MAGAZINE SPRING 2014 ISSUE 23 £3.50
BOOKS FOR BURNING Seán Haldane on the Nazi acts of destruction in 1933
THE GARDEN OF THE FINZI-CONTINIS An appreciation of Giorgio Bassani’s novel by Desmond Hogan
WRITING THE CITY William Solesbury on how writers shape our impressions of our urban surroundings
THE IDEAL READER Roland Chambers imagines a child’s reaction to the treasures to be found in the Library’s collection of children’s books
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THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 3
OSCAR WILDE. Salome. 1893. 1 of 50 copies on handmade Dutch paper. With a presentation inscription from Wilde to the Parisian literary hostess, friend of Proust, and lover of Anatole France, Madame Arman de Caillavet.
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4 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
The London Library Magazine / issue 23
16 Works by some of Germany’s greatest twentieth-century authors were destroyed in the Nazi book-burnings of 1933, among them titles by Bertolt Brecht, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann and Erich Kästner. Seán Haldane searches the Library shelves to find the pre-1933 editions of works that were fortunately out of the soldiers’ reach.
C ontents 7 FROM THE LIBRARIAN 8 Contributors Illustration by Else Lasker-Schüler, from her novel Mein Herz (1912).
20 Giorgio Bassani’s novel The Garden of the Finzi-Continis is set in Ferrara during the 1930s as Mussolini’s racial laws take hold. The narrator’s friendship with the Jewish Finzi-Contini family is played out in the context of their villa, which is seen as both a paradise and a prison. Desmond Hogan’s celebration of the novel is introduced by Jonathan Keates.
Samantha Ellis found inspiration in the Biography and Fiction shelfmarks for her recent book, How to be a Heroine
13 bibliotherapy Reading one of Oscar Wilde’s plays was the perfect antidote to pre-exam anxiety for Ed Stourton
16 Books for burning Seán Haldane describes the devastating consequences of the acts of vandalism against literature in German cities in 1933 Giorgio Bassani.
20 farewell to ferrara Desmond Hogan on The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, in which Bassani looks back to the vanished world of Ferrara’s Jews
24 Writing the City
From the brooding presence of the Thames in Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend to the crime-ridden ‘mean streets’ of Los Angeles in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, the city plays a central role in literature in its many forms, as William Solesbury demonstrates
The way that writers perceive the city has sharpened our understanding of our urban environment, as William Solesbury explains
28 Hidden Corners New York, from William Solesbury’s World Cities, City Worlds (2013). Photograph by the author.
28 Bibliophiles tend to get hooked at a young age, as Roland Chambers points out. The beautifully illustrated volumes in the Library’s collection of children’s books – including the works of Hilaire Belloc, Heinrich Hoffmann, Kenneth Grahame and Frances Hodgson Burnett – bring back fond memories of his early literary discoveries.
10 BEHIND THE BOOK
Roland Chambers explores the treasures to be found among the children’s books in the Library
32 MEMBERS’ NEWS
39 EATING OUT
Illustration of ‘The Bear and The Fox’ from Aesop’s Fables (1933).
THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 5
Great Minds David Armstrong Paddy Ashdown Antony Beevor Tim Blanning Rodric Braithwaite Xavier Bray Ursula Buchan Lloyd Clark Richard Dannatt Saul David Richard Dearlove Martin Gayford Max Hastings Tom Holland Martin Kemp Tim Knox Daniella Luxembourg Eliza Manningham-Buller Timothy Mowl Richard Overy Michael Prodger David Richards Jane Ridley Malcolm Rifkind N A M Rodger Hew Strachan Adam Roberts Mark Urban Kim Wilkie and others... lecturing in the the University of Buckingham's one-year, Londonbased MA programmes, starting October 2014 • Archaeology • Biography • Decorative Arts • Garden History • History of Art: Renaissance to Modernism • International Affairs and Diplomacy • Military History • Modern War Studies
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Im Zug wird ihm nhof ausgestieück bekommt er seinen Jungs, r durch die große
FROM THE LIBRARIAN
After such a long, grey and watery winter, the daffodil-yellow cover illustration from Emil and the Detectives seems a fitting choice for our spring issue! Within we celebrate the joys of childhood reading with Roland Chambers (page 28) and reflect thankfully with Seán Haldane on the survival of so many German books in our collections that would have been dragged from the shelves and consigned to the flames if discovered in the cities of Nazi Germany in 1933 (page 16). The impact of cities on writing and writing on cities is explored further by William Solesbury (page 24) and revealed in Desmond Hogan’s appreciation of Giorgio Bassani’s novel set in Ferrara, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (page 20). How good it is to see the full series of stories and novels which make up Bassani’s Il romanzo di Ferrara appearing in Jamie McKendrick’s sensitive translations. On the cover
Illustration by Walter Trier © Atrium Verlag, from Erich Kästner’s Emil und die Detektive (1929). Emil und die Detektive
gehört zu rbuchautoren. mit zahlreichen unter dem -Preis und dem der in aller Welt und auch die e werden vom nommen.
und die Detektive
In Members’ News we do some looking back – to mark the retirement of Stella Worthington, our first ever Head of Collection Care (page 36), to celebrate members’ achievements in recent literary awards and prizes (page 38) and The London Library in the news (page 35 – how many London Library books did you spot in use during the recent BBC 1 series of Fake or Fortune, I wonder?) and to give a flavour of the Annual General Meeting in November 2013 (page 33). But we also look forward, as ever, with a call for volunteers to serve as Library trustees (page 32) and the creation of the Prevost Chapter to honour all those members and supporters who have included a bequest to the Library in their wills. This new venture gives us an opportunity to thank you in advance and recognise the important contribution that such bequests make to future generations of readers and writers.
n bekanntestes. n Deutschland mt, außerdem ssung zu dem
Inez T.P.A. Lynn Librarian 24.04.13 17:55
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Roland Chambers JOINED THE LIBRARY IN 2003
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Roland Chambers is the author and illustrator of The Rooftop Rocket Party (2003). His biography of Arthur Ransome, The Last Englishman (2009), won a Jerwood Award from the Royal Society of Literature and the 2009 Biographers' Club H.W. Fisher Best First Biography Prize. He lives in London.
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JOINED THE LIBRARY IN 2010
Samantha Ellis is a playwright and journalist. Her plays include Cling to Me Like Ivy (2010) and Sugar and Snow (2006). How to be a Heroine (2014) is her non-fiction debut. She lives in London.
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JOINED THE LIBRARY IN 2003
Seán Haldane is a poet, clinical psychologist/ neuropsychologist, publisher and writer. He read English at University College, Oxford, and has a doctorate in psychology from Saybrook Institute, San Francisco. His most recent books are Always Two: Poems (2009), Time/No Time: The Paradox of Poetry and Physics, and a Victorian detective novel, The Devil’s Making (both 2013).
JOINED THE LIBRARY IN 1990
JOINED THE LIBRARY IN 1974
Desmond Hogan is an Irish novelist and shortstory writer. The Lilliput Press recently reissued his acclaimed works, The Ikon Maker (2013) and The Leaves on Grey (2014). His story ‘Brimstone Butterfly’ appeared in Town and Country: New Irish Short Stories (ed. Kevin Barry, Faber, 2013). He won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1980 and the Rooney Prize for Literature in 1977. Jonathan Keates is the author of biographies of Handel, Purcell and Stendhal, as well as travel books about Italy. His short-story collection, Allegro Postillions (1983), won both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Hawthornden Prize. He is a regular contributor to various newspapers, including the TLS. His latest work is The Siege of Venice (2005). He is currently Chairman of the Venice In Peril Fund.
JOINED THE LIBRARY IN 1999
William Solesbury worked as a town planner in London and Munich. Later his career took him in other directions in government and academe, but he has retained a fascination with cities. His book World Cities, City Worlds: Explorations with Metaphors, Icons and Perspectives (2013) examines the view of cities from artists, writers, film-makers, historians, geographers and others.
JOINED THE LIBRARY IN 2002
Ed Stourton is a writer and a presenter on BBC Radio 4. He read English at Trinity College, Cambridge. After ten years as a foreign correspondent and Diplomatic Editor for ITN, he joined the BBC as a television news presenter in 1993. He spent ten years on the Today programme, and has made many documentaries. His most recent book is Cruel Crossing, Escaping Hitler across the Pyrenees (2013). 8 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
soulle mbar FLORISLONDON.COM
Samantha Ellis used The London Library regularly while researching her new book, to write, to read, and to find inspiration in the stacks
Samantha Ellis’s How to be a Heroine (2014).
In my reading memoir, How to be a Heroine, published by Chatto & Windus in January this year, I went back and re-read my favourite books, meeting again the fictional women who had shaped my life. I looked at the role of heroines in all our lives, how our attitudes to them change over time, and how we are changed by them.
® The Brontë Myth by Lucasta Miller (London 2001). Biog. Brontë, The family of. As a girl, I preferred passionate, wild Cathy Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights to stoic, quiet Jane Eyre. Conflating authors with heroines I also thought Emily Brontë, who was once bitten by a rabid dog and raced home, seized a hot iron and pressed it to her skin to cauterise the wound, was more interesting than her conventional sister Charlotte. Miller’s riveting metabiography deconstructs the myths (including that incident with the dog). She helped me separate fact from fiction, and get a little closer to the real Brontës. ® The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell (Princeton 1968). S. Folklore &c. Since comparative mythologist Campbell first published his storytelling bible in 1949, it has been much loved by Hollywood screenwriters, including George Lucas, who used it to structure the Star Wars films. Campbell says a hero must cross a border, defeat a dragon and return with treasure that will heal his people. Notoriously, he thought women didn’t need to make these journeys. Of course, I disagree, and found Campbell’s book a brilliant provocation for me to attempt a definition of female heroism. ® Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery by Elizabeth Waterston (Oxford 2008). L. English Lit., Montgomery. Montgomery’s red-headed heroine Anne
10 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
Shirley in Anne of Green Gables (1908) made me a writer. But I was disappointed that after she got married, Anne gave up writing. Waterston’s book delves into the painful, troubled life behind Montgomery’s radiant fictions and gave me valuable insights into why she sold her heroine short. ® Southern Daughter: The Life of Margaret Mitchell by Darden Asbury Pyron (Oxford 1991). Biog. Mitchell. I wondered how Mitchell, a frumpy selfeffacing hypochondriac, created seductive, ruthless Scarlett O’Hara, whose strength still inspires me. Pyron’s forensic biography is full of surprises for Gone With the Wind fans, including the revelation that Mitchell may have based Rhett Butler partly on her suffragette mother, and the startling fact that Scarlett’s original name was Pansy. ® Ariel: The Restored Edition, a Facsimile of Plath’s Manuscript, Reinstating Her Original Selection and Arrangement by Sylvia Plath, foreword by Frieda Hughes (London 2004). L. English Lit. As a teenager, I read Plath’s vivid, startling collection as a suicide note, so I was glad to discover this edition, which has a more positive, cathartic arc. It begins with the word ‘love’ and ends with the word ‘spring’, and feels like the story of a woman recovering from a break-up and looking forward to the future. ® The Whicharts by Noel Streatfeild (London 1931). Fiction.
