Tuesday, January 16, 2007

the intellectual life

I love cruising the bookshelves at antique stores and book fairs, keeping an eye out for interesting titles. That's how I found the Tall Girl's Handbook and, another favorite, "The Intellectual Life" which consists of a series of letters that "consider the possibilities of a satisfactory intellectual life under various conditions of ordinary human existence" written by Philip Gilbert Hamerton in 1879.

Some choice selections from the Table of Contents (organized according to addressee) show just how various the conditions of human existence were at the time:
  • To A Muscular Christian

  • To A Moralist Who Had Said That There Was A Want of Moral Fibre In The Intellectual, Especially In Poets And Artists

  • To A Moralist Who Said That Intellectual Culture Was Not Conducive To Sexual Morality

  • To A Country Gentleman Who Regretted That His Son Had The Tendencies Of A Dilettant

  • To A Young Gentleman Who Had Firmly Resolved Never To Wear Anything But A Grey Coat

  • To A Young Gentleman Of Intellectual Tastes, Who, Without Having As Yet Any Particular Lady In View, Had Expressed, In A General Way, His Determination To Get Married

  • To A Young Man Of The Middle Class, Well Educated, Who Complained That It Was Difficult For Him To Live Agreeably With His Mother, A Person Of Somewhat Authoritative Disposition, But Uneducated

  • To A Young Etonian Who Thought Of Becoming A Cotton-Spinner

Suttonhoo and I almost came to blows in our quest for said intellectual education at the Printers Row Book Fair in Chicago a couple of years ago ;) BTW, if you're interested, you can find copies of The "Intellectual Life" at Amazon but it will cost you from $95 for a first edition to $195 for an early reprint. FYI, I got my first edition in mint condition for a steal at $20.


Blogger suttonhoo said...

hey! I don't remember blows -- just a crushing sideways look.

I wanted that book.


2:56 PM  
Blogger heather lorin said...

I said almost came to blows ;)

2:58 PM  

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