Adventures in Contentment is one of my favorite books, not just for the immediate time period but for my entire life.
|One of my favorite books of my whole life, Adventures in Contentment, a 1907 Doubleday, Page & Company publication, is a nostalgic telling of a city dweller's move to a farm. Milt Gross photo.|
It's not the story itself, although that is a great tale -- a true story of an urban man's move to the country, dubbed in the first chapter as "the valley of vision." The story itself is individual, what occurred in this man's life that led him to rent, then own, a farm. But what is gripping is that this is the story of a dream, the kind many of us have.
To head for the land of peace.
The first page states in part, "I came here eight years ago as the renter of this farm, of which soon afterward I became the owner. The time before that I like to forget. This chief impression it left upon my memory, now happily growing indistinct, is of being hurried faster that I could well travel....my days were ordered by an inscrutable power which drove me hourly to my task. I was rarely allowed to look up or down, but always forward, toward that vague Success which we Americans love to glorify."
The book tells how Grayson moved to the farm, shows samples some of the farm work he did, the enjoyment he found, and even covers a town meeting moderated by the town blacksmith, The story gives glimpses of his neighbors and his own relationship with them, and, in short, is an experience in which the reader can share.
It is part story and part essay, the essay being slid in alongside the story.
The black-and-white drawings add to the nostalgia of the book, casual yet showing parts of the tale.
My old 1907 copy, which I think is the original print, has no price, but Amazon.com lists for $8.99 a 1925 hardcover edition used (or $14.95 also used -- if you'd rather), or $9.59 for paperback (I assume new).
So, if you like old books, and if you like stories of quiet in the country, grab this one and add it to your "never sell, give away, or throw away" collection. And read it.
Or, you may be able to find the same guy in Cherryfield, Maine, who gave us our copy. Who knows? He may have another. Directions: Cherryfield is over that way about 30 miles or so. It's a tiny town, so drive slowly and don't miss it.
(Disclaimer: Cherryfield may be a little farther from your house, or closer, or you may live there.)
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2013