Streatfeild’s 1936 novel Ballet Shoes was my first and best guide to making a life in theatre. So I was surprised to find this bitter, edgy precursor in which the author was recalling her own unhappy stage career. While the wounds had healed by the time she returned to the material for Ballet Shoes, making it a much better book, it’s fascinating to see a writer exorcise her demons on the page. ® Lolly Willowes; or, The Loving Huntsman by Sylvia Townsend Warner (London 1926). Fiction. There are surprisingly few happy fictional spinsters, but I love the eponymous heroine of this gleeful, transgressive 1926 debut by Warner. At 47, she escapes being a maiden aunt by selling her soul to the devil and becoming a witch. ® The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights, translated by Malcolm Lyons with Ursula Lyons (London 2008). Fiction, 4to. This lively, clear translation keeps the frame narrative intact, so you can’t ignore the fact that Scheherezade is telling stories to save her life. She’s doing it, she says, to save herself and her sisters – the plural implying not just her actual sister, but all the women of the kingdom who would otherwise be forced into marriage then murdered. This translation puts Scheherezade centre stage, and what a heroine she is; bold, wise, cunning, sisterly and, best of all, a breathtaking storyteller.
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Ed Stourton on the volume that helped to calm his exam nerves as a teenager
THE PLAYS OF
OSCAR WILDE A distinguished political commentator (and London Library member) suggested to me that David Cameron’s political style can best be described as ‘government by essay crisis’ . It is a convincing conceit. We know that the Prime Minister enjoys ‘chillaxing’ , and it is easy to imagine him as an undergraduate remembering the next morning’s tutorial as he props up the college bar late in the evening; he is the sort of man who, after a long night focusing on the demands of the hour, can produce top-flight work. I am in awe of that flair, and have always inclined to a more plodding approach. During my A-level exam year one of my teachers told me that swotting until the last moment was the worst possible way to prepare for an exam; you would only remember, he said, the last thing you revised. I took the message to heart. It is easy to be disciplined about work when you are locked away in a boarding school on the North Yorkshire Moors, and I set myself revision deadlines well in advance of the relevant exam dates. I also developed a rigorous pre-exam ritual to ensure that all the knowledge I had ingested would be released at the critical moment, and that is where Oscar Wilde came into the equation. I made a solemn promise to myself that I would stop all academic work at least 12 hours before taking a paper and, on every morning of the exam season, I set aside 30 minutes to read one of his plays from my copy of his collected works. I chose to read his plays because I knew they would make me laugh out loud. The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) and Lady Windermere’s Fan (1893)
Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ and Other Plays, 2003 Penguin Classics edition.
are so dense with aphorisms that I defy anyone to read them for very long without breaking into giggles. Evelyn Waugh has that effect on me, too, but his jokes can take longer to evolve. Wilde is humour as a hard drug, and it hits you like champagne on an empty stomach. After weeks of swotting I found Miss Prism’s didactic views especially bracing: ‘The chapter on the Fall of the Rupee you may omit, ’ she tells Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest, ‘It is somewhat too sensational’ . And her comment on the novel she wrote – ‘The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means. ’ – was perfect preparation for Eng. Lit. His writing is also extremely clever
and, like a mother who plays Mozart to her unborn child, I reasoned that some of his genius would rub off on my own prose style. After soaking oneself in those perfectly constructed cadences – such as Cecil Graham’s declaration in Lady Windermere’s Fan, ‘There is nothing in the whole world so unbecoming to a woman as a Nonconformist conscience’ – how could one write an ugly sentence? I have no idea whether reading Wilde really improved my exam technique, but it certainly felt as it if did. Reading the plays liberated me from exam anxiety, and I always strode into the examination room with a broad smile. I tackled French Unseen, Practical Criticism and even Virgil with a blithe spirit. With my mental limbs loosened by laughter, it was easy to retrieve all the grammatical irregularities and obscure quotations that I had squirrelled away in the filing cabinet of my memory during revision. I do not read Wilde much these days, but as a broadcaster I still use the pre-exam techniques he helped me to learn. A live programme is very much like an exam: both place a premium on mental agility. Some of my broadcasting colleagues use the Cameron technique, scrambling to get everything together at the last minute. I make it a rule to get to the microphone at least five minutes before transmission so that I can collect my thoughts. Humour is not always easy to find in today’s news, but I look for it wherever I can, and I know that if I laugh before the light turns red and the mic goes live, I will relax and turn in a better performance. THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 13
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burning Reading the Library’s 1931 edition of Erich Kästner’s novel Fabian, one of many books committed to the bonfire by the Nazis in 1933, led Seán Haldane to investigate which other titles were on the condemned list On 10 May 1933, in six university cities in Germany, Nazi students wearing the brown uniforms of the SA (the Sturmabteilung, or assault division) consigned the works of some of the country’s greatest twentiethcentury authors to the flames. How many German books in The London Library would have been destroyed in these famous book-burnings? I asked myself this question when I was reading the Library’s copy of Erich Kästner’s novel Fabian, and realised that it was the first edition of 1931. Kästner (1899–1974) is known internationally as the author of the classic children’s stories Emil and the Detectives and Emil and the Three Twins, illustrated by Walter Trier and published respectively in Germany in 1929 and Switzerland in 1935. (The Library has English and German editions of Emil and the Detectives, and of both Emil stories in one volume, all published after 1933.) He is less well known, however, as the author of Fabian: die Geschichte eines Moralisten. (In addition to the 1931 German edition, the Library has a 1990 English edition, Fabian: The Story of a Moralist, and a 2013 German edition of the original unpublished and unexpurgated version titled Der Gang vor die Hunde [Going to the Dogs].) Like Emil, who has his money stolen and with the aid of other children captures the thief, Fabian is a sort of Musterknabe, a model boy , who loves his mother and believes in doing good. We might think of Emil and Fabian as prigs, but Kästner is more subtle than that: these are young 16 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
men who over-reach themselves in helping others but who stand out from a society in decay. The Nazis put Fabian on their list of books to be burned, and they banned Kästner from publishing any other books in Germany (he went on publishing in Switzerland). But they could not have got away with burning or even banning Emil and the Detectives, which so many children loved, including Jewish children. Kästner wept when he heard after the war that it was the most common of the books confiscated from children as they arrived at the concentration camps. In the Berlin of 1931, which was in the throes of the Great Depression, the grownup Musterknabe Fabian is sacked from his
job at a publishing company that is losing money. He refuses a new job in journalism where he would have to contribute to the lies the newspaper spreads, and also refuses an offer of work as a doorman in a male brothel. His best friend commits suicide when he is deceived by a rival into thinking his life’s work has been rejected by a publisher. Fabian’s girlfriend, who is a lawyer without a job and with whom he shares his remaining money, sleeps with a fat and ugly film producer in order to start a new life as an actress. Fabian finally returns home to Dresden, finds it almost equally corrupt, and decides to retreat into the mountains and live alone. The novel ends when he sees a child who, walking on the parapet of a bridge, stumbles and falls into the river. Fabian tears off his coat, climbs on to the parapet and dives into the river to save the boy. The last lines of the novel are: The little boy swum ashore, howling. Fabian sank. Unfortunately he could not swim.
Erich Kästner. © J.-Kaspar Plaas.
Fabian did not present a positive view of Germany, so copies of the book were thrown on the bonfire. Kästner is the only author known to have attended the burning of his own books. He wrote later that he felt he should bear witness. But somebody recognised him and shouted out, ‘Da ist Kästner!’ and he pushed through the crowd and hurried away. Photographs of the Berlin book-burning and the various books that were destroyed
can be viewed online. But since the history of Nazi Germany has become something of an industry, caution is warranted: on one site, the image of a pile of books alleged to have been burned includes, along with books by Sigmund Freud, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann and others, Carl Zuckmayer’s Des Teufels General [The Devil’s General], a play published in 1946. (Zuckmayer’s muchloved Der Hautpmann von Köpenick [The Captain of Köpenick], published in 1930, was burned, however.) Copies of books to be burned were surrendered, only too willingly in many cases, by their owners and by libraries, although others were confiscated from Jewish owners. Some were not burned but were instead stored in research libraries with access to them restricted; German physicists, after all, had to have access to the works of Albert Einstein even though they were banned.
Kästner wept when he heard that “Emil and the Detectives” was the most common of the books confiscated from children as they arrived at the concentration camps
Among reliable German websites, buecherlesung.de publishes a list of the authors banned by the Nazis, and verbrannte-buecher.de provides details of the book-burnings. The London Library holds, among other volumes about the book-burnings, Das Buch der verbrannten Bücher by Volker Weidermann (2008); and Die Bücherverbrennung: zum 10. Mai 1933, edited by Gerhard Sauder (1983). The Nazis came to power on 30 January 1933. On 6 April the German Student Union posted a declaration in universities, ‘The Twelve Theses: Against the Un-German Spirit’. These set out a programme for the purification of the German spirit through language and literature. Thesis 5 states:
Above and left Erich Kästner’s Emil (1949), which includes the novels Emil and the Detectives (1929) and Emil and the Three Twins (1935); an illustration by Walter Trier from the book.
‘The Jew can only think Jewish. If he writes German, he lies. The German who writes German, but thinks un-German, is a traitor. The student who speaks and writes unGerman is furthermore thoughtless and unfaithful to his duty.’ The Theses ‘demand’ that German students should have ‘the will and the capability for independent knowledge and decisions’. But this entails the overcoming of ‘Jewish intellectualism and its associated liberal decay in the German spirit’. Jews are required to write in Hebrew, not German. And the ‘un-German spirit’ is to be eradicated from libraries. ‘The Twelve Theses’ were reprinted in the Nazi newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter (People’s Observer) on 14 April. The book-burnings followed on 10 May, with further burnings on 21 June. In Berlin Joseph Goebbels presided. (Zuckmayer, who had met him, unkindly but forgivably described him as ‘a crippled dwarf’: he was 5 feet tall, had a club foot, and in his youth had pretensions as a poet. One of his poems survives, featuring one cliché after another about nightingales singing and roses blooming.) Goebbels gave a speech in which he stated that ‘the libraries have become filled with the garbage and dirt of the Jewish asphalt-writers’, and proclaimed that ‘When you students take on the right to throw spiritual obscenity into the flames, then you must also take on the duty of making the way free for a true German spirit to take the place of this garbage!’
The student leaders in their SA uniforms then took turns throwing books on to the bonfire, in a ritual where each Rufer (caller) yelled out a formulaic phrase. There were nine of these ‘Fire Judgements’: 1. Against the class struggle and materialism, for people’s community and an idealistic way of life! I consign to the flames the writings of Marx and Kautsky! 2. Against decadence and the decline of morals! For breeding and good behaviour in family and state! I consign to the flames the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Gläser and Erich Kästner! 3. Against riff-raff thinking and political betrayal! For devotion to people and state! I consign to the flames the writings of Friedrich Wilhelm Förster! 4. Against soul-withering overvaluation of instinctual life! For the nobility of the human spirit! I consign to the flames the writings of Sigmund Freud! 5. Against the falsification of our history and the disparaging of our great figures! For the respect for our past! I consign to the flames the writings of Emil Ludwig and Werner Hegemann! 6. Against alien journalism of democraticJewish imprint! For responsible co-operation in the work of national construction! I consign to the flames the writings of Theodor Wolff and Georg Bernhard! 7. Against the literary betrayal of the soldiers of the World War! For the education of the people in the spirit of armed defence! THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 17
Left and above Else Lasker-Schüler’s novel Mein Herz [My Heart] (1912); an illustration by the author from the book.
