“Sweet Honey”

This image comes from the website of Plurabelle Books, which is situated in Cambridge (UK). It is part of a bookplate indicating the ownership of the book in which it was found. The owner’s full name is John Raymond de Symons Honey, later to be the author of the controversial The Language Trap and Language is Power referred to elsewhere in this blog. The text accompanying this ex libris reads:

Someone said, conversations with Mr H contained many words, mostly his. He was a linguist of received pronunciation (RP), a historian of education, and an academic in the 20th century, with all the embarrassments this involves.

He brought together a substantial collection of school histories, of which only a few still remain … and among his books we found a bookplate which is strikingly wrong, wrong in a philosophical manner: This book has been lost by (or stolen from) J R de S Honey. How hollow does it sound in the longer perspective, how naive in its notion of the ownership we can exercise of books.

Rather than being wrong, the text, I think, is actually quite funny! And quite right too, even though now, well after his death, the words no longer apply in the way they might have done during his lifetime. Honey, moreover, adds his academic affiliation as Pembroke College, Cambridge. If he was there as an undergraduate, he may have been no older than twenty when he had the bookplate printed. Naive? Young, I would rather say, and also that it suggests a sense of humour in a man who has gone down into history as someone linguists would rather not associate with.

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One Response to “Sweet Honey”

  1. I agree, I think it displays a sense of humour! And maybe I’m missing something, because I don’t see how this one is “more wrong” than the average bookplate – doesn’t the average bookplate suggest static ownership, while this one, even though it does not really allow for the book to change owners, does not?

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