Today, a Mystery Monday guest post from Rayna Andrews, who works for the Gotham Book Mart Project at Penn Libraries. The Gotham Book Mart was a famous New York City bookstore from 1920-2007, and when it closed the thousands of books in its inventory came to Penn, where catalogers have been finding treasures great and small among the books. Visit the Gotham Book Mart Project Tumbler to see more fascinating images of books that are being uncovered daily. In today’s POP guest post, Rayna writes about a romantic provenance inscription she found in one of these books.
Myths are the stories that societies tell themselves to help explain the universe, but along with explanations of how the world came to be, myths tell tales of gods and goddesses, heroes and monsters, journeys and homecomings. We see our problems played out in the dramas of the gods and that shows us how we’re supposed to live our lives.
The Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, published by Prometheus Press in 1959, offers an entrance into “the Mythologies of Mankind,” and boasts extensive entries for mythologies from around the globe, allowing readers to delve into tales originating not only from the familiar traditions of Rome, Greece, and Egypt, but from India, Persia, China, Japan, Scandinavia, South America, and Africa as well.
I came across this inscription while cataloging this copy for the Gotham Book Mart Collection. It reads:
“Dec. 27th, 1959
To Paul + Marge:
May the fulfillment of your marriage reach the richness and excitement of the glorious tradition as epitomized by the scope of this book
Margaret + Milton Rosenblatt”
I always find personal inscriptions in books interesting, but this one really jumped out at me as something special, even if the people mentioned aren’t famous or otherwise recognizable today. I love the idea of someone taking this gorgeous book that collects stories trying to explain cultural traditions and the human experience and passing it on to a newly married couple.
Based on the inscription, it seems this book was likely a wedding gift. It strikes me as poetic that the Rosenblatts chose to start the new couple on their new life together with mythic tales of love and adventure.
View the images from this book on POP. Add a comment if you think you can solve the mystery of who Paul and Marge or Margaret and Milton Rosenblatt might have been.