I consign to the flames the writings of Erich Maria Remarque! 8. Against the obscure distortion of the German language! For the cultivation of the precious wealth of our people! I consign to the flames the writings of Alfred Kerr! 9. Against impertinence and arrogance! For attention and awe to the undying German spirit of the people, devour, flames, also the writings of Tucholsky and Ossietzky! By Kästner’s own later account, among the authors whose books were burned in Berlin that night in May were Heinrich and Thomas Mann, Alfred Döblin, Bertolt Brecht, Ludwig Renn and Stefan Zweig. He also mentions Freud and various nonGerman authors: H.G. Wells, James Joyce, John Dos Passos, Jack London, Ernest Hemingway. The names pronounced in the ‘Fire Judgements’ were only a fraction of the total number of authors condemned. Imagine a rally in Trafalgar Square in 1933 where some British Blackshirt (not Oswald Mosley himself, but an articulate spokesman like William Joyce, later nicknamed Lord Haw-Haw) exhorts a team of students from the colleges of the University of London, dressed in Cadet Corps uniforms, as they ritually consign to the flames books by Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon and Edmund Blunden (for having written against the First World War, with a double strike against Sassoon for being Jewish), by Aldous Huxley and Evelyn Waugh (for decadence), D.H. Lawrence and James Joyce (for obscenity), Virginia 18 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
Woolf and Edith Sitwell (for outrages against literary form), Ford Madox Ford, H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw (for social criticism), Isaac Rosenberg (for being Jewish) and Max Beerbohm (suspected of being Jewish). The list would never end. It certainly seemed endless in Germany. The list of banned books in Germany after 1933 included over 650 titles. German literature as we know it was eviscerated. Nothing much was left; nor were many writers. If they were lucky they made their way to Hollywood to write movie scripts (with an extreme lack of enthusiasm and flair in the cases of Brecht and Zuckmayer, although Döblin and Heinrich Mann were more successful), to New York or London to practise psychoanalysis (Sigmund and Anna Freud, Wilhelm Reich, Erich Fromm and many others), to Switzerland (Robert Musil) or to Palestine (the poets Else LaskerSchüler and Werner Kraft). Or they lay low and survived (Kästner, Hans Fallada). Of the hundreds of German writers from that period, only a handful accommodated to the Nazis (Ernst Jünger and Gottfried Benn with a degree of commitment, and the gentle poet Wilhelm Lehmann reluctantly: he joined the Nazi party in order to continue working as a schoolteacher but sheltered the Jewish writer Werner Kraft on his way to Denmark and then Palestine). How many books by German authors on the Nazi’s banned list are in The London Library in editions preceding 1933, books that would have been burned? It would be a huge task to track all such books down. Even
if the non-German authors on the list are excluded (authors like Lenin, Stalin, André Malraux, Marcel Proust, Emile Zola, Ignazio Silone, H.G. Wells), this still leaves over 600. A count of all the Library’s books published in German before 1933 would not be very useful, since some would not have been banned. There are also a few cases where some books by an author were banned, and others not, as we have seen in the case of Kästner, under whom the list states: ‘Alles ausser Emil’ (everything except Emil). I have looked for the authors I like best, and a few others whom I like less but are of interest. The Library has English translations of many of the books cited below. Some poets escaped being on the Nazi banned list, for example Rainer Maria Rilke. As can be seen from ‘The Twelve Theses’, the two main categories for books being burned or banned were that they were Jewish or ‘un-German’. I suppose Rilke was out of the ordinary and impossible to categorise. Heinrich Heine (1797–1856) was of course banned. Germans on cruises travelling down the Rhine had to stop singing the Lorelei ballad as Heine, a Jew, had written it. The Library has an extensive selection of books by or about Heine that predate 1933. Joachim Ringelnatz (1883– 1934), a Navy oﬃcer in the First World War, then a cabaret singer and painter, whose quirky, original poems and songs are something like a combination of Edward Lear and Edith Sitwell but intrinsically subversive, is on the list. The Library has three of his books published before 1933, including Turngedichte and Kuttel Daddeldu (both 1923, and illustrated by Karl Arnold). The poet Else Lasker-Schüler (1869– 1945) was inevitably on the banned list, being Jewish. She eventually escaped to Palestine. The Library has three of her books published before 1933, including her early novel Mein Herz [My Heart] of 1912. Brecht was also banned. (He referred to Hitler as ‘Der Anstreicher’, the house-painter, and wrote a poem about how this house-painter attempted to paint a ‘Scheißhaus’ white, but the brown kept showing through.) The Library has four books by Brecht predating 1933, including his verse play Baal (1922) and his children’s book Die drei Soldaten [The Three Soldiers] of 1932, illustrated by George Grosz (1893–1959). Not surprisingly to those who know Grosz’s paintings of 1920s Berlin, the banned-books list states under his name ‘Alles’ (everything).
BOOKS FOR BURNING Fritz Percy Reck-Malleczewen (1884– 1945) was a Prussian historical novelist for young people, a sort of G.A. Henty in German, who used money from his novels to buy a castle in Bavaria. He converted from Protestantism to Catholicism and was a conservative. All of his books were banned. He loathed Hitler and famously wrote in his posthumously published memoirs, Tagebuch einer Verzweifelten [Diary of a Man in Despair] (1947), that he had seen Hitler (whom he thought of as a greasy con man) in a restaurant in Munich in the early 1920s and could have shot him with a revolver he had in his pocket; he later wished bitterly that he had. Eventually the Nazis shot Reck-Malleczewen at Dachau, where he had been sent in 1944. (It is often forgotten that many people murdered in the camps were non-Jewish dissidents.) The Library has the 1947 German edition of his memoirs as well as a 1995 English edition translated by Paul Rubens, but only two of his books before 1933, the play Joannes: eine dramatische Passion (1919) and the novel Jean Paul Marat: Freund des Volkes (1929).
The classic First World War books by Ludwig Renn (1889–1979) and Erich Maria Remarque (1898–1970) were banned by the Nazis. The Library has Renn’s Krieg [War] in two editions (1929, 1931) and his Nachkrieg [After War] (1930). It has Remarque’s Im Westen nichts Neues [All Quiet on the Western Front] (1929) in both the German and English editions, and Der Weg Zurück [The Road Back] (1931). Zuckmayer wrote one of the most genial and moving twentieth-century memoirs, Als wär’s ein Stück von mir [A Part of Myself ], published in 1966. (He was awarded an Iron Cross, First Class, in the First World War, but being a quarter Jewish and a wittily subversive writer scuppered him for the Nazis.) The Library has the memoir in both German and English, as well as several pre-1933 books including the 1930 edition of Der Hauptmann von Köpenick, a 1932 English translation, and the equally subversive play, Der fröhliche Weinberg, in the original 1925 edition. Under Kafka, the Nazi banned list mentions only his short-story collection Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer [The
Great Wall of China] of 1917, but as he was Jewish one can conclude that his other books were banned, too. The Library has eight pre-1933 books by him, including Die Verwandlung [Metamorphosis] (1917) and Das Schloss [The Castle] (1929). Thomas Mann (1875–1955) is well represented, with more than 20 pre-1933 titles in German including Felix Krull (1921) and Buddenbrooks (1924). Döblin’s masterpiece, Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929), as well as six of his earlier books, are in the collection. The Library has over 20 books in German by the prolific novelist Heinrich Mann, including his 1905 novel Professor Unrat (now best known because of the film based on it, Der Blaue Engel , of 1930) and over 20 in German by the even more prolific Stefan Zweig. As for Freud, the Library has a great many early translations into English, and 15 works published before 1933. The London Library’s holdings of pre-1933 German books include many beautiful illustrated volumes. It is moving to be able to take these books off the shelves and look through them thinking: ‘This book was saved from the flames.’
Left and above Illustrations by Karl Arnold from Ringelnatz’s Kuttel-Daddeldu (1923). Right, above and below Joachim Ringelnatz’s Kuttel-Daddeldu (1923) and Turngedichte (1923).
THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 19
Desmond Hogan is haunted by the fate of the family described in The Garden of the FinziContinis, Giorgio Bassani’s elegiac novel set in the period leading up to the Second World War Ferrara, Giorgio Bassani’s home town, lies in what is widely considered to be Italy’s dullest corner, the province of Emilia-Romagna in the lower reaches of the Po Valley. Picturesque in the Tuscan or Umbrian manner the dead-flat landscape certainly isn’t, its relentless linearity etched by chequerboard maize fields and rigorously unbending roads. Towns and cities, Ferrara among them, have a corresponding lack of pretentiousness, their brick palaces and stuccoed arcades built for use rather than show, their people down-to-earth, practical and unromantic. These qualities rubbed off on Bassani as a writer. There’s an engaging paradox in the fact that it was his encouragement, as a freelance reader,
which hastened publication in 1958 of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard. Between this novel, a panorama of Sicilian aristocrats in an age of national revolution, and Bassani’s The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1962), a story of a bourgeois Jewish family at the time of Mussolini’s racial laws and the Nazi occupation of Italy, the stylistic distance seems planetary, yet the two look each other squarely in the face as masterpieces of modern Italian fiction. Each is a tale of farewell. Desmond Hogan’s appreciation of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis brings out its profound sense of bidding adieu to a world absolutely beyond revisiting, hence more poignantly recovered through the lens of memory. Bassani,
Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara. Photograph courtesy of Romeo De Gennaro.
