Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2007 Issue

"Beat" and Other Poetry, Literature, and Ephemera from Brian Cassidy

Cassidy1

Excerpt from Burroughs letter to Ginsberg on cover of Brian Cassidy catalog no. one.


By Michael Stillman

Brian Cassidy, Bookseller
has issued his catalog no. one: literature -- rare books, manuscripts, journals and ephemera. That is technically correct, though the greatest focus is on poets from the second half of the 20th century. Those who collect the "beat" generation and its contemporaries in particular will be pleased with this catalogue. However, only a few of the items are actually poetry. There are many associated ephemeral items for the poets, such as letters, drawings, and programs. Additionally, there are pieces associated with prose writers, including several relating to John Steinbeck.

Item 15 is the major piece in this collection, a March 3, 1969 letter and typescript (and envelope) from William Burroughs to Allen Ginsberg. Burroughs and Ginsberg had been friends for 25 years at this point, and, Cassidy notes, "occasional lover[s]" (details unnecessary). The letter, sent from London, is addressed to Allen Ginsberg, "Esq.," probably a humorous reference to Ginsberg's role as amateur legal advisor to friends in trouble with the law. Burroughs refers to Ginsberg's recent auto accident with a "Glad to hear you're on the mend." The typescript, which became On the E Meter, was published by Allen De Loach's Intrepid. The E-meter is some sort of electronic device, similar to a lie detector. It is used by the Church of Scientology to supposedly decipher much more about a person's mental state, even past lives, and effect cures for various mental and physical illnesses. However, it carries a major disclaimer to any effectiveness whatsoever as a result of a government action on false practice of medicine in the 1960s. Burroughs had been a supporter of Scientology, and while thinking the E-meter was useful at the time, he was rapidly becoming disillusioned with the Church and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Priced at $25,000.

Item 23 is a letter from novelist Jerzy Kosinski to a book reviewer for the Omaha World Herald. Dated 1971, and on the stationary of the Yale Drama School, he profusely thanks the writer for his review of Being There. Being There is Kosinski's best-known work, having been made into the classic 1979 film starring Peter Sellers as the dimwitted gardener people believed to be an insightful genius. Writes Kosinski, "I can think of nothing more stimulating for an author than to have his vision so exactly seized upon and so lucidly presented to a wide audience. Yet, your critical analysis not only lends a new image to the novel; it prompts the novelist to discern what, without your perception, he never would have believed himself." Cassidy notes that with Kosinski's reputation, this may have been somewhat tongue in cheek, and he may have written similarly exaggerated comments to many other reviewers. $325.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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