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>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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>

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions