Friday, June 29, 2012

Book title of the week

I love browsing through Gutenberg. Unlike standard booksellers, Gutenberg is a messy, delightfully unpredictable source of new reading material. Oh, and it's perfectly reasonably to find a book with the following title:
The Discovery of a World in the Moone
Or, A Discovrse Tending To Prove That 'Tis Probable There May Be Another Habitable World In That Planet
This find by John Wilkins was published in 1638 and has all the marks of a book from its era - spelling is random, sentence structure is bizarre, and every point seems to stretch on for eternity. For example, one of the "cautions" in the introduction:
That thou shouldst not here looke to find any exact, accurate Treatise, since this discourse was but the fruit of some lighter studies, and those too hudled up in a short time, being first thought of and finished in the space of some few weekes, and therefore you cannot in reason expect, that it should be so polished, as perhaps, the subject would require, or the leisure of the Author might have done it.
That is, based on my brief flip-through, the most easily comprehensible sentence in the entire book. Meanwhile, the ideas in the book are no less strange (and obviously hilariously outdated). Thank you, Gutenberg: this is going to be amazing.


  1. It leads to all sorts of speculation about the said Mr Wilkins. The fact that he appears to be deprecating the standard of his work and yet still gives the word author a capital A makes me wonder if this wasn't written with the expectation that everyone would say, 'Oh John, don't put yourself down. The book is wonderful." Am I just a nasty cynic?

  2. that sounds like a really fun place to find new books!

  3. I totally agree with you about Gutenberg! Searching there can be so miserable, but when you stumble upon something good, it makes you feel like you hit jackpot :-)


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