Thursday, December 4, 2014

Penguin Modern Classics 7–Miscellaneous

This post will display the final books in my Penguin Modern Classics collection, and encompasses authors from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, India, Australia and Russia.

The first is Nobel Prize winning novelist,  Elias Canetti’s Auto Da Fé, a book which I remember reading and not liking much, though at Space Age Books, where I worked in the ‘70s, it was something of a best seller.

I don’t recall ever reading Karel Capek’s Apocryphal Tales, so how the book ended up on my shelves I haven’t a clue, though it has a great cover with art by Max Ernst. Capek  is credited with creating the term “robot” (in his  novel R.U.R)

canetti_auto da fe1973_otto dix_roter kopf capek_apocryphal stories1975_ernst_europe after the rain
1973 edition – “Roter Kopf” by Otto Dix 1975 edition – “Europe After the Rain” by Max Ernst

Next, three novels by Joseph Conrad, who is well known as the author of Heart of Darkness, of which I do not have a copy, though I recall reading it way back when.

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1965 edition – portrait of Conrad 1963 edition – portrait of Conrad by Walter Tittle


conrad_western eyes1969_munch_evening in karl johan street oslo
1969 edition – “Evening in Karl Johan Street Oslo” by Edvard Munch

The next book is a curious and comical picaresque novel by G. V. Desani titled All About H. Haterr. It is written in idiosyncratic Anglo Indian prose, and tells the story of the  hapless eponymous hero’s  adventures in his search for wisdom and enlightenment. I loved this novel when I first read it back in the early 1970s, so must reread it sometime.

desani_hatter1972_fn souza_two saints in a landscape
1972 edition – “Two Saints in a Landscape” by F.N, Souza

Patrick White, though English born, is acclaimed in Australia as one its greatest writers. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973. I must admit that I’m not all that great a fan of his books, and have not, as far as I recall, read any of them, though come to think of it, perhaps I tried to read one of them and didn’t finish it.

I have two of them in Penguin Modern Classics editions.

white_tree of man1967_sidney nolan white_vivisector1973_john brack_still life with self portrait
1967 edition  - cover art by Sidney Nolan 1973 edition – “Still Life with Self Portrait” by John Brack

The final book in Penguin Modern Classics is We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, a chilling dystopian forerunner and source  of inspiration for Orwell’s 1984.

As with just about all of the 1960s and 70s Penguin Modern Classics it has appropriate art work on the cover.

zamyatin_we1972_casimir malewitch_suprematist composition
1972 edition – “Suprematist Composition” by Casimir Malevich

Next I will present old standard “orange” Penguins of which I have a fair collection, and many have really stylish covers.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Penguin Modern Classics 6–Irish & Latin American Classics

To start with Irish modern classics, there are only three represented in my collection. The first is a 1966 edition of James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which I vaguely recall was on the curriculum of my Literature course at university.

joyce_young man1966_germano facetti
1966 edition – photographs from the National Gallery of Ireland

The other two Irish novels are At Swim- Two- Birds by Flann O’Brien and Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime and other stories by Oscar Wilde.

obrien_birds1971 wilde_stories1974_wp frith_a private view 1881
1971 edition – “The Bus By The River” by Jack B Yeats 1974 edition – A Private View 1881” by W P Frith

As for South American novels I have of course Jorge Luis Borges’ Labyrinths,  my introduction to his work, and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez  which was also the first book of his that I read.

borges_labyrinths1972_portocarrero_la havane marquez_solitude1977_j c orozco_misery of the peasants
1972 edition – “La Havane” by Portocarrero 1977 edition – “Misery of the Peasants by J C Orozco

And finally for this post, two novels by Alejo Carpentier, a Swiss born Cuban writer, who was a major influence on  magic realist writers such as Marquez , Fuentes etc. I can’t remember if I ever read the two following novels, Explosion in a Cathedral and The Lost Steps, but these Penguin Modern Classics editions have wonderful surrealist covers.

carpentier_explosion1971_dali_tete raphaelesque eclatee carpentier_lost steppes1968_ernst_the great forest
1971 edition – “Tete Raphaelesque Eclatee” by Dali 1968 edition – “The Great Forest”
by Max Ernst

The next post will feature a miscellany of nationalities and the last of the Penguin Modern Classics in my personal library.