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  1. [2/2/18] - Ted Hughes' Collected Animal Poems (1995)
  2. [18/1/18] - Billy Budd, Sailor (2017)
  3. [10/6/16] - The Icelandic Sagas (1999 & 2002)
  4. [6/11/13] - The Complete Sagas of Icelanders (1997)
  5. [12/10/13] - The Novel: An Alternative History (2010-13)
  6. [9/5/13] - Royall Tyler's Tale of the Heike (2012)
  7. [9/2/13] - Craig Thompson's Habibi (2011)
  8. [1/11/12] - Chandler's Complete Novels (1989)
  9. [18/10/12] - Sebald's Selected Poems (2011)
  10. [23/9/12] - A True & Strange Story (2009)
  11. [17/9/12] - Dante's Divine Comedy (2003-05)
  12. [4/9/12] - The Civil War Reader (1957-58)
  13. [23/8/12] - Shakespeare's Plays in Quarto (1981)
  14. [20/8/12] - A Song of Ice and Fire (1996-2011)

Note behind counter of local secondhand bookshop
photograph: Michael Steven (2012)

Ted Hughes: Collected Animal Poems (1995)

[Acquired: Friday, 2 February, 2018]:

Lisa Flather: Cover Illustration

Hughes, Ted. Collected Animal Poems. 4 vols. London: Faber, 1995.
  • Volume 1 - The Iron Wolf. Illustrated by Chris Riddell
  • Volume 2 - What is the Truth? 1984. Illustrated by Lisa Flather
  • Volume 3 - A March Calf. Illustration by Lisa Flather
  • Volume 4 - The Thought-Fox

I first saw this truly beautiful set of Ted Hughes's collected animal poems sitting behind the counter at Auckland's Jason Books. Unfortunately, it had already been set aside for someone else, so I couldn't even give it a quick once-over. It stuck in my mind, though, and when I ran across one or two of the odd volumes in paperback, I wondered how difficult it was to get. The answer is, not very. They must have printed an awful lot of them, because it's not even all that expensive.

I'd have to recommend it as a good way of coming to terms with the best aspects of Ted Hughes' work without too many of its more self-serving elements. In that respect, it's possibly even better than the equally beautiful Collected Poems for Children which came out ten years later, after his death. The Raymond Briggs illustrations in that, though, make it almost equally indispensable (as well as rather more acessible than his massive Collected Poems):

Ted Hughes: Collected Poems for Children (2005)

Ted Hughes: Collected Poems (2003)

Do any of these volumes overlap? Well, of course. Some poems are included in more than one of them (somewhat unpredictably at times). Probably one could get away with just the two above - but it would be a shame to miss out on this wonderful piece of book design (for that matter, the true purist will want a copy of Hughes's Selected Translations also: some of his best work was done in this genre).

Herman Melville: The Complete Shorter Fiction (2012)

[Acquired: Thursday, 18 January, 2018]:

  1. Melville, Herman. Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Uncompleted Writings: Billy Budd, Sailor; Weeds and Wildlings; Parthenope; Uncollected Prose; Uncollected Poetry. Ed. Harrison Hayford, Alma A. MacDougall, Robert A. Sandberg & G. Thomas Tanselle. Historical Note by Hershel Parker. The Writings of Herman Melville: the Northwestern–Newberry Edition, vol. 13. Evanston & Chicago: Northwestern University Press & The Newberry Library, 2017.

  2. Melville, Herman. The Complete Shorter Fiction. Introduced by Jay Parini. Illustrated by Bill Bragg. London: The Folio Society, 2012.

  3. Melville, Herman. Pierre, Israel Potter, The Piazza Tales, The Confidence-Man, Tales & Billy Budd. 1852, 1855, 1856, 1857, 1922 & 1924. Ed. Harrison Hayford. The Library of America, 24. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 1985.

