Pop along to the glittering new Louis Vuitton showcase London store on New Bond Street and you can catch an attractive new temporary display among the £1,500 handbags — a shelf of books selected by the artist Tracey Emin. The Curated Shelf, as it is titled, “allows the customer to engage with the mind of the artist through understanding the background and thought process behind their work,” says a reverential press release.
The books Emin has chosen, doubtless for a hefty fee, are mostly unsurprising. They include Wuthering Heights, Crime and Punishment and Madame Bovary, plus Strangeland by one Tracey Emin. The final volume comes as something of a jolt, however: Ethics by Spinoza.
There is no reason to suppose that Ms Emin doesn’t like to curl up of an evening with Spinoza’s seminal work. For she is in good company: Spinoza was the favourite author of none other than Jeeves, P. G. Wodehouse’s immortal creation, who was Bertie Wooster’s valet, or to give him his correct designation, gentleman’s personal gentleman. Jeeves held strong views on philosophy. “You would not like Nietszche, sir,” he once advised his master. “He is fundamentally unsound.” Jeeves also disapproved of what was then called “modern art”, into which category Tracey Emin would undoubtedly fall.
There is no doubt what he would have made of her famous My Bed: he would have instantly dismantled it, thrown the artist’s accumulated artefacts into the rubbish bin and given the sheets away to Aunt Dahlia’s under-gardener.