Wednesday, March 28, 2007

1450-1950 by Bob Brown

1450-1950 is a book of hand-written poems first published in 1929 by Black Sun Press. In 1959 Jargon Books/Corinth Books republished it. There are blurbs on the back of this trade paperback by: Gertrude Stein, Marcel Duchamp, Carl Van Vechten, William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg, Walter Lowenfels, James Sweeney, Gelett Burgess, Stuart Davis, and Caresse Crosby.

Caresse Crosby! That's what I thought: When was the last time you came across the name of crazy Caresse Crosby?

But this list of blurbists gets better.

Gelett Burgess. Turns out Gelett INVENTED the "blurb."

His blurb for this book reads: "It is the most original book I have read except THE LIFE AND ROMANCE OF AN ALGEBRAIST."

Yes, you can look it up but it turns out that Burgess is credited with inventing what we call "the blurb." This immediately leads to the next question: Who wrote THE LIFE AND ROMANCE OF AN ALGEBRAIST?

Or, as I initially wondered: Is this a real book?

In fact checking Burgess's blurb I discovered this: There really is such a book. However, Burgess got the title wrong. Here is the real title of the book he is referring to: MY SOUNDSPEED DISCOVERY EXPANDING INTO A CONSTRUCTIVE MEDLEY OF WIT & SONG: BEING A 4 YEAR AFTER-FLORESCENCE OF THE LIFE-ROMANCE OF AN ALGEBRAIST.

This elaborately titled book was published in 1895 by a George Winslow Peirce.

I don't have a copy of it now but I soon will.

I suppose other questions might arise. Was there really a Marcel Duchamp? A Gertrude Wittgenstein?

So much depends upon a name. William Carlos Williams Carlos William Carlos Williams.

Billy Williams. Ron Santo. Carly Silliman.

Pinker to Everson to Cioran.

Edgar Allejandro Pope.

O. Henry James Dean Martin Luther Van Halen.


Blogger Bill said...

I have, in my hand, a copy of Soundspeed. It is the strangest thing I've seen since Rod of Iron... and that's another story.

[Came to you via Google background search, trying to discover anything at all about this weirdness we have here]

My wife and I will be scanning the book for Distributed Proofreaders soon.

8:22 PM  

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