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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Memes and Memoirs (or, really, a single biography)

I've been tagged twice in the last week or so with the Blogging Tips Meme. And I've been seeing and reading the tips at various blogs. What a great idea! However, since I was computerless for a while and then busy catching up, I'm going to skip participation since everything I could think of has already been said. Here are links to Gentle Reader's Shelf Life and HeidiJane's Adventures in Bookland where you can read and appreciate some great blogging tips! (oops! faulty links--they should be corrected now)

I started Elizabeth of the German Garden, the biography of Elizabeth von Arnim by Leslie de Charms, the other day and am thoroughly enjoying it. Melanie at The Indextrious Reader kindly recommended it after I'd complained of being unable to locate a biography of Von Arnim. The book is out of print and must be located through used book sellers, but is worth the effort.

Have to share a few select quotes (several of the quotes are originally from The Solitary Summer, others from her journals):

What a blessing it is to love books.... Everybody must love something, and I know of no objects of love that give such substantial and unfailing returns as books and a garden. And how easy it would have been to come into the world without this, and possessed instead of an all-consuming passion , say, for hats, perpetually raging round my empty soul (66).

I read and laugh over my Boswell in the library when the lamps are lit, buried in cushions and surrounded by every sign of civilisation...books have their idiosyncracies as well as people, and will not show me their full beauties unless the place and time in which they are read suits them (66-67).

De Charms notes that Pepys, Montaigne, Lamb, and Gibbon were probably in the same category, while Thoreau, Goethe, Keats, Spenser, Wordsworth and Shakespeare were her choices for out of doors.

When I drive in the forest, Keats goes with me; and if I extend my drive to the Baltic shores and spend the afternoon on the moss beneath the pines, I take Spencer... (67).

Lovely morning. Walked in garden with Wordsworth in hand and was happy (67).

Easy to fall in love with an author who adores books and gardens and writes about them with such pleasure, such obvious friendship, as if she could be introduced to the garden or the books and begin a heart-felt conversation with either.


  1. Thanks for the link! And I love the quotes from Elizabeth of the German Garden--it sounds like a really good read. I loved The Enchanted April and would love to learn more about its writer, especially after reading these quotes!

  2. gentle reader -- Jill let me know that the links weren't working, but I've fixed them now. Aren't the quotes great!

  3. I'm not much of a memoir reader but this one sounds delightful. I've only read one of her books, The Enchanted April, which is right up there as one of my most favorites ever. I didn't even know about this memoir. Thank you for mentioning it and I will have to be on the look out for it.

  4. iliana - I just used "memoir" for alliteration, it is actually a biography of von Arnim. I'm really enjoying learning more about her.

  5. Jenclair, you are always introducing me to such marvelous books and authors. The quotes you shared are so lovely. I look forward to finding my own copy of this book.

  6. Booklogged -- I would never have found this one without Melanie's suggestion. Have to admit that one annoying thing is that de Charms decided not to print several letters to Elizabeth because they were too passionate. Fine, but don't mention that you are omitting them which only arouses my curiosity!