Thursday, January 28, 2010

Raven 10: The Crab and the Moon

It is half-past one in the morning and I am listening to the achingly beautiful Domine Jesu Christe from Durufle's Requiem while I assemble packages of books. It's slow going because I have some kind of bug which is making me nauseous and feverish.

I sent out the announcement of Raven 10: The Crab and Moon last weekend. As usual the special state sold out within hours and a healthy number of orders for the ordinary state were received but, what tends to happen every time I announce a new book is that the email jogs people's memory and suddenly I have lots of complicated orders to fulfill as customers decide to order the new book along with a few others that they had been meaning to get around to. I am not complaining about this - simply sharing my evening with y'all.

Raven Ten: The Crab and the Moon

by Robert Scoble

In late 1899 and well into 1900, Frederick Rolfe worked for most of every day in the great circular Reading Room at the British Museum, researching his book on the Borgia family. One of his fellow researchers was the Museum's recently-retired Keeper of Printed Books, Richard Garnett, also working on the Borgia. The two men had several conversations about their common interest in Renaissance Italy.

Rolfe will have been intrigued to discover that, while in his public life Garnett had reached the very pinnacle of Victorian respectability, in his private moments he pursued an activity which was in technical breach of the law. He was an astrologer.

For the first forty years of his life, Rolfe had little interest in astrology, but it is noticeable that the two novels on which he worked most strenuously after meeting Garnett, Hadrian the Seventh and Nicholas Crabbe, are studded with astrological references. Born under the sign of Cancer, the Crab, and 'ruled' by the Moon, Rolfe began to refer in his correspondence to his crab-like characteristics, and to find in astrology a fertile source of powerful symbolism.

This latest addition to the Raven Series traces the trajectory of Rolfe's interest in astrology, and elucidates the many astrological references in his published work. It analyses Rolfe's own natal chart, showing how he would have been tempted to see in it a foreshadowing of his life's vicissitudes.

The Raven Series has been planned as a set of fifteen scholarly essays which will add substantially to our knowledge of the life and work of Frederick Rolfe. Each essay is being published in a strictly limited edition, and there is little doubt that complete sets will be sought after by collectors in the years to come.

Of a full edition of 70, the first 12 copies of The Crab and the Moon constitute the special state, case bound in black paper-covered boards with gilt titles, and signed by the author. Numbers 13-70 form the ordinary state of the edition, and are sewn into black card covers with a paper label and acetate wrappers.

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