[This post was typed up in October, but I haven’t got round to posting it. Some of the things that I say in it are out-of-date by now, but I’m leaving the post as it was written. I’ll add the amendments at the bottom and maybe elaborate in a subsequent post.]
September threw up an unexpected surprise, as well as an unexpected sadness. I was going to do a separate post on both of these at the time, but didn’t get chance to, and it seems a tad pointless now. Anyhoo.
*** Library book sale
Now the sad news. All of the books in the first picture were from Webberley’s, which we learnt over the summer is to close in the new year. Webberley’s is the only independent book shop in the city that sells new books (we have several second hand bookshops), and so will be a big, big loss to the city when it closes. On the plus side, there may be another sale… No, I think I’d prefer to have the bookshop still open rather than a few more bargains.
However, some good news that I wasn’t expecting this month. I knew that following the publication of ‘Autobiography’, Morrissey was working on his first novel. However, I only learnt on about the 21st that this was to be published on the 24th, so we rushed to Amazon to place an order. Yes, I know we should have gone to an independent bookshop (or at least Waterstones), but… we can be fickle. I read a few reviews of this on the day it came out, and was slightly surprised that they were so negative. I’d expected there would be some that were less-than-glowing (coz, hey, it’s Moz, and the British press love to hate him just because he is), but was shocked by just how scathing they were. This has coloured my opinion somewhat even before I read it, which I wish it hadn’t. I want to be impartial, or at least not be negatively influenced from the outset. We’ll just have to wait and see.
[Since this post was originally written, Webberley’s has closed (mid-Jan.), and I read ‘List of the Lost’ (Nov?). Despite the rather unnatural dialogue, I didn’t think it was that bad. There are some wonderful turns of phrase in it, and the ending is actually quite shocking, even if the plot is a tad odd. I do hope he writes more, even if it is just to write a novel that is on the same level as the sublime ‘Autobiography’. I’ll do a full review eventually, but will definitely re-read it, as there are things to pull out of it with repeated readings.]
More book porn. I’ve meant to do this for a while, but haven’t really had enough of the black-spined Penguin Classics to warrant it until now. Personally, I quite enjoy searching through Google Images for pictures of other people’s Penguin Classics collections to get a feel for the thickness and physicality of certain volumes, and to generally foam over nice piles of pretty books, and so thought that I’d add to this be showing mine in case anyone is interested. Over the coming weeks, I will also do posts with my Penguin Popular Classics, Twentieth-Century Classics (the light-green spined ones), Modern Classics (both silver and white editions), and the older black and cream Penguin Classics.
In my last post, I mentioned and showed that my partner and I received our copy of Morrissey’s ‘Autobiography’ through the post on Thursday, the day of its release. Since its publication was announced, the biggest debate has been around the decision by Penguin to release the volume as a ‘Classic’, complete with the famous black livery. It was a condition of its publication that it would be issued as such, but this has provoked fury from many people due to the book having only just been released, and so not qualifying as a ‘Classic’ on the basis of the usual criteria ie age, importance and popularity. People have also stated that perhaps the ‘Penguin Modern Classics’ imprint would be more fitting, as the ‘Classics’ brand is reserved for texts that are pre-1900. However, I would like to take a moment to show several ways in which this decision is actually not a strange one by Penguin, by looking at some of their other books in print.
I said in the last post that I have recently started to read Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’, and so I will start with this.
The cover on the left is the Modern Classics version of this book that I have (well, mine is the 2000 edition without the white band, but otherwise it’s the same), and the other two are earlier Modern Classics editions. Now.
Here we have four editions of ‘Heart of Darkness’ (with ‘The Congo Diary’ in the third case) all from the Penguin Classics series. I can see where Penguin are coming from: the story was first published in serial form in 1899, and so falls under the ‘Classics’ brand, but was then published as a book in 1902- thus a Modern Classics.
Another case, this time E.M. Forster’s ‘Maurice’, written 1913-14, and published in 1971.
