Thursday, 28 October 2010

Alphonse Daudet The Nabob

Alphonse Daudet was born in Nîmes, France. His family, on both sides, belonged to the bourgeoisie. The father, Vincent Daudet, was a silk manufacturer — a man dogged through life by misfortune and failure. Alphonse, amid much truancy, had a depressing boyhood. In 1856 he left Lyon, where his schooldays had been mainly spent, and began life as a schoolteacher at Alès, Gard, in the south of France. The position proved to be intolerable. As Dickens declared that all through his prosperous career he was haunted in dreams by the miseries of his apprenticeship to the blacking business,[citation needed] so Daudet says that for months after leaving Alès he would wake with horror, thinking he was still among his unruly pupils.

On 1 November 1857, he abandoned teaching and took refuge with his brother Ernest Daudet, only some three years his senior, who was trying, "and thereto soberly," to make a living as a journalist in Paris. Alphonse took to writing, and his poems were collected into a small volume, Les Amoureuses (1858), which met with a fair reception. He obtained employment on Le Figaro, then under Cartier de Villemessant's energetic editorship, wrote two or three plays, and began to be recognized, among those interested in literature, as possessing individuality and promise. Morny, Napoleon III's all-powerful minister, appointed him to be one of his secretaries — a post which he held till Morny's death in 1865 — and showed Daudet no small kindness. Daudet had put his foot on the road to fortune.
Read more on Wikipedia

The above is the same edition which Malc owned. Malc's copy has the inscription: "To my darling - Margie July 28th 1953"


Jenkins entered the bed-chamber, a banal place like all furnished apartments, and moved towards the fire on which there were set to heat curling-tongs of all sizes, while in the contiguous laboratory, separated from the room by a curtain of Algerian tapestry, the Marquis de Monpavon gave himself up to the manipulations of his valet. Odours of patchouli, of cold-cream, of hartshorn, and of singed hair escaped from the part of the room which was shut off, and from time to time, when Francis came to fetch a curling-iron, Jenkins caught sight of a huge dressing-table laden with a thousand little instruments of ivory, and mother-of-pearl, with steel files, scissors, puffs, and brushes, with bottles, with little trays, with cosmetics, labelled and arranged methodically in groups and lines; and amid all this display, awkward and already shaky, an old man's hand, shrunken and long, delicately trimmed and polished about the nails like that of a Japanese painter, which faltered about among this fine hardware and doll's china.

While continuing the process of making up his face, the longest, the most complicated of his morning occupations, Monpavon chatted with the doctor, told of his little ailments, and the good effect of the pills. They made him young again, he said. And at a distance, thus, without seeing him, one would have taken him for the Duc de Mora, to such a degree had he usurped his manner of speech. There were the same unfinished phrases, ended by "ps, ps, ps," muttered between the teeth, expressions like "What's its name?" "Who was it?" constantly thrown into what he was saying, a kind of aristocratic stutter, fatigued, listless, wherein you might perceive a profound contempt for the vulgar art of speech. In the society of which the duke was the centre, every one sought to imitate that accent, those disdainful intonations with an affectation of simplicity.

Read novel on Internet Archive

Alphonse Constant Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual

Eliphas Lévi, born Alphonse Louis Constant, (February 8, 1810 - May 31, 1875) was a French occult author and purported magician.

"Eliphas Lévi," the name under which he published his books, was his attempt to translate or transliterate his given names "Alphonse Louis" into Hebrew although he was not Jewish.

Lévi was the son of a shoemaker in Paris; he attended a seminary and began to study to enter the Roman Catholic priesthood. However, while at the seminary he fell in love, and left without being ordained. He wrote a number of minor religious works: Des Moeurs et des Doctrines du Rationalisme en France ("Of the Moral Customs and Doctrines of Rationalism in France", 1839) was a tract within the cultural stream of the Counter-Enlightenment. La Mère de Dieu ("The Mother of God", 1844) followed and, after leaving the seminary, two radical tracts, L'Evangile du Peuple ("The Gospel of the People," 1840), and Le Testament de la Liberté ("The Testament of Liberty"), published in the year of revolutions, 1848, led to two brief prison sentences.
Read more at Wikipedia

In 1853, Lévi visited England, where he met the novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who was interested in Rosicrucianism as a literary theme and was the president of a minor Rosicrucian order. Levi's first treatise on magic appeared in 1854 under the title Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, and was translated into English by Arthur Edward Waite as Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual. Its famous opening lines present the single essential theme of Occultism and gives some of the flavor of its atmosphere:

