One of the invariable questions asked by first-time visitors to Esperanza is, ‘have you read all these books?’  Now, the answer is patently obvious: there are between twelve and fourteen thousand volumes.  No.  I read a lot, but not necessarily the books in the house. Some books I have read to the point of memorization, others…  There is, however, a slightly more embarrassing point that can arise.  Some of the books have Never been read, not in their decades, their century plus of life.  The give away is that books from the 1800’s and early 1900’s often have uncut, or incompletely cut pages: the quarto fold was never properly cut after printing, leaving the tops or sides of two pages  together.  If the book has been read completely, that obviously has been dealt with; it is a pain, however, requiring a steady hand and a sharp blade.  So if the book has never been read, but only flipped through….well!

But why?  The uncut books are almost entirely those associated with William Webster Ellsworth’s publishing and work as a literary critic/reviewer.  (Though I did just hit one that was clearly a gift to Carlotta Norton Smith in the 1860’s, not a successful gift it would seem).  WWE seems to have gotten a number of books, either for review or for other business, mostly in poetry/drama/memoirs that he never got all the way through.  I have to wonder if he reviewed any of them without reading all the way….

Still, awkward!