  4. Melville, Herman. Billy Budd, Sailor (An Inside Narrative). Edited from the Manuscript with Introduction and Notes. 1891 & 1924. Ed. Harrison Hayford & Merton M. Sealts, Jr. 1962. A Phoenix Book. Chicago & London: The University Of Chicago Press, 1970.

Herman Melville: Complete Fiction (Library of America, vol. 3)

Today I bought a beautiful Folio Society Edition of Herman Melville's Complete Shorter Fiction in Devonport. Earlier this month I received the last remaining volume of the Northwestern Newberry edition of Melville's complete works in the post, vol. 13, his unpublished works. These supplement the earlier versions of Billy Budd and the Piazza Tales which I had in the 1962 Hayford/Sealts edition and the Library of America, respectively.

Do I need all of them? Well, clearly the three-volume Library of America edition of his complete fiction is indispensable. But then so are the various supplementary volumes of the Northwestern-Newberry edition of his poetry, letters and journals, which I list below. The Hayford/Sealts edition of Billy Budd is a landmark, the first really authoritative attempt to make sense of a very complex, unfinished manuscript. So, yes, I need that, too (even the Northwestern-Newberry editors have not departed very far from the Hayford/Sealts text - though they have expanded on it in some respects). What about the Folio Society edition of the short stories? That will have to get by on its sheer beauty. Textually, it represents no advance on the presentation of the stories in the Library of America.

The Writings of Herman Melville. The Northwestern–Newberry Edition. Evanston & Chicago: Northwestern University Press & The Newberry Library, 1968-2017.
  1. Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life (1968)
  2. Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas (1968)
  3. Mardi, and a Voyage Thither (1970)
  4. Redburn: His First Voyage (1969)
  5. White Jacket, or The World in a Man-of-War (1970)
  6. Moby Dick, or The Whale (1988)
  7. Pierre, or The Ambiguities (1971)
  8. Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile (1982)
  9. Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860 (1987)
  10. The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade (1984)
  11. Published Poems: Battle Pieces; John Marr; Timoleon (2009)
  12. Clarel: a Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land (1991)
  13. Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Uncompleted Writings (2017)
  14. Correspondence (1993)
  15. Journals (1989)

[I've marked in bold the ones I have]

Herman Melville: The Complete Shorter Fiction (2012)

  • category - North American Fiction: Authors

Magnus Magnusson, ed.: The Icelandic Sagas (1999 & 2002)

The Icelandic Sagas (1999 & 2002)
[Acquired: Friday, June 10, 2016]:

    Simon Noyes, illus.: The Icelandic Sagas (vol. 1: 1999)]

  1. Magnusson, Magnus, ed. The Icelandic Sagas. 2 vols. Volume 1: Au∂un’s Saga; Grænlendiga Saga, Eirík’s Saga; The Tale of Thorstein Stangarhögg (Staff-Struck); Egil’s Saga; Hrafnkel’s Saga; Eyrbyggja Saga; Vopnfir∂inga Saga; Bandamanna Saga; Gunnlaug’s Saga, The Tale of Thi∂randi and Thórhall; Njál’s Saga. Trans. Hermann Pálsson (1971), Magnus Magnusson & Hermann Pálsson (1965), Magnus Magnusson & Hermann Pálsson (1965), Hermann Pálsson (1971), Hermann Pálsson & Paul Edwards (1976), Hermann Pálsson (1971), Hermann Pálsson & Paul Edwards (1972), Magnus Magnusson (1999), Hermann Pálsson (1975), Magnus Magnusson (1999), Magnus Magnusson (1999), Magnus Magnusson & Hermann Pálsson (1960). Illustrated by Simon Noyes. 1999. London: The Folio Society, 2000.

