It Goes On The Shelf

No.5 November 1988

Published at The Sign of the Purple Mouth by Ned Brooks
4817 Dean Lane, Lilburn GA 30047-4720
Website -

Cover art and interiors by Alexis Gilliland
and art for the Arthur Machen essay by Mary McCarthy

Fandom is something that comes in the mail

From Harry Warner Jr -
It Goes On The Shelf
was a pleasure to read, light enough in weight for my ancient muscles to hold and few enough in pages to match my senile attention span. Besides, it's a good sample of the delights which I hope to find in SFPA if I survive long enough to reach the top of the waiting list and then dive into the membership roster from that eminence. (Hang in there Harry, I see you are 9th on the list in the current mailing!)

The Machen article hit home. I must be fandom's champion worrier, and I might even rank high in the nation's ranks of mundane worriers. A long time ago, an oldtime fan named Paul Spencer thought I'd reached the ultimate in worrying achievements when I confided to him how worried I was: I felt awful, I took my temperature and found it normal, and I feared this meant my body had lost the ability to create the fever needed to fight a serious infection of some kind. However, I do believe I've topped that worrying record the past few Christmas seasons. One of my favorite songs contains a line which in effect says the singer is wishing a Merry Christmas to all kids from the age of one to ninety-two. I have it on several records, sung by different artists, and I always play those records before Christmas. So now I've started to worry: suppose I imitate my grandmother and live until be almost 100 years old? When I have my 93rd birthday, I'll play those records and I'll mourn the fact that those singers no longer include me in their Christmas wishes. (You'll probably also have outlived some of those singers!)

Maybe Bob Bloch is the last unreconstructed opponent of zip codes, if he uses the old postal zone system on his return address. I'm not sure if you were in fandom when zip codes were introduced and a lot of fans swore eternal enmity to them, considering zip codes useless red tape and regimentation. (Zip codes seem to have appeared in fandom just about the time I did - but don't blame them on me! My first con was the l962 Philcon, and the first OED reference is the NYTimes in 1963 saying they would be just for business mail at first.)

Hold Your Tongue must be somewhat outdated by the Supreme Court decision that makes it possible to write or say almost anything nasty about public figures with comparatively little risk of getting charged with slander or libel. Sometimes I wonder if anyone in the science fiction world is well enough known to the general public to suffer loss of the law's protection against most types of slander and libel. Probably not; I believe the Supreme Court decision affected mostly politicians and related races. (Oh, surely Harlan Ellison and Stephen King...)

Thanks for the IGOTS and naturally I hope you have very pleasant holidays and an equally nice new year.

From Dave Hall -
Well I gots nuthin to report, cept to say I hope you have a Merry Christmas also I gots your fanzine. ("sic", as they say - do you suppose he actually talks that way? We have corresponded, for years, but have never met.)

I like the art work as you could probly guess. I don't know if you realized this but those are dinosaurs. Obviously Sheryl Birkhead knows her dinosaurs, too. I thought when I first saw the cover that someone might have fantasized that and not realized it was just like a pachycephalosaur (Stegoceras, to be exact) but the interior ones are right cunning little parodies of duckbills so I can see she is doing it deliberately. Almost makes me want to talk to her about doing some illos for that dino comic book I have always been plotting. Well maybe we can kick that around sometime after New Year's... {Ghad, I probably should have sent Sheryl a copy of this right away instead of publishing it a year later. And she's a veterinarian too - do you suppose she has a time machine and these were done from life?} Jes finished another terrible quarter of school and am going to California the end of the week, as usual. I don't think "deinstitutionalizing" is half as enlightened as the medieval style, by the way. We are really getting a headache up here from asshole shopkeepers who think all the crazies roaming the streets are scaring people away from their business - the economy in the shape it is in, and they blame it on the "deinstitutionalized" I am afraid the situation is going to end up much worse, cuz the crazies are out there because the mental hospitals in other states can't afford to keep them any more and no one is prepared to face the consequences of the folly of the Bos. Well, bitch bitch bitch, but it is a very stupid situation if you ask me. (Yes, and they could all be cared for quite nicely for the cost of a few of those useless comic-book weapon systems that the government is so fond of spending our tax dollars on.)

From Avram Davidson -
Thank you for igots and for anything else which you have sent me and for which I may or may not have thanked you. I am no "grad student in English" but I say absoutely that Milton never wrote the words on the last page of igots; Coleridge, maybe. Dave Hall continues to do very kind things for me. I dedicate next year, in which I'll be 65, to getting out of this State Veterans Home before I fall flat on my face from the medicines they give me to keep me, in theory, from falling flat on my face. If I don't want to become and remain an irascible zomby I must *LEAVE* - over to you and regards all around... (And you did get out of the Veterans Home too! Happy 65th birthday and many more!)

