Latest acquisition

A couple of years ago I’ve talked about my collection of ancient books. Well, I just made a new acquisition. I never thought I would find more interesting (but affordable) books to add to this collection…

This week-end I went to the Westmount Book Fair at the Green Center in Westmount. I’ve been hearing about this bi-annual antiquarian book fairs for a while and always wanted to have a look but was always too busy. When I saw another one advertised on facebook, I thought now was the time. Although I was rather apprehensive that I would find a very interesting (and expensive) book.

The Westmount Book Fair was organized by Wilfrid M. de Freitas, who is himself a bookseller. It was the 27th edition of what is advertised as “the smallest ancient books fair in Canada, where booksellers from Quebec and Canada will help you discover a wide selection of books, brochures, maps, printed matter and small papers”. It was indeed a small venue with a little more than a dozen stands.

I took a quick look and identified all the books the would interest me and fit into my unfortunately small budget: the Caesar commentaries (in French, 1763, $125), the work of Tacitus (2 vols in latin, 1772, $350), and the work of Valerius Maximus (1659, $275). More affordable but out of my subjects of interest for this type of books (ancient authors, 16th to 18th century editions) there was also a Short French Dictionary (in English, 1701, only $100). There was also a big format velum book (about 25 cm hight and 8 cm thick) from the 17th century about mythology (a mere $5000 !), the works of Bossuet in a big volume ($4500), a few sheets from German old books (incunable?) or a large format book (in-folio) about the myth of the wandering jew illustrated by Gustave Doré for which I didn’t even dare looking for the price tag. Out of interest and price range, I also noticed the first annual compilation of the bande-dessinée magazine Pilote ($500-$700). It gave me a few interesting books to choose from. After, deliberating over the interest (age, condition of the binding, subject) and the price, I finally chose the Valerius Maximus. It was the only 17th century edition in my list, in relatively good condition and at an affordable price. It was sold by Mr. de Freitas and he even gave me a small discount.

IMG_4317VALERE MAXIME, A PARIS, CLAVDE BARBIN, dans la grand’ Salle du Palais, du cofté de la Salle Dauphine, au Signe de la Croix. M.DC.LIX. [1659]”

The title of the book (which doesn’t appear on the first page) is “Factotum ac dictorum memorabilium libri IX” [nine books of memorable deeds and sayings]. The binding (pork skin?) includes two volumes (it’s 4.5 cm thick), in the sextodecimo format (in-16, in this case 8 x 12.75 cm) . According to the note from Mr. de Freitas, it’s the second edition in French, translated by Jean Claveret. It is a collections of a thousand historical anecdotes, many lifted from earlier Roman writers, re-drafted by Valerius Maximus as moral and social models. It was written during the reign of Tiberius (around around CE 30 or 31). It is quite interesting…

The Collection (or my cabinet of curiosities)

 

The next book fair, organized by the Confrérie de la Libraries Ancienne du Québec, will be the 36th Antiquarian Book Fair held at the Concordia University (Pavillon McConnell, 1400 bout Maisonneuve O.) Saturday September 28th (from 12:00 to 18:00) and Sunday September 29th (from 11:00 to 17:00).

IMG_4304While having my nose in old books, I decided to do some more research on one of my (very interesting) books on which I have little information. It’s an octavo volume (15 x 24 x 5 cm) titled Natural History. It has a cardboard cover, covered with brown cloth and thin leather. It doesn’t have a title page and the only publisher information appear on the very last page: “WILLIAM MILNER, PRINTER, CHEAPSIDE, HALIFAX.” I first thought it was printed in the maritime provinces in mid-19th century (I think my father purchased it in Gaspésie in the 60s, for $35). It has 730 pages and is in average condition (yellowed pages and several stains, little tears in the cloth of the cover).

It seems inspired by Pliny’s Naturalis Historiae, but it is not its translation as it has a different content organization and covers more modern subjects: Part I : Of the Universe, Part II-XXII: Animals (mostly mammals), Part XXIII: Unclassified Animals, Part XXIV-XXX: Birds; then A History of the Fishes in General (including cetaceous, crustaceous, frogs, lizards, serpents, turtles, and insects !) Part I-XII.

