January 13, 2004

We haven't done anything this year.

Except read a few good books.

Posted by Kallisti at 07:08 PM

October 26, 2003

Books that make me pee, Part I

Had two super book finds at Half Price Books in Berkeley today!

Finally found a copy of "Gamiani, or Two Nights of Excess" by Alfred de Musset in English translation. I've been dying to read it since I saw the illustrations from an 1830's edition in Erotica Universalis. I got this 1968 paperback edition for $.48. Here's a blurb from the inside flap:
"Two Voluptuous nights by a party of three..."

That was how Gamiani was described when it first appeared in 1833, Until an 1864 edition revealed otherwise, the book was widely believed to be fiction; but then it was labeled a true journal of pleasure, with its three main characters thinly disguised as models of real people.

The man called "Alcide" in the book was unmasked as Gamiani's author, the famous classicist Alfred de Musset. The course sensuality and lewd appetites of "Alcide" were described as archtypical of the celebrated French poet.

Gamiani's "Countess de C." was shown to be Alfred de Musset's sometime mistress--the Comtesse Morton de Chabrillon--whose ravaging nymphomania had shocked even the corrupt voluptuaries of 19th-century France.

And "Fanny B."--portrayed in Gamiani as a virgin whose seduction elevated both her mistress and master--was, in actuality, the famed female poet who wrote under the masculine name of George Sand.

Gamiani thus became one of the most important documents of its time. With its clever mixture of fact and fiction, it gave--and continues to give--true insight of literary France before the 20th century.

Posted by Kallisti at 09:35 PM

Books that make me pee, Part II

"Die Mode der Jahrhunderte"!!!

Translates to "The Fashion of the Centuries" or something. (must bug German speaking friends).

And yes, it is aaaall in German.

A gorgeous 1910 Art Nouveau bookie-poo of the history of fashion. Roughly 9"x12", it has lots of gorgeous little art nouveau things in it. Aside from the lavishly illustrated fashions, the second half of the book includes calendars and almanacs, ledgers for every purpose and a gatefold tear away notepaper pad that unfolds in the back, with little slots that presumably held envelopes.

I am absolutely squirming with delight. Did you see the Salome? I don't have that one yet! Also, loved the monkey header.

Posted by Kallisti at 09:22 PM

October 15, 2003

This week's BART Book

I've re-resigned myself to public transit to ferry myself to and from the work place. The major benefit (aside from the lack of 3487 parking tickets) is that I get about 1.5 hours a day of uninterrupted reading time. Which means I get to recommend more books.

Now, the past year has been a busy one, so while I've kept adding to my library, I haven't actually been reading any of it, until now. I've begun to tear through my hoard of books (and it is quite a hoard).

This one "An Underground Education: The Unauthorized and Outrageous Supplement to Everything You Thought You Knew About Art, Sex, Business, Crime, Science, Medicine, and Other Fields of Human Knowledge" by Richard Zacks is a doozey. It's one of those anthologies of thousands of nifty tidbits of information that will make you giggle and squirm... often uncomfortably.

Me and Richard go way back. I first read his "History Laid Bare: Love, Sex & Perversity" when I was living in New Orleans in the late 90's and working on the original incarnation of Sepulchritude & The Chapel Perilous. HLB had some great passages about Pietro Aretino, and Richard being one of the few authors to actually freely, willy nilly even, hand out his email address online, I wrote him for permission to include a passage on Aretino in my smut section, now Pornokrates.com. We got to chatting, one thing lead to another, and we began discussing decapitation, as I had just put up Decollete, and he was going to be including a passage about "The Heads of Auguste & Abel Pollet" and the Guillotine in his upcoming book.

Well, as it turns out "An Underground Eduction" is the book, and the lovely Auguste & Abel show their lovely mugs on the pages within.

In any case, if you like this site, and the crap we read, you'll love this book. I'm GLUED to it. I have to say I am impressed by Mr. Zach's restraint in some cases, and his research, not relying popular myth & hysteria because the story is cool. He even notably mentions that Lucrezia Borgia was not as bad as history has made her out to be. Thank you.

History, often, is better than fantasy.

Well, except where Tanith is concerned.

Posted by Kallisti at 03:34 PM

Tanith Lee's "Mortal Suns"

Melusine and I are both rabid Tanith Lee fans... so I thought I'd mention her latest has just arrived on my desk from Amazon:

Did I say rabid? I need a seperate bookshelf just to house my Tanith collection. I even have multiple copies of the same books with different covers. I reminded my stepmother recently that it was all her fault. When I was twelve she gave me her copies of "Don't Bite the Sun" & "Death's Master"... I've been rapaciously hooked ever since.

This will be my BART book next week, which reminds me, I meant to recommend my BART book from the last two weeks. Hrm, be right back...

Posted by Kallisti at 03:24 PM | Comments (2)

October 06, 2003

Hallowe'en!

Just moved into a new house, complete with porch and front yard so the first weekend in October was dedicated to spookification.

I also picked up this book: "Death Makes a Holiday: A cultural history of Halloween" by David J. Skal which I had tried to pick up last year this season and it had been sold out. A yummy public transport read chock full o' October bliss.

"Modern, mass-media histories of Halloween -- the kind that proliferate, sound-bite-style, every October -- often leave the impression that the holiday has been handed down, more or less intact, from Celtic antiquity (similarly hollow claims are often made for the very modern religion of Wicca). In reality, contemporary Halloween is a patchwork holiday, a kind of cultural Frankenstein stitched together quite recently from a number of traditions, all fused beneath the cauldron-light of the American melting pot."

That said the cultural roots of the holiday aren't any less fascinating. I'll quote more from the book as I progress.

And here's the first tentative pictures of our house decorations:


Posted by Kallisti at 11:33 AM

October 04, 2003

I, CLAVDIVS in the news!

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/10/04/DD13399.DTL

"The Manchurian Candidate"? Plagiarizing Grave's "I, Claudius"? Indeed!

Posted by Kallisti at 11:28 AM