03 February 2010

Ex Libris: Hugh MacLennan

In 1991, six or so months after his death, Hugh MacLennan's personal library was put up for sale through Montreal's Word bookstore. It wasn't exactly a pretty sight. MacLennan treated his books badly, and it was clear that he cared not one whit about fine editions. Looking through the battered volumes made me respect the man all the more. Here was someone who cared for the word, not the vessel. He'd read and reread with great appetite, while I'd worried over sunlight and fragile spines.

I bought a dozen of these worn volumes, including a presentation copy of Alistair MacLeod's As Birds Bring Forth the Sun and Other Stories and an old 95¢ Signet Classics edition of Robinson Crusoe (my cost: $1.95). All were books I'd been wanting to read for some time, with the exception of The Conscience of the Rich. C.P. Snow's name meant little to me then, but I was amused and intrigued by MacLennan's critique.

Still haven't got around to reading it.

Related post:


  1. How could you resist reading it with an endorsement like that?

  2. Not sure. I think "dullest" has thrown me off. On the other hand, "stupidest" holds out some promise of a fun read.

    But then I read the first couple of pages, which contain a rather dry account of our hero taking his Bar exam, and I understand why "dullest" comes first.