20 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
half-Jewish, had narrowly avoided persecution, and a survivor‘s mournful wisdom informs his writing. Thus the Finzi-Contini villa becomes, for the narrator, both a paradise and a prison, playing on the ironies of a cultural separateness that is the family’s privilege and its curse. Hogan stresses the element of sensual awakening in the novel, ‘a religion of joy’ , evolving with the help of tennis, bicycles and Emily Dickinson, even as barbarism stalks and ultimately overwhelms Ferrara’s Jews. It is the beautiful spareness and understatement of the narrative that constitutes what Hogan calls ‘Bassani’s absolute offering of himself’ . Jonathan Keates
D.H. Lawrence drove along the coast north of Rome in the late 1920s to visit the Etruscan tombs, when people were making Mussolini salutes near the bathing huts, when the countryside was infested with mosquitoes and many people were stricken with malaria. From his journeys to the tombs he made his elegiac Sketches of Etruscan Places (published posthumously in 1932). One of these places was Cerveteri, and it is there that Giorgio Bassani’s novel The Garden of the Finzi-Continis begins, in April 1957, with a chance visit by the narrator. ‘ “But who d’you think were older, Papa, the Etruscans or the Jews?”’ the little daughter of his companions asks. The narrator remembers his Jewish friends Micòl and Alberto Finzi-Contini, their
Giorgio Bassani’s The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (published in Italy in 1962 as Il giardino dei FinziContini; first English edition 1965), translated by Jamie McKendrick, 2007 Penguin edition.
parents and grandmother, and pieces their story together. The book also gives an overlapping impression of being remembered from a mysterious prison – like John Cheever’s story ‘Boy in Rome’ (1960), though in Cheever’s case the narrator is writing from a real prison. The book is so clotted with references to clothes (‘a short leopard-skin coat drawn in at the waist with a leather belt’, ‘peculiar English shoes’), and so searching for detail (‘Maryland Pipe tobacco’, ‘Bosco wine’), that it often reads like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night (1934). Indeed in that novel the hero Dick Diver sees himself as a saint ‘in sackcloth and ashes’ outside a church in Ferrara, the city where The Garden of the Finzi-Continis is set, ‘paying some tribute to things unforgotten, unshriven, unexpurgated’, which is partly what Bassani’s book, first published in 1962, is about. Bassani was born in Bologna in 1916, and had a Jewish father and Ayran mother. He spent the first 27 years of his life in Ferrara. He was once photographed on an Alpine loggia in scout-master shorts and bobby socks with the film director Pier Paolo Pasolini. Similarly, the narrator of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis was ‘a stuck-up, dandified, extremely middleclass brat in short trousers’ when in 1929 he first met Micòl Finzi-Contini, the girl with ‘cheveux de lin’ who was looking over her garden wall. The Finzi-Continis were an aristocratic Jewish family who lived in a mansion at the end of Corso Ercole I d’Este in Ferrara, drove in a Dilambda limousine, and had a sumptuous garden where Signora Olga, the mother, would gather chrysanthemums in the remoter parts.
The Finzi-Continis were an aristocratic Jewish family who lived in a mansion at the end of Corso Ercole I d’Este … and had a sumptuous garden where Signora Olga would gather chrysanthemums in the remoter parts
Giorgio Bassani, right, photographed with Pier Paolo Pasolini.
But strangely it is not the garden, for all its seductions and safety, which is the central image of the book as the narrator, Micòl, her brother Alberto, and their gentile friend Giampiero Malnate grow up, but the bicycle. ‘A bike was indispensable.’ Bicycles in the summer with bare-armed and bare-legged girls on them on the country lanes of Emilia, with the great trees along the walls of the city ‘in leaf’, bicycles on the hardened snow, bicycle lamps ‘searching out places from a past’ that seems ‘distant’. The narrator falls in love with Micòl, who is working on a thesis on Emily Dickinson in Venice. Parallel to this love affair is his friendship with Micòl’s delicate brother Alberto, who owns a male nude by Filippo De Pisis. And if the other men are sexually ambiguous there is the pungent sexuality of Malnate, who attracts the ‘tough gaze’ of Tuscan street girls. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis has the classical concreteness of Ovid’s Tristia. Both are farewells to the city. Ovid was exiled from Rome to Tomi on the Black Sea. The Finzi-Continis, bar Alberto who has already died from illness, are among the 800 Ferrarese Jews sent to Fossoli, the deportation camp in Modena, and from there to Auschwitz in the autumn of 1943. THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 21
Scene from the Italian film of 1970, Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini, based on Bassani’s book, directed by Vittorio de Sica. © John Springer Collection/CORBIS.
In history ‘open-necked flannel shirts’ and ‘old-fashioned woollen pleated skirts’ are swiftly banished, and as the racial laws are imposed the details of the city become more intense, more intoxicating … shooting booths by a small circus tent … prostitutes, soldiers and homosexuals on a summer fair-ground … photographs at circus entrances … lovers under the trees by the city wall … the zinc counter of a beer kiosk at night. The bicycle is abbreviated to a bike as love-affairs reach a crescendo and the direction of people’s emotions explain themselves. The book’s references to Dickinson, to Giosuè Carducci, to Gabriele d’Annunzio, to Federico García Lorca, to Sergei Esenin, to the seventeenthcentury Venetian Jewish poet Sara Coppia Sullam (referred to as ‘Sarah Enriquez (or Enriques) Avigdòr’ in the novel), to Stéphane Mallarmé’s ‘le vierge, le vivace et le bel aujourd’hui’ , cannot save the FinziContinis, but emphasise the frail barrier between art – art as fun and entertainment – and barbarism. Perhaps that’s why the litter, the confusion of clothes, of Mozart operas, Kristina Söderbaum films, American poems, is important. They are the way back, they are an anchor to a city and a time. The Etruscans were destroyed by the Romans but they left their wall 22 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
Joy was the religion of the narrator and Alberto and especially of Micòl
paintings, which Lawrence admired shortly before he died. Theirs, as Lawrence pointed out, was a religion of joy. Joy was also the religion of the narrator and Alberto and Malnate and especially of Micòl, a joy that stretches from the walls of Ferrara to the nearby sea and collects its colours. Through Bassani’s absolute offering of himself, to use a Simone Weil image he loved, though often experienced from a bicycle, this joy become radiant and sharable forever. At the end of January 1995, shortly before I returned to live in Ireland after 18 years in England, I cycled through Jewish Amsterdam, to the Portuguese-Israelite Hospital at the corner of Rapenburg and Rapenburgerplein with its blue and green emblem of a pelican feeding its young on its own blood. It was now a warehouse. The Jewish Council headquarters on
Niewe Keizersgracht was now occupied by an acupuncturist, a television filmmaker, an industrial graphic artist. From there I cycled to the house on Gabriël Metsustraat in south Amsterdam where Etty Hillesum lived, whose diaries and letters were published by Persephone Books in 1999 as An Interrupted Life. Like Micòl Finzi-Contini, Hillesum was a student of literature. She died in Auschwitz in November 1943. She’d gone there with a Tolstoy book. It was over 20 years since I had first read The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, in the 1974 Faber edition translated by Isabel Quigly, but the fate of the Finzi-Continis, like that of Hillesum, was something that haunted me and that I still ponder often, and had driven me to these memorial bicycle trips in the rain. The Royal Society of Literature is holding an event on Giorgio Bassani, ‘The Chronicler of Ferrara’ , on Monday, 17 March 2014, at 7pm. Paul Bailey and Jamie McKendrick (translator of the 2007 Penguin Classics edition of ‘The Garden of the Finzi-Continis’), chaired by Peter Parker, will discuss Bassani’s life and work. Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, London WC2R 0RN. Tickets from rslit.org or tel. 020 7845 4678.
London Library March 2014
The Gardens of the British Working Class
Author, Reader, Actor Jonathan Rose
A Life for Art’s Sake Daniel E. Sutherland
This striking portrait of Churchill reveals the profound influence of literature and theatre on the life he composed for himself, his own writings, his political agenda and the critical decisions he made during World War II.
This is the first biography in more than twenty years of complex and intriguing artist James McNeill Whistler. It is also the first to make extensive use of his private correspondence in bringing to life a pivotal figure in nineteenth-century cultural history.
16 b/w illus. HB £25.00
12 colour + 94 b/w illus. HB £25.00
The Invention of News
The Duchess’s Shells
How the World Came to Know About Itself Andrew Pettegree
Natural History Collecting in the Age of Cook’s Voyages Beth Fowkes Tobin
This lively history of news from the preprinting press era to 1800 explores the many ways news was transmitted, the development of news as an industry and how rapid news dissemination empowered people to become actors in the great events of their times.
This fascinating book uncovers the story behind the formation of a marvellous shell collection – a story spanning the globe, featuring a wealthy duchess, her fellow collectors and a spectacular auction.
Margaret Willes Spanning four centuries, Margaret Willes’ vibrant people’s history examines the myriad ways that the popular cultivation of plants, vegetables and flowers has played an integral role in everyday British life for more than four centuries. 24 colour + 80 b/w illus. HB £25.00
64 b/w illus. HB £25.00
30 colour + 20 b/w illus. HB £30.00
Published in association with the Yale Center for British Art
Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
The Literary Churchill
Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower Artists’ Books and the Natural World Elisabeth Fairman This gorgeous book explores depictions of the natural world from centuries-old manuscripts to contemporary artists’ books. 250 colour + b/w illus. HB £40.00
tel: 020 7079 4900
Los Angeles Skyline, 2012, by Amy Smith (artbycolorscape.com).
WRITING THE CITY The city offers rich literary potential for writers. William Solesbury analyses the different genres that exploit its fascinating complexities and contradictions.
