The smallest book on my shelves is also one of the biggest books ever.
It measures about 10cm by 14cm by 3cm, a small brick. You could build houses upon houses with it. Actually, metaphorically, that is what has happened over the centuries. is the bible
Specifically, it is the Cambridge Holy Bible (Illustrated). I’ve had it for about 50 years. After asking a friend from those days, I found out that it was a gift for my confirmation.
On the first page on the left is written this:
38 SPRINGFIELD AVE, KOTARA
Note that the words are all in upper case; they are engraved with ink from a nib. There is no pencil here that can be easily erased; this was going to be forever. I have to admire my sense of ownership.
Perhaps a young McFadyen thought that in the event of walking the streets of Kotara, Bible in hand, he might take his break and misplace it, and lo and behold, his finder would see the contact details inside. Perhaps the confirmation priest told all of us to go straight home and inscribe our name to God.
I can vaguely remember trying to read it like a book, starting at the beginning, ending at the end, and failing. It’s too dense, literally: the type should be three points, smaller than the race results you’d see in a newspaper. For a child, his language is also dense, threatening and archaic, and necessarily so, for the sake and decree of tradition.
It begins: “Published by the Trustees of Cambridge University Press.” I only came across the syndics much later through the Rembrandt painting. Drapers Guild Trustees. Being the King James version, it begins with a dedication over 500 years old: “To the most high and mighty Prince James, by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith.”