On our love for books

On our love for books

29 August 2014

Sartre, Oeuvres Romanesques, Collection la Pléiade.

Books are like lovers. If you abandon them, they take revenge. And they always win.

It was a magnificent day in Paris, two days ago, and my return train to London was leaving in three hours. I was in a hurry to get back to the hotel, collect my stuff and head to the station. Just before turning onto Rue Vaugirard, a bookshop springs out from nowhere, right under my nose. I would have perhaps managed to ignore it, in the circumstances, had it not been for the tables outside. So clean and tidy at the front, more messy and grey at the back. The usual mix of literature – old and new, leather-bound and scruffy. The philosophy books were leading the show, right in the front row, and unbearably white. Collection: Bibliothèque de la Pléiade. Sartre, Camus, Platon. Coup de foudre, without a chance. I take in the view and try to focus my sight and my mind on as many individual books from that row as possible. As it turns out, my focus range is not something to boast about – so after a few moments of panic, I stop at Sartre. Oeuvres Romanesques published by Gallimard in 1982. It includes Nausea, the four volumes of Ways to Freedom, some extracts from his diary, and fragments of his correspondence with Simone de Beauvoir. (See below).

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