Friday, June 19, 2009

10 Books A Day: #57

Peer Gynt...Henrik ibsen, tr. Michael Meyer...Doubleday Anchor

The Importance Of Being Earnest and Other Plays...Oscar Wilde...Signet Classic

De Profundis...Oscar Wilde...Avon

Confessions of an English Opium Eater and Other Writings...Thomas De Quincey...Signet Classic

Chaucer and His Contemporaries...ed. Helaine Newstead...Fawcett Premier

Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ...Friedrich Nietsche, tr. R. J. Hollingdale...Penguin

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire...Edward Gibbon, ed. Dero A. Saunders...Penguin

The Death of King James Cable...Penguin

Jonathan Wild...Henry Fielding...Signet Classic

Coleridge: Poems and Prose...Samuel Taylor Coleridge, sel. Kathleen Raine...Penguin Poetry Library

The Tragedy of Doctor Faustus...Christopher Marlowe...Pocket

Elizabethan Drama...ed. John Gassner...Bantam World Drama

I selected Peer Gynt to illustrate today's list because I couldn't resist the chance to show Leo McKern's beautiful mug, lit up by that delightfully impish mood. McKern was a great--I was about to say character actor, and while he was that, he was a great actor, period. I've never seen anything that he was in that he didn't elevate, and that includes Help! and The Omen. Demonic energy, wry humor, keen intelligence, rough tenderness...all these make him the perfect actor to interpret Peer among the trolls. This book was published in 1963, which makes it and me exact contemporaries.

Translated, edited, selected...many of these books had to be heavily vetted before being ready for common consumption. The Chaucer book is made up of scholarly literary essays; the Gibbon book is a distillation of the original many-volumed work; the Arthur book was in Latin, and it is not Malory's famous work; the Marlowe book is supplied with copious footnotes and contemporaneous illustrations; Elizabethan Drama is a great collection of non-Shakespearean plays, including The Spanish Tragedy and Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay.

Book Count: 735.

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