Two Sublunary Editions (Books acquired, 16 Dec. 2019)


I was pysched to get to Sublunary Editions titles the other week.

I read the chapbook Falstaff: Apotheosis on 19 Dec. 2019. The story, a wonderful riff on Henry IV Part I, V.iv—the part where Falstaff flops on the battlefield, faking his death in an act of cowardly heroism—is by the French author Pierre Senges. It is the third translation of Senges’ work by Jacob Siefring that I’ve read, and I enjoyed it very much, reading it surreptitiously on the back of the dais, cloaked by my colleagues during our fall commencement. (I had to tune out the ramblings of the commencement speaker, a local judge afflicted with a conservative streak.) Here’s novelist S.D. Chrostowska’s blurb:

Like Falstaff’s coffin in Orson Welles’s Chimes at Midnight, Pierre Senges’s erudite fragments are broader than most, their depth befitting Shakespeare’s original. Here’s Falstaff the master thespian, never wiser or more human than when he plays dead to save his skin and takes a nap. Well-served by this limpid translation, Senges resurrects him as a hero for our time. Bravo!

I also got 926 Years, and intriguing title by Tristan Foster and Kyle Coma-Thompson. Here’s Sublunary’s blurb:

Through twenty-two linked stories, Tristan Foster and Kyle Coma-Thompson explore the creative potential of people’s native estrangement from themselves and each other. Two writers who have never met, who live on opposite sides of the globe—one in Australia, the other in the United States—tracking the pattern of probable lives and fates that co-exist between them, from Korea to England, Senegal to Argentina. Their conclusion/suspicion: imagination is stronger, and subtler, than God, and offers more than mere consolation for the difficulties of living.

And here’s what novelist Gary Lutz has to say:

The intimate, globe-spanning microportraits of human crisis in 926 Years are at once sobering and uplifting, clarifying and mystifying. Tristan Foster and Kyle Coma-Thompson’s collaboration is a nonpareil of short-form virtuosity.

More thoughts forthcoming!


Falstaff in the Laundry Basket — Henry Fuseli

“Honor Pricks Me On” — Falstaff’s Catechism (Orson Welles in Chimes at Midnight)

“He Is a Gloriously Life-affirming Good Man” — Orson Welles on Falstaff

Jerome Kuhl’s Cool Henry IV Covers

I recently moved, which means that there’s been a great deal of shuffling around of books. Anyway, I came across these late 1950s Dell editions of Shakespeare’s Henry IV plays with these fantastic covers designed by Jerome Kuhl. The image of Falstaff on the cover of Part One strikes me as both humorous and iconic; the kneeling scene on the cover of Part Two is poignant and even a little sad. Makes me want to reread them.

More Soup

F is for Falstaff, Shakespeare’s knavish knight. Part rascally gnoff, part philosopher, this fat rascal appears in three of the bard’s plays. In Henry IV parts 1 and 2 he advises young Prince Hal (the future king) on matters of honor and drinking. In the comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor, Falstaff tries to cuckold some country farmers and steal their cash; the scalawag’s plans go awry and he ends up wearing the horns. Falstaff is one of Shakespeare’s most verbose characters–only Hamlet has more lines. And despite his fun-loving and roguish nature, Falstaff, like Hamlet, also provides several meditations on human nature, death, and the seeming futility of the individual’s ability to change social order.


F is also for Finn, Huckleberry. Like Falstaff, Huck Finn is something of a rogue, albeit he is just a child. As the white trash double to middle class Tom Sawyer, Huck is one of Twain’s keenest tools for social satire. Huck escapes the Widow Douglas’s aspirations to give him a moral education, in turn helping her slave Jim make his own escape via the Mississippi River. While navigating the river, Huck must also navigate the perplexing and paradoxical moral codes of the strange South. Despite the happy ending of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the novel remains controversial over a hundred years after its publication, still appearing frequently on lists of challenged books.


Word of the Week


From the OED:


A churl, boor, lout.

c1386 CHAUCER Miller’s T. 2 A riche gnof, that gestes heeld to bord, And of his craft he was a Carpenter. 1566 DRANT Horace, Sat. I. i. Aib, The chubbyshe gnof that toyles and moyles and delueth in the downe. 1567 TURBERV. Epit., etc. 4 If Vulcan durst presume That was a Gnuffe to see..Dame Venus to assaile. 1575 A. NEVILLE De furor. Norf. 141 The cuntry gnooffes, Hob, Dick, & Hick, with clubs, and clouted shoon [so a1627 in Hayward Edw. VI, 76 (but spelt knuffes)]. 1581 J. STUDLEY Seneca’s Hercules {Oe}tæus 198 The covetous charle, the greedy gnoffe in deede..In plenty pines the wreatch. 1610 HEALEY St. Aug. Citie of God XIV. iv. 501 The Pagans wisdome and vertues were scorned of the ritch gnoffes [L. crassis diuitibus] that held shades for substances, and vertues for meere vanities.”

Famous gnoffs include:


Walter Sobchak

The Thing