Friday, March 21, 2008

Fanatic collector considers three great decades of English art & literature

Publisher to talk at Community Library

Express Staff Writer

Images from the Victorian Era reveal a rich age of book binding and illustration. Photo by

Beautiful books are among the finest of mankind's contribution to history. They are informative, inspiring, cultural, amusing, artistic, insightful, educational, thought provoking and in many cases priceless. But their beauty may also lie in the way they are published, in form and fonts, in designs and bindings, in the illustrations and the covers.

Boston publisher David Godine is the proprietor of both the iconic Black Sparrow Press and his own eponymous publishing company.

Both publishing houses are known for their elegant and maverick stable of authors, such as Charles Bukowski, Paul Bowles, John Fante and Joyce Carol Oates.

In particular, Black Sparrow's backlist includes such titles as "The Superior Person's Field Guide to Deceitful, Deceptive & Downright Dangerous Language" by Peter Bowler, "Men of Letters and People of Substance" by Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich, "Newspaper Days: An Autobiography" by Theodore Dreiser, "A Bar in Brooklyn" by Andrei Codrescu and "Birds, Beasts, and Flowers!", a book of poetry by D.H. Lawrence published when he was 38.

The New York Times wrote, "David Godine is a remarkable publisher. He is determined to prove that the day of elegant books has not vanished. And he does prove it. Elegantly."

But Godine doesn't merely publish. He also collects books.

The Community Library in Ketchum will welcome Godine for a talk on "The Golden Age of English Book Illustration and Binding, 1840 to 1870," in which he will showcase a set of exquisite images, on Tuesday, March 25, at 6 p.m.

Though he is a well-known publisher, he will speak primarily as a collector.

"When collectors speak of 'the '60s,' they mean precisely that period from circa 1855-1870 when the top talent in British art, many of whom later turned to painting as their primary activity, were engaged with the illustration of books."

Major illustrators of the period, Godine said, include Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Holman Hunt, J.E. Millais, Thackeray, Charles Keene, Cruikshank, Du Maurier, Pinwell and North.

Books he will reference include "Vanity Fair," Oliver Twist," "Arabian Nights" and "The Vicar of Wakefield."

"The Victorians could be very tedious, but this won't be boring," Godine said.

Godine suggested the talk could be subtitled something along the lines of "An illustrated Talk in which Fanatic Collector Considers the Artists and Authors of Three Great Decades of English Art & Literature."

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