  2. John Vernon Lord, illus.: The Icelandic Sagas (vol. 2: 2002)]

  3. Magnusson, Magnus, ed. The Icelandic Sagas. 2 vols. Volume 2: Ívarr’s Tale; Gísli’s Saga; Ölkofri’s Tale; Laxdæla Saga, Gunnarr Thi∂randabani’s Tale; Fóstbrœ∂ra Saga; Hrei∂arr’s Tale; Vatnsdæla Saga; Hænsa-Thórir’s Saga; Grettir’s Saga. Trans. Magnus Magnusson (1999), Magnus Magnusson & Hermann Pálsson (1999), Magnus Magnusson (1999), Magnus Magnusson & Hermann Pálsson (1969), Alan Boucher (1981), Magnus Magnusson & Hermann Pálsson (1999), Magnus Magnusson (1999), Magnus Magnusson (1999), Hermann Pálsson (1975), Denton Fox & Hermann Pálsson (1974). Illustrated by John Vernon Lord. London: The Folio Society, 2002.

Simon Noyes (1999)]

Given that the previous entry in this list celebrated my purchase of a complete version of the Icelandic Family Sagas, this very substantial (and beautifully bound and illustrated) selection would seem to be a bit unnecessary. And yet, I've spent so many years collecting the various versions translated by Hermann Pálsson and his various collaborators: Magnus Magnusson, initially, then my old friend Paul Edwards, as well as various others, that persuading myself to buy this collected set wasn't really much of a stretch. What's more, there's a certain authenticity to Magnusson's approach which is in some ways preferable to the more massive project commemorated below.

To be honest, I wouldn't be without either of them. This one would probably provide a better initial introduction to the minutiae of the saga world, though. And, really, a new version of one of the greatest bodies of literary work ever created by human beings - who wouldn't want to give it shelf-space?

The Icelandic Sagas (1999 & 2002)

  • category - Scandinavia & The Netherlands: Iceland

Vidar Hreinsson et al., ed.: The Complete Sagas of Icelanders (1997)]

[Acquired: Wednesday, November 6, 2013]:

The Complete Sagas of Icelanders (including 49 Stories). General Editor: Viðar Hreinsson, Editorial Team: Robert Cook, Terry Gunnell, Keneva Kunz & Bernard Scudder. Introduction by Robert Kellogg. 5 vols. Iceland: Leifur Eiriksson Publishing Ltd., 1997.
  1. Vinland / Warriors and Poets
    • Foreword
      1. By the President of Iceland
      2. By the Icelandic Minister of Education, Culture and Science
      3. By the Former Director of the Manuscript Institute of Iceland
      4. Preface
      5. Credits
      6. Publisher's Acknowledgments
      7. Introduction
    • Vinland and Greenland
      1. Eirik the Red's Saga
      2. The Saga of the Greenlanders
    • Warriors and Poets
      1. Egil's Saga
      2. Kormak's Saga
      3. The Saga of Hallfred the Troublesome Poet
      4. The Saga of Bjorn, Champion of the Hitardal People
      5. The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue
    • Tales of Poets
      1. The Tale of Arnor, the Poet of Earls
      2. Einar Skulason's Tale
      3. The Tale of Mani the Poet
      4. The Tale of Ottar the Black
      5. The Tale of Sarcastic Halli
      6. Stuf's Tale
      7. The Tale of Thorarin Short-Cloak
      8. The Tale of Thorleif, the Earl's Poet
    • Anecdotes
      1. The Tale of Audun from the West Fjords
      2. The Tale of Brand the Generous
      3. Hreidar's Tale
      4. The Tale of the Story-Wise Icelander
      5. Ivar Ingimundarson's Tale
      6. Thorarin Nefjolfsson's Tale
      7. The Tale of Thorstein from the East Fjords
      8. The Tale of Thorstein the Curious
      9. The Tale of Thorstein Shiver
      10. The Tale of Thorvard Crow's-Beak

