Friday, December 6, 2013

Gift cullings and special items

Daedalus was founded 30 years ago by people who love good reading and beautifully done editions. Here are some particularly choice items for bibliophiles.
Neruda, avec beret
Literature: Special Editions
Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith, The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler, and the childrens' classics Bambi/The Yearling (with original typesetting and illustrations) have all been issued in Book of the Month Club anniversary editions. The Selected Stories of  Nobel laureate Alice Munro and the Library of America set of Collected Stories by the late all-around man of letters John Updike will grace the shelves of any fiction lover, whereas poetry aficionados will rejoice in the Odes of Pablo Neruda in a bilingual edition, the Complete Poems of e. e. cummings in a revised, corrected, and expanded edition, and the Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry.
History & Culture
Many excellent authors continue to find new facets to explore in the tumultuous reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Peter Ackroyd, who has written books on Shakespeare, on London, and on the history of England itself, throws his hat in the ring with The Tudors.
If you've followed the nefarious doings of the Borgia family as chronicled in the Showtime series, you'll want to pick up The Tigress of Forli. It's a life of Caterina Riario Sforza de' Medici, a Renaissance noblewoman of Amazonian fierceness who went mano a mano with Cesare Borgia (above: Portrait of Caterina by Lorenzo di Credi, now in the Museum of Forlì).
Cover illustration from The Graves Are Walking
With a nod to ethnic pride, I'd like to single out two titles surveying Irish heritage: the illustrated compendium Irish New York and The Graves Are Walking, a story of the "great famine" that brought so many Irish people from the Old Sod to the New World. Laura Miller wrote re the latter book in Salon:
The political, economic and humanitarian failure of England’s response to the famine amounted to — no joke intended — a game of hot potato between the British government and Irish landowners over who was responsible for aiding the poor. The now archetypal tableau of Irish grain being loaded onto ships bound for England as Ireland’s starving masses watched speaks of the landowners’ indifference to anything but their own income. The refusal of the British government to act decisively to stem the crisis early on arose from its determination to make Ireland “independent” (if only there were a way to make those scare quotes extra ironic). Both sides were ignorant and shortsighted, confident in their stereotypical notion of the irresponsible, fanciful and lazy “Irish character” but oblivious to all the ways that rural subsistence economies cannot be expected to start functioning like England’s more developed agricultural one overnight.
Musical Extravaganzas
For pop music lovers, I would pair the two The Beatles Live at the BBC sets with the lavish limited edition John & Yoko: A New York Love Story, which comes with a signed photographic print.
Classical music mavens will groove more sedately to the massive Horowitz at Carnegie Hall collection and to the Met's boxed set of Verdi operas celebrating his bicentennial. There's nothing like the thrill of live performances, and these historical ones with top stars of bygone decades are remarkably gripping. (Below, Horowitz at the keyboard and Lily Pons, who is fabulous as Violetta in La Traviata.)
You might say that Calendars 'R Us at the moment, because we've got oodles of great ones for every taste for 2014, and they are gratifyingly inexpensive. Several of my favorites are the Japanese Art Calendar, the Downton Abbey engagement calendar, and the Antique Books 2014 Magneto Diary, from which I've taken several illustrations.
Finally, few things convey discernment and devotion more than a beautifully wrapped present! Show the love with our exquisite Art Nouveau Giftwrap!

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