From Roy Tackett -
Strange and mysterious indeed are the ways of the science-fictional gods. Today I recieved a strange and mysterious piece of mail. It came in an air mail envelope and bore two 44¢ air mail stamps and your return address. It was postmarked Atlanta, Georgia 14 December 1987.

Now you and I know that the airmail category was abolished years ago in this continuum. I can only conclude that some sort of a quantum mechanical glitch transferred this item of mail from a parallel universe not too much, removed from ours into this one in which this particular you and I exist. The contents was issue number four, dated December 1987, of It Goes On The Shelf. This is astounding! (Startling, Thrilling, Unknown, Three-Fisted Tales of Bob!) And, of course, in that other continuum there must be a Roy Tackett who is missing his copy of the fanzine put out by the Ned Brooks over there. I wish I could figure out just how that QM glitch operated. Wouldn't it be interesting to communicate with the you in another universe, comparing notes on similarities and differences?

This fmz bears a great resemblance to the one you put out. There are a number of familiar names in it. There is mention, of course, of Art Scarm and Norm Douglas but who the hell is Robert Anton Wilson? (Who the hell, indeed... Perhaps in that alternate universe New Mexico never joined the Union! If you had stayed in SFPA you would now have the great Scarm epic Werewolf vs The Vampire Woman...) As for Cuthbert on typographical errors - oh, I dunno, Ned If he had known Guinevere he might conclude that "dairy" wasn't all that much of a typographical error... (What an udderly MCP remark... Steve Fabian's depiction of Guinevere au naturel is not at all bovine. (Guinevere and Lancelot by Arthur Machen, Purple Mouth Press, 1987, opposite p.12 - at better bookstores everywhere))

From Margaret Cubberly -
Thanks for sending me IGOTS. I've got my eye on The Pleasure Garden, sounds intriguing. The quote "To travel hopefully..." etc. is by Robert Louis Stevenson who had some experience along that line. Hope your new year is the same for all of us - a change in Wash DC and the end of the era of the Great Constipator. {By the time anyone reads this, we will have elected a new president. Probably that ghastly preppie twit Bush, but he won't have my vote.}

From Dainis Bisenieks -
Got IGOTS today. I'm sure others have pointed out that Beagle's The Folk of the Air had "A Knight of Ghost and Shadows" as a working title and duly quotes the lines. In fact, maybe I did when I wrote you before. {Could be, but not in time for IGOTS 4. I have seen this book, but haven't read it.} My place is becoming in its small way a home for fallen typewriters. Got a Royal Heritage portable at a bazaar for $3, with case (but no key: should be easy to substitute or to make). It's from the same period as the office machine I described: you press the trademark to release the catch and there's cruddy foam plastic on the inside. The clip that lifts the ribbon (someday I must learn the short names of all these parts) had its hinged elements flapping loose; I re-engaged the V-shaped spring that holds them. Betcha that it is a trouble spot on this model. Works fine now except that I get an occasional strikeover if I go too fast. I'm doing this on my reliable old late-40-ish Royal office machine. {I am restraining myself on typers - saw a nice electric portable Adler today and left it. Also last week a $200 (reduced from $450) Barlock 6, it was just too far gone in rust and a ribbon reel missing too. I offered them $50, but no dice. I did break down and buy a Blickensderfer 5 (c.1900) - missing the case and one key-top, but the damn thing actually works, prints script-type so that the letters connect up.} I did, meanwhile, pass on a Remette to a young cousin of Betsy's; it had originally come from a relative, anyway; this keeps it in the family. (The sales staff at Remington had a penchant for cutesy-poo nicknames for their portables - besides the Remette, there is also a Remie Scout.)

