As a bookworm, I have been intoxicated by seeing so many bibliophiles during my stay in Oxford. Books were a central element of my daily agenda, which included visiting the Central Library of Oxford, the Bodleian Libraries, the Blackwell's bookstore and the Oxford University Press. The two days that I spent revisiting the City of Dreaming Spires inspired me to name a special type of marriage: Marriage with Books. Let's say that there are two types.
Marriage with Books: Type One...
His name? I do not know. But his facial expression and body movements immediately caught my attention. Yes, he gazed at the books. Yes, his glance showed that he was wildly in love - with the books. And, he was kneeling down - he was touching them, gently, the way that one would invite their lovers to an elegant dance full of adoration. Yes, he lifted the books up, as if they were dancing together swiftly and gracefully. His eyes, joyful and loving, confirmed the relationship, and we all knew what was going to happen. Yes, he would engage himself with the books, which were written in Ancient Greek and translated into English. The original author is Aristotle, no doubt. He went to the counter and paid. Could he be a student of the University of Oxford? Possibly, and I would guess that he studies the Classics. But maybe not - Oxonians are naturally bibliophiles, I assume, who would read broadly with intense enjoyment. Books are alive, and are happy to unite with him, for the rest of his lifetime.
They wedded. No, without the wedding gown, without the crowds, but with the fragrance of the books. And they tied the knot with vows. I imagine their happy life together, which may be greatly different from a human-to-human marriage, where there is monogamy and divorce. Indeed, it is certain that he will marry - many times more, with books or even with a real person - but according to Shakespeare's Sonnet 116, true love never alters.
A smile lit up my face. Despite the fact that I did not propose to books in the Classics section, I tied the knot with five books that day, and three the next day, and two the next... They will inspire and empower me with words of wisdom.
Marriage with Books: Type Two...
Well, not all books were accessible for me. On Saturday, I could not resist the temptation of entering the Bodleian Library - probably the most attractive spot on my agenda this time! After visiting the lovely exhibition, where a number of rare manuscripts were presented to visitors two days before I arrived, and buying bookmarks (a practical hobby of mine), I attended a guided tour.
Books were kept in chains because of their rarity. Even at this moment in time, books cannot be checked out, and several other strict rules aim to protect them. I do admire this conservation of books, and the sight of their heavy bodies attracted me deeply. They are not that inviting, though, not just yet. So much do I wish to feel their rough skin, to smell their unique scent, and to hear the bookworms' casual conversation in the yellowish pages, though I realized that this is a 'forbidden marriage' case, as if the books are Cardinal de Bricassarts of the Australian family saga, the 'Thorn Birds'. I felt depressed mentally and physically. This feeling further motivates and inspires me to enroll at this University, so that I can actually go inside the reading rooms and read.
The Library's grandeur stunned me. It was so quiet that the only audible sound were the deep exhalations of father time. So, you want me to use a word to describe it? Sacred. I have seen Chinese book collectors' love for their books in Zhejiang Province - the buildings and gardens at Tianyige were sacred places for books - the posterity of the original custodian guarded the books with their lives, until a merciless fire greedily devoured this wonderland of bibliophiles.