What’s the point of beautiful books?

Beautiful books — IMHO — are more likely to be read. Which could well be a brill thing if the book is a good’un.

I’ve long appreciated the Penguin series, Clothbound Classics. The Snufferjog bought us Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray which was beautifully produced, and the footnotes added interest. That whetted the appetite.

A few years down the line, my Father-in-Law generously gave me a bit of dosh for Xmas, so I decided to treat myself to another.

But which one to buy!?

I’d noticed that this series were numbered, (our Dorian was number ten, por ejemplo). So I began my internet hunt for which book was number one in the series, a task you might think was very easy, but oh no. No reference on any Penguin affiliated website of any sort of enumeration.

Hope came in the form of Google Image Search which showed me a wealthy woman’s full collection. In numerical order. And the first in the series is… Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert.


“Didn’t do it in school so ‘aven’t ‘eard of it.”

Well, uninitiated. It’s French. That’s all you need to know.

I bought it and I read it. That’s an achievement. (This was an English translation, so not that much of an achievement).

One minor issue though, the edition I bought was not numbered, so there was no real reason to buy that particular book. Oh well.

But I’m hooked anyway. So what to buy next is the question?

Well, let’s stick with the French theme he says, buy a book written around the same period he says. And by the following Thursday Les Miserables is on my doormat.

Wow. 1,231 pages… ABRIDGED.

So that’s that phase over. Although I did see that next month, Augustine’s Confessions is being released in the series. A two birds one stone killing asking to be made if ever I saw one, I’m only studying ruddy theology. So that’s getting pre-ordered. Maybe.


One more thing. I feel I need to explain to the ethereal head-shrinker why I have a desire in the first place to buy the number one in a series of somethings.

It all began in Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Disney Store, 1994. I’ve got some Christmas money to spend (sounds familiar) and I’m keen to get me a VHS of Sing-Along-Songs, fronted by the inimitable Jiminy Cricket. The one I wanted to get was the one with Peter Pan on the front because I liked the one with Peter Pan on the front. But Dad jumps in.

“Heyheyheyheyheyhey, don’t be so rash there son. Think about it. What you’re gonna wanna do is get Volume One and work your way up to Peter Pan which is Volume Seven. Think about it.”

“But Volume One has Bagheera on the front and he’s got more tough love than my four year old brain can handle”

“You’re getting volume one.”

“Um… okay.”


And from that day forth, I was PROGRAMMED to seek-out the first in the series of stuff.

Right, I’m off back to my Hugo. Only 1,147 pages to go!


Spoiler Risks in Postmodern Films and Postmodern Sermons

I have a new proposal for the BBFC. Usually they say something like: ‘contains scenes of mild peril’ or ‘contains infrequent strong language and moderate bloody threat’. But I think that some of them should say: ‘contains clips from other films you may have not yet seen’ or easier yet: ‘contains spoilers’.

I was enraged to see that the Japatow film This is 40 shows the final episode of Lost multiple times. On top of that — I cannot confirm this due to the fact that by this point, my wife and I were shouting over the scene so as not to hear anything the blasted characters were saying — but they as far as I could see, they also discussed these crucial scenes extensively. This sort of writing, directing, producing — whoever’s to blame — is irresponsible, not funny and not cool!

Spoilers are inevitable in real life. For example I heard a Harry Potter spoiler in the toilet next door to me once, why there were two men in a cubicle discussing Hogwarts, I don’t know, but it happened. My brother once accidentally told me a Ryan Gosling spoiler, the stupid thing is that this was while he was complaining about people who have no regard for spoilers! But fine, these things can’t be helped in the hustle and bustle of real life, but in films!? Premeditated works of art!?

Look at 50 First Dates. In this film, they give away the ending of Shyamalan’s seminal, twist laden Sixth Sense. Bridesmaids shows important clips from Castaway in it. And I’m sure you can all come up with other examples. This is rife. Filmmakers, have some respect!

I will leave you with the story of a dear friend of mine who loves the book The Picture of Dorian Grey. He loves it so much that he has not read the ending, he thinks that by not reading the end, the pleasure he gains from the book will never end for him, that he will remain in the world of the book and that he won’t be closing the door on it by reading the resolution (I don’t really get the logic, but I respect the sentiment). He lives in a constant flurry of fear, knowing that his life could be ruined at any point by someone blurting out Wilde’s expertly crafted denouement.

I found this self-generated ignorance cave an especially humorous one to inhabit, especially when one day, along came a hip young Christian youth speaker, giving a hip young evangelistic talk. This guy wanted to reach his hip young audience by making references to the hip young author Oscar Wilde (I know, has he not heard of Jane Austen?), but as he did this, he described — in full — the ending of Dorian! It was not pretty.

Yes, due to the masses’ modern penchant for intermediality, I do believe that spoiler warnings need to be given by the relevant authorities, but must we also ask for these warnings from preachers too!? I do hope not.