From Chester Cuthbert -
Thanks for sending me #4 of It Goes On The Shelf. I am always interested in your comments about books and your mention of important points in letters from your correspondents, and grateful for your publication bf rare Machen material. {This is the fifth and last of the Arthur Machen essays from the old Dalton weekly paper, though I found I had printed them out of order. There is one more piece already typeset in the old computer (these computers are not compatible and won't talk to each other, even though they both talk to the same printer).} Sam Moskowitz visited Winnipeg for a week last May, and I gave him the second copy of your booklet of Machen material for his collection. He tells me that he is having trouble with commencement of cataracts, and his wife has a serious illness which has cost him $20,000 so far, with no end in sight. I do not hear from him often, as he is very busy and must do housekeeping as well as looking after their cats. (Someone in SFPA mentioned seeing Sam, long noted in fandom for his booming voice, on a panel at worldcon and having to use an amplifier device to speak.) I have read none of the books you reviewed in this issue, though I have two of them awaiting attention. I'm bogged down with 200 hardcovers purchased at $1 each as Winnipeg Public Library discards. It baffles me why some of these were tossed out; many are useful for permanent reference. One of them is a Dictionary of Literary pseudonyms. Fortunately, some subjects concerning which I collected books years ago have lost interest for me, so I can discard the books without regret, and am doing so as I come across them. (I know what you mean - what bothers me is the books I find on the shelves here on subjects that never interested me! I just got rid of a box of technical music books and another of books on gardening.) My space for books is now so limited that I trade more than I buy.

From Walt Willis and Vin¢ Clarke -
Vin¢ Clarke has come to visit me again this year, especially to write to you - like some rough beast slouching toward Donaghadee to write a letter of comment. After a year spent in fasting an& meditation - i.e. saving up for the Worldcon and waiting for news from Brighton of our hotel reservations - we are I think just about strong enough to write a letter instead of the usual postcard. However I should tell you that the life form portrayed in the Worldoon Locus photographs as Vin¢ Clarke is really Chuck Harris. Privately, I believe both of them could sue. IGOTS was as interesting as ever. I specially enjoyed the review of The Werewolf vs Vampire Woman. Isn't it a sobering thought that one might write a book so bad that its only distinction is the obloquay (an Irishism?) of its reviews.

For your information, runnels are shallow water channels and screes are slopes of loose stones. (You mean like the beach at Brighton? I heard at NoLaCon that you will have been in Florida for Tropicon in December, wish I could have gotten down there!)

Vin¢ here: I'm not sure that I came here to write a letter - it was more or less to help WAW put the postcard in the printer the right way up and sundry tasks like that (licking the stamp, for instance). However, he's right about the Locus picture. I'm thinking that it's worth at least $20,000 in lost reputation, unauthorised use of name, etc. I shall have to get one of these topflight US lawyers. I hear there's a guy named Perry Mason who's pretty good. (You shall have to send me Chuck Harris' address so he can enjoy all these insults!)

I'm also not sure that I can agree with your new correspondent Arthur Machen about the glamour of sweaty toil - "after a mighty draught of the cold drink, back to the work again..." etc. Of course, after a number of these visits for refreshment it might be "staggering back to work", but on the whole I can see our mighty peasant as lying dying on his simple bed at 48 years old, racked with rheumatism, arthritis and alcoholism.

As part of my long and varied career I once had a job in a coal-yard, unloading the stuff into wagons and subsequently decanting it into sacks, and there were plenty of pangs. Of course, I didn't drink to deaden the pain, either. As I recall it, that was about the time I discovered peanut butter, and I used to take mighty mouthfuls of coal-dust and peanut butter sandwiches, but they didn't deaden anything except possibly the roots of my hair. At least, my hair started to leave me at that time, tho' come to think of it that may have been due to the nightly washings with detergent, which was also a New Thing. (I had no idea that peanut butter was available over there in your younger days, when it would have had to be transported across the Atlantic by sailing ship. When I was young we lived in Chile and had to make our own peanut butter. I cannot remember how we pulverized the peanuts - sledgehammer, explosives, steamroller?)

No, I think AM is taking a typical airy-fairy romantic view; if he thought the peasant's life was so wonderful, why didn't he take off his coat and forget his worries in some jolly backbreaking hard labour? (I suspect that for Machen to become a peasant is even more impossible than for the peasant to become an intellectual - you can't put the genie back in the bottle!)

Of course, you can tell Machen is one of the literati - "mighty draught of the cold drink" indeed! A plain and simple writer like myself would just have put "a big swallow" and then been surprised that our words weren't discussed 56 years later in a fanzine.

The quote on the back page doesn't really ring with 18th century authenticity. A "prudently unregarded adherence to a constructed creed" doesn't sound kosher. Sounds more like Patrick Nielsen Hayden to me. Unfortunately, mine host's library he's taken - the dog for a walk - is like in most fan's homes scattered over every room, nook, cranny and corner of this Victorian mansion and I don't even have a clue as to what room to search for Coleridge.

