Pharyngula

Great bathroom reading?

I have mixed feelings about this: a first-edition copy of Darwin’s Origin of Species has been discovered, which is, of course, great — I do wish I had the pocket change to drop £60,000 to buy it for myself.

The weird part is that it was found in the guest bathroom of an old house in Oxford. Apparently, someone thought the Origin was perfect light, occasional reading for visitors attending to certain private physiological functions, which is nice, if a little trivializing. It’s a bit odd, though, that they put the book there and no one seems to have bothered to notice it for 150 years. I am really curious to know what other books were on that toilet shelf — I’m imagining guests ducking into the bathroom for a few minutes of managing the necessaries, scanning the shelf for a little light reading to pass the time, and skipping over the rare and valuable antique Darwin volume to read…what? A couple of scrolls of the lost plays of Aeschylus, the handwritten manuscript copy of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and a copy of the Arzhang, the mysterious holy book of the Manicheans? Or was it a yellowed copy of the Daily Mall, a couple of dog-eared editions of the Readers’ Digest, and last week’s TV Guide? This must have been a very curious and neglected bookshelf!