In honor of the Tolkien-inspired skirt I recently ordered (pictures soon to follow) I decided to tally up the various and sundry literary objects I’ve accumulated. The results:
Two bags on which I’ve transcribed numerous literary quotes, still stuffed to the gills with books following a cross-country move. Also accompanied by a stack of books that I (for the most part) have yet to get around to reading.
If you were wondering about the pin on the bag on the right, here it is (riffing, of course, on the famous line from A League of Their Own): “Are you crying? There’s no crying! There’s no crying in English class!” My mom gave it to me when I was writing (and often rewriting) my master’s thesis, and I assured her that, in fact, there was.
A keychain depicting Sydney Carton ascending to the guillotine. Bonus: a memento of the time I saw The Lion King, now tragically missing his tail after one too many fumbling attempts to fish my keys out of my purse.
A bracelet with a quote from Les Misérables (“Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise”). Technically from the musical rather than the novel, but very much in keeping with Hugo’s use of light/dark imagery (e.g. “He who dies here dies in the radiance of the future, and we are entering a tomb all flooded with the dawn”).
Coffee-mug with one of Jane Eyre’s characteristically pointed retorts: “I don’t think, Sir, that you have a right to command me.”
Bracelet with a quote from The Lord of the Rings that to this day I regret not putting on my senior yearbook page: “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”
Plus, a couple more tote bags and, in storage, one poster (the full text of Othello) and one t-shirt (featuring a quote from Edgar Allan Poe).
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I’ve found that having these things around fills an almost spiritual (the less kind word might be superstitious) need. I don’t tend to be a particularly superstitious person, but I wear and carry these things like talismans, and if I had gotten around to studying anthropology in college, I’d probably draw some elegant parallel to the wearing of crucifixes, or the custom of tattooing (come to think of it, the star I have tattooed on my foot was largely done in homage to one of my favorite lines from Cyrano de Bergerac). I feel better knowing that I’m carrying some of the most beautiful language ever written on my person, both as a lucky charm and as a kind of buffer against daily frustrations and disappointments. I’d be interested in knowing whether other people feel similarly.