September 01, 2010

My Dedications collection

It’s Books in the City’s second anniversary, and like last year I thought I'd celebrate by sharing the book dedications I've added to my collection over the last 365 days  -- at least the ones I remember, or can find where I scribbled them down, and can still read my handwriting.

1. From a very old-looking novel in the Central Library basement called Sally Lunn, by a certain Leo Walmsley, who turned out to be a friend of Daphne du Maurier’s, so not so old after all. 1937 is the publication date. I read the ending. Sally is accused by the man she loves of being “swank” and just wanting to go off to London. She swears she is not swank, and to prove it she pulls out the Guernsey sweater she has knitted him. They embrace.

The dedication reads:

For our darling Boodles, whose home is the sea.

Who is Boodles? I thought it might have been a family cat who drowned, but from the "Walmsley Society" website I learn that the family cat was named Choo-i.

. And the prize for best sense of humour goes to Christine Leov Lealand, author of a R18 book at Central Library called Quintessence: Erotic adventures of fantasy and desire:

Dedicated to everyone who knows that sex is better than drugs
To all who encouraged me as I wrote.

If you think you feature in this book please introduce yourself.
I’m always interested in meeting figments of my imagination.

syndetics-lc3. Larry McMurtry’s book The Last Picture Show is a sad book about two incoherent boys and a town beauty growing up in a small town in West Texas which was a "thinly disguised" (as they say) portrait of the small town McMurtry himself grew up in. Many years later, in his book about the lost art of storytelling, Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections at sixty and beyond, McMurtry returned to write again about this town, called Thalia in his books, Archer City in real life, like this:

"And always, there were diners who were just passing through, few of whom aspired to stay in Archer City. They stopped at the Dairy Queen as they would at a gas station, to pee and take in fuel, mindful, gloomily, that it was still a good hundred miles even to Abilene, itself no isle of grace. Few of these nomads, if they had stories to tell, bothered to tell them to the locals – and if they had wanted to tell a story or two, it is doubtful that anyone would have listened. People on their way to Abilene might as well be on their way to hell – why talk to them? Folks in Archer City knew the way to hell well enough; they need seek no guidance from traveling men."

The Last Picture Show's first page reads:

This book is lovingly dedicated to my home town.

4. Rudyard Kipling’s Plain tales from the hills:

To the wittiest woman in India, I dedicate this book.

She turns out to be a certain Lucy Hauksbee, aka Mrs. FC Burton. I found this out from a google book which was missing the pages, as google makes sure happens with their books, which might have told me something about her. For now, a mystery.

5. I thought Marie Corelli was a Saint, so you can imagine my surprise when I opened an old book of hers in the basement to find the dedication:

To the absinthe drinkers of Paris.

She turns out to have been a bestselling 19th century English author of eerie and occult novels, on record as having had various mystical experiences, which might be what had led me astray. I think mostly I just confused her with the Italian saint Maria Goretti. Pretty similar!

As it turns out, the novel is called Wormwood and the absinthe drinkers of Paris are depicted as poor tortured souls damned by their fatal addiction. So the dedication is actually a sort of “You who are about to die, I salute you.’

6. Thanks to Nick for this last and best, from JD Salinger's Franny and Zooey:

As nearly as possible in the spirit of Matthew Salinger, age one, urging a luncheon companion to accept a cool lima bean, I urge my editor, mentor, and (heaven help him) closest friend, William Shawn, genius domus of The New Yorker, lover of the long shot, protector of the unprolific, defender of the hopelessly flamboyant, most unreasonably modest of born great artist-editors, to accept this pretty skimpy-looking book.

Ditulis Oleh : tosca // 03:30


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