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Bargain Books galore

THE PROGNOSIS — food, fuel, political crises and all — is that the bargain book scene in the Philippines, or at least, in Metro Manila, is getting better and better. I say this with the benefit of hindsight that’s at least fifteen years’ worth.

Proof of that is that my budget can hardly keep up with the treasure troves that I find shop after shop that I visit these days. The other day, after a court date, I dropped by one of my favorite haunts, the booksale stall at the basement of SM Manila, and I discovered much to my surprise that it now carries rare books — or what passes for rare books — in a separate section.

Well, nothing there that comes from before the 20th century, of course, but that the shop now tries to cater to the antiquarian crowd is something new. I’m not much into it, and the oldest work in my collection is a mid-19th century print of John Bunyan’s Choice Works (Thomas Johnson, 1851) a parting gift from a Dutch classmate from my recent Amsterdam sojourn, though I’m dying to find a copy of what is considered the first major work in English done on one of the great masters of international law, the Italian Protestant thinker Alberico Gentili. I actually refer to the dissertation of G.H. J. Van Der Molen at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the first quarter of the 20th century. Other than being the first such work in English on Gentili’s thought, it’s also something of a founding text for present-day feminists, for it was the first ever doctoral work on international law completed by a woman in the whole of Holland. That’s Van Der Molen for you and me. (For starters, she knew Max Huber, or she was one of his top students, and Huber of course, was the guy who gave the Las Palmas island in that famous arbitration case to the Dutch — a home court decision? — instead of to the Americans. Had he decided the other way around, the Philippines would have had a stronger claim to a far larger territory than it has at present.) Anyway, before flying back home, I tracked on-line a copy in an antiquarian shop at Den Haag, which was going for 50 euros, but I didn’t anymore have the time to go there and buy it. The next time I checked, the copy had been bought. You can say that’s about how much or how little of an antiquarian I am.

But back to bargain books hereabouts.

(to be continued)

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Written by Romel

June 5, 2008 at 5:35 pm

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