Do you have a favorite book in the Newberry?
—Emily Jaycox, St. Louis, MO
This world of ours harbors no shortage of Evil: muddy streets that immobilize horse and carriages, anemic Fire Codes, “CLOUD”-based storage, ETC. My preference is for a literature which does not deny the existence of these Things but confronts them in all their manifold Iterations. Therefore, if I must identify a Most Favored Tome within the Newberry collection, I hereby submit Paradise Lost, if for no other Reason than an introductory clause which strikes a Tenor at once righteously stark and luminously Epic: “Of man’s first disobedience and the fruit of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste brought death into the world.”
The copy I have in Mind is gilded with garnets, opals, colored leather Inlays, and much Gold tooling. Such lavish ornament would seem a direct contradiction of the value with which I invest the sober Analysis of the World; the enjoyment this Volume affords, however, is a purely Aesthetic one rather than deriving from a consideration of morality, Law, or human history. We must all have our Diversions, don’t you think? This glorious Book Binding is my own. Drag me not, I implore you, through the muddy, carriage-packed Streets of Chicago for it. The Newberry Collection bears fruit of such Quality so it may be picked…