Books were precious.
After about a year in Princeton, our daughter Maren was born. She sometimes slept with us in those first months. One night I fell asleep while reading Mann, letting the book slide down to the floor.
During the night, one of us changed Maren's diaper and dropped the soaked cloth beside the bed. Directly onto the open book.
By morning the book was swollen to three times its normal thickness. Days of drying ensued. I tried all kinds of things, including showering the pages with baby powder. Today, 33 years later, while taking photos of the books, I slammed the pages of the book together and was greeted by a fragrant puff of baby powder.
And which of the volumes was it? The Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull (The Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man), of course, a book that drips delicious irony all on its own. This page (646) doubles down on the irony with its account of Lust und Liebe, which, as Mark Twain pointed out, is like familiarity, which breeds children in real life, if not in novels.