Thursday, December 17, 2009
Lad : A Dog and Black Beauty were books I got from the school library and read over and over again in third or fourth grade. The illustrations in those editions do not stay in my memory, but it's pretty certain the rural Midwestern grade school copies of the early 1960s were less attractive than the copies (reproduced here) that I located today in the San Francisco library where I work. The Four Winners by Knute Rockne may well also have been available to me at the time when I was enthralled by animal novels, but I would certainly never have read it, since I had the stereotypical tastes (and distastes) of the juvenile homosexual and regarded all sports books as equally dull. The gilt & blue binding of Andrew Lang's Animal Book at top would have appealed to my youthful eye very much, at a guess, but I came from a relatively poor family in a relatively poor part of the country, and would have been very unlikely to encounter volumes like that one, produced as ornaments for bourgeois drawing rooms of the 19th century.