  2. Outlaws / Warriors and Poets
    • Outlaws and Nature Spirits
      1. Gisli Sursson's Saga
      2. The Saga of Grettir the Strong
      3. The Saga of Hord and the People of Holm
      4. Bard's Saga
    • Warriors and Poets
      1. Killer-Glum's Saga
      2. The Tale of Ogmund Bash
      3. The Tale of Thorvald Tasaldi
      4. The Saga of the Sworn Brothers
      5. Thormod's Tale
      6. The Tale of Thorarin the Overbearing
      7. Viglund's Saga
    • Tales of the Supernatural
      1. The Tale of the Cairn-Dweller
      2. The Tale of the Mountain-Dweller
      3. Star-Oddi's Dream
      4. The Tale of Thidrandi and Thorhall
      5. The Tale of Thorhall Knapp

  3. Epic / Champions and Rogues
    • An Epic
      1. Njal's Saga
    • Champions and Rogues
      1. The Saga of Finnbogi the Mighty
      2. The Saga of the People of Floi
      3. The Saga of the People of Kjalarnes
      4. Jokul Buason's Tale
      5. Gold-Thorir's Saga
      6. The Saga of Thord Menace
      7. The Saga of Ref the Sly
      8. The Saga of Gunnar, the Fool of Keldugnup
    • Tales of Champions and Adventures
      1. Gisl Illugason's Tale
      2. The Tale of Gold-Asa's Thord
      3. Hrafn Gudrunarson's Tale
      4. Orm Storolfsson's Tale
      5. Thorgrim Hallason's Tale

  4. Regional Feuds
    • Regional Feuds
      1. The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal
      2. The Saga of the Slayings on the Heath
      3. Valla-Ljot's Saga
      4. The Saga of the People of Svarfadardal
      5. The Saga of the People of Ljosavatn
      6. The Saga of the People of Reykjadal and of Killer-Skuta
      7. The Saga of Thorstein the White
      8. The Saga of the People of Vopnafjord
      9. The Tale of Thorstein Staff-Struck
      10. The Tale of Thorstein Bull's Leg
      11. The Saga of Droplaug's Sons
      12. The Saga of the People of Fljotsdal
      13. The Tale of Gunnar, the Slayer of Thidrandi
      14. Brandkrossi's Tale
      15. Thorstein Sidu-Hallsson's Saga
      16. Thorstein Sidu-Hallsson's Tale
      17. Thorstein Sidu-Hallsson's Dream
      18. Egil Sidu-Hallsson's Tale

  5. Epic / Wealth and Power
    • An Epic
      1. The Saga of the People of Laxardal
      2. Bolli Bollason's Tale
    • Wealth and Power
      1. The Saga of the People of Eyri
      2. The Tale of Halldor Snorrason I
      3. The Tale of Halldor Snorrason II
      4. Olkofri's Saga
      5. Hen-Thorir's Saga
      6. The Saga of Hrafnkel Frey's Godi
      7. The Saga of the Confederates
      8. Odd Ofeigsson's Tale
      9. The Saga of Havard of Isafjord
    • Religion and Conflict in Iceland and Greenland
      1. The Tale of Hromund the Lame
      2. The Tale of Svadi and Arnor Crone's-Nose
      3. The Tale of Thorvald the Far-Travelled
      4. The Tale of Thorsein Tent-Pitcher
      5. The Tale of the Greenlanders
    • Reference Section
      1. Maps and Tables
      2. Illustrations and Diagrams
      3. Glossary
      4. Cross-Reference Index of Characters
      5. Contents of Volumes I-V

I've been coveting this rather monstrous tome for quite some time. As you can see, it's intended as a kind of one-stop shop for all things Icelandic saga-related. For a fanatic such as myself, I'm afraid that it only becomes a matter of time before one has to get it. Luckily it's my birthday today ...

  • category - Scandinavia & The Netherlands: Iceland

Steven Moore: The Novel: An Alternative History (vol. 2: 2013)

[Acquired: Saturday, October 12, 2013]:

Moore, Steven, The Novel: An Alternative History, Beginnings to 1600. New York & London: The Continuum International Publishing Group, 2010.

