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  • An Invisible Library Among the Fairies September 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    brownie troops on the march

    Imagine that you have just been captured by the pixies. You are dragged down into one of the underground prisons and thrown into a dim room. However, while banging your fists on the now locked door you see that there is at least one distraction: a rich volume balanced on a circular stand ‘as one sometimes sees a costly family Bible in American homes’. The book is entitled The Wisdom of the Pixies: Translated from the Original of the Laws of Pluto, and the Wise Sayings of the Sages of Pixieland. Welcome to the only invisible fairy library known to this blogger: ‘invisible library’ as old readers of this blog will know being books that have never existed save in the imagination. True there is only one book here, but the chapter headings can perhaps pass, in the Biblical sense, as the ‘books’ of the pixies. The inventor had, on the basis of these, a particularly developed knowledge of fairy-lore.

    Chapter I. On the First and Great Law Take Care of Number One

    Chapter II. On the Chief End of Life Eat, Drink and be Merry, for To-morrow You Die

    Chapter IX. The End Justifies the Means.

    Chapter X. On Attaining One’s End: By Fair Means if You Can, by Foul Means if You Must

    Chapter XV. Showing That an Individual Cannot Wrong a Corporation On the Right of Corporations to Plunder the People

    Chapter XVI. Showing That it Cannot be Wrong to Rob a Government

    Chapter XVII. Showing That Since the World Loves to be ‘Humbugged,’ it is Quite Lawful to Gratify it, for One’s Own Advantage

    Chapter XXXV. Is Man an Automaton?

    Chapter XL. To be Found Out is the Essence of Wrong. [Spartan fairies]

    Chapter XLIII. The Pleasure and Security of Drinking Liquors in Moderation

    Chapter XLIX. Wine and Beer Drinking the Sovereign Remedy for Drunkenness

    Chapter L. On the Origin of the Universe.

    Note that not all chapter headings are given: more’s the shame.

    This list comes from one of the most curious children’s books of the late nineteenth century Old farm fairies: a summer campaign in Brownieland against King Cobweaver’s pixies: a story for young people (1895). It is much better than the title sounds. The author (Henry McCook) describes a war between the pixies and the brownies, in which the first seem to be related to spiders and the second to flies. The reasons for this are briefly explained in the introduction – we are dealing with a late nineteenth-century attempt to anthropomorphise or fairyise natural history to make it more easily digestible for little tykes. The story is gripping, though, quite witty and has some brilliant and very unusual illustrations. One heads this post.

    Other invisible libraries from among the fey? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com