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Thursday 6 November 2014

Edward Dorn: On first looking into Shakespeare’s Folios just after Christmas 1998, at the New British Library

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Henry V, the first king to write in English since Anglo-Saxon times, born #onthisday in 1386
: image via The British Library @britishlibrary, 16 September 2014

It’s not a state secret

That E mail is not written.

Why is this when ordinarily

Good writers are writing it?

The reason is that E mail

Is inherently bad -- in and of itself

And if the most elegant and pains-

Taking care and craft were taken

With its execution the result

Would be inelegant, ugly, cheap

Clap trap and disgusting.

E mail just doesn’t think

Nor does it “write".

A message that cannot wait three days

Is probably not at all urgent

Or worthy of delivery.

We know this

Because the messages of great importance

Have had no standardized delivery rate

Whether by horse, human runner, or the

Flash of mirror from Querebus to Puylaurens.

A cable can be handed to you

With a flourish, terse language

Pasted on crisp paper --

What an occasion!

Of course that is why it’s ascendant

And will probably be final -- unless

When the lights go out the goose quill

Hath another day.

Missed our #Shakespeare First Folio at yesterday’s talk? Another chance to view at our Open Day: photo via Guildhall Library @GuildhallLib, 19 June 2013
Image from Shakespeare's First Folio

Shakespeare's First Folio, title page (1623): image via The British Library, 2014

Goose quill pen: artist unknown, c. 18th c., via Jane Austen's World, 17 November 2011

Favourite Gunpowder fact: One plotter wrote secret letters in orange juice to his lover while he was in the Tower: image via Dainty Ballerina @DaintyBallerina, 4 November 2014

And here is his actual signature after being tortured. A human man with dislocated joints: image via Dainty Ballerina @DaintyBallerina, 4 November 2014

The English poet and soldier Wilfred Owen was killed in action #onthisday in 1918. #WWI: image via The British Library @britishlibrary, 4 November 2014

#ChateauDeQueribus #Aude #CheminCathare #Brume: image via Ludivine Félix @GingerLudi, 16 September 2014

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#onthis day in 1957 Jack Kerouac's On the Road was first published. Read his inspirations
: image via The British Library @britishlibrary, 5 September 2014

When writing an email, don't think electronic, think EVIDENCE: image via Hospitality Lawyer @hospitality_law, 23 October 2014

Three ways most #marketers screw up #email subject line split tests: image via Ecoconsultancy @Ecoconsultancy, 2 November 2014

Remise des prix du concours départemental de labours à #puylaurens Bonne image pour les jeunes #agriculteurs: image via Philippe Folliot @philippefolliot, 25 August 2013

L'exterieur Francais #puylaurens: image by Jennifer Adam @RubiedMoon, 4 June 2013

Shakespeare’s First Folio currently on display at U of T's rare book library: image via Torontoist @torontoist, 22 September 2014

The plays of #Shakespeare were written by……Shakespeare! 1st folio at @bodleianlibs #HappyBirthdayShakespeare: image via Matthew Ward @HistoryNedsYou, 23 April 2014

Love this: @FolgerLibrary's s copy of Shakespeare 1st folio features a child's doodles: image via The Appendix @appendixjournal, 17 October 2014

Shakespeare's birthday is celebrated today! Here's a list of his original cast from our copy of the First Folio: image by Glasgow Uni p Coll @GUspcoll, 23 April 2014

Fantastic! Shakespeare's First Folio 1623 Inspiring wrinkles, worn edges & stains! Thanks @StratPerthMuse @stratfest: image via Josue Laboucane, 17 August 2014

Edward Dorn (1929-1999):  On first looking into Shakespeare’s Folios just after Christmas 1998, at the New British Library (unpublished, courtesy Jennifer Dunbar Dorn)

"...a poem of Ed's called "On First Looking into Shakespeare's Folios" that I discovered on computer while I was there.  Ed sure wanted out before the new millennium crashed in, didn't he?" -- J.D.D. 

Ed was a wonderful letter writer, and he wrote most often by hand, using those writerly tools of lost epochs, pen and ink. (To us, in any case, he never wrote electronically. At times I suspected he associated email with the hand of the assassin.)  He wrote in a singular, expressive hand that moved with the thought, now swift, now slower. His voice could be heard in it. Getting a letter from him was indeed always an occasion!


TC said...

Ed's poem was writ in London at the beginning of the final year of his life; his title, of course, refers to the poem decorated here (which decoration by the way gets a bit bigger and thus for what it's worth more legible if clicked upon).

The landscape evoked in the Dorn poem (and seen in three of the photos here) is that of the Languedoc region, which, some years earlier, Ed had explored with particular interest (heretic hunting) during a teaching stint at Montpellier.

TC said...

Because the messages of great importance
Have had no standardized delivery rate...

put me in mind of:

"On the other side, true dispatch is a rich thing. For time is the measure of business, as money is of wares; and business is bought at a dear hand where there is small dispatch. The Spartans and Spaniards have been noted to be of small dispatch; Mi venga la muerte de Spagna; Let my death come from Spain; for then it will be sure to be long in coming."

- Francis Bacon, "Of Dispatch"

kent said...

You, Mr. Tom, keep those e-writ words coming. At least until my lights go out.

yr faithful reader,


erin said...

such crucial variables composing the crux of existence, time and distance (time being the father of distance, or distance the father of time). fuck with these things (and we do, we're working hard at perfecting the pornography of being) and all value, the most precious and illusory of things, vanishes into the same thin air it was (potentially) born from.


erin said...

and then she hits send ...

Nin Andrews said...

Reminds me of how much I love old books, the smell of them, the calligraphy, the magic. Now they appear slick and smooth and impersonal by contrast.



do they even exist

manik sharma said...


This is about as close I'll come to answering Vincent's question above. I'll start afresh tomorrow.

TC said...

All the post offices here have been sold off to the highest bidder and customers reassigned to Staples outlets, so it seems we won't ever be doing mail any more, Virginia.

The Bacon line about wanting the dark rider to be forced to make the long trip -- whether the perilous sea voyage via Lisbon or the overland route, changing horses all through France, stopping at many inns, engaging with many bandits along the way -- always seemed to me a brilliant bit of joking, but then somewhere along the line it took on a different meaning, and stopped being funny.