Valancourt Books

Valancourt Books Website

Looking for an obscure book? Perhaps you’re teaching Victorian Lit and you want to assign something atypical? Perhaps you’re just a fan of Gothic novels and you want something classic? Maybe you are trying to understand your LGBT /  Queer history and heritage? Well, there is a great publisher out there that is producing some interesting scholarly editions from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries: Valancourt Books.  This is not print on demand. These are good editions that in many cases can stand up to comparison with a Broadview. They are certainly better than the Penguin Classics that we pay too much for when you consider how easily their spines crack spines and their use of almost newspaper-quality paper. They are the size of a trade paperback (though some books are released as hardcovers).

I’ve managed to obtain several works from the period through Valancourt: Walter Pater’s Marius the Epicurean (1885), Marie Corelli’s The Sorrows of Satan (1895); the Anonymously written pornographic novel Teleny (1893); Frederick Rolfe’s (aka “Baron Corvo’s”) Stories Toto Told Me (1896); and John Davidson’s Early Lavender (1895).

I’ll admit that I’ve been eyeing their edition of Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s Eugene Aram lately. Newgate novels kick-ass!

Recently, they’ve published Bram Stoker’s Lady of the Shroud (1907) adding to their growing collection of his works. Beyond the Victorians and Edwardians they have a wonderful collection of gothic works from the early 19th century and late 18th century. Check out their website (link is listed to your right) and if anything catches your fancy, you can buy their work on Amazon.

Happy reading and happy Friday!

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Spank that Link! Swinburne will enjoy it if you do.

Portrait of Swinburne by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

The Charles Algernon Swinburne Project

One of the links that I provided to the right of this screen is for The Swinburne Project. This online resource was recently re-launched and I only discovered it since the re-launch. I think it is fantastic that someone considers Swinburne worthy of his own website.

“The Leper”; “Hermaphroditus”; “Fragoletta”: and “Delores” are favourites for me. I have also recently discovered some of his erotic works. One of these works is currently staring at me from my bookshelf: Lesbia Brandon. My 583pp copy is a Falcon Press edition from 1956. The paper is quite thick so the book is almost 4” thick – very intimidating when I consider the works I still need to read for my thesis.

I mention this work because it is one of those cultural works few teach in the University setting. I was lucky to have an undergraduate professor who taught his work but many do not seem to include him in their canon of necessary authors. This is why I think the Swinburne Project is so important. The site brings Victorian Literature, literature that does not fit into the ideology of repression that that some modernist scholars impose onto Victorian Literature and culture. Swinburne embraced modernity and the future through a revisioning of the past. He turns to Baudelaire and French culture, and then to Sappho and Hellenism to reimage his own Victorian time and place.

Real artists challenge our perceptions of the present through their narrations of time, space, and identity. Swinburne, I believe is one of the best at this in the 19th century.  So, if you have never read Swinburne, give him a try!

“The Changeling” by Charlotte Mew

 

Toll no bell for me, dear Father dear Mother,
Waste no sighs;
There are my sisters, there is my little brother
Who plays in the place called Paradise,
Your children all, your children for ever;
But I, so wild,
Your disgrace, with the queer brown face, was never,
Never, I know, but half your child!

In the garden at play, all day, last summer,
Far and away I heard
The sweet “tweet-tweet” of a strange new-comer,
The dearest, clearest call of a bird.
It lived down there in the deep green hollow,
My own old home, and the fairies say
The word of a bird is a thing to follow,
So I was away a night and a day.

One evening, too, by the nursery fire,
We snuggled close and sat roudn so still,
When suddenly as the wind blew higher,
Something scratched on the window-sill,
A pinched brown face peered in–I shivered;
No one listened or seemed to see;
The arms of it waved and the wings of it quivered,
Whoo–I knew it had come for me!
Some are as bad as bad can be!
All night long they danced in the rain,
Round and round in a dripping chain,
Threw their caps at the window-pane,
Tried to make me scream and shout
And fling the bedclothes all about:
I meant to stay in bed that night,
And if only you had left a light
They would never have got me out!

