Monday, 21 May 2007

Hesperusly Speaking

Finally, here are the books I ordered from Hesperus Press - very exciting to receive these in the midst of examinations. You might recall, from my first mention of the publishing house, that they lured me in with mention of the pair I like to call Janey and Ginny. That makes them sound like a pair of schoolchildren, doesn't it? I speak of Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf, the two female titans (titanesses?) of literature, so far as Stuck In A Book is concerned. The idea of them as schoolchildren has got me thinking... and sketching... I wonder what they'd be like? Probably not friends - Woolf would be rather the sardonic, cleverly rebellious pupil. Austen much more likely to be teacher's pet, while affectionately impersonating the teachers behind their backs. Then again, both would have relished the opportunity to go to school, so perhaps they wouldn't have left the library.

Anyway, where was I? Supposed to be praising Hesperus Press, but got distracted and did some sketching (this was GOING to be a sketch-free blog entry) - but I must tell you which books I bought.


Lesley Castle - Jane Austen
Monday or Tuesday - Virginia Woolf

The Platform of Time - Virginia Woolf


These are in the line of not-so-famous-books by famous authors, which I mentioned before, and are extremely inviting. Lesley Castle is from Austen's juvenilia, which I have read, but do not own (thanks Our Vicar's Wife) - the correspondence of Miss Margaret Lesley and Miss Charlotte Lutterell is a wonderful satire of the epistolary novel, and with moments of absurdity allowed only to peep into Austen's novels. Her early scribblings are characterised by this irrepressible humour, and sense of the absurd, which (in my amateur way) I connect with Voltaire's Candide. No-one else seems to see the comparison, but it works for me - perhaps all the others have perused Voltaire in the original, whereas I have to settle for my green Penguin translation. Lesley Castle comes with two other of Austen's early work, and is a must-read for anyone who has got to the end of the six novels, and wishes there were more - though be prepared for, as the Monty Python people might put it, Something Completely Different.

Monday or Tuesday is the only short story collection Woolf printed during her lifetime (she could hardly print anything at any other point, could she?) and contains such gems as 'The Mark on the Wall'; 'Kew Gardens' and 'An Unwritten Novel'. Great access to Woolf if you've not dipped a toe in befor
e, as they exemplify her style in miniature, but also have a peep at 'A Society', which demonstrates Woolf's amusing side - and shows she didn't take Extreme Feminism as seriously as some might fear, while still presenting valid feminist points. My old copy is a rather tatty Dover edition, and the cover of the Hesperus one is SO beautiful, and they had a discount...

The Platform of Time is a new one for me - reviewed by dovegreyreader on 3rd May 2007. Hesperus printed the review. Not much to add - this is a collection of Woolf's sketches and memoirs of family members and acquaintances. Most of it available elsewhere, but useful to have it all together, in another rather pretty volume.

Here's me talking about how attractive all these books are - time I let the covers do the talking. Feast your eyes; give in; open your wallets. MUST talk to Hesperus about my cut...

6 comments:

  1. Oh Simon, please don't tempt me. i was weakening in this direction even before today's post.
    I'm bacl off to Sister Pelagia who (whom?) I'm still not sure about.

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  2. Why do you guys over in Britain seem to have all the best small presses? Hmm? Maybe I am just suffering from it's greener on the other side of the pond syndrome! I have heard of Hesperus--I really need to order some now that I have discovered free shipping from the book depository (hopefully they carry them!). I had my eye on a Wilkie Collins book!! Enjoy--they look like lovely editions!

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  3. Shucks, I'm blushing. Thanks again for the kind words Simon... 'Monday or Tuesday' is one of my favourite Woolfs too. I do feel slightly guilty, however, that the books tempted you away from revision, and for so long that you had time to produce a sketch! Still, exams must be nearly over now...

    Ellie, Hesperus Press.

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  4. I think there's an endless appetite for Woolf's writing in as many different combinations as possible Simon.I have really enjoyed the contrasts between all The Platform of Time pieces.Lovely covers aren't they.

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  5. Love the Ginny & Jane sketches, Simon! And the books are lovely... Just lovely.

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  6. Love your sketches! And the books look beautifully published. Why aren't there books like this in the US?

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