Bookmail: The Desert Fathers

Two weekends ago, Deb Nance at the blog Readerbuzz mentioned the book, The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks, and I told her that it looked “intriguing.” She then offered to give me her copy of the book, if I sent her my mailing address via e-mail. I did and this past week received it, along with a letter from Deb, or Debbie, as I now learned she also likes to be called. With her permission, I have included the letter here along with a photo of the book:

First, I must comment on her cursive writing: exquisite, but not a complete surprise as she was a school librarian for many years. My own handwriting, and even print, is atrocious, completely and utterly ruined by years of working at newspapers and making my own chickenscratch shorthand that even I couldn’t, and still can’t, decipher at times. It is the reason at work I prefer to leave notes on the computer.

Second, to Deb’s comment about some of the sayings being “downright odd,” I have to say just based on the cover that I’m not surprised. I didn’t really look at it when I first got the book, but then a day or two later, I looked…what the heck?!? According to a description on the back of the book, the cover is “A Hippocentaur showing St. Anthony the Hermit the way to to St. Paul the Hermit, detail from the Livres des Merveilles (c. 1412) by the Master of Boucicault and Master of the Bedford Hours, in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris (Ms. francais, 2810, fol. 91) (photo AK London).” To see the full photo from the manuscript it was taken from, click here. My wife’s two cents: “So he’s getting directions from a centaur. Maybe St. Anthony should have hung out with some people once in a while.”

I don’t think this is one I’ll be reading in one sitting, but instead will read it “in bits and pieces,” as Deb suggested, and I might not finish it in its entirety. That said, I do look forward to perusing it over the next few months. Thanks again, Deb/Debbie, for sending me the book and the thoughtful and well-written (in both form and content) letter.

8 thoughts on “Bookmail: The Desert Fathers

  1. Lovely handwriting! I was fascinated by the little I learned about the Desert Fathers and Mothers in college. Wild times in early Christianity! I look forward to hearing about what you do read from this one.


  2. I am a great printer but cannot do cursive anymore. People have said that my print looks like it’s typewritten. Perhaps. If I write a big chunk of text then sometimes I begin to drift. Interesting book and cover.

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  3. Bryan, you are very welcome. I love to pass a book on to someone who thinks he might enjoy reading it.

    I do have excellent cursive writing. I skipped second grade, and one of the things I was missing was learning cursive writing at school. So my mother agreed to teach me. I won the National Handwriting Award in sixth grade, and it was useful during my time working in schools. I’m afraid it is a dying art, somewhere down there with the ability to stoke a wood-burning stove or making your own mayonnaise.

    The book is beautiful and wise and odd and mystical. I hope you will share a little with us when you have read some of it.


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