Moore, Steven, The Novel: An Alternative History, 1600 to 1800. Bloomsbury Academic. New York & London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2013.

The above cover image comes from Hermann Fenner-Behmer's Der Bücherwurm [The Bookworm] (1906) - rather a change from Carl Spitzweg's mid-nineteenth century picture of the same name:

Carl Spitzweg: The Bookworm (1850)

It seems to be rather a consistent theme with Steven Moore. Here's the cover of volume one: a fine reproduction of Jean-Jacques Henner's La Liseuse [The Reader] (1880-90):

Steven Moore: The Novel: An Alternative History (vol. 1: 2010)

"I just thought I'd slip my kit off so I could catch up on my reading ..."

If there's a volume three, following the story from 1800-2000-odd (say), I wonder what other images might be appropriate? How about this one:

Howard Chandler Christy (1873-1952): Nude Woman Reading

or this one:

Leon Kroll (1884-1974): Naked Woman Reading

or this one:

Théodore Roussel (1847-1926):
Lesendes Mädchen [The Reading Girl] (1886-7)

or even this one?

Who would have thought it was such a theme for fine artists down the ages? Seriously, though, Steven Moore's is a majestic work, long in the inception, and hitting pretty much all the right themes for me.

I salute him as a master as well as a kindred spirit (trash-talking, irreligious, fundamentally dirty-minded, and - above all - addicted to complex experimental fiction), and would therefore highly recommend both of his volumes: but particularly the first ...

[Royall Tyler, trans.: The Tale of the Heike]

[Acquired: Thursday, May 9, 2013]:

The Tale of the Heike. Trans. Royall Tyler. Viking Penguin. London: Penguin, 2012.

Tyler, Royall, trans. Before Heike and After: Hōgen, Heiji, Jōkyūki. 2012. Lexington, KY: An Arthur Nettleton Book, 2013.

I can't count how many times I've picked it up and tried to read it, always in vain. For someone who's a rabid fan of the Tale of Genji and who's therefore read more than his fair share of medieval Japanese literature in translation, the Heike Monogatari looks like a dead cert. But it always seemed so dead on the page: so lacking in visual as well as narrative appeal - in the earlier translations I tried, at any rate:

Hiroshi Kitagawa & Bruce T. Tsuchida, trans.:
The Tale of the Heike (1975)

Helen Craig McCullough, trans.: The Tale of the Heike (1988)

The second of the two pictured above is actually an extremely accurate rendition of the original - or so Royall Tyler told me. I met him, you see. It was at a translation conference in Melbourne in July 2011, while he was putting the finishing touches on this book.

He gave a fascinating paper on the performance tradition associated with the Heike, which is still - just - continuing in modern Japan. I couldn't resist complimenting him on it afterwards, and taking the opportunity to ask him a few things about his earlier translation of the Tale of Genji.

When I mentioned that I had two copies of his version - one (hardback) at home, the other (paperback) in the office for quick reference - I think he realised that he was dealing with a bona fide fan (or do I mean monomaniac?). The colleague he was with, Meredith McKinney, herself the author of a lovely version of Sei Shōnagon's classic Pillow Book, was even more impressed when she heard that I'd tracked down a copy of Ivan Morris's complete, two-volume translation of Sei Shōnagon, rather than being content with the abridged Penguin edition.

Royall Tyler, trans.: Atsumori (1992)

It was quite a weird encounter, actually. I don't think they could understand somebody who was so evidently enthusiastic about Japanese literature, and yet had not felt inspired to plunge into immediate study of the language itself. I can see their point. It doesn't really make sense to me either. The fact remains, though, that just as in the case of the classic Chinese novels, these English translations exist, and continue to proliferate, and I get so much pleasure from reading and comparing them and imagining what their distant originals must be like ...

