Friday, November 19, 2004

mysterious fragment found scribbled in a back flyleaf

“... therefore we spent our afternoons exploring the gardens in Palinode’s palace, wandering among the overgrown topiary, chasing spiders along their webs with the tip of a twig, studying the map at the entrance of the hedge maze - now abandoned so long that the hedges had choked off some paths and opened new ones. To enter that maze was to lose your way instantly and turn an afternoon’s diversion into a dark, confusing adventure".
A.G. Morgan, A Summer in Palinode’s Palace (1929) (?)

I found this in a hardbound copy of Dombey & Son when I was nine years old or so. The book rested on the top shelf of my father's bookcase, part of a complete set of Dickens published in 1875 or thereabouts. My father had inherited the set upon graduating from Royal Military College, and though he went to great pains to encourage me to read Dickens, it was clear that these editions were not to be opened or touched. Therefore it was always in secret, at stolen moments on weekend afternoons or even in the predawn hours that I would hoist a chair up in the kitchen and walk it aloft into the living room, my skinny nine year old muscles trembling, and pull down a volume from the shelf. Generally I didn't read any of the text - they were all available in paperback on the lower shelves - but I loved to look at the frontispiece, with its fine crosshatching and expressive faces. I even loved the verso, with its information finely engraved at the foot of the page. Chapman & Hall Publishers. 193 Picadilly. The brief fragment, handwritten in violet fountain pen, first scared me - handwriting in my dad's volumes! - but soon after began to intrigue and then pester me. When I grew a little older I began to look for A Summer in Palinode's Palace in various libraries and used book stores, but without success.

More later.

1 comment:

Friday said...

That's lovely. I want to know more.