Retro literature

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Last Friday I took a whole bunch of books that I no longer wanted down to the Searchers on Smith Street, and while I was there trying to discard books, I acquired yet more. But how could I not?! Look at these beautiful old hardcovers I found – a set published by the Reprint Society ‘by arrangement with Chatto and Windus’, 1955. This lovely edition of Under the Net, above, has a dedication to Raymond Queneau (author of the very funny Zazie in the Metro, about a prepubescent French delinquent and her cross-dressing uncle) and a beautifully quaint quote on the inside jacket. Talking about damning with faint praise:

Miss Murdoch means us to be entertained. She means us also – at least some of us – to peer into the whirlpool of events and to laugh, sometimes, on the other side of our faces. Whatever her intention and whatever the amount of her success in achieving it, this novel is certainly the most original work of fiction published in the past twelve months.

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Above and below are the other hardbacks that sat on the shelf with Iris Murdoch, also belonging to the Reprint Society series. I’ve never heard of any of these authors, though – has anyone? Or are they lost in the mists of literature? With catchy titles like The Enormous Shadow and Four Guineas, it seems incredible that these books didn’t become instant classics. Or at least make it onto the Year 8 English syllabus.

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The Searchers
Secondhand books and records
Top end of Smith Street (near Gertrude, same side as the Commie Bank)
Fitzroy VIC 3065

:: Arwen ::

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