Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Sorcery from Huddersfield

Just finished reading John Richardson's Sorcerer's Apprentice, a witty and perceptive memoir. Once his early life is sketched out - delightfully - the bulk of the book concerns his time living in the South of France where he was friendly with Picasso, Cocteau and other artists and collectors of the same vintage. A well-examined life, some high-end gossip, a collection of fascinating portraits and intriguing art historical insights make for a readable brew (thanks to Barendina for the recommendation, which I pass on).

I bought it second-hand (Abe Books?) for £0.01 plus p&p. It's an unused copy acquired, catalogued and laminated by the University of Huddersfield, an institution that is new to me. I know it's unused as it's in pristine condition and has an unstamped library flyleaf.

This transaction, or series of transactions, seems wasteful and even somewhat melancholy (despite my ending up with a bargain). Perhaps a librarian's aspirations for his student readers outstripped their interests, or at least their reading lists? Or was the book's withdrawal before it had a chance to be read a matter of policy - the product of a purge of perceived snobberies or in favour of art-theoretic approaches? Was a new art history course stillborn because of a change in funding or fewer applications than anticipated?

In any event, the University of Huddersfield and Picasso's Provence won't be communing within the covers of this book.

7 comments:

worm said...

I too have mused on the melancholy provenance of hardback books acquired from abebooks! I get lots of stuff from them. Amazing that there's just so many words out there, that took so much effort and care and learning and love - and you can buy them unread for 1p!

ghostofelberry said...

i own several books that used to belong to Huddersfield library - in my case, i grew up in Hudds and the library was my first tutor. Sorcery indeed.

Sean said...

I am still in shock that they have libraries in Huddersfield...I thought it was Rugby League, Bitter and Television masts, but the train station is pretty damn good!

ghostofelberry said...

The public library is actually very good - far better than at Leeds, for example.

Gaw said...

Worm: It's a most peculiar feeling - delighted as you've saved quite a few quid, but sad that a book's been discarded and at the imagined reasons why.

Elb: I dread to think what your library fines would be.

Sean: Isn't the North all like that?

Brit said...

Huddersfield is a beautiful town, in a bleak sort of way. Lovely stone.

ghostofelberry said...

Go to Almondbury in Huddersfield, you can see my father. Much of the Elberry Paradox will then become clear.