Then there’s this: ‘The Wasteland and Other Poems’ by T.S.Eliot. Interestingly, this great work of Modernist literature has been published as a Classic by Penguin and not a Modern Classic. This is also the case with James Joyce- my edition of ‘Ulysses’ is a Modern Classic, but my copy of ‘Dubliners’ as shown in a previous post is part of one of the previous series of Classics. I could go on with similar examples.
Another issue that has been had is with Morrissey’s book being a new book, and having not already been out before. Well, Penguin do also have a knack of publishing previously unpublished works as Classics and Modern Classics too. For example:
This recently unearthed early manuscript by Capote was published for the first time in 2006 as a Penguin Modern Classic, despite not actually being a classic at this point. It could be argued that it was by a classic author, but… the book still wasn’t technically a Modern Classic. The same could be said for the published letters or diaries of famous authors which then get released as part of the Classics range.
Personally, I feel that Penguin are perhaps making an interesting choice publishing ‘Autobiography’ as a Classics, but unlike some people, do not feel that it is such a strange thing for them to do. Perhaps a Modern Classic would have been more appropriate, but some form of classic status is not unfitting. The lyrics of The Smiths could be published as Modern Classics, which by Penguin’s interesting logic (as demonstrated here) would then make this autobiography an automatic classic. Or perhaps we can now have the lyrics of The Smiths published as a Classic on the back of this. Only time will tell!
I’ve had just a few more books since my last book-buying update, and have also picked up another from my parents’:
The last book in the photo, ‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote, was the one I picked up from my parents. It’s the copy I had at A Level when we studied it in English, complete with my pencilled annotations on several sections. You may also notice that the first three books I had were insanely good value for money, especially considering one of these (‘On the Road’) is a book I mentioned in a previous blog as being one I’d really like to read.
Oh, and then there’s also this other new book that my other half purchased off Amazon and which arrived the other day…
OH YES! Morrissey’s ‘Autobiography’ is here! We are both extremely put out that he only book signing he is doing has taken place in Sweden, as we couldn’t get over there to go to it, and can only hope he may decide to deign the UK with his presence in the near future. Also, the matter of who is reading the book first has been solved in two ways: I’ve already begun to read Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’, and so want to read this first; my partner has been a lover of Moz since before I even knew who he was, and has found great comfort in his lyrics at many points of her life. Me: I just think his music is quite catchy and sounds good… However, the bit of the book I did have chance to gloss over is incredibly well written, and should make for an enjoyable read!
OH YEAH! You may remember my post regarding the delay to Morrissey’s ‘Autobiography’. Well, I’ve just seen on Penguin’s site that this is now to be released on the 17th October, and will be released as a Penguin Classic. That is both myself and my partner who are two very happy little Mozza-loving bunnies.
According to the semi-official website true-to-you.net, that’s the cover of Morrissey’s autobiography (titled ‘Autobiography’. Wow. What a name…) which should have been published today. However, in true Morrissey fashion, its release was pulled three days ago due to “a last-minute content disagreement” between the walking deity and Penguin. The BBC news page has gone for the dramatics, saying that he is now “searching for a new publisher” and suggesting like it will never see the light, but the semi-official site suggests that the release by Penguin has simply been delayed. Hopefully that is the case, and the book will be finally published soon. And hopefully that image above is going to actually be the cover, and isn’t just a mock-up. Morrissey has stated previously that he wished his ‘Autobiography’ to be issued as a Penguin Classic, but usually such titles have to have actually sold a few first and have entered popular culture. Indeed, if it is to be issued as a ‘Classic’ and not a ‘Modern Classic’, the author is meant to have been writing over or just around 100 years ago and to very probably be dead. To be fair, the infamy of its existence and drawn out publishing history have perhaps given it enough social circulation, but… anyhoo. It would be all the more interesting if it is to be issued as above, and with any luck, it should be out soon. I also expect that when it is out, it will receive a reception not unlike Truman Capote’s posthumous ‘Answered Prayers’ (1986) and manage to offend everyone who is mentioned or veiled within it. At least, that is the hope!
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