Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Books I bought while on vacation

Evangeline, by Longfellow: A small volume of this "Tale of Acadie" in verse, with a 30-page introduction.

The search for the North West Passage, by Ann Savours: Though I consider Pierre Berton's The Arctic Grail to be the definitive one-volume description of the quest for the passage, this seemed like an interesting book, so I picked it up in a used book store. I've become wary about it's worth, however, after reading the introduction. At the end of it, she quotes the chorus of Stan Rogers' Northwest Passage but then cites it as "Seafarer's song, provenance unknown to me." I'm not sure how much faith I can put in a "researcher" who couldn't put a title and composer to what is probably the most famous song ever written about the Northwest Passage, and one of the most well-known Canadian folk songs of all time. Sheesh!

Constance, by Jane Kenyon. I've always wanted a volume of poetry by Kenyon. I've read some of her work on-line and have been drawn to it. This is a beautiful but haunting book of poems written shortly before her death from leukiemia.

Geography III, by Elisabeth Bishop. A poet I have always admired. Picked this up (along with the two books that follow) in a great used book store in Provincetown, MA (an otherwise tacky place). The poetry section was fantastic. I would have bought a dozen books if not for heroic self-restraint. Some part of me regrets not being weaker. In any case, what a great book this is; cost me all of $4.50. The neat thing was that right beside it, was a first-edition hardcover of the very same book, with a price tag of $95. Thanks, but no thanks.

One Art: Elizabeth Bishop--Letters, selected and edited by Robert Giroux. This is a huge tome I picked up for $10, and for that price, I couldn't pass it up, even though I'll probably never read a lot of it. But I'm a fan of Bishop's, and I'm looking forward to browsing through some of her correspondence, though it'll probably make me feel vaguely like a peeping tom.

Eugene Onegin, by Aleksandr Pushkin, translated by Nabokov. The most famous (and many say the best) translation of Onegin. Again, cheap cheap cheap and in good shape. Saw it new in Boston for four times the price. Too bad the companion volume of Nabokov's commentary wasn't there too. I've always thought it hillarious that the companion volume is more than twice the size of the translation itself. But I'm happy with the mere translation. The fact is, in this book of 334 pages, the translated poem itself only occupies about 220 pages; the rest is introduction and notes. Gotta love that Nabokov. Talk about obsessive!

And finally...

Birdsong: A Natural History, by Don Stap. Birdsong has always fascinated me, and this looks like a really cool book, part travellog, part popular science.


Aisha said...

wonderful list-- some of them I have in other editions

-- and this brings me to my guilt trip...the ebautiful American library edition of Longfello that you guys gave me in New Orleans--originally I suspect bought for YUO by YOU :) and especially for Evangeline... talk about patience! Rewarded briefly at last: "Whispered a gentle voice, in accents tender and saint-like,/"Gabriel! O my beloved!" and died away into silence./...As in the days of her youth, Evangeline rose in his vision. Tears came into his eyes, and as he slowly lifted his eyelids,Vanished the vision away, but Evangeline knelt by his bedside....'

Hope I didnt give the plot away! :) beautiful poem--dactylic hexameter...but you knew that, form poet. Is the book on Amazon yet, your collection?

Peter Garner said...

Hi Aish,

No, the book isn't out on amazon.com, but you can order it from amazon.ca or directly from Raincoast Books.

BTW, whilst in Boston, I visited a used bookstore where I found a different edition of Longfellow and bought it for another fellow who recently turned a certain age. I guess I've started a tradition ;-)


Aisha said...

BTW isn't it in Constance that you find Peonies? The loveliest flower peom I know about the loveliet most fragrant most subdued yet generous flower I know.

Peter Garner said...

Yes, "Peonies at Dusk" is the actual title. Just read it. Love the image of the moon moving around the barn to find out where the scent is coming from.