books for the next hour. Next day he arrives and i bring in an old 1840's Latin Tome to impress him. We have a few volumes of this set, which i had not had a chance to research, being in latin, and also being such a charming big old religious tract, that i wasn't in a hurry to sell it.

The sweet man of the cloth tells me all about this volume, and the set of some 170+ volumes. All the writings of the Church Fathers, The sublime and elusive Patrologia Latina

According to Wikipedia...

The Patrologia Latina is an enormous collection of the writings of the Church Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers published by Jacques-Paul Migne between 1844 and 1855, with indices published between 1862 and 1865.

Although consisting of reprints of old editions, which often contain mistakes and do not comply with modern standards of scholarship, the series, due to its availability (it is present in many academic libraries) and the fact that it incorporates many texts of which no modern critical edition is available, is still widely used by scholars of the Middle Ages and is in this respect comparable to the Monumenta Germaniae Historica. The Patrologia Latina is one part of the Patrologiae Cursus Completus, the second part of which is the Patrologia Graeco-Latina, consisting of patristic and medieval Greek works with Latin translations.

The Patrologia Latina includes over 1000 years of Latin works from Tertullian to Pope Innocent III, in 217 volumes: volumes 1 to 73, from Tertullian to Gregory of Tours, were published from 1844 to 1849, and volumes 74 to 217, from Pope Gregory I to Innocent III, from 1849 to 1855. Although the collection ends in 1216, after the death of Innocent III, Migne originally wanted to include documents all the way up to the Reformation; this task proved too great, but some later commentaries or documents associated with earlier works were included.

The printing plates for the Patrologia were destroyed by fire in 1868, but with help from the Garnier printing house they were restored and new editions were printed, beginning in the 1880s. These reprints did not always correspond exactly with the original series both in quality and internal arrangement, and caution should be exercised when referencing to the PL in general.[1]

So the next day, having left the book sitting out next to the comfy leather chair, another guy walks in and grabs it and explains that he has been looking for this forever, etc etc...and that he really wants the volumes of Pope Gregorys Letters, but that this volume, Number 78 I believe, consists of Gregorys writings on the Sacraments. He wants it bad.

Now, the fact that a guy in the middle of Dairy country backwoods driftless Wisconsin can walk in and read a 150 year old religious book in Latin is weird enough, but when he returns the Flannery O'Connor to the shelf, and demands a price for the old gem, well things are getting pretty weird.

Now this is not the kind of book that you can type in and isbn and check the replacement costs. In fact, there were no other copies listed anywhere for this particular volume. I had not priced it, and this is the lesson of the day, never bring stock into the store, for a moment, without knowing the price you will be happy with it leaving. Ugh. In fact it still had dear Bob Shui's 40 year old price of 3.50 penciled in the corner of the first page.

I offered the kind scholar use of the book, at no charge, until the end of time, but he wanted to purchase it. Now if we were in Rome, or Bozeman, we could charge a usurious extreem capitalist pricetag to this kind of rarity. But alas, we are in teh Kickapoo valley, and customers for a book like this are not really beating down the doors. Sure, we could have listed it on ebay and maybe sold it, or catalogued it and let the right monestary find it in a few years, and get some ok price. But, the joy of this game is to make the exchange face to face, to see the wonder and amazement when someone finds something they though was gone in the past, out of print, lost.

So we gave him a price, and after some hemming and contemplating, he agreed and seemed tickled pink for having made such an auspicious exchange.. So did we. and we commemerated it with a photo.

Although i am sad to see this particular book leave our care, i am fully assured it's Karmic path has been followed, and now i have to dig up the other volumes from the dusty latin and greek language shelves and see where they fall in the massive set of ecclesiastical graveyard.

I though colecting Philip K Dick Pulps was a challenge, but now i think i may set a new goal to assemble a complete set of the Patrologia Latina. All 170some volumes. MAybe an old monestary will read this and some young monk wil email with an offer..... We'll save at least one volume for the store, maybe awaiting the day when the kids beg us to teach them Latin again, and we gather the elders who remember their own grade school classes and the cycle can continue.


Been to the desert on a book with no name...

