Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Book question...

I was recently sorting through a few books and realised that as my library is scattered over several locations I have more than one copy of some books. Apart from having several copies of the Bible (different translations, though) and dupicate copies of some liturgical texts, the following are the books I have two copies of:

John Henry Newman: Plain and Parochial Sermons (I purchased the very compact 1 Volume Ignatius edition on ultra-thin paper, and shortly afterwards received the old [early 20th Century] standard 8 Volume set)
John Henry Newman: The Dream of Gerontius (I originally owned a very tatty photocopy of the text, and later received a lovely old illustrated printing as a gift)
Flann O'Brien: The Best of Myles (The most under-rated humourist of the 20th Century. I read my original copy to pieces, retained the remains and purchased another
Jane Austen: The Complete Novels (I don't like being too far from Jane Austen - so I bought a 2nd copy)
EM Forster: A Room with a View (It's a bit of fluff, but I adore this novel. It's my comfort reading and has many happy associations. Again, I dislike being too far from a copy of this book, so I bought a 2nd copy)
EM Forster: Howards End (Got my 2nd copy free at a 2nd hand bookshop. I never look a gift horse in the mouth.)
So, anyone else out there own multiple copies of their favourite (or even not-so-favourite) books?

Did Bacon write Aquinas?

Amongst the more unusual books in my library is one that I picked up a number of years ago when passing through London. Popping into a second-hand bookstore a few streets away from Westminster Cathedral, I was pleasantly surprised to come across quite a selection of theology books recently acquired from the estate of a deceased priest of the Archdiocese. As well as laying my hands on a couple of the early translations of Congar’s works and a first edition of Louis Bouyer’s ‘The Eternal Son’ I stumbled across a genuine rarity. ‘A Compendium of Theological Curiosities’ was privately published by Rev. James Hobin SJ in 1953. Hobin was a master at Stoneyhurst and it seems that the printing of 1,000 copies (by the Ptarmigan Press, Oxford) was funded by subscriptions solicited from Fr Hobin’s former students. Fr Hobin’s main interest seems to have been in the more abstruse theological propositions of various non-Catholic denominations and authors such as the Mormons, the Irvingites and Swedenborg. He also has chapters on some of the more esoteric fringes of Judaism and Mohamedism (sic), as well as what seems to contemporary eyes a slightly mocking treatment of Coptic hagiographic legends. He also gathers together some Catholic material, consisting mainly of various Millenarian theories, heretical oddities and one or two peculiarities from more recent time. I was particularly tickled to come across the following:
It is rare to find humour on the pages of the theological journals, but an exception is a monograph of P. Dubonnier in the Revue Theologique of Louvain. In a parody of the the Higher Critical methods of the modernist school, P. Dubonnier penned ‘On the Authorship of the Summa Theologica’ wherein he proposed that the most significant works of the Angelic Doctor were penned by a committee of no fewer than three Dominican Scholars, including ‘A’ (an original and speculative thinker and follower of St Augustine), ‘P’ (the ‘philosopher’ who was held responsible for the integration of Aristotelian philosophy with the thought of ‘A’) and ‘S’ (the ‘Scholastic’, a somewhat pedantic thinker, albeit with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Fathers). Dubonnier wittily proposed that what is disclosed by the historical sciences about St Thomas is more consistent with the ‘Dumb Ox’ of the famous anecdote than the more conventionally accepted view. The pseudonymous authorship was justified by the desire of the committee to avoid the censure of the Universities for their novel theological venture. It is said that P Dubonnier’s skill at framing this audacious proposition was such that not a few ecclesiastics are known to have expressed their displeasure with the thesis to the Magnificent Rector of the University of Louvain before it was revealed to have been a hoax. (pp 94-95)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A crumb...

In his short essay ‘Kafka and his Predecessors’ Jorge Luis Borges refers to a parable of Kierkegaard:
The subject of the […] parable is the North Pole expeditions. Danish ministers had declared from their pulpits that participation in these expeditions were beneficial to the soul’s eternal well-being. They admitted, however, that it was difficult, and perhaps impossible to reach the Pole and that not all men could undertake the adventure. Finally, they would announce that any trip –from Denmark to London, let us say, on the regularly scheduled steamer – was, properly considered, an expedition to the North Pole.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Tyburn Benedictines

There's a very nice BBC feature about the Tyburn Benedictines. I visited these contemplative nuns nearly a year ago whilst passing through London and was very taken by the prayerful athmosphere and the significance of a contemplative being located so close to the infamous Tyburn tree. A young Australian nun showed me the convent's relics of the Catholic martyrs of the English reformation.
Check out their website.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Mea culpa! I hadn't realised that I'd neglected to add the ever-astute Whispers in the Loggia to my blogroll. Well, if you're not a reader do check it out for some commenary (with bite) and to discover what lurks between the lines of a Vatican press release.