A Natural History Investigation Update

Here’s a quick follow up on my research to identify one of my old books…

My first attempt to get Bernard BARR’s book about William Milner failed because the Montreal libraries have a policy not to get an Inter-Library Loan (PEB) if it will incur a fee for the borrower. Actually, I wouldn’t have minded but I’ll check if the National Library (BANQ) has a similar policy. The last resort would be to travel to NYC where the NYPL has a copy… Or I could get a copy through Google books or Amazon… Although, it doesn’t seem available… We’ll see…

In the meantime, I dug deeper into WorldCat and found possible candidates for my book.

The first candidate could be: Georges Louis Leclerc BUFFON, comte de. Natural History (containing a full and accurate description of the animated beings in nature : illustrated with upwards of three hundred engravings of birds, beasts, fishes, reptiles, insects, etc.). Milner & Co., [188-?], 224 pages. Interesting description of the binding (red cloth over boards stamped with black ink, gilt title on top board, gilt spine ornaments) but it’s too recent and there’s not enough pages to be my book…

The second candidate looks more interesting: Richard COPE & Thomas BEWICK, Natural History (or a description of the earth and of animated nature, compiled from the works of Buffon, Goldsmith, Cuvier, Shaw, Vaillant, Humboldt, Audubon, &c.). Milner & Co., [1860]. It was first published in 1840 and has 730 pages, its size is 23 cm and includes 425 engravings [by or after T. Bewick]. I could compare my book with it since the Université de Montreal has a copy (but is it available to the public? And it doesn’t say which specific library…). There’s another edition of 1846 (but the size is 27 cm) again with a copy at the UdeM. Among the numerous editions (many seems to be microform copies) of the same book, the oldest seems to date from 1842. One specifically says “by William Milner, Cheapside, 1846” (with also a copy at the UdeM!). Too bad there are no pictures. 

The Cheapside 1846 edition seems the best option, so I’ll first see if I can get it through Inter-Library Loan (despite the age of the book). If not, I’ll go to the UdeM to investigate further… 

To be continued…

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Je suis un chat

Je-suis-un-chat“Le célèbre roman de Sôseki devient un manga. Célèbre et désopilant. Vue par l’œil ironique d’un chat doté de remarquables talents d’observation et d’analyse, voici la vie d’un professeur d’anglais et de son entourage au début du vingtième siècle, lorsque le Japon est secoué par l’essor des valeurs mercantiles venues d’Occident.

Le professeur Kushami, double de l’auteur, sa famille, ses visiteurs, l’étudiant amoureux, le tireur de pousse-pousse, le riche industriel, la maîtresse de koto, sans oublier les chats, l’univers fantaisiste et débridé du roman est parfaitement restitué, avec toute sa richesse et sa profondeur.”

(D’après le site de l’éditeur; voir aussi la couverture arrière)

Je suis un chat (吾輩は猫である / Wagahai wa, neko de aru / lit. “Moi qui suis un chat”) est l’adaptation en manga d’un classique de la littérature japonaise par le romancier Sôseki. Le roman avait d’abord été publié en feuilletons dans la revue littéraire Hototogisu entre 1905 et 1906. 

9782809711905_pgKushami est professeur de littérature anglaise à l’ère Meiji et tout un monde orbite autour de lui: ses étudiants (Meitei, Kangetsu), ses amis, sa famille, ses voisins. Le témoin de cette vie quotidienne est un chat sans nom, qui prends ici la place d’un narrateur omniscient. Il s’agit d’un récit satirique, qui parodie la classe moyenne japonaise ayant adopté tant bien que mal les coutumes de l’occident et qui se prends des airs arrogants. Une bonne partie de l’intrigue se déroule autour des spéculations sur le possible marriage de Kangetsu avec Tomiko, la fille des Kaneda — un riche marchand. Malheureusement, l’histoire finit mal pour le chat…

Le récit est très amusant et assez proche de l’oeuvre originale. Par contre, le style graphique est plutôt décevant: il est très simple (épuré, voir primitif) mais il fait tout de même le travail et illustre bien le récit. C’est une excellente façon de faire connaître cet oeuvre de Natsume Sōseki — dont le personnage est un peu l’alter ego de Sōseki qui était lui aussi professeur de littérature anglaise.