Behind the veil of all the hieratic and mystical allegories of ancient doctrines, behind the darkness and strange ordeals of all initiations, under the seal of all sacred writings, in the ruins of Nineveh or Thebes, on the crumbling stones of old temples and on the blackened visage of the Assyrian or Egyptian sphinx, in the monstrous or marvelous paintings which interpret to the faithful of India the inspired pages of the Vedas, in the cryptic emblems of our old books on alchemy, in the ceremonies practised at reception by all secret societies, there are found indications of a doctrine which is everywhere the same and everywhere carefully concealed. (Introduction)

"Dogme et Rituel de La Haute Magie." With a Biographical Preface by Arthur Edward Waite. Including all the original Engravings and a Portrait of the author. Contents: The Candidate; Occult Symbolism; Magical Equilibrium; The Fiery Sword; Realization; Initiation; The Kabbalah; The Magic Chain; The Great Work; Necromancy; Black Magic; The Universal Medicine; Divination; etc

“The man who is enslaved by his passions or worldly prejudices can be initiated in no wise (meaning he can never be initiated); he must reform or he will never attain; meanwhile he cannot be an adept, for this word signifies a person who has acheived by will and by work. The man who loves his own opinions and fears to part with them, who suspects new truths, who is unprepared to doubt everything rather than admit anything on chance, should close this book; for him it is useless and dangerous. He will fail to understand it, and it will trouble him, while if he should divine the meaning, there will be a still greater source of disquietude. If you hold by anything in the world more than reason (as opposed to superstition), truth and justice; if your will be uncertain and vacillating, either in good or evil; if logic alarm you, or the naked truth make you blush; if you are hurt when accepted errors are assailed; condemn this work straight away. Do not read it; let it cease to exist for you; but at the same time do not cry it down as dangerous. The secrets which it records will be understood by an elect few and will be reserved by those who understand them.” Levi

Eleanor Clark Rome and A Villa

Eleanor Clark (July 6, 1913 – February 16, 1996) was an American writer. Clark was born in Los Angeles. She attended Vassar College in the 1930s and was involved with the literary magazine Con Spirito there, along with Elizabeth Bishop, Mary McCarthy, and her sister Eunice Clark. She married Robert Penn Warren in 1952 and lived in Fairfield, Connecticut, with him and their two children, Rosanna and Gabriel.

Her book The Oysters of Locmariaquer received the National Book Award, for Arts and Letters, in 1965. She was also the author of two other works of nonfiction, Rome and a Villa and Eyes, Etc., and the novels The Bitter Box, Baldur's Gate, and Camping Out.
Clark died in Boston in 1996

She was actually in Mexico at the same time as Malc in 1937 acting as a translator to Trotsky. Read more here

Read more on Eleanor Clark at Narrative Magazine

In 1952 Clark finished the first of her unusual "travel" books produced during long periods abroad, Rome and A Villa. Although it is concerned with setting, the book's effect is meditative rather than descriptive. It reveals a keen awareness of atmosphere and the passing of time. Clark's observations are not limited to place but encompass the political, literary, and personal as well. Katherine Anne Porter has said that Rome and A Villa is "autobiographical in the best sense" because it reflects the impact of the outer world upon the inner. Read more on Novel Guide

Publisher's Note
IN 1947 A YOUNG AMERICAN woman named Eleanor Clark went to Rome on a Guggenheim fellowship to write a novel. But Rome had its way with her, the novel was abandoned, and what followed was not a novel but a series of sketches of Roman life written mostly between 1948 and 1951. This new edition of the essential classic Rome and a Villa includes an evocative introduction by the preeminent translator William Weaver, who was close friends with the author and often wandered the city with her during the years she was working on the book.

Once in Rome, the foreign writer or artist, over the course of weeks, months, or years, begins to lose ambition, to lose a sense of urgency, to lose even a sense of self. What once seemed all-consuming is swallowed up by Rome itself; by the pace of life, by the fatalism of the Roman people, to whom everything and nothing matters, by the sheer historic weight and scale of the place. Rome is life itself - messy, random, anarchic, comical one moment, tragic the next, and above all, seductive.

Clark pays special attention to Roman art and architecture. In the book's midsection she looks at Hadrian's Villa - an enormous, unfinished palace - as a meta-phor for the city itself: decaying, imperial, shabby, but capable of inducing an overwhelming dreaminess in its visitors. The book's final chapter, written for an updated edition in 1974, is a lovely portrait of the so-called Protestant cemetery where both Keats and Shelley are buried, along with other foreign notables.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Emily Bronte Wuthering Heights

Emily Jane Brontë (30 July 1818 – 19 December 1848) was an English novelist and poet, now best remembered for her novel Wuthering Heights, a classic of English literature. Emily was the second eldest of the three surviving Brontë sisters, between Charlotte and Anne. She published under the androgynous pen name Ellis Bell. Read more on Wikipedia

Wuthering Heights is a gothic novel, and the only novel by Emily Brontë. It was first published in 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, and a posthumous second edition was edited by her sister Charlotte.