With a closer examination and more research, I discovered new information about this book. First, it seems that the printer is NOT from Nova Scotia but rather from England. Cheapside is a street in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England. William Milner (1803-1850) is a printer who was known for publishing lots of cheap books (selling for sixpence (2 pence) and a shilling (5 pence)). He apprenticed as a printer, but started publishing his own books, first with local printers and then setting up his own press in the 1830s (or in 1844). After his death, his stepsons took over the business under the name Milner & Sowerby. Therefore, my books must have been published between the 1830s and 1850. I will try to find more about this publisher. There is a book that seems to list some of his production, so I will probably start there. To be continued…

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Deserved end

I am exasperated by human behaviours. Most animals will never shit where they eat and will never hurt others unless in self-defence, self-preservation or to eat. While humans, lately, don’t care about anyone but themselves and will go out of their way to hurt others simply by pleasure, by revenge or even for no reasons at all. It is a mean, selfish creature that is slowly killing everything on this planet just because it wants stuff. Frankly, why fight against our own destructive nature and try to save ourselves? Or why try to even give our worthless selves a peaceful end? Why not go all the way toward a well deserved end?

I wish I was a recluse, away from all this stupidity. But I am not, so I always do my best not to hurt anyone and to help when I can. To give the other cheek. And it hurts to see all the others not giving back the same respect. People act selfishly, stupidly, against their own interest because they don’t make the effort to understand, to learn, to follow logic. I am exasperated and I am afraid. Afraid that I will eventually become like them, a beast. I am already becoming grumpy and resentful. If it is indeed our true nature to be not an animal but a beast, maybe it is also for me a deserved end…

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Star Trek Discovery

StarTrekDiscoverySeason2First, I must say that Discovery is definitely one of the best Star Trek TV series I have seen in a long time. If we don’t count the animated series and the movies, it is the sixth Star Trek series (after Star Trek The Original Series (1966-69), The Next Generation (1987–94), Deep Space Nine (1993–99), Voyager (1995–2001), and Enterprise (2001–2005)). After The Original, none of these series were really satisfactory (in imagination, plot and action) until Discovery.

For the first time, with Discovery, the main character of a series is NOT the captain of the USS Entreprise. The series focus on Michael Burnham (played by Sonequa Martin-Green [The Walking Dead]) who is the First Officer of the USS Shenzhou in the beginning before becoming Science Specialist on the USS Discovery. Born in 2226, she is a xenoanthropologist raised on Vulcan by her adoptive parents, Vulcan ambassador Sarek (James Frain) and his human wife Amanda (Mia Kirshner). She is therefore Spock‘s foster sister! Her biological parents were killed during a Klingon raid on Doctari Alpha.

The first season, set a decade before the Original series, focuses on the FederationKlingon war. During a rare encounter of the Shenzhou with the Klingons, Burnham uses her knowledge of Klingon and Vulcan strategy to try preventing the war but act against her captain’s orders. She fails and Georgiou is killed in the ensuing battle. Burnham is sentenced to life in prison for mutiny, but during a prison transfer her shuttle is damaged and she is rescued by the USS Discovery, commanded by Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs), where she is given a temporary position of Science Officer. The Discovery uses an experimental spore drive which, after sabotage, brings them to a parallel universe where Captain Georgiou is the Empress of the Terran Empire! After multiple trials and betrayals, the crew succeeds to end the war.

In season two (which is not over yet, as three more episodes remain to air), the captain of the USS Enterprise, Christopher Pike, takes emergency command of the Discovery from interim-captain Saru (Doug Jones) in order to investigate a series of mysterious signals. Spock (Ethan Peck), who appears to have suffered a mental breakdown, has had foreknowledge of those signals, which seem linked to the apparition of a mysterious Red Angel. They must find Spock before Section 31 to try to unravel the mystery…

The latest episode (“If Memory Serves”, 8th episode of the 2nd season and 23rd episode of the series, which aired on March 7th) was particularly impressive. It starts with “Previously on Star Trek” and then shows scenes from the pilot episode of the Original series (“The Cage”, produced in 1964-65 was never aired but later partly used in episodes 11 & 12, “The Menagerie”). In the original pilot, the captain of the Entreprise was not Kirk but Pike and Spock is the only crew-member who remained in the series. In Discovery, Spock brings Burnham to Talos IV so the Talosian can read his mind and show crucial information to Burnham, therefore both healing him and their relationship. That episode was quite something.

It has been relatively well received (with a rating of 7.4 on IMDb, an overall Rotten Tomatoes critic rating of 82% [but an audience score of 48%, are they mad? !!!] and the same 82% for season 2 [this time with an audience score of 29%! Unbelievable !!!]. In my point of view, it is a series that is well worth watching, even if you know nothing of Star Trek. It is simply very good science fiction. And a third season has already been commissioned. stars-3-5

Apparently, more live-action series are planned including one with Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and one with Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) focusing on the activities of Section 31. 

