Wednesday, May 17, 2006

hello from Edinburgh

Which I like better than Dublin, even though it has more hills. I think the highlight of Dublin was, like JaneFan mentioned, Trinity College (I seem to have been chasing you around Ireland! wouldn't it be weird if we were someplace at the same time and didn't know it?). I went to see the Book of Kells, which was, you know, interesting and all, but I think the British Library sated my desire for ancient texts. It was the Long Room that wowed me. And it was totally unexpected, I knew nothing about the Long Room, I was just trying to find my way out, and I got to the top of the stairs and just stopped in my tracks, before I even rounded the corner. It was the smell of books, old, dusty leather bindings. There's no other smell like it. I just stood there for a minute and inhaled reverently. I love that smell. I wish they could bottle it.
And then I entered the Long Room, which is a bibliophile's wet dream. It's like...well it's like something out of a book. One long corridor full of towering shelves absolutely crammed with Trinity College's oldest books. There's the spiral staircase in the corner (I bought a print too!) and busts of great authors. It's magnificent. I was about to slide to the floor in a puddle of happiness when I saw the exhibition of Beckett manuscripts to celebrate his centenary. Notebooks and letters and drafts and theater programs and first editions. I've never actually seen any Beckett, but someday. He's enough of a literary giant that I was appropriately bowled over. I think my favorite part of the exhibit was his notebooks from his college days; there's one full of notes on Dante's Paradiso, going on about Canto XXVIII and the levels of heaven, very analytical, and then at the very bottom of the page he wrote, "[Don't understand a word of this]".
As I was drooling over the display cases I suddenly hear music from the far end of the room. Just to make things perfectly perfect (and maybe to make up for the fact that I spent the rest of my stay in Dublin soaking wet), they had a harpist playing Carolan on a replica of the medieval harp kept in the Long Room (Carolan was a blind Irish harpist in the 18th century, for those of you unfortunate enough not to have heard his stuff).
And then I did slide to the ground in a puddle of happiness.
But now I'm in Edinburgh, rather worn out, trying to find the Writer's Museum, and failing to arrange a final liasion with 48 Hour French Girlfriend. Tomorrow I'm going to Rosslyn chapel, just in time for the release of The Da Vinci Code.


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