Aren't they arranged, sez you? Listen, I get up from the armchair and take just one shelf of the bookcase in front of me. The Cruise of the Conrad. Short Stories of H G Wells. Firestarter. Balzac. Larousse Dictionnaire. 6 volumes of Proust. A tape of the Goon Show. Tey's Franchise Affair. Stevenson's Catriona. 2 more volumes of Proust. Crime and Punnishment. Trollope's The Claverings. An unidentified 5" tape... Depressing, ain't it? Here he comes again, glowing and wet from a typical Irish AM... (I met Patrick Nielsen-Hayden in New Orleans at breakfast in the hotel. He had to dash but Teresa N-H and I talked for a while and took snapshots of each other - I'm sure mine looks better than hers!)

Yes, it's me (WAW) again, the dog having dragged me round the block, if you can call a block something that consists largely of unreconstructed countryside. By the way if you see our mutual, or to be pedantic, common {oh, never common} friend Jim Goldfrank tell him that the dog that bit him is dead; and that we are drawing no tendentious inferences from that except that it's safe for him to visit us again. Though perhaps I should admit that at the moment our current dog is an exuberant puppy and any visitor is in peril of being licked to death, a fate no doubt of similar horror to that visited on the victims of the offspring of The Werewolf and the Vampire Woman. (Sorry to hear about your dog. I had breakfast with Goldfrank just last Saturday, he had been visiting family in Virginia Beach and was on his way back to Reston, an artificial suburb of Baghdad-on-the-Potomac.)

Best, and thanks again for IGOTS. Roll on Xmas 1988.

Vin¢ here saying goodbye with a brilliant thought - we could get the puppy (all 50 lb of him) to lick the stamp... at last a use for Man's Best Friend! (I knew there was some reason I should get a dog - just think of the stamps I'll have to lick to get this issue mailed (ptui!).)

From Mark Valentine -
In IGOTS 4, Tom Cockcroft notes that Francis Thompson's poem "Tom O'Bedlam" uses 25 of the first 40 lines of the 16th century poem of the same title, and you wonder whether he acknowledged this source on first publication of his own poem. By coincidence, the other day I bought a copy of The Dome number 5, May Day 1898, which contains what I take to be the first appearance of Thompson's poem. It is prefaced by the note "Written round selected verses - the third and fourth stanzas and the first five lines of the first stanza in the following poem - from the well-known song in Wit and Drollery". This exonerates one of our gentle poets from any suggestion of covert plagiarism! (What Jung called synchronicity, that you should find that magazine in time for the next issue of IGOTS. Thanks!)

Hope all is well with you. I rather wish IGOTS would come out more often, it's such a pleasant and eccentric read. Do you do anything else like it? (Very kind of you to say so! I do very short-run zines for SFPA and Slanapa, but they are not really much like IGOTS, being mostly comments on comments, pointless and incomprehensible in-jokes, etc. Of course some commentary on books does creep in.)

Details overleaf of the latest Caermaen publication, not all Machen this time, but several items by him, and a splendid pastiche by Ron Weighell, based on a fragment in The London Adventure, which some readers have sworn we could have passed off as genuine Machen. (Greatly enjoyed the AKLO! Whether I would have taken the Weighell piece for Machen is impossible to say. It is very good. The preface to Chronicle of Clemendy is good too - the one Machen book I haven't read. Great art by Hunter and Coulthart. Did the AKLO II get out this summer as promised? I try to avoid promising publication! AKLO is £2 (but this was a pre-Summer'88 discount price) from 109 Oak Tree Road, Bitterne Park, Southampton, 502 4PJ, England)

Also news of the Ghost Story Society just founded here in England - please spread the word however you may. (The Society, founded by Mark, Rosemary Pardoe, and Jeff Dempsey, promises a frequent newsletter for devotees of supernatural fiction in the tradition of Arthur Machen, M. R. James, Walter de Ia Mare, Algernon Blackwood, etc. A year's membership for USA residents is $12 - send to Jeff Dempsey, 2 Looe Road, Croxteth, Liverpool, L11 6LJ, England.)

Also heard from were Ray Zorn and probably several others whose letters I neglected to throw in the right box; and Alexis Gilliland, who sent Art, as you can see!

Of making many books there is no end...

