At last, I've caught up with the Gifted exhibition of the ten beautiful paper sculptures left anonymously in various parts of Edinburgh by someone thankful for books and libraries. I missed it in Edinburgh, was in Aberdeen just before it arrived, but here it is now in Glasgow at the Mitchell Library till the end of this week.
The photograph (right) doesn't do the poetree justice and it's impossible to read the caption which says in part:
"We know that a library is so much more than a building full of books ... a book is so much more than pages full of words ... This is for you in support of libaries, books, words and ideas ... a gesture (poetic maybe!?)"
The exhibition is organised by the Scottish Poetry Library and you can see photos of all the book sculptures in the Gifted Tour.
The first time I read Anna Karenina, I was in my late teens. My memory of it, reinforced by various films and TV series, was of a tragic woman who threw herself under a train. Not a bit of it! Well, it is a tragic story about a woman who dies in this way. But it is also full of fascinating insights into other aspects of Russian society at the time. There are the aristocratic landowners bemoaning the passing of serfdom and decrying the fashion creeping in of more egalitarian farming methods. The character of Levin, generally believed to be a thinly veiled self portrait of Tolstoy himself, is at the centre of such discussions. He also describes a variety of farming methods as well as domestic arrangements. Jam making gets big licks. And he presents swathes of pages about mowing, using a scythe. It's not so long ago that scythes were still in use in Orkney.
Ah, Orkney ...
You may be treeless, or almost, but Tolstoy's scenes of mowing conjure up golden fields of hay against a blue sky and bluer sea. Worth leaving the blazing trees of Glasgow behind to see.