Peter Grogan Archives - Rare Book Insider
last 7 days
last 30 days
older than 30 days

Peter Grogan


Two manuscript `quarry’ notebooks for “The Avignon Quintet” and a manuscript preface

DURRELL, LAWRENCE From his earliest days as a writer, Durrell kept what he referred to as "quarry" notebooks in which he jotted down passages of text, poems, ideas about other writers, theories and much else besides. He would later mine the notebooks for material to use in the composition of his work. The earlier notebook (78pp.) contains a large amount of material re-worked for use in the novels comprising "The Avignon Quintet", most notably for Constance, but also for Sebastian and Quinx, e.g. a draft of the famous "To have opinions or preferences is to be ill" passage in the first-mentioned. There is also some material that found its way into the humorous "Antrobus" books. The later notebook (42pp.) also covers more general subjects, from the weightiest - e.g. Durrell's endless obsessions with Freud and Darwin, sex and the ancient Greeks - to the lightest, e.g. the translation of restaurant menus into English on the island of Corfu. Both notebooks written mostly in English but with a fair amount of French and occasional words in Greek. The Ms. preface: seven pp. (approximately 800 words) entitled: "First Rough for Preface to History of Buddhism published for and by Kagu[sic] Ling 1987". Apparently unused for that purpose but published, much revised, as the "overture" to a volume of essays on Durrell's fiction: On Miracle Ground (ed. Michael H. Begnal, Associated University Presses 1990). "Durrell's `quarry' notebooks provide remarkable materials for investigators of the creative process." (Shelley Cox.) Later presentation labels from Durrell to his last companion Fran‡oise Kestsman, dated 1987. Some light browning to cheap paper of the earlier notebook but all in excellent condition.

Bronze of James Joyce’s Death Mask

JOYCE, JAMES Newly cast by Lunts of Birmingham. The stone plinth is inscribed "JAMES JOYCE 1882-1941". In fine condition. In the early hours of January 13, 1941 James Joyce died in a Swiss hospital. His wife Nora, son Giorgio, and friend Carola Giedion-Welcker rushed to his bedside, but arrived moments too late. Perhaps as a means of assuaging their grief, Giedion-Welcker suggested to Nora Joyce that a death mask be made of her husband. Nora consented and the sculptor Paul Speck was commissioned by Giedion-Welker. Speck made two plaster negatives of Joyce's visage either later in the day on the 13th or the following day. Joyce was buried on January 15, 1941. Both original plaster masks were presented by Speck to Giedion-Welker, who retained the pair until the late 1950s. A third plaster mask by Speck, however, was made contemporaneously and quite possibly without Nora's or Giedion-Welcker's knowledge. It remains unknown whether Speck, in fact, made three negatives from Joyce or if he used one of the originals as a mould to produce a third. What is certain is that Edmund Brauchbar, a Swiss and one-time pupil of Joyce's in Zurich, acquired a plaster death mask and arranged for his son, Rudolph, to ship the item to the United States in January 1942. Paperwork required to facilitate the shipment indicates that Paul Speck produced the mask and that it was valued at 300 Swiss francs. Brauchbar, who was living in Forest Hills, New York at the time, subsequently gifted the mask to the United States Library of Congress on April 19, 1946, where it resides today. The next chapter in the story of Joyce's death mask becomes somewhat convoluted. Up to six additional plaster masks were apparently made by Swiss sculptor Victor Dallo under the direction of Paul Speck. When these castings were made is unknown, but it is reasonable to suggest that they were completed in the early to mid-1950s. These six plaster masks are identical to Speck's original. The present location of four of these masks can be identified: Zentralbibliotheck Zurich, University of Lausanne, University of Basle, and a private collector in Dublin, Ireland. This last example traces its provenance back to 1958 when Carola Giedion-Welcker gifted one of her two original masks (the second was donated to the The International James Joyce Center in Zurich in 1985) and a later plaster, presumably one of the six, to Michael Scott, an Irish architect who established the James Joyce Tower at Sandycove. In the late 1950s or early 1960s, Scott used his original mask as a mould to produce seven bronze masks, none of which were intended for sale. Scott subsequently gave the later plaster mask to film director John Huston as a token of appreciation for his efforts to establish the museum. Tony Huston acquired the mask from his father in 1972 when the Huston family home in Ireland was sold. The mask was subsequently on loan, and on display, at the Rosenbach Foundation in Philadelphia and traded hands again in 2000 and now is owned in the hands of a private collector. In the same year, this mask was used to produce an edition of nine numbered bronzes commissioned by Gekoski Booksellers of London and cast at the Birmingham Bronze Foundry with a plinth, of Kilkenny granite, carved by Belinda Eade with the inscription "JAMES JOYCE 1882-1941". In 2017 one of these was used by Lunt's Castings of Birmingham to produce a further 12 un-numbered bronzes. Thus, the two original death masks multiplied into nine plaster casts and a total of 28 bronzes. Exactly how and when every chapter of the story unfolded will in all likelihood remain a mystery but the survival of the masks preserves this twisted tale as well as the final visage of the greatest author of the twentieth century.