Yesterday ended with the glorious culmination of a prolonged search for a rarefied treasure. In my formative years, I was a carnivorous reader (and can still largely claim that title), spending magnanimous amounts of time in my elementary school's tiny library. In this library, I discovered a passion for fairy tale's and corresponding literature, such as a poem devoted to the woe's of a greedy child and the lengths her sister goes to save her. Comprised of goblins, golden hair, fruit and a moral in there somewhere - the scene would enact itself out in my head. Then I graduated and didn't really think about this story or other tales I had read. Years later, in college, these stories reappeared in my conscience and I had to have them back. I scoured the internet, I went back to my elementary school (thrown out - or something - that crochety old librarian!) , but the books I had loved were gone. I wasn't finished. I was armed with just the plot line.
Photo by Javier Cruzado
Yesterday, I laid out the plot of one title, called Shadow Castle to a co-worker (ok, I knew two of the titles, this one and The Woodcutter's Daughter). It sounded to her like Plato's Allegory of The Cave, and she urged me to Wiki it. Instead, I got online and thought - I'll look on Amazon - just real quick.
I love Amazon, it offers many opportunities with its money saving options and grouping of booksellers from across the U.S. We go a long way back, and I've never had a bad experience, only impatience while waiting for items to arrive in the mail. So, there we were, face to face - me and my favored website, hoping it wouldn't fail me now. There it was, Shadow Castle by Marian Cockrell and Olive Bailey (back in print), and others such as George Macdonald's likened tales to Tolkein, but I still didn't have my poem filled with Goblins. I went back online and typed in elements of the plot via Google. Through some obscure discussion group, I found it - Christina Rossetti's Goblin's Market. How come I couldn't find this all before?
Dead Hour: Photo by Jason Larkin
To read this poem now, I'd never have guessed I read it first as a small 3rd grader. It is not the definition of facile. I assume the tales' proclivity towards strange and creepy made its mark, as I tend to read things of chthonic nature to this day, albeit less demons and more dark. Only, my lengthy search reveals one thing - it is my tactile satisfaction of a book that enhances its enjoyment (i.e. crumpled pages of a well-read tome). It is poignant then, that the future of rarefied books and their availability (juxtaposed against cyber-want-it-now-mentality-craving culture) is coming to a crippling end. Publishing had another nail hammered into it's coffin yesterday, and I'm concerned. Who cares enough to maintain books integrity? Must they all shuffle into public libraries and private collections in lieu of Amazon's Kindle and iphone's online newspapers? Like the way of Lehman's and AGI, with reclining newspaper and magazine distribution rates, low reading statistics and the ease of our digital age, we're all in for a nosedive.