Comfort Reading

Rereading Cabell’s Figures of Earth on the way home today. A favorite book of mine, and I noticed it was available on Project Gutenberg, so I downloaded it to my iPhone. I own two beautiful editions, one part of the 19-volume Storisende edition — signed and numbered and very handsome in green cloth with gold stamping — and the other the edition with the brilliant Papé illustrations. But I’d be nervous about carrying either one around in my backpack — I don’t own many books in such nice or scarce editions that I’d feel bad if they got scuffed up in my pack, but both of those I would, and I don’t even want to think about the possibility of losing a volume from the numbered set.

Figures of Earth is sort of a serious parody of a medieval French romance, about the made-up legendary hero Dom Manuel, who rises from obscurity as a poor and none too bright swineherd to eventually become the powerful and reputedly brave and wise lord of a vast estate. His power comes in part through a blessing that was also a curse: He is given the power to obtain anything he wants, but at a terrible price, for on obtaining it he then perceives its true worth.

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