E-Catalogues

 

E-catalogue 70: Fables & Fairy Tales

E-catalogue 70: Fables & Fairy Tales

As part of the pantheon of foundational narratives to which we regularly turn for inspiration and guidance, fables and fairy tales often overlap with myths and legends. Indeed, they arise from the same wellspring of oral literature that dates back to antiquity. However, whereas myths and legends frequently convey cultural touchstones, such as origin stories, fables and fairy tales use timeless and imaginary worlds to demonstrate that our actions have consequences.

Considering the importance placed upon our interactions with the world and the notion of personal responsibility that should guide those interactions, we hope this selection proves timely. After all, the German fabulist Wilhelm Hey composed a series of these stories to occupy his children while they were quarantined with the measles.

E-catalogue 69: The Stuff of Legend

E-catalogue 69: The Stuff of Legend

A common modern misuse of the word “myth” is when it is used to refer to something that isn’t true. It serves to dismiss or diminish whatever concept it is modifying. However, anyone who has spent any time reading Joseph Campbell, or watching the PBS series “The Power of Myth,” understands that those stories related through myth, legend, and folklore transcend truth, as their narratives speak to the human spirit.
 
To illustrate this inward journey, we have chosen a cross-section of books to illustrate the range of interpretation of these foundational texts. From the well-trodden paths of the ancient Greeks that Homer laid out in his epic tale of wandering Odysseus, to creation stories from lands as far-flung as North America, Africa, and East Asia, we continue to turn to these narratives because we still struggle in the world—battling forces beyond our control to find our way home.
E-catalogue 68: Journeys, Imagined and Fantastic

E-catalogue 68: Journeys, Imagined and Fantastic

Those of us who are inclined toward bibliophilia inevitably get asked what book they would want to have with them if stranded on a desert island. It is, in essence, a roundabout way of asking a bookish person which of the many books they’ve read would remain enjoyable if it was the only thing to read for an indeterminate period of time. Faced now with the prospect of a mountain of free time surrounded by walls of books, the imagination scrambles for the exit, and suddenly, the idea of being stranded on a desert island begins to sound appealing.

It is perhaps not surprising that one of the first destinations to which the fictive mind ventured was a desert island—the most famous example of which is Robinson Crusoe. DeFoe's immortal creation, himself a composite of numerous popular shipwreck narratives, spawned its very own species of literature—the Robinsonade. And, like Crusoe, whether we find ourselves transported to the Moon or Mars, Wonderland or Oz, we will leave the experience transformed in some way.

E-catalogue 67: Armchair Travel

E-catalogue 67: Armchair Travel

Under normal circumstances, the life of a bookseller can be described as peripatetic. Members of our peculiar metier find ourselves in constant motion—whether to attend an auction, a book fair, a conference, or simply to scour the countryside in search of the next, elusive find.

After nearly two months of lockdown, we therefore find ourselves filled with wanderlust; and to exorcise this, we present the first of two lists on the theme of travel. This first installment consists of works dealing with what one might call “real” travel—from travel narratives featuring original drawings, to lavishly illustrated brochures for luxury automobiles from a bygone era. It is a road that will take us as far as Australia, where we can read about how Helen Keller “felt like Cinderella” after a birthday fête held in her honor during a state visit; it will whisk us to Macchu Picchu through dramatic photographs found in a handsome Limited Editions Club publication; and we will wind up at a murder mystery weekend in upstate New York, accompanied by Edward Gorey’s fittingly sinister images.

E-catalogue 66: Music to our ears (and eyes)

E-catalogue 66: Music to our ears (and eyes)

Scanning our shelves for material across our subject specialties that relate to music has demonstrated the ubiquity of music. It informs us from a very early age, which can be seen in books of nursery rhymes; it marks our celebrations and passages, whether its in a love ballad or a traditional Christmas song. The books here have all been somehow shaped by music—art informing art. If we train our ear very carefully, we can even pick up the subtle music that exists all around us in nature, as Gunnar Kaldewey has done in his Insect Musicians.
E-catalogue 65: The Animal Kingdom

E-catalogue 65: The Animal Kingdom

As our time with the "Once a Kingdom" exhibit draws to a close, we thought it would be fitting to further celebrate our relationship with the natural world by curating a selection of books across our subject specialties that feature members of the animal kingdom. This selection of items range in size from Shirley Jones’s suite of etchings of Ordinary Cats, to the Mosaic Press's three-volume micro-miniature set about dogs; and range in scope from natural history chapbooks for children, to a pencil drawing of cats executed by an artist who lost the use of her hands and learned to draw with her feet.
E-catalogue 64: Just outside our comfort zone...

E-catalogue 64: Just outside our comfort zone...

Everyone makes mistakes. It’s a simple matter of human nature. However serious the mistake, they often present us with an opportunity to reflect and learn from them. Such is the purpose of the following list, for which we have selected a couple dozen items from our stock that we bought at various times over the years because something about them appealed to us. Nearly everything has one thing in common (well, besides the fact that we still own them): they all lie a bit outside our areas of specialization.
E-catalogue 63: British Romanticism

E-catalogue 63: British Romanticism

Given the impact British Romanticism had on the development of themes in American literature—the subject of our last list—it seemed an opportune time to see how printers and artists have interpreted the work of this literary movement. Once again, the range of treatment is vast, in terms of format and scope: from miniature editions of Burns, to the small folio edition of John Clare by the Tern Press; from the Center for Book Arts’ collaborative take on Blake, to Argentine artist Raul Veroni’s vision of Keats and Shelley, published in translation.

As seemingly etched in the firmament as these writers are now, one must not lose sight of how radical their ideas seemed to be at the time—nature as something to be revered, rather than exploited; the eschewing of reason for something more subjective and spiritual; and a rejection of tradition. The fact that we still grapple with these ideas three centuries later speaks to how deeply this body of writing reflects the philosophical underpinnings of human experience—and in a way that makes us stand back and take a deep breath.