Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hesperus Press

The next best thing to actual books in the mail has to be catalogues or magazines about books! I've received the Spring and Autumn 2007 catalogues from the lovely people at Hesperus Press and it's playing utter havoc with my book-buying restraint.

But to back up a bit, I first saw these books a couple or so years ago when we were still living the the UK, in a display at Waterstones Piccadilly I believe it was. I loved the art on the covers and those little flaps (what are those flaps on paperbacks called?) but most of all their motto "et remotissima prope":
..(a commitment) to bringing near what is far - far both in space and time. Works written by the greatest authors, and unjustly neglected or simply little known in the English-speaking world, are made accessible through new translations and a fresh editorial approach. Through these short classic works, each little more than 100 pages in length, the reader will be introduced to the greatest writers from all times and all cultures.
At first I tried to resist because they're about the same price as regular paperbacks but are very slim. There's always that thought of getting my money's worth. They're very tempting though and of course there is always the internet so I have collected a few:
Jane Austen - Love and Friendship, The Watsons
Charlotte Bronte - The Green Dwarf
Wilkie Collins - Who Killed Zebedee?, The Frozen Deep
Charles Dickens - The Haunted House
George Eliot - Amos Barton
Henry James - In the Cage
Antoine François Prévost - Manon Lescaut

Considering that they aren't in fact very long I'm really quite ashamed to admit that I'd not yet read any of them. (OK technically I've read the Austens when I went through my Austen phase many years ago and read everything of hers that I could find, but they're just so pretty I had to have them! Besides you can't go wrong with an extra Austen or two, can you?) Anyway, to remedy that, yesterday I decided I was in the mood for a little mystery and read the first story in Who Killed Zebedee? As expected, one leads to more, plus the fact that I can't resist book temptation and I've gone ahead and ordered Somebody's Luggage, and A House to Let by Dickens (with some help from Wilkie Collins and Elizabeth Gaskell), and The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Tolstoy.

And some of the other ones that caught my eye, and I imagine will be purchased in the rather near future: The Calligraphers' Night by Yasmine Ghata, The Scortas' Sun by Laurent Gaudé, Claudine's House by Colette, November by Gustave Flaubert, Cousin Phillis by Elizabeth Gaskell, and on and on. Everytime I flip through the catalogues or visit the website I want more of them. (This is why I've refrained so far from getting any of the beautiful Persephone books because I know I'll not be able to stop once I start!) These are the kind of books that it would be nice to have the whole collection arranged together in the bookshelves. Of course a lovely home library to put them in would be even better. (I can always dream!) So I'm determined now to add more of these into my reading mix from now on. They really are perfect little nuggets of literary goodness.

*Title links take you to the appropriate pages on the Hesperus Press website.
Check out the Hesperus Press blog HERE.


  1. Isn't it just every reader's dream to have a huge beautiful home library big enough to house all the books we want (and still have room for more)? You are going to be up to your eyeballs in new books, lucky girl.

  2. I want a copy of that catalogue! :) I only have a few Persephone's and you are right, as soon as you have one you covet more and more.

  3. Nat, I just returned from viewing the Hesperus website and I can see why you have fallen in love with these books. Much of the cover art is beautiful and I love the fact that they are such slim volumes. Don't be surprised if I end up picking up a few books too...they are hard to resist and, like you say, they are nuggets of literary goodness, so they are good for me! :)

    I am also expecting my first consignment of books from the Book Depository, yeay! Another friend who placed her order around the same time I did, received her books yesterday.

  4. kookiejar,
    I'm already up to my eyeballs in books! LOL! But new ones are always nice. :)

    I'm sure if you drop them an email they'd be happy to send you one. I'm sure one day I'll succumb to the Persephone's as well! I can justify these because they're short and don't take up as much space, at least that's what I tell myself!

    I'd love to hear your thoughts on the ones you get. :)
    I hope your order from The Book Depository arrives smoothly. I've found they often ship the books individually so they don't always arrive the same day but that just spreads the joy of finding books in the post over a few days. I'm looking forward to receiving my new Hesperus Books from them soon.

  5. Oh, dear. I shouldn't have read this post. They all sound and look fabulous! Must resist, must resist.

    And, I wanted to say in person that I hope you feel better. Summer is heck on sinuses; I feel for you.

  6. I am waiting for a catalog from them--I can't wait to see it. I ordered a couple of their books from TBD, and they are lovely. I really love these smaller presses--they do such nice work!

  7. Thanks Nancy.
    Sinus headaches usually make me want to poke my eyes out. Never fun. I ended up cancelling my evening lesson but luckily it only lasted about a day this time.
    They really are lovely books. As you can see I'm now hopelessly lost and have completely given up on self-control!

    I'm anxiously waiting for a couple of their new ones to be available. In the meantime I've been lusting after their backlist. :)


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