Welcome to this cyberplace, set up as a space for news and reviews of A Gentleman of Pleasure and occasional jottings about John Glassco. Five years have now passed since publication, and I've moved on to other projects, but I'm leaving this up with the thought that those drawn to Glassco's writing will find something of interest.

29 August 2011

'Too Sexy for the Canon'

Now available online, Peter Dubé's thought-provoking essay on A Gentleman of Pleasure from the recent Montreal Review of Books:
...the space in the canon where one should find books intended to arouse both mind and genitals is still overwhelmingly blank. One must ask: if literature is meant, as some might argue, to reflect human life in all its complexity, why is it that of all our activities, sex alone is so rigorously excluded? If books are meant to move, provoke, and stimulate us, why is the stirring of sexual feeling marginalized? Of course, there are no simple answers to such questions, nor am I prepared to hazard any guesses of my own (particularly in a brief review essay), but at a moment in which much of literary culture is radically transforming, perhaps a glance at other basic assumptions is in order. Surely these questions matter? And equally surely, Busby’s fine treatment of Glassco’s complex, artful, and provocative body of work gives us an excellent opportunity to ask them.
More here.

13 August 2011

Keith Garebian in The Globe and Mail

...was he so tainted as to be totally untrustworthy as a writer? Or was he so brilliant in his literary and social masks that his falsehoods could be overlooked, or at least made subordinate to his deathless triumphs in memoir, translation (of Joris-Karl Huysmans and such French-Canadian poets as Hector de St. Denys-Garneau), Wordsworthian lyric and pornography in various permutations? It is a radical question that his latest biographer, Brian Busby, considers in this interesting and stimulating work.
The entire review can be found in today's edition and online here.

01 August 2011

Covering Memoirs of Montparnasse

For far too many years, I've been complaining much too much about the cover treatments that have been accorded Memoirs of Montparnasse. All this clamouring has been based on the tired observation that not one image of John Glassco, who was photographed frequently during his Montparnassean adventures, has been used on the cover of this, his finest work of prose. In doing so, I was perhaps being just a bit unfair to Hosei University Press, which in 2007 published a translation, モンパルナスの思い出 [Memories of Montparnasse]. Their cover features Adolf Dehn's 1929 sketch of Glassco. Not a photograph, but an image nevertheless.

To be completely fair, this same sketch appears on the back cover of the first edition.

Memoirs of Montparnasse
Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1970
The front cover illustration for the first edition is by Blair Drawson.

Memoirs of Montparnasse
Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1973
The cover used for both the first Canadian paperback edition and the first American edition in any format (published by Viking). Dehn and Drawson have disappeared, replaced by an André Kertész photograph.

Souvenirs de Montparnasse
Montreal: Éditions Hurtubise, 1983
The first French language translation, by Jean-Yves Soucy, published two years after Glassco's death. The mysterious cover art is by Robert Théroux.

Memoirs of Montparnasse
Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1995
Oxford's second edition, with a critical introduction and notes by Glassco's friend Michael Gnarowski. The final Canadian edition, this is is the one to buy.

Memoirs of Montparnasse
New York: New York Review Books, 2007
The only English language edition currently available, NYRB's features a Man Ray photograph of Kiki, a woman who features only fleetingly in the book (and who, evidence suggests, Glassco did not know). "In 1928, nineteen-year-old John Glassco escaped Montreal and his overbearing father for the wilder shores of Montparnasse", says the back cover. In fact, Glassco was eighteen. More misinformation can be found in Louis Begley's Introduction.

Memorias de Montparnasse
Madrid: Alfaguara, 2008
The first Spanish language edition... again with Kiki, again with Louis Begley.

Die verrückten Jahre: Abenteuer eines jungen Mannes in Paris
Munich: Hanser, 2010
Translated by Matthias Fienbork as The Crazy Years: Adventures of a Young Man in Paris, the German language edition features a photograph by Brassai of a lesbian bar. Go figure. Also included: a translation of the NYRB Introduction.

Mémoires de Montparnasse
Paris: Éditions Viviane Hamy, 2010
Daniel Bismuth's translation – historic in that with it Memoirs of Montparnasse becomes the first book of Canadian prose to have been twice translated into the French. I have no idea who graces the cover, but I can say with certainty that it isn't John Glassco.