Monday, September 29, 2008

For Suse

Alas, the cover of this book is not knitted. However, it is described thus:

"imported from Italy by Clarence House Imports of New York. Designed by Kazumi Oshida, the Chequered Lady pattern was hand-printed in thirteen colours. Its vine-and-flowers motif could well be that of the parlor curtains of Belle Reve, the old Louisiana homestead where Blanche and Stella lived before coming their separate ways to Elysian Fields - via a streetcar named Desire..."

Illustrations are by Al Hirschfeld "the supreme caricaturist whose drawings have enlivened the drama pages of The New York Times for nearly sixty years....Like the fine actors who have created the roles on the stage, Hirschfeld's drawings for Streetcar evoke the tensions, the surface appearance, the inner psyche of Stanley, Blanche, Stella, Mitch, and the other dramatis personae. And like the craftsmen who manipulate the stage lighting, he has bathed each illustration in glowing color but left one area in stark white to reveal, as with a spotlight, the symbolic crux of the scene."
"Nothing could be more lucid than these text pages, the speakers' names set forth in small capitals, the stage directions in clear but unobtrusive italics, the actors' lines in the expansive fourteen-point size with four points of leading, and - above all - in the use of Times Roman types throughout the book."

All of the above are quotes from the publisher. In addition, there is an introduction written by Jessica Tandy which starts - "Playing Blanche DuBois in 'A Streetcar Named Desire' changed my life...."

I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am Suse. Thanks for encouraging me to take this book off the shelf...sometimes we live with something beautiful but never see it!!

I'm trying to complete my library duties prior to the new year....but am not sure if I will be able to do it, so Northanger Abbey and Simplicissimus may have to wait....

It's strange...each of these books will now forever be connected in my mind to the person who chose to see it. It's quite lovely.

[I shall certainly try to take photos of the Rosh Hashana food (all cooked by my mother, I should add) and perhaps include our family honey cake recipe.]

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mary's book

Hello there Mary!
I have a feeling that this is definitely your type of book.

The "Monthly Letter" which accompanies the book (as it is a Limited Editions Club book) states:

"We think she [Louisa May Alcott] would have liked the flowered brocade that will cover the boards - chosen by Mr. Clarke because it is reminiscent of a period when young ladies plied a needle as adeptly as they now tune in their favourite TV channel."

The Letter is dated September 1967.

The illustrator - Henry C. Pitz - lived "in a community with the charming name of Plymouth Meeting, on a thoroughfare called East Germantown Pike, which is merely the heave of a rock from the birthplace of Miss L. M. Alcott in the Keystone State."

Many of the Club's books have a distinctive colophon which is featured on the last page. The colophons are designed by the illustrators and feature three characters posing with books. The colophon below is described thus:
"In his ingenious variation of our Three Readers symbol on the colophon page, you will recognize Louisa May Alcott, Marmee, and Jo."
Here is the colophon from "White Fang":
Here is the colophon from "Persuasion":

I hope you are happy with your choice Mary!!!


As you may have noticed, our Head Librarian (Ms. E) has been working extended hours so as to keep up with the growing demand for books. Ms. E. will attempt to finalise all loans by Monday, prior to the closing of the library Tuesday and Wednesday due to the celebration of the Jewish New Year.

Borrowing will resume on Thursday, but only in the afternoon, as excessive consumption of chicken soup, matza balls, gefilte fish, chopped liver, turkey, tsimmes, potato kugel and honey cake is expected.

We thank you in advance for your understanding, and wish you "Shana tova umetuka" - a very good and sweet new year.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tuli's book

[A quick note before I start the post - Dear Anonymous who pointed out that Kriemhild may be sporting a beard - oh my gosh I think you're right!! You had me laughing out loud. Dear Sisters - I laughed so hard at your comment boxes that I almost wet my pants.] was I?

Oh, yes, hello dear Tuli!

I am so very pleased that you wanted to have a look at Peter Pan, because it is one of the books which I set aside when first unpacking the library boxes, and I read it almost immediately.

Interesting that you mention A.A. Milne, because I believe that J.M Barrie and Milne were friends, in fact I think I remember reading that they both played on a cricket team together with Sir Conan Doyle. Really!

The text of this edition of Peter Pan is based on the 1928 Library Edition of the play. In its introduction you will find a selection of notes which Barrie made when first exploring his ideas for such a story, for example:

14 October 1903
No one has grown up ideas (not parents or anyone).
'Mother, how did you get to know us?' (or we to know you?)
Parents looking at children in bed...
Peter Pan.
Peter is sprite inveigling children away from becoming grown up?
Peter says nothing really means anything - whirls & skips in middle of sad & serious scenes &c - just because must whirl & skip - mustn't think.
Dog commissioned by mother to keep them in bed - he does so as usual like a nurse.
The horror of growing up root of P...
Girl cd be called Wendy....

Are you loving this as much as I am? The notes actually go on and on, this is just a very small sampling for your pleasure.

There then follows "A Dedication - To The Five" by Barrie. 'The Five' were George, Jack, Peter, Michael and Nico Llewelyn Davies, and he writes to them: "I suppose that I always knew that I made Peter by rubbing the five of you violently together, as savages with two sticks produce a flame. That is all he is, the spark I got from you."

