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Archive for November 11th, 2009

November 11th, 2009 • Posted in Literary Criticism

In a flat land, literary prizes at least lend perspective

I’ve been fulminating in this space over the past little while about the lack of a Canadian Canon. Canadian criticism has for the most part run in the opposite direction of its evaluative responsibilities. Present though on this leveled playing field are at least two lists which lend some topography, some perspective, some/any measures of greatness. The Governor General’s Award for Fiction, and more recently the Giller, regardless of their faults, do serve a valuable purpose, especially in a land where judgment is so foreign. Telling, I suppose, that until recently, the task of identifying what has value, what is worthy of praise (at least according to the jury du jour), has been performed primarily by government. Now, the choices may all be ‘wrong,’ and largely unjustified, but at least they are out there, waiting for the brave to berate or congratulate them; to take them on, to defend or attack them at length. To get the ball rolling.

In light of these musings, it was with pleasant recognition that I read this from Philip Marchand in the National Post:

"Giller Prize juries make the best they can of an impossible task, anointing one book as best of the year. It’s ridiculous in a way, but it’s also useful. Like the university canon of Canadian literature, the Giller Prize choices give us a starting point to talk about Canadian books. In a world where we’re flooded with novels, we need a list of books to argue over and compare. We need a shared conversation about Canadian literature. For helping to stimulate that conversation, the Giller Prize deserves thanks."


November 11th, 2009 • Posted in Authors and Books

Audio Interview with Fine Press Owner Larry Thompson: On the Process of Letterpress Printing

Larry Thompson

established Greyweathers Press

several years ago because of  a "love of beautifully designed type

skillfully arranged on a well-proportioned page."

His original plan was to print letterpress books only, however, as his enterprise evolved Larry became interested in relief block prints and now includes these in his work. Editorial focus is on the literature both of 19th and early 20th century British and American writers

and young, unpublished writers. All printing and typesetting

is done by hand on a Vandercook S-219AB proofing press.

Books are also bound by hand.

I met with Larry in his studio in Merrickville, Ontario (about a half hour drive south of Ottawa), to talk about what he does. Listen here as he takes us through the letterpress printing process.

Subscribe to The Biblio File Podcast here

November 11th, 2009 • Posted in Nigel Beale Photos

Wilfred Owen on Remembrance Day

NB Flora

Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen.

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Written in 1917, published posthumously in 1920.

Buy the book for $4000 here:

Poems by Wifred Owen. With an Introduction by Siegfried Sassoon.
Owen, Wilfred (1893-1918).

Bookseller: Peter Keisogloff Rare Books, Inc. (Brecksville, OH, U.S.A.)
Bookseller Rating:5-star rating
Quantity Available: 1

Book Description: London, Chatto & Windus. Printed by Morrison and Gibb Ltd. Edinburgh. First Edition., 1920. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good. No Jacket. 1st Edition. 6 7/8 inches x 8 6/8 inches; half-title; frontispiece photographic portrait of Owen in his uniform, printed in brown tones, with the tissue guard present; title-page; introduction by Siegfried Sassoon; short preface by Owen; contents; second half-title; [12]pp., pp. 1-33, with printer’s name on the reverse of p. 33. Red cloth over boards, printed paper title label on the spine. The tissue guard shows some age-related tanning, with slight offsetting to the title-page light tanning to endpapers, half-title, page edges; light wear to the spine ends, light wear to the title label, a small buckle to the cloth on the upper left of the back cover, some light fading, tanning to the spine and cover margins. A very good copy of the author’s rare, fragile, and first and only book. Connolly, The Modern Movement 36. Contents: Titles of the Poems: Strange Meeting, Greater Love, Apologia pro Poemate Meo, The Show, Mental Cases, Parable of the Old Men and the Young, Arms and the Boy, Anthem for Doomed Youth, The Send-off, Insensiblity, Dulce et Decorum est, The Sentry, The Dead-Beat, Exposure, Spring Offensive, The Chances, S. I. W., Futility, Smile, Smile, Smile, Conscious, A Terre, Wild with Regrets, Disabled. "For the preparation of this book thanks are primarily due to Miss Edith Sitwell. [-]" (-From the reverse of the half-title). Bookseller Inventory # ABE-901756473