Je suis un chat, par Cobato Tirol (Traduction par Patrick Honnoré). Arles: Éditions Philippe Picquier, août 2016. 208 pages, 14,50€ / C$ 26.95, ISBN-13 : 978-2-8097-1190-5. Pour lectorat de tout âge. stars-3-0

Pour en savoir plus vous pouvez consulter les sites suivants:

[ AmazonBiblioGoodreadsGoogleWikipediaWorldCat ]

© Tirol Cobato / Home She, 2010. © Éditions Philippe Picquier 2016 pour la traduction française.

A noter que l’on retrouve d’autre mangas aux Éditions Philippe Picquier:

Miss Hokusai Tome 1, par SUGIURA Hinako.
Dix Nuits Dix Rêves, par KONDÔ Yôko (D’après le roman de Sôseki).
La porte,  par INOUE Daisuke (d’après le roman de Sôseki).

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Capsules

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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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

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

[ GoogleIMDbPBSWikipediaYoutube ]

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Capsules

They Shall Not Grow Old

91lwssevehl._sl1500_That movie has been hyped so much that when I finally got to see it I was rather disappointed. It is not really a documentary as the picture are shown as it is without any context (places, dates or names). It is just footage of the First World War (the war to end all wars they said, but it ended up being the most useless, senseless war of all time) with voiceover by survivors who describe their experience. Not all footage has been restored, retimed and colourized — but most of it. And I am wondering when those testimonies were recorded — as the voice sounded like old men and the recording seems of pretty good quality, so it must have been done at a time when they already had good equipment, although the sound had probably been restored the same way the pictures were. Both the original footage and the audio recording of the British soldiers come from the archives of the Imperial War Museum and the BBC.

All in all, the movie is still pretty interesting as it give us the chance to witness the Great War in colour, as it was experienced by the men who fought it. It gives a really good impression of what it must have felt like. The war is not an impersonal historical event anymore as we get closer to the soldiers. It is a fit tribute for the 100th anniversary of the end of the war. I was expecting more visually, but Peter Jackson’s team did a really good work (it’s a great technological feat to gather, edit and restore all this footage) and it is therefore a must-see movie. Through this those young men will indeed never grow old and hopefully such horror will never be repeated.

The movie was shown on the BBC and is already available on Blu-ray & DVD in U.K.. It was shown in theatre for one day in North America and hopefully will be picked up for broadcast (Netflix? Amazon?) and released in DVD/Blu-ray soon. The critical response was very positive (8.6 on IMDb and 98% on Rotten Tomatoes). stars-3-0

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

[ AmazonGoogleIMDbWikipediaYoutube ]

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Capsules

Mrs Wilson

mrswilsonThis three-part historical drama is set in Britain during and after WW2 (in the ‘50s & ’60s). When her husband dies, in the early sixties, Alison Wilson is already distraught. They lived comfortably in their little cottage. She’s a typist and Alexander is a spy novelists (and retired MI6 officer). They have two sons, Gordon and Nigel, and they were happy. However, as she tries to come around organizing her husband funerals, she receives the visit of a woman, Mrs Gladys Wilson, who claim to be Alec’s widow! Her happy world quickly crumbles as she struggles with one question: was her husband really the man he claimed to be? Was it just a lie? 

She knew Alex/Alec was a spy because they met at the Secret Intelligence Service headquarters where they were both working during the war. She starts her own investigation, questioning Alex’s handler at MI6, some colleagues in the Intelligence Service, Gladys’ son. She becomes obsessed with this quest to discover who the man she thought she knew for twenty-two years really was. The deeper she digs in his past the more secrets she discovers! Through flashbacks, she relives their history together until she understands who he really was. When she comes to term with the truth, she becomes a nun, but she never could tell her sons about their father until after she died—she had written everything down. 

It is a beautiful and compelling story told in the manner of a spy or mystery novel. The most interesting part is that it is a true story — and the cool twist is that Alison Wilson is played by actress Ruth Wilson, he own grand-daughter! Alexander ‘Alec’ Wilson wrote twenty-four novels, mostly inspired by his career in the secret service and his huge imagination. He was a bigamist who had seven children with several wives. Many aspects of his life are still a mystery as, even today, the Foreign Office still consider his files as ‘sensitive’.

