Friday, July 08, 2016

Bibliographical Gold for James Stephens

James Stephens is one of a group of Irish poets/novelists/playwrights at the turn of the 19th century and into the 20th who wrote somewhat fey, mystically aware work. Or, as a young chap I was talking to about them in a bookshop the other day said; "weird vision shit". Head and shoulders above the rest in my view is George Russell, writing as A.E. and no one would claim greatness for James Stephens (I don't think, perhaps I wrong) but he is good to thumb through for nuggets. So the upshot is that I always tend to pick up his books if I find one. And this one had a nugget of a different kind: bibliographical gold.

Now I do understand that the people who will find this exciting are few and far between but also, I hope, some of those who will are likely to be reading this blog. So tucked inside this copy are a couple of typed sheets from the publishers, Macmillan, obviously responding to an enquiry, and on which they list all the substantial differences between the first and second edition of the book. This is the kind of thing serious bibliographers spend hours and hours doing, and the kind of thing publishers don't do anymore! Not only do they list the change in the running order of the poems from first to second edition but also list the revisions to the poems themselves which, to anyone seriously interested in the poet would be fascinating.


Anonymous said...

Stephens's prose - where he dropped the fey, mystical awareness and let his sense of humour rip - is much more fun than most of his poetry. There are exceptions: Nora Criona, for example, for all its misogyny.

Aymery said...

Fascinating find, thanks Callum. Even better than an errata slip.

Callum said...

Hi Anonymous,

Yes, I have to say that after I wrote this post I flicked through the poems some more and found a couple exhibiting a fairly disturbing attitude towards women.

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