Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Back in the office after a wonderful holiday in the Abruzzo – our hovel was just behind this castle at Rocca di Calascio.

Amongst the 305 emails which had stacked up while I was away were two of particular interest. One was from Tom Phillips, who has just finished his Cicero illustrations for us.

He sent a scan of the original Roman coin he had cunningly doctored for his dig at Berlusconi. The illustrations are full of contemporary references, and why not?  Cicero’s impassioned outcry ‘o tempora, o mores’ is as pertinent today as it ever was –and not just in Rome.

Tom also said the book he would most like to work on next is Rilke’s Duino Elegies–he’d like to translate the poems as well as illustrate them, so it would be an out-and-out artist’s book – probably printed letterpress on hand-made paper with giclée illustrations.

The other interesting email was from Quentin Blake, proposing La Fontaine as his next victim. Strangely, Folio has never published the Fables before – but I scarcely care what book Quentin does, it’s such a joy working with him. He sent this appetiser, of the Ant and the Cricket.

I have been kept busy this week working on South Polar Times, the ‘in-house journal’ kept by Captain Scott’s men on his two Antarctic Expeditions. We are publishing a facsimile of all twelve issues to coincide with the centenary of his death next year. The twelve original volumes are housed in three different locations – the Royal Geographical Society, the British Library, and the Scott Polar Research Institute, and we have been scurrying between these august institutions with stacks of colour proofs.

One could easily get blasé about handling such treasures, but there’s still an amazing frisson of excitement about these fragile typewritten pages, knowing the conditions in which they were produced and the tragic outcome of the Terra Nova expedition. All the best illustrations are by E.A. Wilson, who was in the polar party who perished with Scott. Here is one of his covers.

Leave a Reply to Laurence Anslow Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments from others

  • Neil says:

    Joe’s Blog = Good Idea!

  • Cicero looks exceptional. My membership of the Folio Soc. has lapsed – is it necessary to be a member to purchase this book?

  • KateG says:

    Dear Joe,

    I for one can’t wait to see the South Polar Times. It’s a wonderful addition to the libraries of people like me who love reading about the Antarctic expeditions. I have read so many references to the South Polar Times over the years but never seen a copy, so a facsimile will be irresistible.

  • Malky says:

    What a great idea Joe’s blog is. With this ‘heads-up’ I can now, at least, prepare a budget for these forthcoming treats.
    i) Delighted to be receiving something for taking the Letterpress Shakespeare.
    ii) As one of the mainstays of my collection of Insel Bucherei I feel Rilke is long overdue this sort of recognition.
    iii) Having been lucky enough to aquire a copy of his Candide, I’m already excited by the propect of the next Quentin Blake book.
    iv) The BFI have recently reissued Henry Ponting’s The Great White Silence on Blu-ray to which the South Polar volume will make an ideal companion.
    Better start saving.

  • Gerry Storey says:

    Wonderful Idea, trouble is, I cannot stop salivating over the new books and limited editions I am reading about. There goes the budget! The Japanese Photo Book Limited Edition is a priceless idea, very well done!

  • Laurence Anslow says:

    Joe’s Blog is most welcome, although the word “blog” has to be one of the most unattractive in our language.
    I have always wanted to participate in the excitement leading up to the publication of limited editions. It would be great to see illustrations of pages rolling off the presses and the binders at work.
    All these volumes look destined for my shelves. “The South Polar Times” looks to be a fascinating project. I remember seeing the covers to a bound edition in an antiquarian catalogue years ago and have yearned for a set ever since. Great idea.
    Keep the details coming!

  • Karen Sadler says:

    I am greatly enjoying Joe’s blog and appreciate being able to anticipate (and save up for) future publications. I am particularly looking forward to Quentin Blake’s illustrations for Fontaine’s Fables because Candide is a complete joy. Also to Brailes on vellum – how many sheep skins per volume? Must eat more lamb.

  • Tony Geheran says:

    Dear Joe,

    I have an order pending for Cicero: Orations, is the reference to Tom Phillips’ illustrations relating this book or another work on Cicero?


    • Joe Whitlock Blundell says:

      Yes Tony, the illustration shown on the 30 August blog is from Cicero’s ‘Orations’ and by Tom Phillips. I look forward to your comments when you receive your copy.