Anyway, whether that makes sense or not, that's the way it is, and the main thing I got from our talk was a strong disposition to check out Tyler's "opera libretto" arrangement of the Heike text as soon as it became available, in the hopes of finally getting to the end of it.

As an added bonus, though, it's nice to see that he's also issued a companion volume of translations of the various chronicles which supplement and complete the Heike story:

Royall Tyler, trans.: Before Heike and After (2012)

  • category - Japanese Literature: Prose: Classical

[Craig Thompson: Habibi]

[Acquired: Saturday, February 9, 2013]:

Thompson, Craig. Habibi. Pantheon Books. New York: Random House, Inc., 2011.

Bronwyn and I went into town yesterday to go to Renee Bevan's artist talk for her new show "Stream of Thoughts" at the Gus Fisher Gallery. I thoroughly recommend it - contemporary jewellery as conceptual art. For me (at least) a real revelation:

Renee Bevan: The World is a Giant Pearl
(Photograph: Caryline Boreham)

After a nice chat with Renee and curator Karl Chitham, we wandered off afterwards to check out Real Groovy Records, which I hadn't visited for years. It still seems to be going strong: lots of hipsters, vinyl, but also an immensely quirky selection of books and DVDs.

There I saw this book: Habibi, by Craig Thompson, author of Blankets (2004). Now, I know that a lot of comics-fans thought that Blankets was overpraised, but I really enjoyed it myself. Perhaps it's being brought up a fundamentalist Christian that makes me feel a certain kinship with Thompson and his bitter-sweet account of childhood and first love. For me it reads as an intensely emotional story rather than a sentimental one, but I accept that there's a thin line between the two. Perhaps the distinction will always be a subjective one.

I was very pleased to hear that he was moving into Islamic themes with his next major book. Thompson has caught the intoxication of Arabic script, and the beauty of some of his line drawings beggars belief. As a life-long Arabian Nights obsessive, too, his choice of a Scheherazade-like narrator for a long intertwined tale of love and violence was never going to be a hard sell for me (although I see it has been critiqued by some for exhibiting "self-conscious Orientalism"; possibly so - but I think it's important to respect the author's genre intentions here. After all, the same could easily be said of various of Salman Rushdie's novels and - especially - his two children's books).

I was in two minds about simply going home and ordering it online, but there it was, in the flesh, in the shop, and Bronwyn reminded me that our beautiful local bookshops will simply cease to exist if we don't buy from them. So I did. and here it is.

It reminds me a little of walking through the streets of Kochi, in India, and hearing the muezzin from a local mosque, and feeling a sensation of pure joy at the beauty of the sound: the profound aesthetic harmony of architecture, music, and the moment, all together at once ...

[Raymond Chandler: The Complete Novels]

[Acquired: Thursday, November 1, 2012]:

Chandler, Raymond. The Big Sleep. 1939. Introduction by Frank MacShane. The Complete Novels, 1. London: The Folio Society, 1989.

Chandler, Raymond. Farewell My Lovely. 1939. The Complete Novels, 2. London: The Folio Society, 1989.

Chandler, Raymond. The High Window. 1943. The Complete Novels, 3. London: The Folio Society, 1989.

Chandler, Raymond. The Lady in the Lake. 1944. The Complete Novels, 4. London: The Folio Society, 1989.

Chandler, Raymond. The Little Sister. 1949. The Complete Novels, 5. London: The Folio Society, 1989.

Chandler, Raymond. The Long Goodbye. 1953. The Complete Novels, 6. London: The Folio Society, 1989.

Chandler, Raymond. Playback. 1958. The Complete Novels, 6. London: The Folio Society, 1989.

The Unicorn Bookshop in Warkworth has a long shelf of Folio Society editions of various classic books, and this one caught my eye when I was in there with David Howard a few weeks ago. This time I couldn't resist it. I love Chandler's stylised and mannered prose, and admire - above all - his ability to constantly reinvent himself.

