Our books—the books which, for years, had formed no small portion of the mental existence of the invalid—were, as might be supposed, in strict keeping with this character of phantasm. We pored together over such works as the “Ververt et Chartreuse” of Gresset; the “Belphegor” of Machiavelli; the “Heaven and Hell” of Swedenborg; the “Subterranean Voyage of Nicholas Klimm” by Holberg; the “Chiromancy” of Robert Flud, of Jean D’Indaginé, and of De la Chambre; the “Journey into the Blue Distance” of Tieck; and the “City of the Sun” of Campanella. One favorite volume was a small octavo edition of the “Directorium Inquisitorium,” by the Dominican Eymeric de Gironne; and there were passages in Pomponius Mela, about the old African Satyrs and Œgipans, over which Usher would sit dreaming for hours. His chief delight, however, was found in the perusal of an exceedingly rare and curious book in quarto Gothic—the manual of a forgotten church—the Vigiliæ Mortuorum Secundum Chorum Ecclesiæ Maguntinæ.
After five five fun-filled (mostly) sun-soaked days on Florida’s glorious Gulf Coast, Biblioklept returns from July 4th reveries. I found time to finish Adam Langer’s The Thieves of Manhattan–full review forthcoming, but now, I’m still in a lazy-loungy mood: so, links and vids and so forth–
First, I ripped my title from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” which you obviously knew of course, gentle reader, because of course you’ve read it, but maybe you haven’t seen Jan Svankmajer’s 1981 film adaptation. Creepy stop motion that completely dispenses with actors. Ignore the subtitles.
Another great little film I saw this weekend is Oliver Laric’s Versions (2010), an essay that playfully updates Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Watch Versions. A choice line–perhaps appropriated?–from Laric’s essay: “There is more work in interpreting interpretations than in interpreting things and more books about books than any other subject.”
Still on film: watched John Huston’s 1956 adaptation of Moby-Dick on a lazy post-July 4th demi-hangover. Melville’s novel is unfilmable, really, but Huston’s effort isn’t half bad, although the tone of “high adventure” and the downright jaunty soundtrack hardly fit the grisly images of whale killing that permeate the work. The climax doesn’t really read as big as it should either. Key scene: Orson Welles delivers Father Mapple’s sermon–
Finally, I listened to a good chunk of the audiobook of David Mitchell’s new novel The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Good stuff so far (great stuff, really), and a full review forthcoming, but for now, here’s Dave Eggers’s review.