Thursday 8 January 2009

“I have seen the ruined ‘Dorata’ ” (Ezra Pound)

Disaster struck again this morning, when we received some mis-bound advance copies of a January title. We haven't had a faulty title in six years, so to receive three in a few days (two mis-trimmed titles arrived yesterday from a different printer) is hard cheese. All the more so as this was Dante’s Rime, one of my pet projects for 2009, a labour of love which I have followed through step by step with almost paternal care. I was really looking forward to receiving it, and when I opened the first box I let out a death-wish sigh.

But I suppose one must be philosophical about these things, and luckily enough it’s something that can be remedied without having to pulp the whole stock. I will talk about this book in more detail when I receive perfect copies of it in a week or so. It’s one of my favourite books of all time – I have grown up with these poems, and know most of them by heart (in Italian, of course). It’s been translated by Florio and Monselice Prize winner JG Nichols in collaboration with Anthony Mortimer, who also translated Petrarch and Michelangelo for Penguin to great critical acclaim. If you would like to hear some of the poems and meet the translators, you can come along to the launch of the book at the Calder Bookshop on 5th February.

Talking of which, I was at there again today, and gave John Calder the bad news of Richard Seaver’s death. Richard Seaver features prominently in The Garden of Eros, John’s forthcoming book about the publishing scene in the Fifties and Sixties, and I gather they were good friends. When we met in December, Barney Rosset mentioned that I should meet “Dick” Seaver and have lunch with him next time I was in New York. I am gutted to have lost the opportunity to meet him – for ever.


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