The name of the novel comes from the Yorkshire manor on the moors on which the story centres (as an adjective; wuthering is a Yorkshire word referring to turbulent weather). The narrative tells the tale of the all-encompassing and passionate, yet thwarted, love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and many around them.

Now considered a classic of English literature, Wuthering Heights met with mixed reviews by critics when it first appeared, mainly because of the narrative's stark depiction of mental and physical cruelty. Though Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre was generally considered the best of the Brontë sisters' works during most of the nineteenth century, many subsequent critics of Wuthering Heights argued that its originality and achievement made it superior. Read more on Wikipedia

Henri Bergson Creative Evolution

Henri-Louis Bergson (French pronunciation: [bɛʁksɔn] 18 October 1859–4 January 1941) was a major French philosopher, influential especially in the first half of the 20th century. Bergson convinced many thinkers that immediate experience and intuition are more significant than rationalism and science for understanding reality.

Bergson was born in the Rue Lamartine in Paris, not far from the Palais Garnier (the old Paris opera house) in 1859 (the year in which France emerged as a victor in the Second Italian War of Independence and over a month before the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species). His father, the musician Michał Bergson had a Polish Jewish family background (originally bearing the name Bereksohn). His mother, Katherine Levison, daughter of a Yorkshire doctor, was from an English and Irish Jewish background. The Bereksohns were a famous[citation needed] Jewish entrepreneurial family of Polish descent. Henri Bergson's great-great-grandfather, Szmul Jakubowicz Sonnenberg, called Zbytkower, was a prominent banker and a protégé of Stanisław August Poniatowski, King of Poland from 1764 to 1795.

Henri Bergon's family lived in London for a few years after his birth, and he obtained an early familiarity with the English language from his mother. Before he was nine, his parents crossed the English Channel and settled in France, Henri becoming a naturalized French citizen.

Henri Bergson married Louise Neuberger, a cousin of Marcel Proust (1871–1922), in 1891. They had a daughter, Jeanne, born deaf in 1896.

Bergson's sister, Mina Bergson (also known as Moina Mathers), married the English occult author Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, a founder of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and the couple later relocated to Paris as well.

Bergson lived the quiet life of a French professor, marked by the publication of his four principal works:

in 1889, Time and Free Will (Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience)
in 1896, Matter and Memory (Matière et mémoire)
in 1907, Creative Evolution (L'Evolution créatrice)
in 1932, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion (Les deux sources de la morale et de la religion)

In 1900 the College of France selected Bergson to a Chair of Greek and Latin Philosophy, which he held until 1904. He then replaced Gabriel Tarde in the Chair of Modern Philosophy, which he held until 1920. The public attended his open courses in large numbers.

Creative Evolution (L'Evolution créatrice) is a 1907 book by French philosopher Henri Bergson. Its English translation appeared in 1911. The book provides an alternate explanation for Darwin's mechanism of evolution, suggesting that evolution is motivated by an élan vital, a "vital impetus" that can also be understood as humanity's natural creative impulse. The book was very popular in the early decades of the twentieth century, before the Neodarwinian synthesis was developed.

The book also develops concepts of time (offered in Bergson's earlier work) which significantly influenced modernist writers and thinkers such as Marcel Proust. For example, Bergson's term "duration" refers to a more individual, subjective experience of time, as opposed to mathematical, objectively measurable "clock time." In Creative Evolution, Bergson suggests that the experience of time as "duration" can best be understood through creative intuition, not through intellect.

Harvard philosopher William James intended to write the introduction to the English translation of the book, but died in 1910 prior to its completion. Wikipedia

Download or read a copy from Internet Archive

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Djuna Barnes Nightwood

The above is a New Directions copy of the book. I am uncertain whether the dustcover of the above is the same as Lowry's New Directions copy.

Nightwood is a 1936 novel by Djuna Barnes first published in London by Faber and Faber. An edition published in the United States in 1937 by Harcourt, Brace included an introduction by T. S. Eliot.

