Saturday, May 23, 2020

Stay-at-home shelfie #57

Hey, look! It's shelfie #1 off to the far right. We truly are coming full circle.

Today's shelfie features a modest little set of Shakespeare books. Because if you have the Complete Works of William Shakespeare in a single volume, you're pretty much good to go, right? Folk-lore of Shakespeare is a delightful 1884 volume by the delightfully named Rev. T.F. Thiselton Dyer, M.A. Oxon. He was mentioned two years ago in this post and that other book of his, Strange Pages from Family Papers, is shown in shelfie #28. The first sentence of Folk-lore of Shakespeare is: "The wealth of Shakespeare's luxuriant imagination and glowing language seems to have been poured forth in the graphic accounts which he has given us of the fairy tribe." Chapter titles include Fairies, Witches, Ghosts, Birds, Animals, Plants, Folk-Medicine, Rings and Precious Stones, Dances, Punishments, Proverbs, Fishes and Sundry Superstitions. The owner of this book from long ago bent down several dozen page corners.

To the right of Folk-lore of Shakespeare is Tales from Shakespeare, which is "designed for the use of young persons." It was first published in 1807 and it was actually written by Charles Lamb and his sister, Mary Lamb. But Wikipedia notes that "Mary did not get her name on the title page till the seventh edition in 1838." Alas, her name isn't on this 1865 edition.

The Collected Jorkens is a three-volume set of short stories by Lord Dunsany (aka the delightful but also silly "Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany") The set was issued by Night Shade Books in 2004-2005 and can now be rather hard to find. The stories are fantastic tales that involve the character Joseph Jorkens and are an important part of the subgenre of "club tales." As Wikipedia notes: "The Jorkens stories are usually told in the 'frame' of a gentlemen's club in London, to which the narrator is invited in the first story, and of which he becomes a member. In general, Jorkens is sitting, and his attention is caught by someone else trying to tell a story, whereupon he provides a better story, in return, before or after or both, for whiskey."

Stephen King uses this form for some of his short stories, but with an appropriately creepier setting. As the Stephen King Wiki notes: "This unnamed Club has been located at 249B East Thirty-Fifth Street for longer than any of its members can remember. ... Stevens has been the butler for countless years. The primary purpose of the club is alluded to by the inscription on the main fireplace's keystone: 'It is the tale, not he who tells it.' Most nights, one or more of the members will share a story with the others. The Thursday night before Christmas is traditionally reserved for a 'tale of the uncanny.'"

Additionally, according to that Wiki: "The library at 249B East Thirty-Fifth Street is notable for its collection of works that do not strictly exist in this world — written by nonexistent authors, published under nonexistent imprints. Stevens associates this with the 'many rooms' upstairs, and the many entrances and exits thereof."

Long Room Interior, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY-SA 3.0
Diliff / CC BY-SA

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