Translated by Jean Ward
Henry David Thoreau: Grasping the Community of the World
| 7 →
His name was Eliot Alison… That was all there was on the yellow piece of lined paper torn out of a notebook and slipped inside the first volume of Thoreau’s Journal, bought in the spring of 1995 in a second-hand bookshop in Concord. “Books with a Past, Inc.”: an exceptionally well-chosen name, when you think that they deal in “used” books, books that have passed through the hands of many other users and owners before they come into ours. But it is a past, not the past, for these stories are not in themselves the object of interest; they do not unfold themselves in a single narrative form, nor do they find their way inside the covers of the book that is bought. Instead, they remain on the outside; they are weeds that have been pulled up from the fertile field of the story or the academic discourse. A past remains untold; it is one of many voices that gradually fall silent outside the closed doors of the cover, while inside is the bright light of some philosophical or literary salon, the light of the tale spun behind those closed doors: the past. In this way the books with which we spend our time are divested of any life other than the one that they supply to themselves. This study, which begins with a piece of yellowed paper and several thousand pages of a thinker’s journal, is concerned with what, to adapt Emerson’s...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.