The Essex Street Water Gate, London WC2

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He crossed the road and went into the darkness towards the little steps under the archway leading into Essex Street, and I let him go. And that was the last I ever saw of him.

The Diamond Maker (1894) by HG Wells

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Old and New London – Its History, Its People and Its Places (1878).

London’s water gates date from the time before the building of the embankment and the road on the north side of the river, when the tidal wash reached a lot closer to the buildings (and former palaces) that follow The Strand and Fleet Street. The gate in Essex Street dates back to t0 1676, and was used for a time as an emblem by Methuen publishers when they had their premises here.

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A plate from The Romance of London by Alan Ivimey (1931).

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Methuen imprint (1931).

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An etching by Edgar Holloway (1934).

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Methuen imprint (1948).

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The Water Gate as it was on the afternoon of 18th May, 2006.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The etching and engraving archive

Erotic flicks

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From Homo Sum by Konrad Helbig.

For once, a decent and restrained use of Flash. The books of erotic photography for sale from www.6×6.com can be browsed via simple animations that turn the pages of the book. A gimmick but it makes a change from clicking through another load of gallery thumbnails. Their site is divided into Blue, for pictures of men, and Pink for pictures of women. Some nice desktop downloads as well.

Here Comes Everybody

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The Guardian‘s archive feature today has their original review of Finnegans Wake by James Joyce.

Who, it may be asked, was Finnegan?

Friday May 12, 1939

Mr Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, (Faber, 25s), parts of which have been published as “Work in Progress” does not admit of review. In twenty years’ time, with sufficient study and with the aid of the commentary that will doubtless arise, one might be ready for an attempt to appraise it.

The work is not written in English, or in any other language, as language is commonly known. I can detect words made up out of some eight or nine languages, but this must be only a part of the equipment employed. This polyglot element is only a minor difficulty, for Mr Joyce is using language in a new way: “Margaritomancy! Hyacinthous pervinciveness! Flowers. A cloud. But Bruto and Cassio are ware only of trifid tongues the whispered wilfulness (’tis demonal!) and shadows shadows multiplicating.”

The easiest way to deal with the book would be to become “clever” and satirical or to write off Mr Joyce’s latest volume as the work of a charlatan. But the author of Dubliners, A Portrait of an Artist and Ulysses is obviously not a charlatan, but an artist of very considerable proportions. I prefer to suspend judgement. What he is attempting, I imagine, is to employ language as a new medium, breaking down all grammatical usages, all time space values, all ordinary conceptions of context. Compared with this, Ulysses is a first-form primer.

What, it may be asked, is the book about? That, I imagine, is a question which Mr Joyce would not admit. This book is nothing apart from its form, and one might as easily describe in words the theme of a Beethoven symphony.

The clearest object in time in the book is the Liffey, Anna Livia, Dublin’s legendary stream, and the most continuous character is HC Earwicker, “Here Comes Everybody”: the Liffey as the moment in time and space, and everything, everybody, all time as the terms of reference, back to Adam or Humpty Dumpty, but never away from Dublin.

This seems the suggestion of the musical half-sentence with which the work begins: “Riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.”

Who, it may be asked, was Finnegan? But I gather that there is an Irish story of a contractor who fell and was stretched out for dead. When his friends toasted him he rose at the word “whiskey” and drank with them. In a book where all is considered, this legend, too, has its relevance.

B Ifor Evans

The Absolute Elsewhere

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I’ve had the late RT Gault’s extraordinary web achive linked on my main site for years but thought it was worth giving it another plug here. The title of his site, The Absolute Elsewhere, comes from the equally extraordinary Pauwels and Bergier book, The Morning of the Magicians, a unique concoction of fact, fiction and speculation that runs through alchemy, potential developments in human evolution, Forteana, Arthur Machen and Nazi mysticism, among a host of topics. This was the book that launched a thousand lesser crank volumes in the 1970s and also had a surreptitious influence on works as diverse as Shea and Wilson’s Illuminatus! trilogy and David Bowie’s Hunky Dory album.

Gault described his site thus:

This is a bibliography of visionary, occult, new age, fringe science, strange and even crackpot works published between 1945 and 1988. Added to the mix are some other works which may relate to them, or at least give a sense of the spirit of the times. The main emphasis is upon works produced between 1960 and 1980, as the subtitle suggests.

and it’s his wonderful collection of paperback covers that’s the chief delight here. One can wish for the scans to be slightly higher quality and for the collection to be more extensive but what’s there is well worth a look, if only to see how lurid paperback styles evolve over the course of a couple of decades.

The web is an increasingly valuable repository for people with collections like this. Some of Mr Gault’s other pages seem to have gone offline but his Arthur Machen pages are still there with a nice gallery of rare editions. Other favourite archive sites would include the Violet Books galleries, the Vintage Paperbacks site, and the hilariously silly Gay on the Range, which I’ve mentioned before.

Update: Following Gault’s death the site has been deleted so I’ve updated the links to the Wayback Machine’s archive. There’s also a mirror of the site here.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The book covers archive