Thursday, August 15, 2019

In Search of Lost Books

In Search of Lost Books, by Giorgio van Straten

This was just this fun little volume -- originally written in Italian -- about famous, or less-famous, lost books -- some of which might still be out there somewhere.  As, for example, the early works of Hemingway; his first wife was bringing them to him in a suitcase, and she just hopped out of the French train for a second to buy a Perrier.  When she got back, the suitcase was gone, and it was never recovered.

I was happy to see the story of Bruno Schulz, whose short stories I have read.  He was a Polish Jew, and so during World War II he hid the manuscript of his great life work novel with some Gentile friends.  Schulz was murdered by a Nazi officer who was annoyed with the Nazi officer who was keeping Schulz as a slave.  And the manuscript disappeared in the war and has never been found.

There's a chapter on Lord Byron's memoirs -- deemed too scandalous for publication, they were probably burned by the publisher.  One on Gogol's lost sequel to Dead Souls.  One on Sylvia Plath.  And there were some other authors who I was not as familiar with, but who sounds fascinating.  

And then there's the novel that van Straten got to read himself in manuscript, but didn't photocopy...but he sure wishes he had now.

What's nice is that van Straten talks quite a bit about what the books' content as well as the stories behind them.   It's just a nice, interesting, well-written little book of some lost bits of history.  So it's sad.  But intriguing, because what if that suitcase surfaces someday?

1 comment:

Nancy Leek said...

Now that sounds like a frustrating read!