Essay Writer



San Francisco: Arion Press, 2001

Oblong folio, pp. 114. Original green silk covered boards, title labels to front panel and spine. Leading edge uncut. Original green slipcase, title label to spine. A very fine copy in a very near fine slipcase.

No. 307 of 400 numbered copies, SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR AND ARTIST.

A sumptuous edition of a Stoppard masterpiece, with William Matthews providing four views of the park which is described in the play by several characters over two centuries, but which is never seen.

In his author's note to the edition, Stoppard spurns the opportunity to write about Arcadia -- '...there seems to be no end of people willing to do that for me...'. Instead, gloriously, he uses the occasion:

' mention my love for books as objects. I was going to write "as objects of beauty", but that would set limits which my love for books disregards. [...] I now possess more [books] than I will have time to read before I'm dead, because for years past I have been buying books faster than I can read them. I love ordinary trade editions, and after a few decades of buying -- not collecting -- them I now find I possess a number of collectable "firsts" simply by having stayed alive. It is of course a special delight to have a play in Arion's distinguished list. I confess that this beautiful production will not have the company it deserves on my bookshelves. I have never gone in for special editions, fine bindings etc. Perhaps it's not too late to start. Meanwhile "the Arion Arcadia" will receive the same jealous regard as my trade edition of, say, Max Beerbohm's A Christmas Garland picked up off a barrow for sixpence forty years ago -- there is no higher regard.'

(Stoppard's fondness for giving books as gifts is well known; the generosity he shows in doing it perhaps less so. When a friend of your cataloguer appeared as Bernard, the Byron scholar, in the most recent West End revival of Arcadia in 2009, Stoppard's opening night gift to him was a first edition of Byron's Hebrew Melodies (1815). It is not for sale.)

A fine copy of a glorious edition of a perfect play.

Keywords: Tom STOPPARD William MATTHEWS Diana KETCHAM"

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