Sunday, February 7, 2010

Collecting Dog Books: Time and Place

In the immense where and when of dogs, in fact and fiction, you may find the collecting niche for which you've long been looking. It might be a specialty that complements an existing interest or takes you in a whole new direction. Time and place give you as broad or narrow a scope as you prefer, limited only by what has been published within your niche. It's another trip, with a dog at your side, and here are a few of the paths you might follow.

For the truly long ago, consider the canine in archeology or the literature of ancient civilizations. Two worthy examples: the Greek Arrian (who wrote on his contemporary, Epictetus, and Alexander the Great) and the Athenian Xenophon (historian and general, among other attainments) are each credited with works entitled Cynegeticus. To read these authors for their descriptions of hounds, for example, is to understand why those dogs were believed to be the creation of Apollo and Artemis.

Perhaps you're a great fan of the novels of Jane Austen. Investigate dog literature published in the British Isles during her lifetime. Imagine reading these books not only for your own pleasure, but also from the point of view of your favorite Austen character.

Add a few decades to your search and focus on the Victorian era. From classics on dog "breaking" (as training was known in those days) to entertaining fiction to Queen Victoria's diaries with mentions of four-footed members of the royal household, you'll find some highly collectible volumes, attractive bindings, fine illustrations, and a perspective on dogs and their place in society, from the shepherd's croft to the cross-country hunt to the manners of the drawing room, that beg for our attentive reading.

Interested in arctic exploration? This vast terrain encompasses action, accomplishment, and all too often agony. On your explorations in this field you'll find memorable dogs in adventure stories, biography, first-person accounts, and scientific reports.

Remember that books whose primary subject matter barely touches on your topic, but that list published or other sources, may point you toward important discoveries. Peruse bibliographies. A good bibliography is one good reason to buy a book; it, too, might qualify for status as a canine collecting niche.

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