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Mistura Curiosa
Edinburgh. Maclachlan and Stewart. 1896, 1896. First edition. 4to. Bound in publisher's dark green cloth covered bevelled boards, titled and decorated in gilt to spine and front board. Light edgewear, some slight frayiong to head of spine; bright, clean and handsome. All edges gilt. Internally clean. A bizarre and unusual collection of verses, riddles, songs and fables, some of which it has to be said are markedly racist by today's standards (if not actually intended to be at the time because apparently being a weapons-grade muppet to people who weren't exactly like you in every respect was just good, clean fun), but which were probably the height of comic subtlety in 1896, which leads me to believe I'd sooner chew my own leg off than attend a recital of such gibberish. Subjects other than the fact that black people were vastly amusing to late Victorians covered by this volume include comic Scottish verses, rhymes about golf (the only redeeming feature of said pastime being that the practitioners of it are frequently struck by lightning), curling and the unforgiving and somewhat provocative behaviour of Sweet Nell the Grocer's Daughter. Illustrated throughout with varying degrees of artistic beauty and horrifying crassness by Charles Altamont Doyle. This is a most curious item and in fact criticism of it (not that I'll stop, obviously) is like someone one hundred years in the future finding a Viz annual and a Conservative Party internal memo and deciding therefore that we were all sexually perverse bigoted stereotypes with the charm and appeal of a really bad escalator accident; what they'll think when they get round to reading the Viz annual is anybody's guess. A snapshot of an era, albeit one of those snapshots you wouldn't run back inside a burning building to retrieve.
      [Bookseller: Adrian Harrington Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2015-05-21           Check availability:      IOBABooks    

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