Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Books from the Library of Charles Brasch, Poet, 1909-1973.

I sat down in the evening to read

I really like this project  - Books from the Library of Charles Brasch, Poet, 1909-1973 , from  the Special Collections Library at the University of Otago, here. It showcases in a sensitive and interesting way some of the books from their Charles Brasch Library.  I especially like the lovely scans they have done of the covers, and the way the let the books take the limelight. Lovely piece of  work,

Chalres Brasch
Brasch is a bit of a literary legend in New Zealand - one time poet and founder and editor of the NZ Landfall literary magazine from 1947- 1966, where he  didn't so much talk about the idea of NZ literature, as invent it. That at least is my take - the Otago people put it this way:

" 2009 is Brasch year. Charles Orwell Brasch was born in Dunedin on 27 July 1909. He was educated at Waitaki Boys' High School and St John's College, Oxford. He lived abroad for many years working as a teacher in England, as an archaeologist in Egypt, and as a civil servant in wartime London.

He returned to New Zealand in 1946 and a year later founded Landfall, New Zealand's premier literary magazine. He was a patron of the arts, offering support and encouragement to many artists and writers.

He was also a fine poet, producing six volumes of verse, translating volumes of Russian, German and Indian poetry, and writing a memoir, published posthumously in 1980 as Indirections: A Memoir 1909-1947. He died 20 May 1973.

To achieve his literary output, Brasch read. His library of 7,500 volumes is housed at Special Collections, University of Otago Library.

This exhibition on the 100th anniversary of his birth celebrates his life through what he read. The documenting of an individual's reading habits is never easy; sometimes it is impossible.

However, by utilising Brasch's memoir and his journals, which have been recently transcribed, it has been possible to track what books he read and when. Books were re-read; books were not finished; books were praised; and of course there was always the critical eye..."

Now do you get why I am talking about this? What a great effort by the Otago peole. Congratulations!

Landfall is still going. It is published twice a year. See here for their rather light site. Would love an angel to come along and help do something with it online. Might even help!  Would also love to see someone with the right background make a better effort of the current page on Wikipedia, here. 

On the plus side, Kotare, 2008, on the NZETC has  a nice peice on Brasch, here.  Couldnt find much on Landfall itself. Perhaps someone can enlighten us all - has Landfall beeen digitised? If so where is it? And if not, should it be? And if so, by whom?

In any event - congrats again to Otago and the Special Library - this is a really lovely effort?


Jason said...

People might also be interestedin Brasch's biography, Indirections, which we've been able to make available online with the kind permission of his literary executor.
It would be fantastic if Landfall were available to search / read online -- maybe such a project could cover the years of Brasch's editorship (1947 - 1966)?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Landfall is a superb cultural resource for New Zealanders with a literary interest. Landfall has been nominated for digitisation on DigitalNZ's Make it Digital site and could do with more votes and comments from those interested to encourage the publishers to make it available online.

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