Frontispiece

bookplate

 

Frontispiece

On the Inability of many Victorians
to adequately append to their Dissertations
such short and succinct titular Benamings
as would better serve their weighty Publications
without exposure to crucial Details
of sundry Devices and Plots thus delineated
by which the presumed Reader is disprivileged
and their subsequent Enpleasurement undersated.

 

 

7 thoughts on “Frontispiece

  1. Haha, I do like a historically appropriate verbose title (or, how pleasing the addition of many well-chosen words can make an old book’s introduction of itself). Lovely poem.

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    1. Thanks. I always found it strange how the Victorians never hit upon the obvious marketing possibilities of snappy titles and images on dust jackets. The latter were seen as temporary and disposable, and maybe they viewed the titles in the same manner.

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      1. Yes – the Victorian era being one of commerce and entrepreneurship, you’d expect marketing to have been a priority. But the medicines of the age were also marketed with names like “Dr Linton’s fortifying tincture for growth” (I’ve invented that), so maybe that was just the style people were used to?
        Do you have a favourite book title which follows this pattern, or one that inspired you for this poem?

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      2. Well, I suppose a classic is:
        “The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pyrates.”
        To be honest, the Georgians probably did this even more than the Victorians, with the full title of The Origin of Species running to a modest 21 words. I suppose their titles were the only form of advertising available, although I do think they could have used better hooks and fewer spoilers.

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      3. Fewer spoilers, yes. Tolkien’s authentic Victorian fantasy “The Hobbit, or There and Back Again” rather dilutes the “will they ever get there” tension in the initial journey. I think many of Defoe’s titles are good C18 examples.

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      4. Let us not forget that when Frodo edits Bilbo’s account of recent events, he gives it the title:
        “The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King (as seen by the Little People; being the memoirs of Bilbo and Frodo of the Shire, supplemented by the accounts of their friends and the learning of the Wise.)”
        Considering that it appears that ‘publishing’ in Middle Earth was at the level of mediaeval monasteries, I bet the scribes just loved writing out that lot…

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      5. It does make me wonder how our modern world might look if we had kept up the practice:
        “Snakes on a Plane, in which Samuel L Jackson has had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane”

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