Hemingway's rosy wallpaper

Or  not so macho.  

Once upon a time in a lovely, small library where I happen to work, there was a copy of Death In the Afternoon.

For some reason, the book wasn't circulating, even though there was a resurgence of interest in Ernest Hemingway's wives, boats, and feasts.  I have to wonder about the sensible shoes librarian or her assistant, (Igor) who used this pinkie floral wallpaper scrap for the dust jacket many decades ago.

All I know about bull-fighting I learned from Bizet's opera, "Carmen" and from The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf.  One is all about passion, death, blood, lust, jealousy, and fate.  The other is about smelling the flowers in all the lovely ladies' hair and declining to fight.

Was the old librarian being frugal, using whatever material was at hand to protect her precious books?  Or was she making a statement and trying to dissuade manly men from reading Hemingway's non-fiction reportage?

Matadors wear pink hose.  Library books wear dust jackets with a protective plastic cover to increase their longevity.  The rosy wallpaper on Death In the Afternoon might have come from Grandma's house in Pierce, Nebraska, already faded in the early Sixties. The style of plastic book jacket cover on our book would have looked old, cracked, and marginally appealing at the Pierce Library in those same years when I was being Grandma's little library assistant:

The seeds of Brodart took root in 1939, when a young Columbia University student named Arthur Brody invented the plastic book jacket cover.  Involved with architectural photography as a student, one day Mr. Brody washed the emulsion off some film and folded it around his books for added protection.  When the cover’s popularity grew among his fellow students, the plastic book jacket cover was officially born, as was Brodart.  Today, the covers are used to protect the original paper jackets of library books, giving them a longer shelf life and increasing their circulation.

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Neato, all around!


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