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

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On the frontier

9782505069812_cg“Avec ses histoires « tranches de vie », qui vous feront voyager de la douce innocence de l’enfance aux désillusions de la vieillesse avec des personnages hauts en couleur, ce titre émouvant se doit de finir entre vos mains. Un recueil d’histoires courtes poignantes, remplies d’émotions et de poésie.”

On the frontier (辺境で 伊図透作品集 / Henkyo de – izu toru sakuhin-shu / lit. “At the frontier: Izu Toru Work Collection”) est un recueil rassemblant huit courtes premières oeuvres de Tôru Izu pré-publié entre 2007 et 2015 dans différents magazines. Il a été publié en 2016 chez Enterbrain (éditeur de Comic Beam). C’est le cinquième manga de Tôru Izu à être publié au Japon (après Mitsubachi no Kiss [ミツバチのキス / lit. “Kiss of the Killer Bee”, Futabasha, 2 vol., 2008], Onsa no Hibiki [おんさのひびき / lit. “Echo of the ancient time”, Futabasha, 3 vol., 2009], Ace [エイス, Kodansha, 3 vol., 2012], et Juuza no Uruna [銃座のウルナ / lit. “Urna of the gun turret”, Enterbrain, 6 vol. +, 2015]) mais le premier à être traduit en français.

Screen Shot 2019-02-24 at 19.39.22Dans “Steel Blue” (Steel Blue, 30 pages), une jeune étudiante en arts graphique, Kako Amakasu, choisie de faire une sculpture comme projet de fin d’étude au lieu d’un dessin comme ses collègues. Elle prends comme matériaux un rail de chemin de fer et des boulons qu’elle soude ensemble. Malgré les difficultés et son inexpérience avec la technique, elle est assez satisfaite du résultat même s’il laisse les professeurs un peu perplexes. Pré-publié chez Futabasha dans le magazine Manga Action (Avril 2008). Lauréat du 5e prix de Manga Action récompensant les débutants. C’est mon histoire favorite du lot. stars-4-0

 

Dans “Lace tes chaussures!” (靴ひもを結べ!/ Kutsu himo o musube!, 30 pages), on retrouve une Kanako Amakasu plus jeune (en dernière année de secondaire, juste avant d’entrer au collège) qui s’inquiète de sa carrière et du fait qu’être une femme est limitatif. Elle trouve les garçon idiots. Pourtant, elle se lie d’amitié avec Eto et Sakai qui aiment jouer à chat perché sur les hauteurs. Elle admire leur insouciance mais les incite tout de même à penser à leur avenir… Cette histoire a été pré-publié dans Manga Action (Septembre 2008) et constitue la première apparition (sous des noms différents) des personnages de sa série Onsa no Hibiki. stars-3-0

Dans “Lace tes chaussures! Épisode hivernal” (靴ひもを結べ!・冬 / Kutsu himo o musube! Fuyu, 24 pages), Kô Mizuura (qui que n’a que quatre orteilles aux pieds) vit à l’orphelinat “La maison de Hibikigaoka” avec Satomi, Daisuke, et Takashi. Il a un petit boulot de distributeur de journaux mais n’aime pas le faire en hiver car il a froid au pieds. Il est amateur de chaussures et admire les bottes d’une serveuse de café mais ne croit pas pouvoir se les payer. Pré-publié dans Gekkan Comic Beam (septembre 2015). stars-3-0

Dans “On the frontier” (辺境で / Henkyō de, 42 pages), des hommes travaillent dure à la construction d’un chemin de fer dans un pays désertique mais froid qui n’est pas nommé (possiblement en Amérique du Sud?). Il s’agit d’une dictature où la guérilla fait rage. Les accidents de construction ne sont pas rares et souvent ils sont mortels. Un jeune se joint à l’équipe. C’est en fait un journaliste incognito mais il est découvert et exécuté… Toutefois, le contre-maître voit à le venger. Pré-publié dans Big Comic Spirits Casual (mai 2007) et lauréat du 59e prix Shinjin Komikku Taishô de Shōgakukan (débutant, catégorie seinen). J’aime bien. stars-3-5

