Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tarka the Otter

China Miéville finds "an indispensible dissident paradigm for literary canonisation" in a novel from 1946:

“Not all,” Ferris said; “one or two are pinchbeck stuff compared with the rest; but most of them, I believe, are not only this rare sort of book, but first rate as literature.” He ran his fingers slowly along the backs of the books. “Listen to these: Hazlitt’s Liber Amoris; Beckford’s Vathek; the Grossmiths’ Diary of a Nobody; Last and First Men, by Olaf Stapledon; Trelawny’s Adventures of a Younger Son; Canton’s The Invisible Playmate; Baron Corvo’s Hadrian the Seventh; Barbellion’sJournal of a Disappointed Man; Daisy Ashford’s The Young Visiters; Bram Stoker’s Dracula; Margaret Irwin’s Still She Wished for Company; Helen Beauclerc’s Love of the Foolish Angel; Donn Byrne’sMesser Marco Polo; Ollivant’s Owd Bob; Lamb’s Rosamund Gray; Paltock’s Peter Wilkins; Melville’s Moby Dick; Williamson’s Tarka the Otter; and Grahame’s The Golden Age. That’s the tally so far, and I’ve been nearly twenty years making it. That averages one a year. But I’ve gone years without finding one. Of course it’s a purely personal choice. It entails a lot of reading. But then I do a lot.”

(Also, nice use of the word "pinchbeck.")

(Via L.G. Thos.)

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