I recently received a package of books (through the post), and I was instantly in awe at what delicately tumbled out – an old green cover with a picture of the boat with a red roof: A House-Boat on the Styx, written by John Kendrick Bangs. It was published in 1895 by Harper & Brothers. There’s also a stamp with the name there, perhaps from the library: Jean Ross Bennett, Pittsburgh, PA.
About the book:
The premise of the book is that everyone who’s ever died (up to the time of its publication) has gone to Styx, the river that circles the underworld. The book begins with the ferryman Charon being startled & annoyed by the arrival of a houseboat on the Styx. At first afraid that the boat will put him out of business, he later finds out that he is actually to be appointed its janitor. What follows are 11 more stories which are set on the houseboat. There’s no central theme. The purpose appears to be as a literary thought experiment to see what would happen if various famous dead people were put in the same room with each other. Each chapter is a short story featuring various souls from history & mythology.
Although I was impatient to read it, I already knew I would adore this book as it invisibly held a very personal story… at least from all previous owners. 🤓📚 For example, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazete newspaper /November 1959/ I found this obit-mention:
Just imagine, how many people owned (and read) this little book, from 1895 —- & until 2021. Hundreds?! Thousands? Or more? 😀 But let’s get back to the author:
Thought is everything. Pain is something. Hence where there is no thought, there can be no pain. Wherefore if you have pain, it is evident that you have a thought. To be rid of the pain, stop thinking. John Kendricks Bang
And because we can’t stop thinking, I picked some quotes for you:
If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
Enough about evil hearts, let’s jump straight to John Waters quote:
A psychiatrist once told me early in treatment, “Stop trying to make me like you,” and what a sobering and welcome smack in the face that statement was. Yet somehow, every day of my life is still a campaign for popularity, or better yet, a crowded funeral.
No, NO, no! I’m here to find and spread real happiness! Maybe Brecht will help?
Everyone chases after happiness, not noticing that happiness is at their heels.
Aha! Already warmer… the last try:
Those who wish to sing always find a song.
When we are finally happy (kind of), tell me about the old books in your collections: why do you keep them – is it value, wisdom, or happy memories?
In this treacherous world
Nothing is the truth or a lie.
Everything depends on the color
Of the crystal through which one sees it.
Pedro Calderon de la Barca
Next post (and the last) this week – about Harmless Bullet, and the title of day 8… mmmm, guess! Right! “The more, the merrier.” 🕺
HAVE A GREAT DAY