Friday, February 6, 2015

Lost Tales from Pegana


I am not a collector of books.  Rather, I am an amasser of books.  Nevertheless, because I am friends with the proprietor, I have a small but rather fine collection of books and chapbooks from Pegana Press.

The latest item to arrive is Lost Tales Volume III by Lord Dunsany.  Dunsany was an important figure in the history of fantasy, the author of short, lapidarian fantasies that have been frequently imitated and never equalled.  He wrote a great deal more as well: plays, mainstream stories, the well-regarded "Jorkens" stories, and works that defy description (Dean Spanley, a short novel about a man who in a previous life was a spaniel recently and quite improbably was made into a movie).  But it is his fantasies that have proved to be his great contribution to English literature.

The Lost Tales series of chapbooks collects fantasies that Lord Dunsany published sixty to a hundred years ago but never collected.  They are being republished for the first time.  The pieces included in this volume are:

Sources of Information
A Go-Ahead Planet
A Tale of Roscommon
The Greek Slave
A Talk in the Dusk
This is, alas, of necessity a pricey piece of goods.  The chapbook is, as the description on the Pegana Press page puts it:

Printed on Hahnemuhle Antique watermark laid paper. Soft grey heavy French paper cover, hand sewn with two color Irish linen thread.  Letterpress printed using Goudy Franciscan and Civilite types from The Dale Guild Foundry.  
So, yes, you want it.  The printing is beautiful and deep; it is impossible not to lightly run one's fingers across the page to feel the words caressing one's skin.  The bottom edge of the pages is deckled, the design is lovely, it's a pleasure to hold and to read.  And of course there's the pleasure of reading something very few living humans have ever seen.

If you're a serious collector, it will not surprise you that the collection -- handmade, hand-sewn, limited to an edition of 80 -- sells for $175 in chapbook format or $235 for the deluxe hardcover.  It is an item for intellectual sybarites.

You can find the Pegana Website here.  If you're a well-heeled bookman, you'll surely find something you need to buy.  If not, you can wander about the site, smiling wistfully and dreaming.

Above:  Pardon the slightly murky quality of my photo.  There are better pics on the Pegana site.


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