24 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
Presenting the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk with the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature, the Swedish Academy declared that in his writing he had made his native city of Istanbul ‘an indispensable literary territory, equal to Dostoevsky’s St Petersburg, Joyce’s Dublin or Proust’s Paris – a place where readers from all corners of the world can live another life, just as credible as their own, filled by an alien feeling that they immediately recognise as their own’ . At the time I was starting research on my book, World Cities, City Worlds: Explorations with Metaphors, Icons and Perspectives (2013), about the many ways in which cities have been perceived. Pamuk’s success led me to think about how writers
have sharpened our understanding of the modern city. As well as those writers and cities named in the Nobel citation, I thought of others: Charles Dickens’s London, Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles, Jan Morris’s Venice, Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria, Salman Rushdie’s Mumbai. The rise of the novel as a literary form paralleled the growing urbanisation of the world. Novelists create their portraits of a city using various literary devices. The most common is a diverse set of characters whose lives interweave and whose fortunes rise or fall, changes sometimes reflected in one part of the city or another. This is true of Honoré de Balzac’s Paris novels in his Comédie humaine series (1830–45)
and of Dickens’s London novels such as Bleak House (1853) and Our Mutual Friend (1865), with the brooding presence of the Thames riverside in the latter. Sometimes the social observation of city life is made through a protagonist who is an outsider, new to the city or socially marginal, like the social-climbing Becky Sharpe in William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (1847) or the student Raskolnikov in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment (1866). Another device is the chronicle of events focused on a central character over a short period of time: a day, a week, a month, a year. Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (1925) and James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922) are epitomes. Joyce recounts, in what was then a groundbreaking streamof-consciousness technique full of puns, parodies and allusions, the passage through Dublin of Leopold Bloom on 16 June 1904 encountering, in his wandering, musing, boozing and whoring, Stephen Dedalus, Molly Bloom and a cast of other characters. Joyce claimed that Ulysses gave a picture of Dublin – its topography, its monuments and, above all, its bars – so complete that if the city suddenly one day disappeared from the earth it could be reconstituted from his book. That book has also become a tourist resource for the city – 16 June is celebrated annually as Bloomsday and a map and guide for explorers of Bloom’s 20-mile odyssey are available. You can similarly take tours of Kafka’s Prague and Dickens’s London. Our view of nineteenth- and twentieth-
century urban society has been shaped by these writers. This has long been true in the West, but has also become true in the rest of the world as new writers there have focused on city life while their cities have exploded. In recent years the ‘Mumbai novel’ has flourished. The critic Soutik Biswas has commented: ‘Bangalore may be a kinetic technology hub teeming with expatriates and bright young Indians, Calcutta a decaying dowager brimming with a million stories, and Delhi the capital where power meets noir. But
“Cosmopolitan and chaotic Mumbai is where the storytellers are turning for inspiration”
cosmopolitan, energetic and chaotic Mumbai, where the rich live cheek-byjowl with the poor, is the city where the story-tellers … are turning for inspiration and fodder.’ Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (1981) and The Moor’s Last Sigh (1995), both international best-sellers, are in part set in Mumbai. Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance (1995) tells the story of rural immigrants struggling to find work, homes and relationships in the city that provides a
mostly hostile environment. More recently Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games (2006) tells of a cat-and-mouse game between gang boss Ganesh Gaitonde and Detective Sartaj Singh who is determined to bring him to justice by exposing the nexus in Mumbai between wealth, power, crime and corruption. It is not just novels that have found inspiration in the modern city. Most travel writing is about journeys, often in exotic locations, the author moving on from place to place. But some travel writers have been inclined to stay put, to pause, observe and reflect, in order to engage more fully with one place, including cities. Among travel writers, Jan Morris has written most fully of the world’s cities: see the collection A Writer’s World: Travels 1950–2000 (2003). Over a period of 50 years she has published books on Oxford, Venice, Hong Kong, Sydney and Trieste, as well as essays on other cities as diverse as Cairo and Chicago, Leningrad and La Paz, often returning to the same city at diﬀerent times. Her approach is impressionistic, drawing on history, politics and culture as well as personal observations and encounters. She is interested in people as much as buildings, the feel as much as the look of the city. Her style is visual and rich, often over-rich, with simile, alliteration and complicated syntax. But she always gets places right. The city has influenced other literary genres. Take crime fiction. For writers like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond
Left to right Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend (1865), 2004 edition; Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games (2006); Jan Morris’s A Writer’s World (2003), 2004 edition. THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 25
“Cities, unlike villages and small towns, are plastic by nature. We mould them in our images”
Chandler, crime was not just the aberrant act of a deranged or avaricious person but a pervasive feature of life, more particularly life in the city where politicians, landowners, police and capitalists were all corrupt, in cahoots with the criminal class. The modern detective is not then just engaged mentally in puzzle-solving; he or she must mix with people of all classes, be traduced, get beaten up, drugged and shot at – in Chandler’s much-quoted phrase, ‘Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid’. And he may come away without solving anything much. But along the way the city’s landscape and life get described and dissected, often laconically. Originating in the States, this urban version of detective fiction is now dominant across the world – in writing, film and on TV – and many cities have their local detective, often appearing in a succession of stories. Apart from Philip Marlowe in Chandler’s Los Angeles, there are V.I. Warshawski in Chicago, prototype of the tough woman cop in a man’s world (from Sara Paretsky), John Rebus in 26 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
Edinburgh (Ian Rankin), Aurelio Zen in many Italian cities, all mired in corporate crime and corruption (Michael Dibdin), Arkady Renko in Communist and postCommunist Moscow (Martin Cruz Smith), and many others. The city has also become a perfect subject for literary fantasy. It brings together diverse characters, situations and actions that can be given extreme expression. The fantasy may be a distorted version of present reality, an imagined future or an excavation of the past in the present. All three serve as ways of providing commentary on the contemporary city. Imagining the future has long been the focus of science fiction – apart, that is, from utopian writing. Traditionally the ‘fiction’ lay in dreaming up strange and surprising scenarios for a distant future, and the ‘science’ lay in the invented technologies that enable and shape those futures. Often sci-fi in this tradition created future communities on other planets or on space stations, which were housed in high-tech megastructures, connected by monorails or guided vehicles, all operating with rational
Left to right Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep (1939), 2005 edition; J.G. Ballard’s Crash (1972),1975 edition; Jonathan Raban’s Soft City (1974), 1984 edition.
eﬃciency and orderliness, taking a cue from the dream designs of modernist architects. Implicit was an optimistic view of the contribution of science to progress and of the city as its ultimate expression. There is another kind of science fiction that is more down to earth – literally so, with stories that, while still strange and surprising, are recognisably about life in our world in the present or near future. From the 1950s to the 1970s, Philip K. Dick wrote novels and short stories in which the main characters often discover that their everyday city world is actually an illusion constructed by powerful forces of business or government. (It was his story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? of 1968 that was the source for Ridley Scott’s seminal 1982 film Blade Runner.) In William Gibson’s later Neuromancer (1984), brain-damaged, drug-addicted Henry Case is recruited to hack into computer systems at the headquarters of a media conglomerate, Sense/Net, located
WRITING THE CITY in the Sprawl, an urbanised world that seemingly spreads all over the globe. In various ways these writers were exploring social issues arising from electronic communication, virtual reality, genetic engineering, ever-present surveillance, failing governance and the power of global corporations, often long before these had entered popular consciousness or arrived on political agendas. By contrast, psychogeography sees the past, not the future, in the present-day city. Its precise definition as a genre is elusive but, as its name suggests, it is an attempt to capture the otherworldly spirit of place in the city. Its development is largely a tale of two cities: London and Paris. In London the early tradition includes Daniel Defoe’s fictional reconstruction of the city in his Journal of the Plague Year (1722), Thomas De Quincey’s drug-fuelled wanderings in Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821) and Robert Louis Stevenson’s parable of the city’s double life in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886). In Paris it is the poets Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud and the surrealists André Breton and Louis Aragon that the tradition embraces. Today, psychogeography is principally a London genre again. Peter Ackroyd has written a series of novels, biographies (including those of Londoners William Blake, Dickens and T.S. Eliot) and portraits of the city in which the past is always evident in the present, aﬀecting the lives, the behaviour, the speech, even the gestures of the people living there. In Hawksmoor (1985) he weaves together parallel stories of architect Nicholas Dyer, who builds seven churches in eighteenth-century London for which he needs human sacrifices, and Nicholas Hawksmoor, a detective in the 1980s, who investigates murders committed in the same churches. Iain Sinclair has also written of London in poems and novels, as well as documentary studies and films, which mix observation, occult imagination and local London history with a dash of paranoia that matches the spirit of both the earlier London visionaries and the Parisian surrealists. The most original voice among modern urban fantasists is that of the novelist J.G. Ballard. His work might be regarded as psychogeography, science fiction or surrealism. He often focuses on cities but
Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (1974), 1978 edition.
not on their traditional cores, rather on the suburban hinterlands of motorways, superstores, airports, industrial parks, multiplex cinemas, reservoirs, high-rise blocks and gated housing. Here he sets tales of bizarre and frequently violent behaviour that is seemingly provoked by the atmosphere of boredom that prevails in these cityscapes. In his most notorious novel, Crash (1972), the protagonist Vaughan cruises the highways around London Airport calculatedly causing accidents, in order to scar his body and engage in sex with crash victims, obsessively hoping for a head-on collision with the film star Elizabeth Taylor. These writers’ portraits of cities – in novels, crime fiction, travel writing, science fiction, psychogeography – combine reportage and invention. This is as evident in Joyce’s Dublin as in Chandler’s Los Angeles or Rushdie’s Mumbai. In Soft City, his 1974 book of essays on London life, Jonathan Raban argues that writing about cities should embrace both observation and imagination, for ‘cities, unlike villages and small towns, are plastic by nature. We mould them in our images: they, in their turn, shape us by the resistance they oﬀer when we try to impose our own personal form on them. The city as we imagine it, the soft city of illusion, myth, aspiration, nightmare, is as real, maybe more real, than the hard city one can locate on
maps, in statistics, in monographs on urban sociology and demography and architecture. ’ This ambiguity is strongly evident in Italo Calvino’s masterly Invisible Cities (1974). In it Marco Polo recounts to Kublai Khan the life of the many cities he has visited in his travels. In all, 55 cities are described, grouped in Cities and Memory, Cities and Signs, Trading Cities, Cities and the Dead, Thin Cities, and other such categories. What Calvino captures in these brief descriptions, most no more than a page, are the qualities of what we might call ‘cityness’ . Marco Polo says in the book: ‘Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else … Cities also believe that they are the work of the mind or of chance, but neither the one nor the other suﬃces to hold up their walls. You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answers it gives to a question of yours. ’ To quote briefly from one of Calvino’s accounts of invented cities: ‘In Ersilia, to establish the relationships that sustain the city’s life the inhabitants stretch strings from the corners of the houses, white or black or grey or black-andwhite according to whether they mark a relationship of blood, of trade, authority, agency. When the strings become so numerous that you can no longer pass among them, the inhabitants leave; the houses are dismantled; only the strings and their supports remain.’ In short, it is the persistent culture of the city, not its structures or indeed its inhabitants, that bind it together. Here, as with the other writers, what we are given is not just a narrative and characters situated within a city, but that and more in creating a strong, believable sense of city life in a particular place and time. For them the city is not just the setting for their stories but also the subject they write about: on the one hand, the site of glorious human achievement, the product of human creativity in aesthetics, technology and social organisation, a place where people can find companionship and live fulfilling lives; on the other, a sordid, unhealthy, ugly place, the site of human misery and poverty, both material and spiritual – the city as Heaven or Hell.
THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 27
Roland Chambers speculates on how a child might respond to the Children’s Books section in the Library, whose attic-like setting under the roof on the sixth ﬂoor resembles a portal into a magic world The London Library’s books for children are on the sixth floor between Law and Religion, while books about children are on the first between Chess and Christmas and aren’t really my brief, except there’s a useful one down there by Hugh Cunningham called The Invention of Childhood (2006). Cunningham argues that we invent the idea of childhood to suit our adult needs, beginning with the arrival in England of the Catholic Church in the seventh century. Previously, children had been seen only as potential adults, because of the terrifying infant
mortality rate, but the Catholics insisted children possessed immortal souls and, without God’s grace, were doomed to burn in eternal hell. By the beginning of the eighth century, if a child died before it was baptised, its parents forfeited everything they had. It was considered a crime worse than murder. As to dating the invention of children’s literature, views differ. Some point to Aesop’s Fables, which has been in print in England since William Caxton’s edition in 1484; others to chapbooks, small, cheaply made pamphlets that sometimes contained alphabets and folk tales. As literacy in England took off, so Christian evangelists began telling stories designed to instill a sober piety in the very young, as in James Janeway’s A Token for Children: Being an Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives and Joyful Deaths, of Several Young Children (1672). A few years later, in 1693, John Locke published Some Thoughts Concerning Education, which suggested that the minds of children were not
Left Title page of Aesop’s Fables, 1933 edition, illustrated by Arthur Rackham. Opposite, clockwise from top left Illustration by Charles Robinson, from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden (1911), 1925 edition; illustration by Edmund Dulac, from Stories from the Arabian Nights (1911), 1919 edition, permission granted by Hachette Children’s Books; illustration by Arthur Rackham, from Aesop’s Fables, 1933 edition. 28 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
innately evil, but blank, like smooth wax. Locke’s theories influenced Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who in turn influenced the Romantic poets – William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge – who inverted the notion of original sin by seeing childhood as a natural state of grace. The question as to whether children are little devils or saintly underdogs has never gone away, or the possibility, so essential to the post-Romantic imagination, that they might be able to choose for themselves. Browsing any collection of children’s books is bound to be a personal business, because people who love reading tend to start young. In my case, it began when my mother took me with her on a visit to her chiropractor, and left me in the waiting room with a copy of C.S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew (1955). When she came out again I had become a reader and I’ve been a reader ever since, so getting down on my hands and knees (creakily) it’s reassuring to find all seven of the Narnia stories on the bottom shelf, although it’s strange to see them in London Library bindings. It’s as if they’re dressed in awkward Sunday suits, but when I open them up of course they’re just as they should be, with Pauline Baynes’s lovely illustrations in all the right places. There’s a great deal here that was first read to me in my grandmother’s sitting room last thing before bed: Helen
Bannerman’s The Story of Little Black Sambo (1941), Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Verses (1939), Heinrich Hoffmann’s Struwwelpeter: or, Merry Stories and Funny Pictures (1903), with its catalogue of disproportionate punishments, all of which my grandmother delivered with relish. A little while ago (she’s 96) she phoned and asked why she couldn’t find a decent illustrated copy of Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies (1863)– the story of a thieving chimney sweep who begins his moral education after drowning – in her local Waterstones. So I found her one online. It’s a book I’ve
There’s a great deal here that was first read to me in my grandmother’s sitting room last thing before bed
re-appraised as an adult, just as I’ve reappraised Little Black Sambo, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still love it or have escaped its influence, and I’m glad to see that the Library has it in its first edition. Walking up and down the aisles I’m constantly encountering old friends – Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (1908); Ursula Le Guin’s ‘Earthsea’ books (1968–2001) – and also unfamiliar titles I find unexpectedly riveting, such as Kenneth Lindsay’s 1946 anthology of model lives, Adventure and Discovery, which includes an account of the Dam Busters’ raid by THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 29
Wing Commander Guy Gibson. There are nonsense poems by Edward Lear, fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen, boarding-school stories, holiday adventure stories, detective stories. By the late nineteenth century, children’s authors were placing much more emphasis on the imagination and initiative of their heroes, as Lewis Carroll does in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865). A few years later, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Little Lord Fauntleroy (1885) became the first children’s international best-seller, and as the industry grew, so the children’s genre expanded, if, that is, you can talk of a genre that includes alphabets, novels, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, history, autobiography, religious tracts and poetry. It explains the wonderful sense of clutter on the sixth floor, and also the
Top Illustrations by Edward Lear, from his A Nonsense Alphabet (1952), 1962 edition. Above Illustration by Reginald B. Birch, from Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1885), 1889 edition. 30 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
popularity of the collection. But along with the childish thrill of rummaging through the stacks comes an occasional quiver of disappointment. There are three whole shelves here given over to an author I’ve never heard of – G.A. Henty – while Diana Wynne Jones, whom I adore, has been reduced to a single volume, Fire and Hemlock (1984). There are no books by Chris Riddell or Meg Rosoff, while Jacqueline Wilson, who was the Children’s Laureate between 2005 and 2007, is represented by only four novels. Consulting the relevant staff, I discover that there’s a reason for the curious shape of The London Library’s children’s collection – bulges here, bald patches there – which is that it’s not really meant for children. Originally it was intended to accommodate the work of authors who usually wrote for adults, as a way of respecting their oeuvre. Donations are also accepted. There’s a bundle of children’s books gifted by Elaine Moss, which she put together as a selector for the Book Trust’s Books of the Year exhibitions between 1970 and 1980, and also in the course of her career as a librarian. This explains the large number of novels from writers such as Jane Gardam, Philippa Pearce and Alan Garner, as well as picture books published between 1960 and 1990 by Maurice Sendak, Shirley Hughes, Charles Keeping and others. A separate bundle from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education in Waterloo comprises illustrated fiction from the 1950s to the 1990s generally considered classics. But the bottom line is that most children’s books in the Library are the result of charity, not a dedicated budget. The Library recognises the increasing importance of children’s literature, but
acquisitions are made ‘cautiously’ and ‘not really with children in mind’ . It is for this reason that the children’s collection is not bigger, or more systematically thought through. It’s why it would disappoint a thorough investigation into the genre, although scholars will be well served by the bibliography section on the fifth floor and the history of childhood on the first. It’s because this is not a children’s library, which is a pity, because who enjoys an attic-full of magical bric-àbrac more than a child? It makes me wonder what would happen if a child actually got in, and the more I think about it, the more clearly I see him. Don’t ask me where he comes from. Perhaps he crept in from Mason’s Yard. In any case he doesn’t ask anybody for help because he knows he’s committed a dreadful crime just by being here, and before long he’s scuttling between the stacks, climbing up endless higgledypiggledy flights of stairs (like the ones in George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin of 1872), hopelessly lost until he’s under the roof where he crawls into a passageway between the books to collect himself. It’s a cosy enough hiding place and, as luck would have it, he finds the reading matter to his taste, beginning in the ‘A’s with The Arabian Nights (the 1919 edition illustrated by Edmund Dulac). He likes Kipling and E. Nesbit, too, and by lunch is so busy devouring Richmal Crompton’s Just William (1922) that he only notices he’s hungry when a friendly librarian shows up and offers to share his sandwich. That afternoon, while somebody tries to contact his mum, he is shown what’s in the safe, which has a secret combination. But the greatest excitement
THE IDEAL READER
is that he is allowed to handle the books: a miniature alphabet beautifully illustrated by Kate Greenaway (1885); a copy of Hans Christian Andersen’s Danish Fairy Legends and Tales (1846); Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (1886), the original version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; and a set of curios including The Puzzler, Being a Collection of Two Hundred and Thirty Eight Original Charades, Enigmas, Rebuses, Anagrams, Conundrums, Transpositions, etc. With Solutions (1845). At tea-time there is still no sign of his mother, but the boy doesn’t much care because he is halfway through the Oxford Junior Encyclopaedia (1949–56). He only cries at closing time because he doesn’t want to leave, so they let him sleep over, and in this way he becomes a fixture, a sort of library mascot. Meals are delivered to him in the Members’ Room and occasionally he takes a breath of fresh air in St James’s Square. By the end of the week he has a better working knowledge of the children’s collection than anybody else in the building. He’s so hooked that when he is told his mother has been run over by a bus, or flattened by an escaped hippopotamus, he is only a little bit sorry. In any case, he’s used to it: a couple of years ago his father, a wealthy gentleman explorer, was eaten by a polar bear. Having dispensed with Henty – all of him – the orphan settles down to an exhaustive study, working steadily through the Victorian golden age of children’s literature, then the Edwardians, then the flotilla of soothing post-First World War books which, in addition to Just William, include A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh (1926) and The House at Pooh Corner (1928) and Arthur Ransome’s
Swallows and Amazons (1930). He doesn’t ask why T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone (1938) is down in adult fiction along with J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (1954), or why Aesop’s Fables can only be found in L. Greek & Latin Lit. Trans., because he has never heard of these people and doesn’t miss them. He’s too busy enjoying what’s at hand. This boy (soon the only permanent resident of the building, with his own headed stationery) is the collection’s ideal reader and, over the years, certain things fall into place. It occurs to him that many children’s stories figure a portal through which magic worlds are reached – a rabbit hole, a wardrobe, a door into a secret garden – and that these portals behave exactly like good books. He notices that in The Magician’s Nephew there is an in-between place containing many magic pools, a drowsy limbo which in its atmosphere closely resembles a library, and for him will always be The London Library. He understands that his literary life began in an attic on the sixth floor of No.14, St James’s Square and that from now on whatever he reads will be coloured by that original excitement. And that is why, when he dies (childless himself ), he leaves his fortune to his alma mater, fountain of all his learning and happiness, with an injunction either to lower the minimum age of membership to five, or to set up a special reading room, suitably soundproofed, possibly with padded walls. And having done so to search out and acquire the finest children’s books every year and to place them alongside the ones he loves best because he read them first: the ineradicable shape of his own childhood.
Top left Illustration by William Foster, from Edward Lear’s Nonsense Drolleries (1889). Above, from top Kate Greenaway’s Alphabet (1885); Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories, illustrated by the author (1902); C.S. Lewis’s Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (1951), cover illustration by Pauline Baynes, with thanks to Marchpane, Cecil Court, London. THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 31
MEMBERS’ News COULD YOU BE A LONDON LIBRARY TRUSTEE? As a registered charity, the Library has a board of trustees who are responsible for the long-term well-being and effectiveness of the Library. Trustees serve a four-year term and may be re-elected for a second term of no more than four years thereafter. Besides thinking about services and facilities, trustees must ensure that the Library safeguards its assets, meets its financial obligations and functions within the legal framework required of a charity. At this time each year we start looking for new trustees to join the board after the next AGM in November. Could you • Think strategically about the long-term interests of the Library? • Listen to others’ views and contribute your own to help reach decisions collectively? • Collaborate effectively with the Library’s professional staff? • Promote the Library and help find new members and supporters?
A brief guide explaining the responsibilities and commitments involved and full details of how to apply is available to download from the vacancies section of the Library’s website.
If so, we would love to hear from you. Applications for Trustee positions falling vacant in autumn 2014 are now open and we are keen to find members with an open-minded interest in the Library and dedication to its continued success to take up this role. This year we are particularly keen to hear from members ready to be active ambassadors for the Library who have knowledge and experience of • Finance and financial planning, or • Major donor fundraising, especially those who are comfortable introducing people to the Library and the Library to potential supporters. In the past we have not received as many applications from women as from men and would welcome more. Please contact the Librarian’s PA on 020 7766 4712 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you require any further information.
FOR CONSIDERATION THIS YEAR PLEASE SUBMIT APPLICATIONS NO LATER THAN 12 MAY 2014.
PHILIP HOOK I was inspired to apply to become a London Library Trustee by reading about an existing Trustee’s experience of the role in this very magazine. I had only a hazy idea of what was involved, but having – in Carlyle’s memorable phrase – ‘grazed in the great book pasturage’ as a member for many years, I felt I wanted to give something back to the Library. In my mis-spent youth, when employed round the corner at Christie’s, I had slept off many a hangover in one of those incredibly comfortable Reading Room armchairs. As a writer I have regularly enjoyed remarkably productive research for my books in the more obscure reaches of the stacks. Once I used my library membership card as proof of identity to get me out of a tricky situation in a nightclub in Buenos Aires. Yes, I had a lot to feel gratitude for, and here was a chance in a small way to express it. After a successful interview and election process, I found that the trustees are a wonderfully diverse and friendly group. The aim is that they should constitute a body whose different talents and areas of expertise combine to give the Library and the very committed people who work for it wise advice and guidance. All aspects of the Library’s affairs come under the trustees’ oversight: 32 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
investment of its assets, membership, collections and services, fundraising, building projects, human resources, assessing and managing risk, and governance. Thus there are writers, financiers, accountants, lawyers and architects included in their number. My own current job as a director of Sotheby’s turns out to help with promoting awareness of the Library and identifying kind donors for fundraising. But the chief qualification that’s really needed is enthusiasm for the place, and enough spare time to place a few hours a month at its disposal. Since I have been a Trustee I have learned a huge amount about the functioning of the Library, and the many people who, under Inez Lynn’s leadership, work incredibly hard behind the scenes to make it the marvellous institution it is. Inez herself takes you on an induction tour at the beginning of your trusteeship, which is truly fascinating. I have learned about the leaking water pipes; I have seen Virginia Woolf’s membership application form (under ‘profession’ she writes ‘spinster’); I have witnessed the exceptional talents of the book restoration department. The experience is extraordinary. If you are tempted, do apply. I thoroughly recommend it.
