I DIDN'T GO INTO TOWN and buy the German news magazines this morning... that's because I blew all the money on drugs instead..! No! I'm kidding ~ I rang University College London (the most central London college (of high repute) ~ it's in Bloomsbury, near the British Museum. Bloomsbury is the nearest London has to the Left Bank in Paris... stately, (relatively) quiet. And a profusion of mature trees dropping conkers on yer 'ead up just about every road)... I rang UCL and asked the Students' Union whether they had a bookshop where I might pick up secondhand coursebooks. The nice lady said, "No dear. But there is a Waterstones on Mullet Street. Most people go there."
It took me five minutes to figure out that the road in question was actually called Mallet Street, and when I called in there was no shortage of coursebooks in every subject imaginable from Japanese to medicine. I kept myself firmly focused on German.
I've never seen new and secondhand books sold together; but because they're a university branch, this Waterstones did indeed stock used volumes as well. They had the best selection of German literature I've seen anywhere in a long while. (A far better range than our local library stocks, for sure!)
They'd sold out of big secondhand dictionaries, but I did get some works by Goethe.
When I was paying, the assistant asked, "Are you a student?" (Because they offer a 10% discount on production of valid ID.) I said, "No, but I'm hoping to become one." She said: "That's what I like to hear!" And then got very helpful when I asked where else I might find an old dictionary, giving detailed directions to Skoob Books, which I hadn't been able to find anywhere near Holborn tube (where they used to be). That's because they'd moved to a place called The Brunswick Centre.
I hadn't felt at all sure of finding a decent second hand dictionary and had set out this morning fully expecting to pay £35 for one. So imagine my "appointment" when I found a 1997 Oxford-Duden for just £15.
All in all I spent £27.50 on books. These were:
Thomas Mann: Der Tod in Venedig (Death in Venice)
Holderling: Dichtung; Schriften; Briefe (Poetry, Writings, Letters)
Franz Kafka: Die Verwandlung ("Metamorphosis")
Goethe: Faust I; Iphigenie auf Tauris; Torquato Tasso; Das Märchen
I did the Kafka as an A-level set text... In fact of the three books we studied in German, "Metamorphosis"/Die Verwandlung was the only one I got much of a handle on ~ and that was mostly thanks to my trusty Penguin Classics translation! Perusing it on the tube home, I was pleasantly surprised at how much of the original I can now understand... I don't know what's happened, but my reading comprehension is now better than it ever has been ~~ and I achieved this purely by reading texts that appealed to me, listing every word I didn't understand in an exercise book... Maybe my brains were too crowded out with school-school-school when I was younger. I don't know. But at this rate I might actually be able to read the stuff I've always dreamed of reading ~~ without any recourse to a translation...
So all in all a very intellectually rewarding excursion!
And now I have to go the irritating computer's about to time me out ... but
Barbra Streisand was on Jonathan Ross's chat show last night...
I wonder if this was a homily to that Argentinan singer who just died(?), but I love this kinda music:
Mercedes Sosa! That's the name ... Dead at 74, highly-strung tunes... in the style of "If you go away" as sung by Babs above ...
Ne Me Quitte Pas by Jaques Brel ... no wonder it's good: it's French!
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