Sometimes I wouldn’t speak, you see,
Or answer when you spoke to me,
Because in the long, still dusks of Spring
You can hear the whole world whispering;
The shy green grasses making love,
The feathers grow on the dear grey dove,
The tiny heart of the redstart beat,
The patter of the squirrel’s feet,
The pebbles pushing in the silver streams,
The rushes talking in their dreams,
The swish-swish of the bat’s black wings,
The wild-wood bluebell’s sweet ting-tings,
Humming and hammering at your ear,
Everything there is to hear
In the heart of hidden things.
But not in the midst of the nursery riot,
That’s why I wanted to be quiet,
Couldn’t do my sums, or sing,
Or settle down to anything.
And when, for that, I was sent upstairs
I did kneel down to say my prayers;
But the King who sits on your high church steeple
Has nothing to do with us fairy people!

‘Times I pleased you, dear Father, dear Mother,
Learned all my lessons and liked to play,
And dearly I loved the little pale brother
Whom some other bird must have called away.
Why did they bring me here to make me
Not quite bad and not quite good,
Why, unless They’re wicked, do They want, in spite,
to take me
Back to Their wet, wild wood?
Now, every nithing I shall see the windows shining,
The gold lamp’s glow, and the fire’s red gleam,
While the best of us are twining twigs and the rest of us
are whining
In the hollow by the stream.
Black and chill are Their nights on the wold;
And They live so long and They feel no pain:
I shall grow up, but never grow old,
I shall always, always be very cold,
I shall never come back again!

– Charlotte Mew

Source: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-changeling-2/

A queer poet of the late-Victorian and early 20th century. She was experimenting with stream of consciousness, impressionism, and faerie culture. She brought what she learned in the 1890s into her 20th century work, publishing this poem in 1916 in The Farmer’s Bride. Mew was a beautiful artist and a passionate woman. While more famous for her desperate obsession with Mona Caird, Mew’s real passion was for her family and siblings Anne and Henry. Mew killed herself white in hospital for treatment of neurasthenia by drinking a bottle of disinfectant lysol. Mew’s passions, poetry and prose are more influential and typically accepted in Modernist scholarship. Thankfully, scholars of the Victorian Age have discovered her earlier work from the 1890s and revived interest in this fascinating poet of the very early 20th century. The only scholarly edition of her work that I am aware of is Charlotte Mew: Collected Poems and Selected Prose edited by Val Warner (Routledge, 2003). I highly recommend this poet to anyone interested in Victorian women writers, the Edwardian age, New Woman and Suffrage literature, as well as LGBT Studies and Queer Theory afficianadoes.

 

George Eliot: A Scandalous Life

 

Think George Eliot was a prude? Think again! She lived with her married lover for years. She married a 40-year-old man at the age of 60. She walked away from her Evangelical upbringing. She travelled to the Weimar Republic and studied with scholars when women were not allowed to pursue a public education. This is a fantastic and fun documentary. Enjoy your weekend with a bodice-busting account of George Eliot’s scandalous life!

This links to part one of a 6 part youtube downloand. Not my download so if you own the documentary  – sorry but it’s so much fun to watch.

The Broadview Anthology of Victorian Prose, 1832-1901

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http://www.broadviewpress.com/product.php?productid=1156&cat=0&page=1

I’ve lamented my frustrations with Anthologies before on this blog. They are too big, too expensive, and they ruin the reading experience for students. The one exception I have to this rule is with non-fiction prose. Undergraduates don’t need to read all of Past and Present, Culture and Anarchy, and Sexual Inversion. It would be nice if they did, but it isn’t realistic when so few students read anything longer than a blog post.

Well, if you like the Representative Poetry Online link I’ve posted, here is an option for your prose. The link I’ve posted is to the page on the publisher’s website with a full table of contents. A wonderful selection of selections from the Aesthetes, the Condition of England question, gender and sexuality, eduation, everything you’d want in the classroom. Everything grad students will want when they need to get an overview of thought from the era.

I love Broadview books. Not going to lie about it. I wanted to share this because it is a new release – unfortunately too late for most fall courses but something to consider for next time.