It Must Be True/Can It Be True?/All Too True/True To Type - Denys Parsons (MacDonald, London, 1952-55).
I can't resist collections of "True Facts" - that's about all that keeps me subscribing to National Lampoon. These are British, but consist of idiocies from books, magazines, and newspapers from around the world. Most are created by an error of a single letter in a key word. Some are obviously due to malfunctioning linotypes. And then a few are as written from novels, including one by Somerset Maugham, who seems to have had a character knit herself a pair of eyebrows. A few remain mysteries, at least to me - an advertisement from a London paper is quoted: "Do you want a pair of gloves made from your own skin?". These books are in a common format, but are illustrated respectively by Ronald Searle, Anton, Peter Kneebone, and Haro. Searle is the best, of course, though I can't really tell about Anton, as the second volume is missing from the set.
Rating: 83

Sydney Smith - The Smith of Smiths - Ed. by J. L. Carr (Kettering, no date, but apparently contemporary).
This is only one of a series of attractive little booklets published (and, as far as I can tell, designed, edited, and illustrated as well) by Mr. Carr from "27 Mill Dale Road, Kettering". Mary Lewis Chapman at the Book House in Williamsburg says that Kettering is in England and that Mr. Carr is also a novelist.

Sydney Smith was an 18th-century literary wit. The booklet consists of a brief biography interspersed with quotes from Sydney himself, who said, upon founding the Edinburgh Review, "I never read a book before reviewing it; it prejudices a man so" and "There is no furniture as charming as books" - a man after my own heart! These booklets seem to run about 20 pages counting the covers and are very nicely designed and printed on good paper. This one cost me $1.

Rating: 82

Writers of the Future, Vol. IV - Ed. by Algis Budrys (Bridge, Los Angeles, 1988, $4.95).
This latest collection from a publishing arm of old Elron Hubbard's religious empire (I have always felt a sneaky sort of pride that the world's most obviously invented religion was the brainchild of an Sf writer.) has 16 obviously longish stories plus some commentary and art in 425 pages. The standard pb, between its size and poor paper, is not the ideal field for art, but with the able efforts of Kelly Freas they have done somewhat better here than the last one of these I saw - Bridge apparently sends review copies to any faned. Nice illo by van Dongen, one of my favorite artists from back in the 60s, and an odd one by Will Eisner. The Moebius piece is well-suited to the format. Couldn't find a story worth reading.
Rating: 55

Land of Dreams - James P. Blaylock (Ace, NY, 1988, $3.50).
I grabbed this at the last moment in the Huckster Room at the Worldcon in New Orleans so as to have something to read on the train coming home. A very curious novel, with lots of interesting special effects and half-baked theories, but the characters are always a little out of focus and the plot circles endlessly, finally winding up not far from where it started. And yet the writing is good and many of the images quite memorable, much like Blaylock's previous novels The Digging Leviathan and Homunculus which I also liked well enough to finish.
Rating: 85

The Songs of Distant Earth - Arthur C. Clarke (DelRey/Ballantine, NY, 1986, $4.95).
But I got it in a thrift store, so it doesn't bother me as much that I found it unreadable - hard to believe the same author wrote the wonderful Fountains of Paradise. This thing has fairly interesting ideas, but the characters seemed to have escaped from a soap opera.
Rating: 65

Rumors of Spring - Richard Grant (Bantam, NY1 1988, $4.50).
This reminded me very much of the mystical fantasies of John Crowley. I thought it was perhaps a little long for the content. It is illustrated with botanical drawings. My botany is non-existent, I have no idea whether all of these are real plants, though I'm fairly sure that some are. Any brief description of the plot would sound silly, but it is not a silly book.
Rating: 90

Hart's Hope - Orson Scott Card (Tor, NY, 1988, $3.95).
Impressive cover by "Nolan" (made out dimly in a frame edge, there is no credit in the book - and why did they deface it by repeating the number and price from the spine? At least they left the bar-code on the back.) I find it hard to resist a fantasy with a map, and this has two, one of the country and the other of the capital city, Inwit. The city map, especially, is essential to the plot. The maps aren't credited either, perhaps they are by Card himself. Before this, I had read only Card's science fiction, which is rather restrained and analytical. I was amazed and delighted by this pure fantasy, with its stylized language and radical concepts, something all too seldom seen since Dunsany and Eddison. I am still reading his latest novel Wyrms, and though sf, it has something of the same style - an improvement over the "Ender" books, I think.
Rating: 95

The Monster Fly - Charles A. Piddock (PAL/Xerox, Middletown, Ct., 1974, $0.95).
An odd little pb story collection illustrated by Richard D. Maccabe. Subtitled "And Other Stories of the Unreal" and obviously intended for distribution through schools, with no long words and rather large print, it is notable for the utter unrelieved ghastliness of both the text and the art. One might think there was a plot afoot to frighten 6th graders away from ever reading any SF again! The stories were apparently written specifically for this book, there is no credit of previous publication.
Rating: 65