Nightwood is notable because it is one of the earliest novels written by a well-known novelist to portray explicit homosexuality. It is also notable for its intense, gothic prose style. Regarding the difficulty of reading the novel's dense prose, T.S. Eliot writes in his introduction, "only sensibilities trained on poetry can wholly appreciate it

The novel, like many of its time, is essentially plotless. It focuses on Robin Vote, a bisexual woman in constant search of "secure torment." Robin's story begins in Europe, where she meets, and marries the false Baron Felix Volkbein, who wants nothing more than an heir to carry on his family name and uphold the traditions of old European nobility. The birth of their son, Guido, causes Robin to realize that she does not wish to carry on this life. She moves to America, where she begins a romantic relationship with Nora Flood. The two move to Paris together. Unfortunately, Robin is unable to remain peacefully with Nora. She feels driven by the conflicts of "love and anonymity," and spends her nights away from home, having quick flings with strangers while Nora waits nervously for her lover's return. It is during one such night that Robin meets Jenny Petherbridge, a widow four times over, who gains happiness by stealing the joy of others. She immediately turns her attention to stealing Robin away from Nora, and succeeds. In her despair, Nora (like Felix before her) turns to the counsel of Dr. Matthew O'Connor to recover from the devastating loss of Robin.

Some time later, Nora has returned to America, and is camping in a forest with her dog when she discovers Robin kneeling before an altar in an abandoned church. Attempting to enter, Nora hits the door jamb, and is knocked unconscious. Robin and the dog frolic on the floor before finally succumbing to sleep.

Djuna Barnes (12 June 1892 – 18 June 1982) was an American writer who played an important part in the development of 20th century English language modernist writing and was one of the key figures in 1920s and 30s bohemian Paris after filling a similar role in the Greenwich Village of the teens. Her novel Nightwood became a cult work of modern fiction, helped by an introduction by T. S. Eliot. It stands out today for its portrayal of lesbian themes and its distinctive writing style. Since Barnes's death, interest in her work has grown and many of her books are back in print.

W. N. P. Barbellion The Journal of a Disappointed Man

"Country (?) of Alton (?) et tous ces petits animaux - with great love Dec 2 1949 - inscription in Malcolm Lowry's Penguin edition.

W(ilhelm) N(ero) P(ilate) Barbellion was the nom-de-plume of Bruce Frederick Cummings (7 September 1889 - 22 October 1919), an English diarist who was responsible for The Journal of a Disappointed Man. Ronald Blythe called it "among the most moving diaries ever created"

Cummings was born in Barnstaple in 1889. He was a naturalist at heart and ended up working at the British Museum's department of Natural History in London. Having begun his journal at the age of thirteen, Cummings continued to record his observations there - gradually moving from dry scientific notes to a more personal, literary style. His literary ambitions changed course in 1914 upon reading the journal of the Russian painter Marie Bashkirtseff, in whom he recognised a kindred spirit (see the 14 October 1914 entry of his Journal); in his 15 January 1915 entry he indicated that he intended to prepare his Journal for publication: "Then all in God’s good time I intend getting a volume ready for publication."

Likened to James Joyce and Franz Kafka, W.N.P. Barbellion’s Journal is one of the great diaries and caused a sensation when first published in 1919. Begun when its author was 13 years old, the Journal at first catalogues his misadventures in the Devon countryside - collecting birds’ eggs, spying girls through binoculars - but evolves into a deeply moving account of his struggle with multiple sclerosis.

Yet, for all its excruciating honesty, W.N.P. Barbellion has an extraordinary lust for life. As Zeppelins loomed above South Kensington, the humour and beauty he found in the world around him – in music, friendship, nature and love – deepens not just the tragedy of his own life, but the millions of lives lost during the First World War.
Buy a copy from The Dovecote Press

You can read the diaries on Internet Archive or as a weblog

Also check out The Quotable Barbellion

Margaret Armstrong Field Book Of Western Wild Flowers

Margaret Nielson Armstrong (1867-1944) was the most productive and accomplished American book designer of the 1890s and early 1900s. Thematically and philosophically, her career places her squarely within the vibrant Arts and Crafts Movement in the United States. Her eclectic style - combining classical and art nouveau with its graceful symmetry and natural motifs, mainly floral in character, rooted in Japonisme and with Colonial, Native American and other motifs - resists easy characterization. Read more on Cassandra Considers

In this little book a very large number of the commoner wild flowers growing in the United States, west of the Rocky Mountains, are pictured and described. It is the first attempt to supply a popular field book for the whole West. This is the only fully illustrated book of western flowers, except Miss Parsons's charming book, which is for California only. The drawings have all been made from life. Almost all technical botanical terms have been translated into ordinary English, as this book is intended primarily for the general public, but as a large number of the plants given have never before been illustrated, or even described, except in somewhat inaccessible or technical publications, it is hoped that the scientist also may find the contents both interesting and useful. Read more including a detailed account of the contents of the book.

You can read the book on the Internet Archive.

Margaret Armstrong, second left, in 1910 at the family's lake house in North Hatley, Quebec, Canada with friends & sister, Helen, far left, and brother, Hamilton, far right.

Read an excellent piece on Margaret Armstrong on Cassandra Considers blog

Margaret Armstrong is also known for her book binding designs - you can read more Rare Book School.