We love a good artist's book--something with some depth that gives the "reader" an opportunity to play while it calls into question the nature of the book. Most of the ones we acquire are created for that purpose, but occasionally history throws up something that we would now see as an artist's book. Case in point: Excursion Views of Narragansett Bay and Block Island (Providence: Excursion View Co., 1878).
Friday, March 20, 2015
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
When Robert Frost met Sidney Cox in Plymouth, New Hampshire, in 1911, they were both teachers. The 22-year-old Cox was a recent graduate of Bates College and a newly minted high school teacher, while Frost, age 37, was a teacher at Plymouth Normal School (later Plymouth State College). Their first meeting was not amiable, with Frost teasing Cox about papers he was hurrying home to grade. However, the relationship improved over a common interest in literature and poetry and over the next forty years they kept up a lively correspondence with Cox developing a reverence for the poet very quickly. So when Cox decided to write a book about his friend, he decided not to write a standard biography but rather "a portrait of the wholeness of a man," he described as "the wisest man, and one of the two deepest and most honest thinkers, I know." Cox finished the manuscript before his death in 1952, and in 1954, it found its way to the offices of the New York University Press and its editor Wilson Follett who recognized the value of the book because he felt that Frost was "one of the remaining early moderns who merit rediscovery and re-examination."
Dear Mr. Frost
Is it not possible for you to take a moment to acknowledge a fairly long-standing invitation to contribute some word of your own to Sidney Cox's Swinger of Birches, a book written with great devotion to you and to truths as Cox saw it?
I find most attempts to describe me much to disturbing either for my pleasure or my discipline. I am assured and I assume from my knowledge of Sidney Cox that the book is one texture of honesty and as such I may concede it all the value you please, but be the responsibility of giving it to the world entirely on the heads of others.
Dear Mr. FollettA Swinger of Birches was published in 1957, by New York University Press. To read the entire correspondence ask for MS-1325.
A letter from Alice Cox put our situation in an entirely different new light. She doesn't share my hesitation about the preface at all. She wants it and is sure that Sidney would want it too. That's all I ask and should have asked from the first. It doesn't matter to me now about this slight discomfort I may still feel in prefacing my own praises. If it is not too late I should like another chance at the preface to touch it up a little and perhaps make it sound a little less grudging.