Monday, October 1, 2012

Vanillo Gonzales

Another old book — and, as always,
the inhaling, and the quickening of the pulse.

“Doctor, is there hope for him?”

“Little, alas, as he heeds not my art at all.”

The turning of pages untrimmed,
unopened, unread.

“What course would you prescribe?”

“Stringent diet; painful exercise; subservience; a well-paid bill.”

“And should that fail?”

“We’ll see him at his funeral.”

(Such a novel exposition — as if they were not here willy-nilly, created on a whim.)

The History of Vanillo Gonzales,
Surnamed the Merry Bachelor

(Estevanille Gonzalez, 1732)

London : J.C. Nimmo and Bain

Only 100 Copies of this Edition on laid paper, medium 8vo,
with proof Etchings on Whatham paper, have been printed,
and are numbered consecutively as issued. No 69.


-K- said...

So interesting in so many ways.

How many novels were published in 1732? Wasn't it a relatively new art form at that time?

"The Merry Bachelor" - a euphemism perhaps?

And the advice of "...subservience..." catches me most of all. Surrending one's will to something greater is suggested by a lot of different spiritual and psychiatric organizations I believe. And it does seem to at least temporairly displace the ego which can be kind of refreshing.

William Michaelian said...

Kevin, I’m not sure my silliness deserves such an insightful reading, although I suppose I did mean it as some sort of commentary. Does subservience displace the ego? Or does it merely encourage taking the long way around, thus strengthening its muscles? Again, I don’t know. Maybe the good doctor Rabelais was right when he laughed and said, “Drink.”

L.W.Roth, said...

Not much has changed since 1772 except the books.I remember such beautiful books, hand sewn bindings, leather covers, deckle edged pages of beautiful, tactile paper. I was a child, but I recognized the look and feel of quality. Paperbacks are trash. Hardcovers fall apart. Kindles are harmful to your health.

William Michaelian said...

A few months back, Linda, I mentioned the possibility that in bringing home so many old books, I was really recreating the Carnegie library in my hometown, where I spent so much time as a kid. For me, the paper, the binding, the touch, and the smell are essential to the reading experience. The Kindle — well, I don’t know what to say about it, except that it’s not for me. For that matter, I don’t even have a cell phone. As a side note, I do have many paperbacks from the Forties, Fifties, and Sixties that have aged quite well, some of which are heavier than today’s hardcover editions. They’re like miniature bricks and thoughtfully designed. Fast-forward to the present century, and using my novel A Listening Thing as an example (there are many others, Kevin’s photography book East of West LA being one), it’s still possible to honor content in a durable perfect-bound format. Do I prefer the old hardcovers? You bet — just as I prefer furniture made of real wood, clothing of real fiber, and old chrome bumpers. Oh — and I just remembered: I have some books in paper covers that were printed in the 1820s — also untrimmed, unopened, and unread. You can see them here. And so ends my rather long-winded reply.