Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bookshelf (Continued)


Back to the bookcase. On the left, a nice copy of The Rover by Conrad, first U.S. edition, Doubleday 1925. Doubleday put out a lovely edition of Conrad in those years, and they are still available at a pretty good price, although I don't see them in the used book stores as often as I used to.

The Salem Frigate by John Jennings, first edition 1946. I've never read it! Maybe now I will.

Then a paperback edition of Conrad's The Shadow-Line, which he published in 1917. The author's note, protesting that the book does not in fact bear supernatural elements, has a line I like: "The world of the living contains enough marvels and mysteries as it is; marvels and mysteries acting upon our emotions and intelligence in ways so inexplicable that it would almost justify the conception of life as an enchanted state." Amen, as it were.

A 1939 Little, Brown edition of C.S. Forester's Captain Horatio Hornblower, with drawings by N.C. Wyeth. The volume contains three novels: Beat to Quarters; Ship of the Line; and Flying Colours. Forester has lately fallen into the shadow of the indisputably great Patrick O'Brien and his Jack Aubrey series, books I read and re-read, and own. But I loved Hornblower and a year or two ago I read many of them again. To my immense relief the books hold up. O'Brien's otherworldly erudition is absent, but the plot, writing, character development and nuance remain vibrant, and there is none other. I do not say Forester is the better, nor O'Brien, only that both are superb and unmatched except perhaps by the other.

Next, in two volumes: Cruising Directions - Newfoundland - With Some Material on the Labrador, published by the Boston Station of the Cruising Club of America. The books were the property of one of the finest cruising sailors I ever knew or expect to know, and were given to me by his widow.

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