I’ve been reluctant to respond to the theme of ‘mine’ – it struck me as a request to show how self-centred and unsharing we can be sometimes. However, I’ve just realised that I have something I’m pleased to call ‘mine’ because I’ve been using a borrowed one for 15 months. I don’t need to hang onto it very tightly: it’s one of those things that no one else would ever want!
In June last year I began working on the translation of a story, reading from a library book which I was the first to borrow since the 1980s. The story was so good that I soon tried to buy my own copy. But it’s such a peculiar title and edition that my worldwide search turned up nothing. Until 2 weeks ago. I was reminded that persistence pays.
Here’s the library book I’ve been using, printed in 1980:
And here’s ‘mine’, the edition which rewarded my relentless searching. It came from a bookshop in Geneva complete with an old folded 1920 invoice between its pages. I was thrilled to find that the book is the original of the library version, meaning the page numbers are the same and I don’t have to rearrange my notes.
My book is so fragile that page shards are appearing on every surface where I work with it. But it’s mine and I don’t have to return it to a library. Every one of its readers from the past 145 years is inspiring me as I translate its words for a new century of readers.