Fiction #233, Mai 1973 - no edtior credited.
This is the May'73 issue of the French version of F&SF. The dreadful and vaguely obscene cover is credited to Moro, and there is no interior art. From the August '66 F&SF they reprint Robert E. Howard's "For The Love Of Barbara Allen", a story based on the old folk song. It was found among his papers after his death. The French magazine repeats some of the information from the blurb, but adds the gratuitous misinformation that Howard was 2 meters (78") tall. On the other hand, they do a fairly good job of translating the verse of the old song used to open the story.
Rating: 66

The Female Pope - Rosemary and Darroll Pardoe (Crucible/Aquarian Press, Wellingborough, England, 1988, £8.95 (about $16)).
I found this in the Huckster Room at Nolacon with some ladies selling occult books, they seemed to have only the one copy. I read it there as well. There is nothing occult about it, but it is an excellent account of the origins and development of the "Pope Joan" legend, with reproductions of art from the oldest sources and extensive references. And in comparison to most books these days, it is almost free of typographical errors (there is a "wee" for "were" in the middle of p.50; and pp.74-75 are over-inked in this copy). The Pardoes are long-time fans, of course, and Rosemary is well-known for her M.R.James scholarship.
Rating: 90

Rerum Britannicarum Medii Aevi Scriptores - Ed. by Luke Owen Pike (His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1906).
I found this rather battered tome in a junk store. The English title is given as "Chronicles and Memorials of Great Britain and Ireland During the Middle Ages", and it is only one of a series of Year Books, This one which concerns itself with events during the 19th year of the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). The introduction indicates that it was printed on orders from the "Master of the Rolls". There is a bookplate from the Wisconsin Historical Society (Founded 1849). Probably stolen from them by some demented genealogist! The official language at the time was French, so Pike translated this into English but runs the original French on the facing page. It makes little difference - the content is mostly legal matters, and the lawyers then apparently had everyone just as bamboozled with their bullshit as they do today - in Shakespeare's Henry IV he has a character say "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers". It is interesting, however, that a number of cases are brought by the King - thus he was not an absolute monarch but himself subject to the rule of law. I can't find where he actually lost a case though! One peculiar case between the King and the Bishop of Lincoln had to do with the right to name the prebend (an ecclesiastical office) of Carlton-cum-Thurlby which was complicated by the prebend having become Bishop of Utrecht, which was "beyond sea" (Holland, I think) and thus beyond the court's jurisdiction. Also discussed is the case of the Mortimers, uncle and nephew, who were sentenced to hang by a special commission appointed by the King. This kept the lawyers busy for years on the point that they were sentenced without having been "arraigned", while one of them escaped from the Tower and the other was rescued on his way to be hanged. If the Wisconsin Historical Society wants this back they may have it for the postage.
Rating: 70

The Blue Field - John Moore (Collins, London, 1951).
Odd that the two John Moore books I have found have the word "field" in the title. The other was The Fair Field, also reviewed in IGOTS. He has also written Dance and Skylark, Brensham Village, and Portrait of Elmbury. The events in this book take place during WW II, the effects of which were felt mostly indirectly in this remote village on the border of Wales. I don't know just why I like these tales of life in small-town England so much, but I do - ancestral memories perhaps, my ancestors must have come from some such place.
Rating: 95

The Wandering Jew - Eugene Sue (A. L. Burt, NY, nd, V.1 of two volumes).
JoAnn Montalbano sent me this because of the link to a running joke in the Southern Fandom Press Alliance that is altogether too silly to try to put down here. But I got curious as to what French idiom could have been translated into English as "chain up your curb" so when I had some time in Charlottesville on the way to New Orleans for the '88 worldcon, I stopped in the big Alderson library at the University of Virginia to see if I could find an edition in the original French. I did find a French edition, but all it said was "Laissez moi en paix", i.e., "Leave me in peace". This could not possibly have been translated as "chain up your curb", and indeed, there were modern English editions with "Leave me in peace" as the translation. But these French editions were facsimiles from 1880, whereas the novel was originally published in 1845. Who revised Sue, and why? Avram Davidson says that "chain up your curb" is horse jargon, and refers to a curb bit held on with a chain. So why did some editor go through and remove the colorful language from Sue's novel? The big old Modern Library edition I saw in Williamsburg yesterday was from the original version. It's as if someone had removed "nigger" from Twain's Huckleberry Finn before it was translated into French - though Ghu only knows how the French translate "nigger".
Rating: 9

The Daynight Lamp - Christian Morgenstern (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1974).
These are surrealist poems translated from the German (Morgenstern lived from 1871 to 1917) by Max Knight and illustrated for this edition by H. A. Rey. I was struck by the resemblance to the Sidney Sime art for his own poems in Bogey Beasts. Sime was perhaps a bit more good-humored, though there is nothing sinister in the Nosobame or the Moonsheep. The poems are all repeated in the back for comparison with the German text - of little use to me, my German is very weak.
Rating: 85

Trailing Old Beroaldus

by Arthur Machen.

