Thursday, September 25, 2008

Encountering the Evil Librarian

She is evil because when I stopped by her office for a chat, she forced me to look at four large cartons of books recently "weeded" from the university's literature and criticism shelves, forced me, I tell you, with the magic words, "They're free. Take as many as you want."

Many (not all) were by little-known writers and critics of the 1890s-1920s. I knew of George Moore, of course, and also recognized the seagoing novelist William McFee, because I had been given one of his tramp-steamer novels, In the First Watch (1946), as a kid. Here was a book of his magazine pieces, Swallowing the Anchor (1925).

And the rest of my finds:

Pierre and His People: Tales of the Far North (1894) by a Canadian, Gilbert Parker, who turns out to have been a British propagandist, working in secret to bring the United States into World War One.

Avowals (1919) by George Moore, the Irish novelist and poet.

Light Freights (1901) by W.W. Jacobs, best known for one of the most chilling short stories of all time, "The Monkey's Paw," but chiefly a writer of sea stories.

The Phantom Future (1897), by Henry Seton Merriman, which Wikipedia says was the pen name of one Hugh Scott, a popular novelist at the turn of the last century.

One box also held a six-volume collection of the poems of Algernon Swinburne, the Decadent and somewhat small-p pagan poet of the Victorian era.

But someone had already spoken for them: the very Catholic Irish-American literature professor, a great admirer of Cardinal Newman, etc. Given Swinburne's heretical and fairly erotic writing -- lots of sex and death -- you might say he was an original Goth -- is this a window into Professor X's secret kinky side?



Blogger Jane said...

For seagoing accounts, have you read Two Years Before the Mast, by Richard Henry Dana? It is all true, very interesting, and actually did a lot of good in improving working conditions for the sailors of his time. Dana is a distant relation of mine and I'm quite proud of him!

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Chas S. Clifton said...

I read it as a kid, yes. I am sure that I would get more out of it now. But I'll never forget the candle-eating Russian sailors.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Yvonne said...

Perhaps you can borrow them from Professor X...?

All sounds fun.

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, I should've known I'd get typecast! but what you said about Dr. ----- is more libelous. what can I say, those books had NEVER circulated....

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Chas S. Clifton said...

Dear Anonymous 4:12 p.m.,

I don't think Prof. X reads blogs. As I recall, it was a big deal when he accepted a computer in his office. But I am sure he could come up with a witty retort.

5:11 PM  

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