Friday, December 25, 2009

Review: 1924 Poetry Book, The Marble Faun by William Faulkner, Reprinted as Part of Centennial Special!

Centennial Special
The Marble Faun

By William Faulkner

Adolph Caso, Editor
Branden Books
ISBN: 9780828321921
219 Pages

Celebrate! There are many reasons to celebrate the Centennial Special 1909 to 2009!

· It features William Faulkner’s 1924 First Book – The Marble Faun!
· It celebrates the 100-year history of Branden Books!
· Photos of early book covers and publishing staff through the years are included!
· Back and Front covers showing the art work, Boy Fishing by Marjorie Very and Boston Scene by Randolph Brown! (shown above)
· A complete bibliography, by respective publisher/owners for 100 years!
· An excellent commentary on The Marble Faun by Nicole Starrett, granddaughter of Adolph Caso!

For poetry lovers and readers of William Faulkner, a total reprint of “a copy” of his first and only poetry book will be coveted! I thought it was interesting in these days of arguing over self-published versus being published by major publishing companies, that his friend Phil Stone, who indicated that he felt Faulkner’s work showed promise subsidized his first book: Perhaps we should all remember these early days when talent was supported by those that loved literature and the arts!

Here’s a short passage from the Prologue to give readers a taste of his book-length poem:

                     Why am I sad? I?
Why am I not content? The sky
Warms me and yet I cannot break
My marble bonds. That quick keen snake
Is free to come and go, while I
Am prisoner to dream and sigh
For things I know, yet cannot know,
‘Twixt sky above and earth below.
The spreading earth calls to my feet
Of orchards bright with fruits to eat,
Of hills and streams on either hand;
Of sleep at night on moon-blanched sand:
The whole world breathes and calls to me
Who marble-bound must ever be. (p. 12)

If I were free, then I would go... (p. 13)

May I just say that having the opportunity to read and add to your home library the first book of a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize author is a rare opportunity!

Nicole Starrett, "Nikki," who is a Sophomore at Amherst College and granddaughter of Adolfo and Margaret Caso, was asked to write a commentary on one of the most important authors who had been published by Branden Publishing Company. Her highlights included that while Faulkner was a literary giant, he had never graduated from high school or received a college degree, but had, in less than a decade, churned out some of the best books ever written by an American.

Branden Books, which had been the Four Seas Company in 1924, printed only 1000 copies and its reception was "lukewarm." Fortunately for America he turned to novel writing.

Yet, Ms. Starrett states, that his choice of material upon which to write provided proof that his primary goal was to become an author. She notes that he is "unhesitating and precise in his use of language. His words stream freshly and freely, radiating unselfconsciousness that more accomplished poets pursue in vain." (p. 165)

Starrett concludes with a comment from her grandfather publisher when he points out "It is hard to imagine the discipline he had to have had in mastering the metrical structure of prosody which is more normally used by established poets than by writers without any formal education and writing experience." Indeed!

I thought it important to highlight that what has been published is an actual copy of the 1924 original "mottled green boards, with the paper label on the front cover designed by Marjorie Very, showing a faun with pipes seated among leaves." (p. 160)

Ok, I have to admit that when Adolfo wrote me that the book was coming out and that he was inviting me to the 100th birthday celebration--and that I was listed in the book--I was thrilled! To be part of an established legendary publishing company that has been publishing continuously a wide and diversified array of books, mostly nonfictional, that continue to be received in high regard by the public for 100 years, and still going strong, well, you've just got to be pleased to have been just a small part of their activities!

Get this once in a lifetime book, which features the reprinting of 1924 book, The Marble Faun, by William Faulkner for your personal library today!

And, by the way, please continue on to see pictures from that celebration I mentioned and also check out a poem written by Adolfo Caso as part of the exciting event!

G. A. Bixler

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