June 5, 2010


The commonplace book of Ben Jonson (1572-1637) was published posthumously in 1640, entitled "Timber, or discoveries made upon men and matter". It is fascinating and fun.

Seven years ago, in a puppy-related incident, our copy of that book was destroyed. Recently, in thinking about why we blog, and what a blog is, I was reminded of commonplace books, and of my late, lamented copy of Timber. So, online, I found and ordered a copy of the same edition we'd lost – the 1892 edition, edited by one Prof. Felix E. Schelling of the University of Pennsylvania.

It arrived yesterday, and I was pleased to see that this replacement volume was in much better shape than our old one (even before it was chewed up). I showed the book to my wife, mentioning that it was more than 100 years old, but had cost less than 20 dollars (including shipping).

"Oh," she asked, "would that be on Project Gutenberg or something?"

Well, no*. But it turns out that, yes, it is available on Google Books. In the very same 1892 Shelling edition. And yes, it's free to download.

So yesterday, I also got a free pdf of Timber. And today, NeuroCooking friend, you too can get a free copy, if you wish. My, how the book business has changed.

*Whoops, um, yes, you can find Timber on Project Gutenberg. [late edit, with apologies; but forgive me for missing it the first time, because Project Gutenberg lists this work simply as "Discoveries" with no "Timber" in sight!]

No comments:

Post a Comment


Blog Archive