Now and then he dozed off for half an hour and occasionally, as long as it was light enough, he leafed through his traveling library — a few sheets of paper on which he had copied poems and sayings, a bundle of newspaper clippings, and a few pictures that he had cut our of magazines. Among these he had two favorites, which were creased and worn from frequent handling. One was the actress Eleonora Duse, the other a sailboat at sea in a high wind.
– “Early Spring,” in Knulp, Hermann Hesse
Knulp is a collection of three short stories about the title character, a vagabond who wanders and works occasionally, but mostly enjoys a carefree life in marked contrast to his acquaintances, who have families and work that keep them tethered to one spot and one way of life. I was intrigued by the idea of a travelling library. When I backpacked, I took with me a copy of The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway – not at all light, but full of variety, and almost a travel guide on its own – stuffed with letters and pictures and mementos. I guess that was mine.
Eleonora Duse was an Italian actress who died in 1924 and was the first woman to appear on the cover of Time. This Dazed article is full of fun facts and a link to the only film Duse did.
[Image source: http://www.alinari.it/MOSTRE/mnaf/index.html]