What did you miss … ? AGM 2013 within the Library’s current resources. The newly refurbished Reading Room was gratifyingly full for The Treasurer reported that finances remained steady the Library’s 172nd AGM on 5 November 2013. The successful but would continue to depend on success in fundraising completion of the recent Phase 3A building works was noted among the highlights of a busy year that had also seen the launch and marketing. The loss of a number of key staff from the Development team had hampered the Library’s efforts in these of a new Strategic Plan (available on the website) and a revision areas, but legacies had provided a welcome underpinning while of the bye-laws to improve the continuity of expertise within the team was being rebuilt. A new post of Archive, Heritage the Trustee board. This would be followed in the New Year by a and Development Librarian had been created for Helen O’Neill, review of the Library’s rules, with particular reference to conduct former Head of Reader Services, to develop the Library’s and etiquette. institutional archive and provide the team with curatorial support. The Chairman was pleased to report the recent awarding Membership subscriptions remained the most important of the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction to Lucy source of income and the meeting agreed the trustees’ proposal Hughes-Hallett for The Pike (2013), her biography of Gabriele for a 3.3% increase in January 2014 linked to cost inflation. d’Annunzio, and he noted that several other Library members The other formal business included: the members’ approval of had been long- or shortlisted. The Library’s President, Sir Tom the 2012 AGM minutes, the 2012–2013 Annual Report, the Stoppard, had been awarded the 2013 PEN/Pinter Prize, and reappointment of the auditors and the election of Anthony three Library members had been included in Granta’s 2013 McGrath and Sophie Murray as trustees. In what was technically selection of the Best of Young British Novelists. a separate Extraordinary General Meeting, the proposed The Chairman went on to announce that, after reviewing amendments to the bye-laws were approved subject to final usage statistics and previous comments from members, the ratification by the Privy Council (since confirmed in December trustees had decided to extend evening opening to three days 2013). Members were later treated to a fascinating presentation per week, from Monday to Wednesday, until 8pm. The news by Helen O’Neill on her archival research conducted for a Master sparked a number of questions and comments from the floor but of Research qualification at UCL into the Library’s Victorian past, met with widespread approval. The Chairman explained that no Hay Festival advert_London 1 20/02/2014 15:13 Page and1some of the influential figures who were members in that era. further extension of openingLibrary_Layout hours was realistically achievable
22 MAY–1 JUNE 2014
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SPOUSE MEMBERSHIP SHARE YOUR PASSION FOR THE LONDON LIBRARY It’s the perfect birthday or anniversary gift with a difference. Spouse/partner membership £238 a year (£19.83 a month) www.londonlibrary.co.uk/join Spouse membership is open to partners of annual/life members residing at the same address.
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34 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
the London Library in THE NEWS Published in October 1917 and acquired by the Library in January 1918, Tommy’s Tunes, a comprehensive collection of soldiers’ songs, was collected on active service by F.T. Nettleingham. It was used by the BBC radio presenter, writer, and producer Charles Chilton (1917–2013) and informed his innovative and influential BBC Home Radio Service documentary The Long, Long Trail in 1961. The documentary told the story of the war through the soldiers’ songs and inspired the stage musical and film Oh! What A Lovely War. Chilton’s radio masterpiece was the subject of a recent BBC Radio 4 programme, The Long, Long Trail, part of the Archive on 4 series, and is available to listen to on BBC iPlayer. It features fascinating insights from Helen O’Neill, the Library’s Archive, Heritage and Development Librarian. On 16 January 2014, Victoria Hislop appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book programme, and described her early experiences as a Library member: ‘After day one I realised I was going to come here every day. You have company and you don’t have solitude … It’s extraordinary how comforting it is.’ The joy of making chance discoveries in the bookstacks of the Library was explored in a Radio 4 documentary aired on 5 September 2013, Last Bus to Serendip. Journalist and psychologist Dr Aleks Krotoski visited the Library with her ‘Serendipity Engine’, and with poet Richard Price pondered the beauty of discovering things you are not looking for.
Further afield, treasures in the Library’s vast foreignlanguage collections featured on French Radio London and Voice of Russia Radio, and also in Swiss and French newspapers. The Library also hosted the launch of the first Days of Ukraine Festival in October celebrating Ukrainian art, culture and literature. A first for the Library was a feature in the Kiev Post and an interview with the Library’s Bibliographic Services team on the Ukrainian TV channel Podrobnosti. The Library’s collections helped to inspire the concept behind Selfridges’ 2013 Christmas window displays created by Biscuiteers and Bompas & Parr. Using blueprints found in the Library’s collections, an edible vision of London’s lost architecture, including buildings destroyed or never built, was created in gingerbread form. And finally, Margaret Atwood and historian Susannah Lipscomb both independently declared in the Evening Standard that the Library was the place they would most like to get locked in overnight – a desire no doubt shared by many a literary night-owl.
a legacy for the london library Over the years, The London Library has been privileged to receive generous bequests from those who wished to safeguard its very special place at the heart of literary life. One of these in 1929 from Major William Prevost enabled improvements and extensions to 14 St James’s Square during the 1930s. The Committee Room, now the Sackler Study, was named after the Major, and miniatures of him and his mother still hang to the right of the fireplace. Major Prevost’s name will continue to be celebrated as we intend setting up a society to honour and thank all our members and supporters who have generously made a bequest to us. We invite all our legators to become members of the Prevost Chapter. We have 44 known legators whose bequests, ranging from £1,000 to £100,000, will be worth over half a million pounds, a truly wonderful gift for the future. We have contacted them all and invited them to join the Prevost Chapter. If any member has arranged a bequest but not told us, we would be delighted to hear from you and to add your name to all those who have planned to support the Library in this very practical way. We look forward to welcoming our legators to the Library to mark the launch of the Prevost Chapter, and offer them our heartfelt thanks for their generosity. Whether large or small, legacies are a vital part of our
income, and offer members and supporters a tangible way of expressing their affection for the Library and its work. Large bequests can have an immediate impact on our strategic initiatives, such as Florian Carr’s magnificent legacy that so greatly helped Phase 2 of the capital campaign, and the £50,000 instalment from the legacy of John French Slater which has enabled us to employ two additional cataloguers this year to hasten completion of our Retrospective Cataloguing Project. Other significant bequests have swelled our permanent endowment, ensuring that money will be available to help the Library in future years. Modest sums have enabled us to add constantly to the collections, to preserve older volumes, and to offer supported memberships. A recent bequest of £5,000 from Mrs Glenys Dean meant that we were able to buy two hundred new books. Whatever its size, every legacy is a vital contribution to the Library’s fabric, its collections and its work in advancing education, learning and knowledge. Please do consider pledging a future gift in this way.
For information on leaving a legacy to the Library, contact Bethany McNaboe on 020 7766 4719, or email: email@example.com THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 35
Fighting on all fronts
Spotlight on stella worthington Retiring Head of Collection Care Stella Worthington, Head of Collection Care, retired from The London Library in January 2014 after 16 years of dedicated service. Interviewing her shortly before her retirement, we gained a fascinating insight into the projects that Stella undertook during her years at the Library. You started off in the Library spearheading a project to re-house the Library’s 40,000 rare books that form part of its Special Collections. How has your job evolved from there? When I first came to The London Library it was on a shortterm contract to deal with the Library’s rare books. They were housed in an unventilated basement where they lay rather dirty and largely unloved, and I was tasked with moving them to the purpose-built secure levels of the newly constructed Anstruther Wing. All the books had to be carried up several flights of stairs to the workroom where each volume was entered on a specialist database, and given a new shelfmark and a loan status, so that staff could indicate to members straight away whether they could be taken out on loan. Each book was assessed with regard to its physical needs. Basic conservation was carried out in-house and, if more complicated intervention was required, this was flagged up to be addressed by a conservator at a later date. When the initial project came to an end it was decided that a librarian should be appointed on a permanent basis to look after not only Special Collections, but books on open access, all 15 miles of them. I was fortunate enough to be selected and gradually learned that collection care involves far more than just conservation. It embraces everything that can pose a potential risk to the collections: people, pests, security, building problems, environment, book handling, storage. In other words, it means doing all that is possible to keep the collections safe. My role also involves all aspects of stack management: easing congestion when subjects outgrow the shelving allocated to them, ensuring that all returned books are back on the shelves within 24 hours, writing the cleaning specification for the book stacks and ensuring that the policy is acted upon. It involves managing teams of people to keep the Library tidy and books in the correct order. It means working closely with architects and shelving manufacturers during building phases. To date I have organised the moving of almost 12 miles of books to enable building work to take place. The task-list is endless. You are about to retire after 16 years of service to the Library. Is there anything about which you feel particularly proud? I am proud of the tireless work that has gone on to improve and increase storage for our books and to engender a sense that all of us, staff and members alike, have a part to play in ensuring 36 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
that the Library’s collections are here not only for our delight but for generations to come. I am very proud that the books in Special Collections have had their preservation needs assessed and documented, and are now in the care of capable professionals who will continue to look after them long after I have gone. I am pleased that resources and robust procedures are in place to deal with emergencies that otherwise might have a devastating impact on the service the Library can provide. In particular I’m pleased with the Library’s Strategic Plan, which reflects collection care issues such as essential building upgrades and a commitment to improved environmental conditions. Is there anything you have seen that has saddened you about the way the books have been treated? I don’t feel saddened very often because on the whole our staff and members take good care of the books. Like me, they feel a sense of privilege, particularly when old and rare books are made so readily accessible, and handle them well. Sometimes people don’t realise what a treasure trove they have at their finger-tips, however, and bring food and drink into the stacks while they do their work. The consequences of this can be very serious. I once saw a brand new book recently acquired from Russia that was so badly stained with soup that it had to be taken out of stock. I’ve seen some nasty coffee stains, too. On one occasion I was asked to do something about a book that literally stank. It turned out that it had been returned in a bag containing fish. Fish juices had leaked into the book and contaminated it. I did my best to clean it up and air-dried it for weeks, but to no avail. This sort of thing saddens me because replacing books can be costly and in some instances well-nigh
impossible, so it makes sense to keep them safe when carrying them home or when returning them to the Library. Post-it notes are an invention from hell as far as I am concerned. They can be very useful little items but pack a big punch. I have seen dozens of books with pages fused together because of the sticky residue left behind after they have been used. In some instances they are so securely stuck down, particularly where glossy paper is involved, that they cannot be removed without damaging the page itself. I know that the damage is unintentional but it’s real all the same. What is the most enjoyable part of your work? I like it all. I enjoy planning a project and getting stuck into it. I like dealing with the rare book collections and am often moved by the donation labels when I see a book was given in memory of a member who has long since passed away. I like putting on displays and speaking to groups about the work of my department and about the books themselves. It’s all enjoyable. So what is going to happen next? Well, I will probably sleep for a fortnight to recover from all the effort of preparing to hand on the baton to my able successor, Judith Finnamore, who joins us from the Westminster Archives Centre. After that I look forward to visiting the Library myself as a member and seeing the good work continue. But, members beware! Retired or not I’m sure I won’t be able to hold myself back if I see any food or drink or post-it notes endangering books – you have been warned!
