Long Island Book Collectors ushered in the New Year with the return of Joe Rainone, whose collection encompasses the history of popular literature in America. His topic: the birth of the detective mystery during the 19th century. The genre has its roots in written accounts of crime and criminals published in the Newgate Calendar: the Malefactors’ Bloody Register, first printed in England during the 1770s. Originally circulated as a warning to criminals to uphold the King’s Law, these publications and others like them inspired writers to raise the cry for fair treatment at the hands of the ruling class. We looked at an original 1840 edition of Newgate Calendar that influenced both Dickens and Dumas, and a “rare” copy of The Gleanings, a pamphlet depicting actual crimes that was published in America, believed to have contained the seeds of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables; The Dead Letter, the first published detective novel written by an American woman; the 1841 newspaper account “Violation and Murder of Mary Rogers,” in The Weekly Herald that gave birth to Edgar Allen Poe’s The Murder of Marie Roget; and Fantomas: le fiacre de nuit, a series of 32 pre-WWI French thrillers written by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain. Mr. Rainone’s new guide, The Illustrated Dime Novel, is now available.
After snow prevented LIBC from meeting in February, we were welcomed back in March by collector and dealer Mike Marell, who treated us to an extensive selection of his Pinocchio books by Carlo Collodi, born in Florence, in 1826. In 1875, after he translated a book of French fairytales by Perrault, Collodi began writing for children. The adventures of his fictional marionette, Pinocchio, quickly became a weekly installment in Italy’s first children’s magazine. In 1893 the story was published as a book in Italian. Over the years Mr. Marell has amassed many versions of the Pinocchio story in a variety of languages, illustrated by well-known artists like Mazzanti and Maria L. Kirk. Mr. Marell ended his presentation on a philosophical note, with the words of Benedetto Croce: “The wood that Pinocchio is made of is the material of all humanity.”
In May, Roz Grand, a life-long collector of Judaica and Holocaust materials, took us back to the 1970s, sharing memories of her son’s activities on behalf of Soviet Jewry. On view from her collection were the writings of a politically engaged American Jewish intelligentsia including Hear the Cry of the Oppressed: The Jewish Community in the Soviet Union, published in Cleveland in 1965. This work and others like it contained first-hand accounts of daily life for Jews in Russia. Grassroots organizations managed to produce literature that would bring the urgency of immigration rights for Russian Jews to the fore. Her red binders filled with pamphlets, buttons reading “I am a Zionist,” and flyers for a “Free Anatoly Scharansky” rally, remain true signposts of a troubled era.
LIBC looks forward to a “light” gala luncheon in June hosted by Long Island Book Collectors and Long Island Antiquarian Book Dealers. The guest speaker will be renowned Egyptologist and Professor Emeritus of Long Island University (Post), Bob Brier. Copies of his latest book will be available for purchase.
If you are in the Long Island, New York area, please join us. Our monthly Sunday meetings are posted on our website. Look for our table each November at the Long Island Antiquarian Book & Paper Fair in Hofstra University’s Student Center.