Here is the front cover of the book, it looks black in the photo but it is really a deep, deep blue:

And here are some of the powerful illustrations by Paula Rego. I hope you enjoy them Tuli!

The sisters' books

Yesterday, Eurolush wandered into my library, and immediately reached out her long and graceful arm in the general direction of the Brontes.

"Hello, dearest," I whispered softly to her, "I have prepared two books for you. I hope that they will be to your liking."

"Why E," she turned to me and smiled, "I do believe they will be simply perfect."

Just as Eurolush's beautifully manicured right hand touched Jane Eyre, the library door swung open once again, and in ran her sister B. In a mad rush (the sort of rush NOT ALLOWED within the confines of the library), sister B pushed, nay, shoved, Eurolush aside and stood before the entire shelf while waving her outstretched arms back and forth and spreading her legs as far as they could go (without doing the splits. Which she CAN do. But she chose not to) and yelling "I want to see ALL of them. The shelf is MINE. MINE I say."

At that point, Blue ran into the library, for he is the library's guard dog, and he is a VICIOUS, and UNFORGIVING guardian of the books. Thankfully, no action was necessary, for Tex and Mattie wagged their tails at him and then they all proceeded to do a lot of personal-type sniffing of each other. Finally, Blue led the way to the little sunroom, and there, on the carpet, in the corner to the right of the desk, was the perfect sun-spot, just large enough for three dogs to lie in, and nap.

But I digress.

Ah, yes, the books.

Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, for your viewing pleasure:

[The illustrator of these two sister books was Barnett Freedman. Freedman was born in the East End of London in 1901, the son of poor Jewish emigrants from Russia. At the time that he was commissioned to illustrate Wuthering Heights he was at Dunkerque, for he had been officially assigned to the task of painting the war for the archives of English history. He illustrated Jane Eyre a bit later, while assigned to the Royal Navy, and he had to get a special leave of absence to go to London to complete the work.]

Thursday, September 25, 2008

RW's book

I wonder if RW is familiar with the content of this glorious book -

I wasn't, until she came over one day and pointed to it and said that she might like to peek inside, if that's all right. Which it was. Very much so.

The book is bound in black leather, and its title has been captured in a huge calligraphic design covering the entire span of the front cover.

The cut sides of the pages are speckled red, like a fairytale egg.

In the introduction, Nibelungenlied is described as being:

"A great poem written around 1200AD in a rather complicated rhymed strophe, the so-called 'Nibelungenstrophe,' by a poet still unknown but certainly of extraordinary powers."

There is a mighty young hero - Siegfried - a prince from Xanten in the Netherland, who slays a dragon, bathes in its blood, and thus becomes invulnerable (well...almost):

There is also fair Kriemhild - the beautiful daughter and sister of Burgundian kings - who has caught Siegfried's eye.
I especially like the jewels she is wearing. Kriemhild is not a tiny, fragile woman in this picture, oh no she's not, she's intense and powerful and wearing her entire cache of jewels with pride.

These are only two of the many illustrations accompanying this edition, and they are the creation of Edy Legrand.
I could go on and on RW, but there's a line of library patrons waiting to take out their own books, so I'm afraid that's it for now. By the way...I'm sorry about the poor photography....hopefully you'll be able to click on the photos so as to enlarge them...which may help a bit.

Kind regards,

Eleanor (Head librarian).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mail-order library

As you probably all know by now, my grandfather recently sent me his library. Would you like to have a closer look at one or two of the books this week?

I have tried to take pictures of a few of the shelved books, so as to allow you to read their titles and see their colour and size. I thought each of you might like to choose one, and then I can go to the shelf and open it for you; this way I can share my library, and in the process also learn more about what I actually have here in my house.

There are so many books, and they are so special, that I often find myself overwhelmed. I have read only a handful of the books so far, and many I have yet to even open! I am only beginning to catalogue and organise, so please excuse the fact that some books share a shelf for no apparent reason. I like to think that makes it more interesting and surprising.

Dubliners, Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Pudd'nhead Wilson, A Tramp Abroad, Poems of the Caribbean, Roughing It, The Innocents Abroad.

White Fang, Little Women, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights.

Simplicissimus, The Invisible Man, The Sermon On The Mount, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Nibelungenlied, Gone With The Wind, Peter Pan.

P.S. I spoke to my grandpa last week and asked him if he didn't have even a small moment of regret that he no longer had the books in his home. He laughed and said "Oh El, you know I have them with me wherever I go, they're all in here," and I could hear him tapping on his big, round, bald head.

P.P.S. My Grandpa is currently in Manhattan and spends much of his time people-watching, riding on buses and going to the cinema. He saw the latest Batman movie and hated it, he refused to tell me why, but he did tell me that he stood at the exit to the cinema and asked each person as they left if they would like to join him in asking the management for a refund. I know this to be true because my brother was with him at the time. He also described how he found himself on a completely empty bus one evening, so he sat beside the driver ("a lovely young woman") and they sang show-tunes together.