There's no mention of an illustrator for the various prints and embellishments in this set, which seems a bit careless. It's certainly very styly, though. I see that there's an accompanying volume of short stories, but I already have those in other forms.

[Raymond Chandler (1888-1959)]

  • category - North American Fiction: Fiction

[W. G. Sebald: Across the Land and the Water]

[Acquired: Thursday, October 18, 2012]:

Sebald, W. G. Across the Land and the Water: Selected Poems, 1964-2001. 2008. Trans. Iain Galbraith. Hamish Hamilton. London: Penguin, 2011.

Maud Cahill of Jason Books in central Auckland sends out regular bulletins on what she has in stock. I was therefore able to get down on this new Sebald book before someone else snapped it up. I've read almost all of his work that has so far appeared in translation, I think: the four major prose works, the two posthumous books of essays, the long poem After Nature (1988), so it's great to have this one as well.

He was such a gloomy, introspective character that I must confess I've always feared that his death was not altogether an accident. I'm glad to hear that this is quite erroneous, though. This is what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:
Sebald died in a car crash near Norwich in December [14] 2001. The coroner's report, released some six months later, stated that Sebald had suffered an aneurysm and had died of this condition before his car swerved across the road and collided with an on-coming lorry. He was driving with his daughter Anna, who survived the crash.

'To perceive the aura of an object we look at,' wrote Walter Benjamin, referring more to works of art than to landscapes, 'means to invest it with the ability to look at us in return.' [Iain Galbraith, 'Introduction,' pp.xi-xxiii {p.xxii}. - referencing the essay "Some Motifs in Baudelaire" (1939)]

[W. G. Sebald (1944-2001)]

  • category - Germanic Literature: Prose

[Audie M. Pennefather: A True & Strange Story]

[Acquired: Sunday, September 23, 2012]:

Pennefather, Audie M. A True and Strange Story: The Life of Teuane Ann Tibbo - Artist, 1895-1984. Vermont South, Victoria, Australia, 2009.

Bronwyn gave a talk on Teuane Tibbo last Sunday, at the Home AKL show which is currently up in the Auckland Art Gallery:
Writer, curator, and tutor at the School of English and Media Studies, Massey University (Albany), Dr Bronwyn Lloyd discusses the art of self-taught Samoan artist Teuane Tibbo (1895 - 1984).

Tibbo, who only began painting at the age of 71, had a brief but influential career, exhibiting with a number of mainstream established artists such as Colin McCahon, Michael Illingworth, Pat Hanly, and Tony Fomison.

Bronwyn organised an exhibition of Tibbo's works at Lopdell House Gallery in 2002, which played a considerable role in bringing her back to everyone's attention. I couldn't resist buying a copy of this rather eccentric, self-published biography of Tibbo by her daughter.

  • category - Art (NZ & International): Artists

[Sandow Birk: Dante's Divine Comedy]

[Acquired: Monday, September 17, 2012]:

Birk, Sandow, & Marcus Sanders, trans. Dante's Inferno. Illustrated by Sandow Birk. Preface by Doug Harvey. Introduction by Michael F. Meister. 2003. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2004.

Birk, Sandow, & Marcus Sanders, trans. Dante's Purgatorio. Illustrated by Sandow Birk. Preface by Marcia Tanner. Introduction by Michael F. Meister. 2004. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2005.

Birk, Sandow, & Marcus Sanders, trans. Dante's Paradiso. Illustrated by Sandow Birk. Preface by Peter S. Hawkins. Foreword by Mary Campbell. Introduction by Michael F. Meister. 2005. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2005.

Birk, Sandow. Dante's Divine Comedy: The Complete Paintings. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2005.

