In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS Upper New York Bay, the leading U.S. immigration centre from 1892 to 1943." But I'm beginning to sound more grouchy than Groucho, when what's due to Riewald is thanks for this latest labor of love in a career's worth of contributions to the small but (if I say so as shouldn't) choice field populated by those who find Max Beerbohm funny enough to take seriously. Lawrence Danson ------------------------ Princeton University The Legendary Smithers James G. Nelson. Publisher to the Decadents: Leonard Smithers in the Careers of Beardsley, Wilde, Dow son. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000. xvi + 430 pp. $40.00. U.K./ Rivendale Press, www.rivendale press.freeserve.co.uk P.O. Box 97, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire HP14 4GH £25.00 THIS VOLUME is Nelson's third publishing history of the most important "literary publishers" of the Transitional period, beginning with his acclaimed study, The Early Nineties: A View from the Bodley Head (1971), followed by Elkin Mathews: Publisher to Yeats, Joyce, Pound (1989). The central figures of these studies—John Lane, Mathews, and Smithers—were, as part of the avant-garde movement, instrumental in transforming "book design and decoration that would open the way to the modern book." Of these and other "new literary publishers ," Nelson contends that Smithers was "the most daring, courageous , and, in some respects, the most clever and talented of them all." However, Smithers's reputation as a dealer in pornography has overshadowed his other interests: that is, his "valiant efforts to rescue the young avant-garde writers and artists of the fin de siècle who in the spring of 1895 had been caught up in the dramatic backlash which followed the tragic fall of Wilde. . . ." As a solicitor in Sheffield, Smithers established an epistolary relationship with Sir Richard Burton, translator of The Thousand Nights and a Night (1885). They subsequently collaborated in translating and producing several Latin texts "of an erotic caste." After Burton's death in 1890, Smithers joined Harry Nichols, a Sheffield printer and rare-book dealer, in printing and clandestinely distributing pornographic works. In 1891 they moved to London, where they established separate rarebook and printing businesses, continuing their trade in pornography. In 1893, Smithers produced the anonymous homosexual novel Teleny, which some writers have associated with Wilde, the evidence derived 213 ELT 44 : 2 2001 solely from Charles Hirsch, a Frenchman who had owned a bookstore in London and who wrote the introduction to a French translation published in 1934. In accepting Hirsch's account, Nelson believes that Wilde was "involved significantly in its history as well as its composition" along with several "friends" (never identified). Curiously, however, the novel is never mentioned by Wilde in any of his extant letters, nor have any of Wilde's "friends," in the many memoirs published since his death, revealed a connection between Wilde and Teleny. In his biography, Ellmann never mentions the novel, an indication that he did not believe Hirsch's story. In late 1894, Smithers and Nichols separated: Nelson suggests that Smithers "probably broke off his partnership with Nichols because he objected to the printer's penchant for consistently dealing in hard-core pornography." Nelson regards the period of 1895-1900 as Smithers's "glory years," when Smithers published significant literary works as well as the Savoy (1896), which Ellmann describes as "the first and the only English magazine to expound and illustrate" the Symbolist Movement . Always meticulous about a book's appearance, whether a pornographic work or one by an avant-garde author, Smithers insisted on printing and binding of the highest quality; hence, he turned to the Chiswick Press, known for its fine craftsmanship. Having moved from Soho to a more respectable location in the Royal Arcade, Smithers was now determined, as Nelson writes, "to enter the arena of legitimate publishing." The arrest of Wilde and sacking of Beardsley from the Yellow Book provided Smithers with an extraordinary opportunity. In June 1895, he published Arthur Symons's London Nights, a book that had been rejected by Heinemann and by the Bodley Head (the publisher of the Yellow Book), whose reader, John Davidson, reported that the poems' "indecencies, impudences, and...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 213-217
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.