There is nothing that I like more than stumbling upon tattered and old books in the deepest parts of a library or at a secondhand store. I am willing to bet that most of my bookshelves contain these types of books. I remember when I was in high school, the school library would have twenty-five cent book sales, and I would always stock up. At the time, I may have not known what the books even were, but just the look of them made me want to start collecting them. I’ve always wanted to make my way to various European countries and find old bookstores that house these types of books. The people who sell these types of books that I am always on the lookout for are called ‘bibliopoles.’

According to the ‘Oxford English Dictionary,’ ‘bibliopole’ is a noun that means, “A dealer in books, a bookseller.” ‘Bibliopole’ seemed to have been a short-lived word since the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ has only two accounts of it ever being used. However, one of the books that ‘bibliopole’ was used in was Benjamin Disraeli’s ‘Vivian Grey’ in 1826. In the book it says, “The neat row of plates, and the well-scoured utensils, and the fine old Dutch clock, and the ancient and amusing ballad, purchased at some neighbouring fair, or of some itinerant bibliopole, and pinned against the wall, all gone!” Disraeli used ‘bibliopole’ in his novel as a way for his character, Vivian, to mock his fellow politicians that lived throughout Europe.

Unfortunately, ‘bibliopole’ was a very short-lived word, having only been found in various pieces of literature for a little over forty years. However, bibliopoles most certainly still exist today. By just entering any library or bookstore, you are immediately addressed by a bibliopole. If you are a booklover like me, you rejoice that bibliopoles are still around to help add to your own book collection.

И смотришь в печали,
И снег синей…
Темные дали,
И блистательный бег саней…
И когда со мной встречаются
Неизбежные глаза, –
Глуби снежные вскрываются,
Приближаются уста…
Вышина. Глубина. Снеговая тишь.
И ты молчишь.
И в душе твоей безнадежной
Та же легкая, пленная грусть.
О, стихи зимы среброснежной!
Я читаю вас наизусть.

3 января 1907


Moydodyr is a 1923 poem for children by Korney Chukovsky about a magical creature by the same name. The name may be literally translated as “Wash'em'clean”, or “Clean ‘til Holes”. The poem is about a small boy who does not want to wash. He gets so dirty that all his toys, clothes and other possessions decide to magically leave him. Suddenly, from the boy’s mother’s bedroom appears Moydodyr—an anthropomorphic washstand. He claims to have powers over all washstands, soap bars, and sponges. He scolds the boy and calls his soap bars and sponges to wash him. The boy tries to run away, chased by a vicious sponge. The chase is described as happening on Petrograd streets. Finally they meet another recurring character from Chukovsky’s books—the Crocodile. The Crocodile swallows the sponge and becomes angry with the boy for being so dirty. Scared by the Crocodile, the boy goes back to Moydodyr and takes a bath. The poem ends with a moralistic note to children on the virtue of hygiene.