I found this beautiful (and rather weird) boxset sitting in the Unicorn Bookshop in Warkworth. The main idea of it seems to be as a showcase for the paintings and drawings of Sandow Birk, done in direct imitation / competition with Doré's nineteenth century illutrations for the Divine Comedy. The text has been adapted / translated by Birk and his collaborator Marcus Sanders. It's not exactly poetic, but the updating is quite interesting as well. I love this kind of eccentric project, I must say. Why not dream big, if you're going to dream at all?

[Richard B. Harwell: The Civil War Reader]

[Acquired: Tuesday, September 4, 2012]:

Harwell, Richard B., ed. The Civil War Reader: The Union Reader / The Confederate Reader. 1957-1958. Smithmark Civil War Library. New York: Smithmark Publishers Inc., 1994.

I found this in an Vintage Shop in Paeroa, which is now reinventing itself as the Antiques capital of the North. It's a combined reprint of two 1950s collections, The Confederate Reader (1957) and The Union Reader (1958). I actually prefer some of those old 1950s books about the American Civil War. I also bought a book called The Day Lincoln Got Shot (1955) on the same occasion. Anyone who's read my blog post on the The Literature of the Civil War knows that I'm pretty obsessive on the subject. "A lot of reading there," said the lady in the shop as she sold it to me. "That'll keep you out of mischief for a while."

"That's true," I agreed. "And I promise not to try and start any civil wars ..."

She looked a bit doubtful at that, but gave an uneasy smile, as if to concede that it must have been meant in a good-humored way.

[Acquired: Thursday, August 23, 2012]:

Allen, Michael J. B., & Kenneth Muir, ed. Shakespeare’s Plays in Quarto: A Facsimile Edition of Copies Primarily from the Henry E. Huntingdon Library. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981.

This is a truly massive book, presumably intended as a companion volume to Charlton Hinman's 1968 facsimile edition of the First Folio. It comes in a handsome slipcase, and includes photographic reprints of all of the quartos (good, bad, and indifferent) in the list above. I've coveted it for quite some time. I was a bit surprised, though, when I first opened my copy, to find the letter reproduced below. It turns out that this copy was sent to the book designer by one of the other members of the production team. I now have it placed between Hinman and the 1987 Oxford Shakespeare: three huge tomes in a row ...

[Czeslaw Gricz: Letter to Paula Schlosser (15/7/82)]

[George R. R. Martin: A Song of Ice and Fire]

[Acquired: Monday, August 20, 2012]:

Martin, George R. R. A Game of Thrones. A Song of Ice and Fire, 1. 1996. Harper Voyager. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2011.

Martin, George R. R. A Clash of Kings. A Song of Ice and Fire, 2. 1998. Harper Voyager. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2011.

Martin, George R. R. A Storm of Swords, 1: Steel and Snow. A Song of Ice and Fire, 3. 2000. Harper Voyager. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2011.

Martin, George R. R. A Storm of Swords, 2: Blood and Gold. A Song of Ice and Fire, 3. 2000. Harper Voyager. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2011.

Martin, George R. R. A Feast for Crows. A Song of Ice and Fire, 4. 2005. Harper Voyager. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2011.

Martin, George R. R. A Dance with Dragons, 1: Dreams and Dust. A Song of Ice and Fire, 5. 2011. Harper Voyager. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2012.

Martin, George R. R. A Dance with Dragons, 2: After the Feast. A Song of Ice and Fire, 5. 2011. Harper Voyager. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2012.

I'm afraid that when I saw this huge boxset sitting in the local bookshop in Mairangi Bay, it was only a matter of time before I bought it. Like most other people, I converted to these books after having watched the first season of A Game of Thrones. Waiting for the second series was taking just too long, though, so I'm now ploughing my way through the books instead. The G. R. R. Martin / J. R. R. Tolkien rhyme is a bit too close to ignore, but I do like the fact that Martin's interest is far more in politics and statecraft, and far less in ethics and magic.

  • category - Fantasy Literature: Authors

[Assorted Fairy Tales]