Dad’s Faulkners

My father’s collection of Faulkner books was one of the first things I moved into my new apartment.  I moved the small box over by hand and placed it carefully on an empty shelf.

My BA in literature was non-conventional and didn’t cover a lot of “dead, white men” authors.  Over the years I filled in some of the gaps, but I never got around to Faulkner while my father was alive.  Afterwards the guilt I felt interfered and I could never commit to reading them.  The last time I was at my mother’s house, I carefully packed up Dad’s collection, which had now survived multiple purging sessions, into a small box labeled “Dad Faulkner + Herman Hesse”.  I placed it in a pile of boxes destined for Toronto.

Dad's collection, boxed and ready for transport.

Dad’s collection, boxed and ready for transport.

Now I feel lucky about the opportunity to discover a posthumous connection with my father, as though our relationship can continue to develop even after his death over 12 years ago.  If I’m really lucky, I might find notes or marginalia, valuable insights about what he was thinking when reading the books.  However, my father and I were always in agreement about keeping books pristine.  We never wrote in books, folded page corners, or highlighted passages.  My father even got annoyed at me for selling back my text books at the end of a semester.  He firmly believed you should hang onto your books as a way to preserve acquired knowledge.

I wonder what he would think about the new ways we think about gaining and maintaining knowledge.  And how some people read books electronically, like his daughter.  I wonder if I would have had the same opportunity if my father’s collection had been digital.  How would I know the Faulkners had been his favorites?  Would I have to rely on a list of stats indicating how many times he had read something, provided I could even access the digital collection?

With the print versions, I can learn about my father from the things he left behind and the condition they’re in.  Things like worn pages and those containing stains or creases, all offer clues as to which passages were re-read or mused over while eating something.  Well-loved items are typically either completely worn out or in pristine condition and visible.

Do we miss out by going digital?

Excited to tuck into the collection.

Excited to tuck into the collection.

4 comments for “Dad’s Faulkners

  1. Irene Gelyk
    12 January 2016 at 08:16

    You have preserved a wonderful connection to your father. The box you packed those books into, for me, warmed my heart. A tea box. There is Nothing better than savoring a wonderful cup of tea while reading a captivating book.

  2. jamew2965
    12 January 2016 at 08:44

    Love, Everything in the world is a Yin Yang to it. So, yes you gain something by going digital, but you lose something also. Just the way things go. This not to say it shouldn’t be done. I’ts a personal choice. For records and text books, I think should all be digital. For Company and city records its a win as you would be able to keep those records forever if the data is kept correctly. Text books would be easily updated and easier to carry if in a digital reader. Until digital text books become standard it’s still a personal choice.


    12 January 2016 at 14:02

    Good morning Lisa. Your blog has made it to New Zealand.

    Yes, there is a small place for paper in a condo, but I’m sure that my kids will have no interest in my books. Shame, I like them.

    Happy new year.


  4. 12 January 2016 at 15:04

    Somehow I recalled this piece upon reading this post:

    “…And many pages still preserved
    The small sharp imprints of his nail;
    These the attentive girl observed
    More keenly still. For now my pale
    Tatiana sees, with apprehension,
    What he considered worth attention;
    With trepidation she would read
    The words with which he had agreed
    And on the margins she would see
    His penciled comments; everywhere
    She found Onegin’s soul laid bare,
    However unintentionally,
    Now in a brief word, now a dark
    Cross, now a mocking question-mark…”
    (A.Pushkin c. 1830)

    One important aspect of digital library is a zoo of different formats. Is the book just a text, or a visual piece of art with its typeface, character lines in pageframes? If one has a choice between a simple text file with default fonts from an e-reader and scanned PDF/DJVU, what should (s)he prefer?

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