Thursday, January 26, 2023

Book cover: "The Quest of the Gole"

  • Title: The Quest of the Gole
  • Author: John Hollander (1929-2013)
  • Illustrator: Reginald Pollack (1924-2001)
  • Publisher: Atheneum, New York
  • Year: 1966
  • Pages: 117
  • Format: Library-bound hardcover
  • Dimensions: 5⅜ inches by 9¼ inches
  • Provenance: Given to me as a Christmas present by Joan last month. Before that, it had been in the Spokane County Rural Library, and then a used-book store.
  • Dedication: For Jeremy, David and Raphael
  • Introduction: Hollander, who taught at Yale University and primarily wrote poetry, states in the introduction that time can erase even written tales. Paper rots. Tablets break. And fragments and memories are what remain. "The Story of the Gole is one of these old tales, and it can only be set down here at all because parts of it are still to be found in many ancient writings. ... [This book] tells as much about the Gole as is known today."
  • Format: The prologue is in verse. The following three-part tale is mostly prose, with some sections of verse intermingled. Hollander also weaves commentary smoothly into the tale, letting us know what is known, where the surviving sources conflict with each other and what details are lost forever.
  • Random sentence from the middle #1: "And he did make his home here in our city, learning our language, and living in a cave by the bay."
  • Random sentence from the middle #2: "Moad felt a strange kind of dizziness, as he realized what it was that was so remarkable about this common picture of the earth striving to meet something impossibly high above it."
  • Goodreads rating: 3.67 stars (out of 5)
  • Goodreads review: In 2009, Adam wrote: "The language in this book is rich and modeled, in parts, on medieval romances and ancient epics. Some episodes evoke Arthur, and others Beowulf or Gilgamesh. Unfortunately, the story ends up being what you might expect from a poet of the post-modern era; that is, it culminates in an insubstantial mirage, an abstracted daydream with no enduring substance."
  • Another review: Writing briefly about "Curiosities" for the magazine Fantasy & Science Fiction in 2006, Bud Webster describes the book as "tall, slim, elegant witty and eminently poetic" and further states, "The author's commentary is, for me, the most fascinating thing about this little book. Only a poet and teacher ... could have done it this well, and I'm glad he did."
Nebula (7 months old) sits alongside the spine of The Quest of the Gole.

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