Monday, March 17, 2014

OT5: St. Patrick’s Day 2014

St. Patrick’s Day falls on this Monday and while the Biblio-Mat has given me a book on the history of the Irish people last year, none of the books received or submitted recently fit the bill so in honour of the patron saint of inebriation and bad decision making (at least in contemporary North America anyway), I'll showcase two books I picked up from the Monkey’s Paw over the past year by one of my favourite writers, who happens to be Irish.

Charming fellow.

Yep, the one and only Oscar Wilde may have lived in London and died in Paris but he was born and grew up in Dublin. Being the very essence of the term ‘rake’, I think he fits the festivities of today the past few days rather well.

The first book up is a collection of his works wrapped in an eye-catching sun-faded forest green paper dustjacket. Officially titled “The Works of Oscar Wilde”, the dustjacket design is closer to a billboard than a cover. Published in 1954, the 1120 translucently-thin pages contains almost all of his published works.

Design styles of the 50's.

Everything you would want to keep you occupied for a week.

Known mainly for his plays and one novel (The Picture of Dorian Gray), I actually enjoy his short stories the most and have up until recently kept this book at work to leave through whenever I needed a break. Of all the works, I think ‘The Selfish Giant’ and ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’ resonate the most with me.

Simple yet deep.

Unfortunately there is only one illustration in the book, the black and white plate of Oscar Wilde by Toulouse-Lautrec pictured above, but the inclusion of minor works like the essays and letters make up for the lack of visuals.

"There is no sin except stupidity" would make a great tattoo.

The second Oscar Wilde book I picked up was one of those treasures that if it had not been put out when I was in the shop it would’ve been snapped up before I even had the chance to see it. It is the Ballad of Reading Goal published by a small artisan press circa the 1910’s

Made by little book elves at the turn of the century.

Gorgeous even in deterioration.

Everything from the embossed soft leather cover to the deckle edges to the gilding on the front and top edges, it screams craftsmanship. The book is definitely showing its age, with the iridescent inner cover sheets cracking but the thick cut paper makes this a joy to hold and read.

Dapper in many ways.

The texture of the paper turns me on more than it really should.

At only 30 pages it's a tiny book but contains a lot of character. Funny enough, the last page is still uncut, which I feel has some symbolic meaning somewhere. That or the guy making it missed a page.

The end. Or is it?
Drink lots, be happy, and enjoy the lack of snakes in your home country if it happens to be Ireland.

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