Saturday, August 10, 2013

Raven: The Turbulent World of Baron Corvo

This year sees the centenary of the death of Frederick Rolfe Baron Corvo. To mark this, from now until the actual anniversary on the 25th October I shall be posting about the Baron and his life and work on a regular basis here on Front Free Endpaper.

Five and a half years of publishing endeavour saw the Raven monographs about Frederick Rolfe by Robert Scoble into print with Callum James Books. I'm delighted to be able to say that, in this centenary year, the collected Ravens have found a home with a superb publisher at Strange Attractor Press (Celebrating Unpopular Culture Since 2001, is their strap line). I would imagine that a great number of visitors to this blog will already be familiar with their output and will be as excited as I am by that fact that they are about to issue, in limited edition, all the Ravens together. The book is out in the middle of this month but because the issue is limited they are taking pre-orders now on their website

As well as some very high quality books, they do a mean line in book-blurb too and I couldn't possibly out-do this description of the new book:

"On an overcast October afternoon in 1913, the lifeless body of a middle-aged Englishman was found sprawled across his bed in a run-down palazzo on Venice’s Grand Canal. Thus ended the life of one of the most extraordinary sons of Edwardian England, Baron Corvo, a gifted writer and painter.
Baron Corvo – whose real name was Frederick Rolfe – was one of the most remarkable sons of Edwardian England, a gifted writer and painter who pursued the world of his imagination in the face of countless obstacles and colossal hardships.
Corvo lived in palaces, rectories, stately homes and workhouses. He knew bishops, ambassadors, duchesses and prime ministers. He consorted with gondoliers, masseurs, navvies and prostitutes. He debated with historians, archaeologists, poets and professors. His sad destiny was to fall out with almost all of them, as each failed to live up to his strange and antique standards, feeding his paranoiac conviction that he was surrounded by scheming and ill-intentioned enemies.
Raven rescues from history a number of men and women who lived a century ago.  A scrawny conman who convinced the English newspaper-reading public that he was the nation’s athletics champion.  A lonely old Italian duchess living out her last days in a palace on Lake Nemi.  A respected librarian secretly casting the horoscopes of world celebrities.  An American businessman who ruined his entire family overnight.
Robert Scoble has drawn on his three decades of research in hitherto undisturbed library archives and troves of family letters to produce these essays in microhistory. He shows how these lives intersected in the story of a great eccentric who assumed the bogus title ‘Baron Corvo’ and spent his final years scandalising pre-war Venice."

1 comment:

J said...

I *was* interested when I first read about this, for the sake of getting the few essays I passed on as separate pamphlets. Now, however, it's been pulled from Amazon and Book Depository. Between the non-discounted price and the prohibitive cost of trans-Atlantic shipping, I don't think I'm going to buy it. Too bad.

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