Sunday, March 27, 2005

Heaven is... Oxford, and it's called Blackwell's. I can't work out exactly why this bookshop is different from all other bookshops - something to do with the layout - but I could spend all day in there, being tempted by all kinds of different books that don't leap into the hand in quite thesame way in any other shop.

I came out with a volume of Mallarme poems, but arranged so cleverly that it's hard to understand why it's not done more often. As well as copious notes, it includes both the original French AND an English translation, printed side by side. It makes perfect sense. Standard practice for opera libretti and Lieder in CD booklets, of course, but not elsewhere. Normally we have to buy just one or the other; and, if you're me, you either miss all kinds of words and nuances in the original through not knowing the language well enough, or you feel the lack of the poem's native music when it's lost in translation. I had a quick hunt to see if anyone had done the same for Rimbaud or Baudelaire, but they hadn't.

Oxford is wonderful. I often wish I'd gone there instead of the other place, where the wind comes straight from Siberia.