August 19, 2013 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Monk and the Hangman’s Daughter by Ambrose Bierce (1967)
The Monk and the Hangman’s Daughter by Ambrose Bierce (1967)
Sandglass Number VIII:33
Artwork: Illustrations by Michel Ciry
Originally by Richard Voss, translated by Gustav Adolf Danziger and adapted by Bierce; introduced by Maurice Valency
Reprint of LEC #390, 35th Series, V. 4 in 1967
Click images for larger views.
Front Binding – Ambrose Bierce makes his blog debut today, with the second of three publications of his issued by the George Macy Company and the Cardevon Press. The first was 1942’s Tales of Soldiers and Civilians, which Paul Landacre performed artistic duties. The latter was 1972’s The Devil’s Dictionary, starring Fritz Kredel’s talents. This one is a curious book, as it was not Bierce’s in the first place. The story told here was originally put to the page by German author Richard Voss as Der Mönch von Berchtesgaden. Its English translator, Gustav Adolf Danziger, contracted Bierce to assist him in editing the piece, which he did as a favor for Danziger (Bierce was an ardent supporter of the man’s ambitions; Danziger later wrote an essay about Bierce in the 1920’s). And so, here we are with Bierce’s adaptation of Danziger’s translation of Voss’ story. Whew. Bierce himself had a rather crazy life; I suggest a visit to his Wikipedia page. His curious disappearance in Mexico is the stuff of literary legend. While perusing that page, I noticed a quote from Reader’s Club judge Clinton Fadiman, who was apparently not too big on him: “Bierce was never a great writer. He has painful faults of vulgarity and cheapness of imagination. But… his style, for one thing, will preserve him; and the purity of his misanthropy, too, will help to keep him alive.” Bierce still holds some clout in the literary world, so I suppose Fadiman’s backhanded compliment holds true.
Moving on, Michel Ciry made his sole contribution to the LEC canon with this book. His style has a children’s book feel to me, which may or may not be apropos for the tale within, but I haven’t read it yet. The Sandglass goes into more detail.
Production notes: Glenn Foss and Freeman Craw provided the design. Craw also created the Canterbury font utilized on the title and the paragraph marks littering the text. The text itself is Linotype Janson. Warren Paper Company delivered the paper used for the book, with the Tri-Arts Press seemingly responsible for the printing of that text. Buckram covers the boards, done in a color to match the hangman’s daughter’s blonde locks and in a texture meant to resemble the monk’s worn robes. May explain the somewhat drab look of the binding. No bindery info for you this time, but I suspect Russell-Rutter did it. :p
Title Page – Maurice Valency provides some background on this book’s history via Introduction. I do like Ciry’s work, but at times I feel it’s a little plain and, as I mentioned before, possibly too childish. Maybe it’s the bold colors?
Examples of the Illustrations by Ciry (right click and open in new tab for full size):
Personal Notes – A trip to Bookhaven netted this book; I was dawdling between my book choices on this particular visit, and my wife suggested this one as the concluding volume. I knew of Bierce and his rather intriguing history, so I figured why not?
Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):