Has any one here read Beroaldus Juvelius on the Fallibility of Human Judgement? I daresay not. This great folio, printed at Lubeck in the year 1615, when the Rosicrucian controversy was at its height, as it might be a living, and blazing example of that fallibility of judgement which the prudent Juvelius weighed, examined, anatomized, was in its own day overwhelmed by the occult follies of the age. It slept as it was born; no one has been curious enough to awaken it.

Yet the book deals with matters of everlasting interest, and everyday interest too, to every one of us. We are making judgements each other minute of our lives, every man jack of us from the highest mathematician to the man who feeds the pigs. Einstein forms his judgement as to Space-Time; the pig man forms his judgement as to the capacities of the pig with the black spot for fattening up and some one in between the two forms a judgement as to my prose, and decides that it is horrid. And there goes a man to the scaffold, and a noose, and violent death: on the judgement of twelve of his fellows. What right has any one of these to his judgements; from Einstein to the jury-man? What ground have we for receiving them, for giving them our assent? Can we test them? If so, what are the tests?

Such in bare outline, are some of the topics which engaged the attention of the learned Swede - or, more probably, Finn - of the early seventeenth century and it seems to me that they are as alive now, in the early twentieth century, as they were then. Indeed, I have had an instance of this urgent modernity within the last twenty-four hours. Last night, Mr. Desmond McCarthy, an esteemed critic, an admirable judge of a good book and a bad book, and of the difference between them, was broadcasting his opinion of that queer production, the Life of George Bernard Shaw by Frank Harris and George Bernard Shaw. "I read every word of it with interest," said Mr. McCarthy in effect, "but it is a literary monstrosity." And he went on to compare it, immensely to its disadvantage, with the Life of Henrik Ibsen, recently translated from the Norwegian: a perfect biography, according to Mr. McCarthy; a great picture of a great man.

Very good. But this morning I open The Daily Telegraph, and read a criticism of this very life of Ibsen by that most eminent and judicious critic, Mr J. C. Squire. And Mr. Squire, says, quite frankly, that he found the book so intolerably, so intensely dull that his strongest resolution was needed to carry him through it. It was a black London fog to him, with only here and there a ray of light, when Ibsen was allowed to speak in his own person.

And the best of it is this. At the beginning of his article, Mr. Squire quoted two or three paragraphs from Quarterly Review. The reviewer, poor man, had to deal with "Endymion" by John Keats. He read, the first book he says, and could make nothing of it; and so he felt that it would safe to leave the other three unread. Mr. Squire agrees that the Quarterly critic was wrong; but wishes that he had the courage to follow his example in leaving three parts of the life of Ibsen to awaken it.

Yet the book deals with matters of everlasting interest, and everyday interest too, to every one of us. We are making judgements each other minute of our lives, every man jack of us, from the highest mathematician to the man who feeds the pigs. Einstein forms his judgement as to Space-Time; the pig man forms his judgement as to the capacities of the pig with the black spot for fattening up - and some one in between the two forms a judgement as to my prose, and~ decides that Johnson considered "Lycidas" to be a compound of bad taste and worthless poetry; while to Keats and his friends, Johnson's poetry was a joke. Carlyle, again, found nothing in Keats but a "maudlin, weak-eyed sensibility," and discovered Lamb to be a drunken Cockney, with a "frostified," very offensive, humour.

And all these, judges and judged, were great men; among the greatest of men. "If they do these things in the green tree..."

