Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Maggs Bros, London WC1

Maggs Bros. Ltd. Rare Books and Manuscripts, London WC1
Now here is a piece of lovely arcana, which may provide a source of solace in these parlous times. The 7/28 NB page of the TLS makes note of the fact that Evelyn Waugh designed the jackets of his own books, amongst them, Vile Bodies (1930) and Love Amongst the Ruins (l953). The column goes on to make note of an exhibit of Waugh’s art at Maggs Bros. Ltd. Rare Books and Manuscripts, London WCI (a Dickensian sounding name in itself). Imagine an antique gallery, catering to book cover art of the last century. One wonders if they have some Cruikshank specimens stored in their cellar. The piece goes on to deal with the catalogue essay by one Mark Everett where the genesis of the cover of Decline and Fall is discussed and in which the novel’s protagonist Paul Pennyweather is depicted in his “Bright Young Person” persona. The TLS goes on to discuss the essay and how Everett describes Waugh and his pals pulling off “a classic Bright Young People jape.” Apparently these "bright young men" made up a fictional German artist named Bruno Hat and exhibited his paintings. “The paintings, one of  which is on display at Maggs, are thought to have been by John Banting, a minor Vorticist,” the TLS continues. This last is what is so wonderful since in its mixture of high minded dismissiveness (“minor Vorticist”) and erudition, it holds dear the promise of civilization itself, a precious and vanishing commodity amidst the tsunami of reactionary populism, Brexits, hurricanes and threats of thermonuclear annihilation by the North Korean regime.

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