Dans “”Laisse-moi” (ほっとけ / Hottoke, 16 pages), Mako s’inquiète pour Junki qui est dehors tard le soir à jouer seul car ses parents travaillent et ne sont jamais là. Elle s’inquiète aussi pour Eto que personne n’a vue depuis plusieurs jours. Elle trouve une excuse pour passer voir Junki, pensant qu’il s’ennui mais il s’amuse dans son imaginaire… Dans “Cerisier” (さくら / Sakura, 11 pages), des policiers visionnent une video où un jeune garçon se fait battre par un sadique. S’agit-il d’Eto? Dans “La pierre d’Union Soviétique” (ソ連の石 / Soren no ishi, 27 pages), Mako croise Eto dans le train. Il est plus sale et défraîchi qu’à l’habitude. Ils parlent de leur avenir. Eto lui remet une pierre qu’il dit avoir trouvé en Union Soviétique où il serait allé plusieurs fois comme passager clandestin. Il veut voyager autour du monde et découvrir les merveilles qui se font à l’étranger. Elle boude car elle ne veut pas qu’il reparte sans lui dire à elle et à Junki. Ces trois récits ont été publié à compte d’auteur (doujinshi?) dans le recueil Récits qui ont débordé puis sombré (あふれてしずんだお話たち / Afurete shizunda ohanashi-tachi, publié en décembre 2014 chez l’éditeur クリーク・アンド・リバー社 / Kurīku Ando ribā-sha / lit. “Ruisseau et rivière”). Le second est pratiquement incompréhensible et le plus intéressant du lot est le troisième. stars-2-5

Dans “Sans titre” (No Title, 40 pages), un gamin qui aime se balader sur les trains clandestinement et dit vouloir faire le tour du monde sans payer (Eto?) passe du temps avec les cheminots. Le vieux Duka lui montre les rudiment du métier. Mais celui est mis à la retraite et met fin à ses jours. Le jeune continue à se tenir avec le cheminots et McLintock s’occupe de lui un peu. C’est une histoire que Izu a créée avant de devenir mangaka. stars-3-0

Le style graphique de Tôru Izu, qui me semble influencé par celui de Leiji Matsumoto, est assez uniforme tout au long du volume. Par contre, les différentes histoires courtes sont de qualité et d’intérêt assez variable. Dans l’ensemble, le récit manque parfois de fluidité à un point où, dans certaine occasions, on se demande un peu ce qui se passe dans l’histoire. On the frontier demeure une bonne lecture et j’aimerais bien voir la traduction d’autres titres de cet auteur (comme Onsa no Hibiki, dont plusieurs histoires de ce livre semblent être la genèse, ou Juuza no Uruna qui a déjà été traduit en espagnol). La collection “Made In” de Kana semble offrir de nombreux auteurs peu connus mais intéressants et qui méritent probablement un coup d’oeil…

On the frontier : Recueil d’histoires courtes, par Tôru Izu (traduction par Pascale Simon). Bruxelles: Kana (Coll. Made In), mars 2018. 240 p., 14.8 x 21.0 cm, 15,00 € / $C 26.95. ISBN 978-2-5050-6981-2. Manga seinen pour public jeune adulte (14+). Un extrait est disponible sur le site de l’éditeur. Aussi disponible en format électronique sur iTunes. (Voir couverture arrière) stars-3-0

Pour en savoir plus vous pouvez consulter les sites suivants:

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© 2016 IZU Toru. All rights reserved. Édition française © Kana (Dargaud-Lombard s.a.) 2018.

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Victoria S03

VictoriaS03What first interested me into this series was the fact that Jenna Coleman (one of the best Doctor Who companions) had the starring role. But, of course, it was also a very good British historical TV drama, so that was plenty of reasons to follow it. 

In season 3, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are now older (close to their 30s) and have already six children. This time the story is less political (although it covers the machinations of the foreign secretary, Lord Palmerston, and the monarchy being threaten by anarchists, the revolutionary wind from France or the Chartists) and is more centred around the family. The couple struggles as they become disenchanted with each other, bringing the various type of emotions that any couple would experienced with time, but having their differences being fanned by the plotting of Victoria’s estranged sister, Feodora. Albert exhaust himself trying to find his own place (with pet projects like being the Chancellor of Cambridge or organizing the Great Exhibition). They try to give the unruly Bertie (the future king Edward VII) a proper education.

When it comes to the personal life of monarchs I am not sure if this story is truly historical — it is probably mostly dramatized — but it is quite interesting. It was well received (rating of 8.2 on IMDb as well as an average tomatometer of 84% for the whole series and an audience score of 81% for Season 3 on Rotten Tomatoes) and is well worth watching. stars-3-5

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