But, after all, these are merely literary judgements? What, then, about the judgements of those useful, homely, practical, organs; the palate and the stomach? They have in Touraine, the land of Rabelais, the land of stout eaters of fine dishes, of chosen drinkers of good wine, a great delicacy: little cheeses made of goats' cream. I saw them, snowy white, nesting in green vine leaves, as they put on the dessert in the sixteenth century inn, La Crouxille. I helped myself with eager anticipation: received the essence of a whole herd of mountain goats; and thought my mouth was withered for ever more. And, you remember the Banquet after the Manner of the Ancients in "Peregrine Pickle"? The host said that he was a little uncertain as to the nitron of the ancients; so in making the classic soup, he had used assafetida instead. Well; the French marquis said the soup was excellent, on his word of honour; but he was taken home in his sedan chair, in a sad state, soon afterwards. But the German baron finished his plate and asked for more. Do you know what is the great Christmas dish in Germany at the present day? It is carp, boiled in beer, and eaten with sweet cakes. You think, I suppose, that such a dish would be horribly nasty; sickening perhaps. But my Tourainian friend, M. Venier, told me that he had once eaten lamb with mint sauce. "I didn't like it," he said, and there was a bitter emphasis in his tones that let me know he was putting his judgement into gentle words, to spare my feelings. I am free to confess, on the other side, that young lamb without mint sauce is to me as a sonnet that lacks the final crowning line; a thing imperfect, maimed; joy turned into sorrow and regret.

Let it be understood that all the while I am following my author, old Beroaldus Juvelius. The argument, if you can find it, is his; I have merely fitted it with modern, or more or less modern, instances. And, still following him; let me relate how I was sitting one afternoon with some friends, at Henckey's, in the Strand. One of the men said to another: "You know Confucius has come through?" He lowered his voice a little, but I heard him and exclaimed, "What?" in a voice of such rasping virulence that the waiters started, and regarded me with surprise and rebuke.

But what ground had I for my implied judgement: that the spirit of the great Kung, who died about two thousand five hundred years ago, had by no means manifested itself at any seance of the Spiritualists? There may be, or there may not be, an answer to this question, "in our next."

[Editorial note - The five Arthur Machen essays reprinted from the Dalton Georgia Citizen in the first five issues of It Goes On The Shelf were used without regard to the original order of their publication. I see now that the above essay should have preceded The Strange Tale of Mt. Nephin, which I used in It Goes On The Shelf No.3. I will put down here the titles in the order of their original publication:

The Glitter of The Brook, 10-29-31 (IGOTS 1)
Trailing Old Beroaldus, 1-14-32 (IGOTS 5)
The STrange Tale of Mt. Nephin, 2-11-32 (IGOTS 3)
The Pictures on the Cards, 3-10-32 (IGOTS 4)
That 0ther World, 4-14-32 (IGOTS 2)
It had occurred to me to publish the five essays as a booklet, but I doubt the demand would justify the effort. For anyone who came in late and wants a complete set, I can have one made at the local photocopy shop for $2-3.

Faith is not an exotic bloom to be laboriously maintained by the exclusion of most aspects of the day to day world, nor a useful delusion to be supported by sophistries and half-truths like a child's belief in Father Christmas - not, in short, a prudently unregarded adherence to a constructed creed; but rather must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God. This is why religion can only be advice and clarification, and cannot carry any spurs of enforcement - for only belief and behavior that is independently arrived at, and then chosen, can be praised or blamed. This being the case, it can be seen as a criminal abridgement of a person's rights willfully to keep him in ignorance of any facts or opinions - no piece can be judged inadmissible, for the more stones, both bright and dark, that are added to the mosaic, the clearer is our picture of God.
Milton / Coleridge / Powers

The above quotation is from a speech about John Milton by Charles Taylor Coleridge, contained in The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, published by Ace as an original paperback novel in December 1983. Perhaps some graduate student in English Literature can tell us whether Milton or Coleridge ever really said any such thing - I like it anyway, and will keep it around on this page of It Goes On The Shelf until I find something I like better as representing the proper attitude of a journalist.

This fanzine will not be sold. It will not even be distributed in the usual sense of mailing out a lot of the copies at once. This tired old fan will just send it through SFPA and Slanapa, and in trade as zines come in, and to correspondents as letters go out. If you should hear of it and feel you must have a copy, you may send a SASE for lack of anything better. If there is to be much art in future issues, I will need some good line art - no tone, no solid blacks, no shading except for dot or line - suitable for thermal stencil. I do not have to have the original, a good xerox is fine.

For those interested in the gruesome technical details, this fanzine is composed in FancyFont using WordStar on an Osborne microcomputer and a Toshiba 1100+ laptop PC. It is printed on a RexRotary M4 mimeograph from stencils cut directly by the Epson MX-80 dot-matrix printer. Art is printed from thermal mimeo stencils cut by a 3M Thermofax machine.

And don't forget to ask yourself -

Do you know where your ACLU card is? Mine is is my wallet, but I must confess that I never knew quite why. What did the famous card-carrying Communists of the McCarthyite 50s use theirs for? Could they charge stuff at the local Party cell?

Merry Christmas!

Return to INDEX