"Hi, I'm looking for this book...I don't remember the name...I know it has something to do with gardening...and it's green...does that help? I need it right away!" This kind of request happens more than you would think, and I am beginning to think it is probably every bookseller's nightmare. Of course you wish you could help, that's why you're there, but it's not always possible. Sometimes you have to send these poor souls away in search of more information. They may cry, they may wring their hands and beg, but you are helpless without at least a part of a title or author, and you kindly try to explain your position; it's all you can do...

Junior Bibliophiles

  • A Kitty whirlwind tumbled through our store. These girls were having a birthday party and wanted to make an appearance in their local used bookstore. (I got purred on mercilessly.)

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Viroqua Store Report Month #1

We have made it through the first month since opening our new Viroqua store. It has been an absolutely magickal ride so far. The customers have been a real slice of the Wisconsin countryside, with the older community really representing, forcing us daily to dig through our stacks in search of old and obscures tomes from childhoods. The free kids books we offer all the young'ins have been very effective in quieting the young minds who may be somewhat overwhelmed by the cavernous alleyway of books. The Leather chair is a favorite resting spot for young and old, and the conversations blow my mind daily.

Vernon County may indeed be the 3rd poorest County in the state, but the level of intellectual prowess exhibited in the store makes me think I live in a community of ascetics living in caves in the hills, pusuing the deepest of the esoteric sea in buckets full of words.

The books on The Black Hawk War, Wisconsin History, and Native American Studies move faster than we can order new ones. It's interesting to see the price of some of these books raise themselves overnight on the web due to us buying a copy here and there. The time spent searching the dusty corners of the internets for certain books has been occupying most of my time most days, but I have realized that I am nearing my 10,000th hour of this kind of madness, and the benefits in time saved are very real.

We had our first meeting of our Book Club, and a lively discussion was had by all. We are reading and discussing 2012, by Daniel Pinchbeck. Our Econoclast wizard friend, Jerome McGeorge is facilitating the meetings, which is a treat in itself. We have even contacted Daniel and asked him to come and speak to the Viroqua community. Cross your fingers.

We need more space. It has been very difficult to keep everyone happy, with our limited retail space. Every day we bring in new boxes of books which people had requested. We are hoping we can expand into the next stroefront, and connect the to with a custom BookArch© cut into the connecting wall. The operators of the most excellent space we are in wish to promote a diversity of businesses, and are counciling the old addage of not getting too big too fast. Wise words and ideals. The secret egenda is just to be closer to Artos Bakery, to more easily smell the fragrent blessed breads and pies coming from their nearby ovens.

We also have a first class high school apprentice from Youth Initiative High Schoo. Hannah is a future Book Store owner, so she tells us, and her enthusiasm and hard work wil make her dream come true for sure. It's great to have the help, and more importantly nice to train someone young in this dying practice of recycling old tomes.

Today we are having a visitor from Madison bringing some of his olf Theological texts as a donation. We spoke for an hour on the phone last night, and he sounds like a fascinating man. He wanted to know if he could spend some time writing poetry in our store. I said by all means YES. He's 75 years old, and a former man of the Cloth. He said something that really struck me, The the Church has a responsibility to preserve and promote and protect the Written Word.
On a similar note, we had a church in La Crosse call us about buying their library.

We're learning the ins and outs of buying books on the fly, with a store full of browsers, from anyone who may wander in. Sometimes it is very hard to find common ground, but often it goes flawlessly, with both parties happy with the trade. We try to encourage trades for credit, and sometimes we give both, but folks seem to need cash these days, and i hope we can continue to offer this service, without having to buy another building to store it all.

We made a very auspicious arrangement with the local Biodynamic Agriculture Group to help sell a slew of Organic Farming books they have been selling at conferences and such. It is the kind of brand new stock we cannot really afford to puchase new, and the books are the perfect kind of material for our area, and we will have them in the store next week. Where we put them, and which section has to retire back to Viola is another matter.....

Spring is showing it;s tips through the clouds and retreating snow. It feels nice to imagine opening the window again and tearing off the plastic winter sweaters they all wear. Half of Viola seems to be for sale, starting with the bar next door, which never recovered from the flood. Anyone want to open an organic coffeehouse with pancakes and tempeh ruebens?

The sun is coming up, so i must get to work ...