Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Chisholm & Kipling: Puck's Song

I have recently acquired this excellent volume from blurb, during a 20% off sale. It arrived a week ago or so. This is a truly marvelous book.

You can use it as a placemat, to protect your furniture from spills:

It's also excellent for propping open windows:

Although do note that, as the book is square, you only get one "wide" setting as it were. Perhaps later editions will use a rectangular format to address this deficiency.

It also works admirably as a back splash, should your architect, like Kim Kardashian's, neglect such details.

As it is not raining, I cannot comment on the book's utility as a leak-stopper, but given its excellent performance to date I an confident that it will excel here as well!


I kid! I kid! While I will do almost anything for a tasteless joke, I will note that I was obsessively drying and cleaning my props to avoid marring the book, which survived all the abuse intact.

This is in fact a book I have coveted desperately since Mike published it. No, the PDF would not do. I have a soft spot for Kipling, who exemplifies that marvelously British notion that the British are simply better. It is clear that Rudyard felt that by every measurable metric the Indians were simply better than the British at absolutely everything, and yet, somehow, it was also fit and meet that they should be subservient. I think that Puck of Pook's Hill is perhaps his effort to explain to himself why, in the face of all evidence, the British are so great.

And, you know, they are pretty great. Maybe there is a greatness is little mill ponds and red oxen and a deep history made up, it seems, entirely of ancient people displaced, lost entirely, replaced by another slightly less ancient people, themselves replaced in due course and lost to time. Maybe the point is the England is somehow more than her people, who appear to be largely interchangeable, replaceable.

But we're not here to ramble on about Kipling, not really.

It's this book! I have, as noted, lusted shamelessly for it, and it's all I hoped. It's a blurb book, so if you're hoping for leather and the Bodleian smell, well, you won't get that. Perhaps if you have copy printed in the UK. But it is a beautiful thing.

Mike clearly has it bad for Mr. Puck, pulling out bits from Kipling, but also The Bard, and the words all fit together nicely. You can and should read it all out loud. The Kipling and the Auden both have that curious property that you're not sure if it's doggerel or greatness, but if you read them out loud in your very best tolling-bell voice, it will all seem worthwhile, I promise you. I have a hard time imagining a more fun book to read the lines out loud from.

And then the collages! This is what it's all about.

They're lovely! And they work well with the lines they pair with. Usually the connection is direct: red oxen, you say? Here are some red cows. You're welcome. What now? the day that Harald died? Let me see, here we are, HIC HAROLD REX INTERFECTUS EST. We're not looking for subtlety here. Kipling isn't subtle, he's charming. The collages are charming too. The designs are lush, rich with detail, and it will in fact pay you to break out your magnifying glass. There are niceties, which you should appreciate.

If you want to be fancy, I think I detected allusions from one page to another, here and there, and it's possible that Mike packed the thing full of them. I was just happy to notice a mill stone.

I don't wish to accuse the author of intertextuality though.

You should buy it! It's marvelous!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the endorsement, Andrew, it's much appreciated. "Puck" is a children's book, of course (though one from an age when rather more was expected of young readers), and this is a conscious attempt at illustration in the grand tradition of illustrated children's books aimed at adults...