Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Shelf of Honor

Today, I came across the notion of a "shelf of honor" again in Harry Mulisch's The Discovery of Heaven:
Max went to his "shelf of honor" on the mantelpiece. Between two bronze book ends, laurel-crowned satyrs with cloven hooves, were the ten or fifteen books that at a certain moment represented the sublime for him. Now and then there were changes, but what was always there was his father's copy of the Ego and His Own, signed Wolfgang Delius—im Felde 1917, ... Kafka's Preparations for a Country Wedding ...
I had encountered the notion of a "shelf of honor" or "Ehrenbort" before in Thomas Mann, "Antwort auf eine Rundfrage." On Mann's shelf of honor: Schopenhauer's World as Will and Representation took a large place, but it also held Shakespeare, Goethe, Novalis, [and] Nietzsche."

I find this idea interesting. Though I do not have a physical shelf dedicated to books most important to me, if I did (or when I do) it will probably contain Montaigne's Essys, Lawrence Sterne's Tristram Shandy, Immanuel Kant's Groundwork, Lichtenberg's Sudelb├╝cher, and Kafka's Metamorphosis.

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