Mrs Wilson is a very interesting historical drama, beautifully filmed and cleverly told. I enjoyed it greatly and recommend it warmly. It was well received by the critics (with rating of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.4 on IMDb). It aired on BBC One in late November / early December and will premieres on PBS Masterpiece Sunday, March 31, 2019, 9/8c (and will subsequently be available on Dvd, iTunes Store and Prime Video). Don’t miss it! stars-3-5

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

[ GoogleIMDbWikipediaYoutube ]

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Capsules

 

Notable News (w42-w53)

It has been a little more than two months since the last entry of our journal. The weather has been relatively gray, since we’ve had very little snow so far, as it was—more often than not—rain and freezing rain, and lots of ups and downs in the temperature. The most notable events on the domestic front included a strange saga over the video of a panel at the book fair, where I also attended the launch of Solaris #208 and did a capsule interview with Catherine Sylvestre. We had again a problem of flicker in our electricity (strangely only on one side of the house), so bad that one night I thought my apartment had become a disco! Finally, we found the source of the problem (old wirings) and hired an electrician for a temporary fix but we will have to change the electrical entry in spring.

Somehow my sister’s cats managed to start the shower while she was on vacation. It lasted about twenty minutes before we realized that water was dripping from my bathroom’s ceiling. Luckily this small flood was relatively contained but we had to mopped the floor for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. The damage is limited but we will have to redo our bathroom’s ceiling…

The work-place was not too much a strain on my mental health, beside the continuing problem with the ventilation and heating system (strangely when this happens at another library of the borough they close immediately while we have to endure and work in very unpleasant conditions—that’s so unfair!) and some dubious decision on age classification of some mangas (Bride Stories, Nausicaa & Mafalda for kids! Are you joking?)!

readings2018Apple announced new Macs and iPads. We attended the vegan fest again, visited the Book of Hours and the Calder exhibits. I reached my reading goal for the year (fifty books! But, as usual, it was mostly comics and mangas). This allowed my to comment on  a few books (C Comme Cthulhu, Le Chat du Rabbin 8, Isabella Bird 3, Nous rêvions de robots, Pline 6, Ross Poldark, and a book about the New Yorker’s cartoons). I also wrote about the works (bande dessinée) of Philippe Gauckler: Convoi, Prince Lao and Koralovski. Unfortunately, I still watch too much TV and movies (A place to call home season 6, Mars season 2, Murder on the Orient Express, Outlaw KingPicnic at Hanging RockRBG, Solo, Transformer: The Last Knight, Traverlers season 3). Finally, I took some time to reminisce about the fanzine era and the old Protoculture days.

2018blogstatsI just completed my first year with WordPress.com so I don’t have much basis to compare this year’s statistics (although I remember that with Internic’s hosting I had ten times more traffic so either they were calculating it differently or I lost some followers in the switch or WordPress is not promoting the traffic as well). There is also a slight difference between WordPress’ and StatCounter’s numbers. Anyway, in 2018 I posted 319 entries (a 16% increase), acquired 68 followers and received (if we round up a little) an average of a thousand views per month or 350 visitors per month (about 135 returning visitors per month). It is not as much as I would I’ve liked but it is a beginning. The most important is that it keeps increasing from month to month. I’ll keep improving the blog and (hopefully) writing more so it will be at its best when I retire and make it my main occupation (in about 3064 days!). 

doonesbury-20181021

Doonesbury (2018/10/21)

On the world stage, the months of November and December had their lots of typhoon, floods, wildfires, tsunami, and violent protests in France, but it is mainly the U.S. Mid-term elections that retained the attention. In reaction to Trump’s insane White House, people went to the ballot with numbers not seen in nearly a century allowing the Democrats to retake the House by electing many young candidates, including several women (95), members of racial minorities (two Muslim and two Native Americans) or of the LGBT! Space exploration was also in the news as we landed another probe on Mars, explored more asteroids and mini-planets, and China landed a probe on the far-side of the moon.

All in all, 2018 was a very challenging year for everyone, so let’s hope that 2019 will be much better.

Through all this I tried to stay acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered a few notable news & links — which I now share with you (in both french or english, slightly categorized, but in no particular order — note that, to save on coding time, the links will NOT open in a new window as usual), after the jump.

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