Kenneth Rose CBE, FRSL It was with sadness that we learned of the death of Kenneth Rose on 28 January 2014, aged 89. Kenneth joined The London Library in 1951 and remained a member for 63 years, serving on the Committee from 1983 to 1987. In 1991, he delivered one of seven special lectures celebrating the 150th anniversary of The London Library’s founding (still a good read today: see Founders & Followers, 1992, shelved in Biographical Colls.), and in 2012 he was appointed Vice-President of the Library. Kenneth enjoyed a long career as a diarist on the Daily Telegraph, and as a historian and royal biographer. He wrote a number of books, including a biography of King George V, published in 1983, which won the Whitbread Book Award and the Wolfson History Prize. His most recent book was Elusive Rothschild: The Life of Victor, Third Baron (2003). He maintained a keen interest in the Library, enjoying a visit to the newly refurbished Reading Room last October.
LITERARY PRIZES Congratulations to the London Library members who have won or been nominated for recent literary awards and prizes. Sir Thomas Allen Awarded the 2013 Queen’s Medal for Music. Ned Beauman Winner of both a 2013 Somerset Maugham Award and the 2013 Encore Award for The Teleportation Accident. David Crane Shortlisted for the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction for Empires of the Dead. Caroline Criado-Perez Announced as 2013 Human Rights Campaigner of the Year by Liberty. William Dalrymple Shortlisted 38 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
for both the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction and the 2013 Duff Cooper Prize for Return of a King. Lissa Evans Shortlisted for the 2012 Carnegie Medal for Small Change for Stuart. Lady Antonia Fraser Winner of the 2013 Biographers’ Club Lifetime Services to Biography Award. Jane Gardam Shortlisted for the 2014 Folio Prize for Last Friends. Sally Gardner Winner of both the 2012 Costa Children’s Book Award and the 2013 Carnegie Medal for Maggot Moon; her novel The Double Shadow was also longlisted for the 2013 Carnegie Medal. Tanya Harrod Winner of the 2013 James Tait Black
Memorial Prize for The Last Sane Man: Michael Cardew, Modern Pots, Colonialism and the Counterculture. Lucy Hughes-Hallett Winner of three awards – the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, the 2013 Costa Biography Award and the 2013 Duff Cooper Prize – for The Pike: Gabriele d’Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War. Charles Moore Winner of the 2013 Biographers’ Club H.W. Fisher Best First Biography Prize for Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume 1, which was also shortlisted for the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. Sue Prideaux Winner of the 2012 Duff Cooper Prize for
Strindberg: A Life. Jane Ridley Shortlisted for the 2012 Duff Cooper Prize for Bertie: A Life of Edward VII. Francesca Segal Winner of the 2012 Costa First Novel Award for The Innocents. Sir Tom Stoppard Winner of the 2013 PEN/Pinter Prize. Harriet Tuckey Winner of the 2013 Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature for Everest, which was also longlisted for the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize and runner-up in the 2013 Biographers’ Club H.W. Fisher Best First Biography Prize. If you have been shortlisted or received an award or prize, please do let us know. Email development@londonlibrary. co.uk.
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Institute of English Studies Summer Schools School of Advanced Study, University of London
LONDON PALAEOGRAPHY SUMMER SCHOOL 16–20 June 2014 (£80 single course | £215 three courses) A series of intensive courses in palaeography and manuscript studies. Courses range from one to two days, and cover Latin, Greek, English, and German palaeography, in addition to codicology, editing, and the history of scripts. LONDON RARE BOOKS SCHOOL 23–27 June & 30 June–4 July 2014 (£600 course | £1000 two courses) Five-day intensive courses on a variety of book-related subjects taught by internationally renowned scholars using the unrivalled library and museum resources of London. Courses on offer include European Bookbinding, Children’s Books, the Early Modern Book in England, and two new courses: The History of Reading 1770-2010, and The Printed Book in the East: China, India, and Japan. T.S. ELIOT INTERNATIONAL SUMMER SCHOOL 5–13 July 2014 (£550 | bursaries available) A week-long celebration of the life and work of one of the greatest modern English poets. Includes lectures, seminars, social events, and excursions to Burnt Norton, Little Gidding and East Coker. Poet Linda Gregerson will deliver the Friday evening poetry reading, at the London Library (July 11, time TBC).
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The Royal Literary Fund
Financial Assistance for Writers The Royal Literary Fund (est.1790) helps published authors in ﬁnancial difﬁculties. Last year it awarded grants and pensions to over 200 writers. Applications are welcome throughout the year. For more information contact: Eileen Gunn Chief Executive The Royal Literary Fund 3 Johnson’s Court London EC4A 3EA Tel: 020 7353 7159 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.rlf.org.uk Registered Charity no 219952
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DINING OUT NEAR THE LONDON LIBRARY
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1 AL DUCA Serving modern Italian cuisine, Al Duca focuses on bringing out the very best elements of what is one of the most acclaimed gastronomic regions of the world. Simple fresh ingredients are skilfully combined in a wide range of traditional dishes, offered both in classic style and with a new twist, all following the owner Claudio Pulze’s ethos of reasonably priced good Italian food. Now serving breakfast. 4–5 Duke of York Street, SW1Y 6LA, 020 7839 3090. alduca-restaurant.co.uk
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2 BELLAMY’S RESTAURANT Located in central Mayfair (near New Bond Street), Bellamy’s offers a classic French brasserie menu with an affordable famous-name wine list. The Oyster Bar menu includes Bellamy’s famous ‘open’ sandwiches. Le patron mange ici. Open for lunch Mon–Fri; dinner Mon–Sat. 18–18a Bruton Place, W1J 6LY, 020 7491 2727. bellamysrestaurant.co.uk
5 busaba eathai Conceived by Alan Yau, Busaba Eathai is a modern Thai eatery. Delivering a much-coveted, flavoursome selection of freshly prepared salads, stir-fries, noodles and Thai curries, the menu also offers an extensive list of Asian-inspired juices and a simple yet selective wine list. Renowned for its core cult following, stylish interiors and bustling atmosphere, 15 years on, Busaba remains one of London’s hottest tables. 35 Panton Street SW1Y 4EA, 020 7930 0088. busaba.com
8 FRANCO’S Some believe Franco’s was the first Italian restaurant in London, having served residents in St James’s since 1942. Open all day, the personality of Franco’s evolves and provides a menu for all occasions. The day starts with full English and continental breakfast on offer. The à la carte lunch and dinner menus offer both classic and modern dishes. 61 Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6LX, 020 7499 2211. francoslondon.com
11 the keeper’s house The recently opened Keeper’s House is the new home for artists and art lovers in the heart of Mayfair. Run by renowned restaurateur Oliver Peyton, of Peyton & Byrne, the concept is simple: modern British food, cooked using the freshest ingredients. Surrounded by casts from the RA Collection, diners can enjoy seasonal dishes in the restaurant or cocktails in the garden bar. Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD, 020 7300 5881. keepershouse.org.uk
3 BENTLEY’S OYSTER BAR AND GRILL Since 1916, Bentley’s has been serving its fish and chips and feeding the hungry masses. For almost 100 years, the grande dame of Swallow Street has served fresh oysters, grilled fish, shellfish platters and steaks, sourced from around the British Isles. The restaurant is now under the watchful eye of Michelin-starred chef Richard Corrigan. 11–15 Swallow Street, W1B 4DG,
6 CUT AT 45 PARK LANE CUT at 45 Park Lane is chef Wolfgang Puck’s first restaurant in Europe, a modern American steak restaurant serving exceptional food in a contemporary interior. Dishes include prime dry and wet aged beef, pan-roasted lobster, sautéed whole fresh fish and salads. Breakfasts are another highlight, as are weekend brunches, when you can relax with custom-made Bloody Marys as you listen to live jazz. 45 Park Lane, W1K 1PN, 020 7493 4554.
9 GETTI JERMYN STREET A modern Italian restaurant at the fast-paced heart of London’s West End, Getti Jermyn Street is an authentic Italian dining venue in London’s historic tailoring district, dedicated to offering a traditional and memorable Italian dining experience. A splendid destination for locals and tourists alike, Getti Jermyn Street focuses on serving simple, regional dishes from mainland Italy. Private dining available. 16/17 Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6LT, 020 7734 7334. getti.com
12 sartoria Sartoria, conveniently located on the corner of Savile Row and New Burlington Street, has become one of Mayfair’s favoured hang-outs. The elegant Milanese-style venue is ideal for a quick espresso or light lunch in the informal bar, or for unwinding over a long lunch or dinner in the luxurious restaurant. Sartoria is open for lunch Monday to Friday and for dinner Monday to Saturday. 20 Savile Row, W1S 3PR, 020 7534 7000. sartoria-restaurant.co.uk
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13 WILTONS Established in 1742, Wiltons enjoys a reputation as the epitome of fine English dining in London. The atmosphere is perfectly matched with immaculately prepared fish, shellfish, game and meat. Choose from an exclusive wine list. Open for lunch and dinner, Mon–Fri, and dinner Saturday. To make a reservation, please quote The London Library Magazine. 55 Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6LX, 020 7629 9955. wiltons.co.uk
020 7734 4756. bentleys.org 4 BErry bros & rudd Fine Wine Lunches & Dinners Choose between Berry’s Townhouse or the 17th-century London Cellars. The Townhouse hosts intimate luncheons with fine food and wine. The atmospheric London Cellars are London’s most exclusive fine-dining venue. Housed within an impressive vaulted Napoleon Cellar, you will be treated to an unforgettable luncheon. Tickets pre-booked. 3 St James’s Street, SW1A 1EG, 0800 280 2440. bbr.com/wine-events
45parklane.com/CUTat45ParkLane 7 THE FOX CLUB Situated a stone’s throw from Green Park and the famous Hyde Park, the Fox Club Dining Room is one of London’s best-kept secrets and a lunch-time essential. The modern European menu changes on a weekly basis, offering refined excellence without being pretentious. The effect is a change from the jaded palate of life. The Fox Club now offers a delightful afternoon tea from 3–5pm. 46 Clarges St, W1J 7ER, 020 7495 3656. foxclublondon.com
ENOTECA This home-style Italian dining room is found moments from Westminster Cathedral and Victoria Station. Quietly situated and pleasingly intimate, Gustoso is the ideal place to unwind with friends or to enjoy a little romance. Cocktails are served from the bar and the menu is based around the Italian classics. 35 Willow Place, SW1P 1JH, 020 7834 5778. ristorantegustoso.co.uk
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The First World War Centenary Sale Wednesday 24 September 2014 Knightsbridge, London Entries are now invited for our First World War Centenary Sale. The sale will include Fine Art, Diaries & Letters, Books, Medals and Arms & Armour. Closing date for entries Friday 8 August 2014.
Christmas truCe of 1914 Autograph letter by an anonymous British soldier to his mother, describing “the most memorable Christmas I’ve ever spent”, 10 pages, “British Expeditionary Force/ Friday Dec. 25th 1914” sold for £12,000
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