Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Expansion of My Thesis: Introduction.

I am finally getting around to expanding upon my little (only 81 pages) thesis that I wrote for my M.A. in English. It is entitled "Romantic Tragedy and the Redemptive Catharsis."

Since I will be quoting frequently from the original work, I thought that I might provide, for those so inclined, links to the citation information for my thesis on the left-hand sidebar of this blog, right above the Twitter button. My thesis is available online through UMI (ProQuest,) and the UMI Microform Document Number is 1446341. Or, if you'd like to peruse the printed copy, you can find it in the stacks of the Mary & John Gray Library at Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas. The call number is PN1892 .A55 2006 Copy 2.

For those readers who do not wish to consult the original document, I have provided the following summary, which should prove to be sufficient to allow the reader to easily follow discussions and possible augmentations set forth in future posts. 

Essentially, my thesis proposes the following tenets:

1. Aristotle's model of Tragedy achieves Catharsis through a process which I call Sobering Melancholy.

2. Aristotle's model of Tragedy forms the fundamental core of a larger dynamic, whose permutations allow multiple and varied methodologies for the achievement of Catharsis,  through the continuation of Aristotle's model past the expected point of conclusion, albeit through emotional processes other than those prescribed by Aristotle (i.e., processes other than Sobering Melancholy.)

3. The permutation for which my thesis proposes a structural model is a type of Tragedy that I refer to as Romantic Tragedy. Other scholarly works before mine have used this term to describe elements of Aristotle's model of Tragedy which are romantic, but to my knowledge, such works still place the responsibility for Cathartic achievement within the realm of melancholy. My use of the term also describes romantic elements within Aristotle's model, but the point of deviation is this: If the playwright allows these romantic elements to form the basis of Catharsis, rather than relying upon melancholy, a different, yet equally fulfilling Catharsis becomes possible.

4. The emotional process through which my version of Romantic Tragedy achieves Catharsis is called Joyful Satisfaction.

5. In the model prescribed by Aristotle, Tragedy is composed of a beginning (a), a rise of action (b), a perepeteia or turning point (c), a decline of action (d), and lastly, a tragic fall (e).

6. In the model proposed by my thesis, Romantic Tragedy is composed of a beginning, a rise of action, a primary perepeteia which is characterized by a grievous mistake or error in judgment, a decline of action, a secondary perepeteia which is characterized by the occurrence of one or more tragic events which are the direct result of the primary perepeteia (e), a redemptive rise of action characterized by actions of atonement (f), and lastly, a conclusion which results in Joyful Satisfaction, through the partial (never complete!) redemption of the tragic hero (g).

7. Romantic Tragedy is not Comedy, because it does not reverse nor prevent the fall of the tragic hero; the grievous error of the primary perepeteia and the tragic event(s) of the secondary perepeteia still carry their full weight and consequence, but instead of a complete fall, the nobility of the tragic hero allows him to perform some action of atonement, which results in his partial redemption.

8. The most common genre for the occurrence of Romantic Tragedy among modern dramatic forms is that of the American "Western" film.

The definition that my thesis uses as its "official" definition of Tragedy is a combination of two translations. The translations used are those of S.H. Butcher, and Malcolm Heath. The result is the following "hybrid" definition:

Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and possesses magnitude; in language made pleasurable, each of its species separated into different parts [of the play]; performed by actors, not through narration; effecting through [the experiencing of] pity and fear the proper purification of these emotions.

In the posts that follow this one, I will be consulting other scholarly resources on both Tragedy and Romanticism. I will also be applying my methodology to various films, showing the Tragic structure and Cathartic process as it unfolds in each film.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Welcome to My Blog, Part II

This post was edited on January 15, 2013. Edits are highlighted in yellow. It was originally posted on 8-21-2011. The edits that I have made represent a renewed interest in reviving this blog, which has been sitting in cyberspace virtually untouched for almost 17 months.

This blog has been languishing in the throes of neglect long enough. I have been putting off posting, because I knew in my mind that the next post was going to bring with it a significant change in the blog's purpose and scope.

Originally, the scope of this blog was limited to being "...an attempt to document some of my best acquisitions, as well as to provide myself with a forum through which to showcase my other book and writing related interests."

By the terms "best acquisitions," I originally meant new additions to my "Big Three" collection (i.e., antiquarian editions of the works of John Dryden, Alexander Pope, and Jonathan Swift.)

By the terms "other book and writing related interests," I meant published, scholarly criticism relating to the Big Three, as well as my own scholarly work in this area, and also the expansion of my thesis, which centers around Aristotelian tragic theory, and its possible permutations.

This might, at first, seem like a broad enough range of topics for a blog, but I soon realized that if I wanted a large readership, that my focus was still much too narrow. Therefore, I decided to expand the blog's scope to include my collections of the following authors:

The works of William Congreve
The works of John Milton
The works of Thomas Shadwell
The works of William Wotton
The works of Sir William Temple

As well as antiquarian books on the following subjects:

Antique locomotives
Wooden sailing ships
Medieval arms and armor
Grandfather Clocks

But even then, I sensed the need to broaden the scope of this blog even further. In addition to broadening the scope, I also felt that the content up until this point has been somewhat lacking in depth; in essence, each post has gone something like this: 

"I recently bought another book about the Big Three. It had these so and so markings on the inside, and was published in so and so year. Here are some pictures..."

If I were to continue in this vein, I might as well call this blog "Christopher's Brag Book," and be done with it. But the shallow content shall end here, because the last thing that I wish to do is to allow this blog to become my online vanity fest.

I do want to showcase my book collection, but I want to provide my reader with something of interest as well. I want my reader to know why I collect these things, and what makes each volume special to me. I want my reader to learn something new that will be of value to them. I want my reader to come away from each post thinking, "Wow, I didn't know that. That's pretty neat." I want the blog to be informative, like a museum exhibit. It's nice to look at the big, skeletal T-Rex, but there needs to be a plaque as well, that lets the viewer know what it is that they're looking at, and why it is significant and worth remembering.

Thus, I have decided to write this post, which will serve as a re-dedication of the blog, and a more concise re-statement of its aim and purpose.

I am Christopher Altnau, aka The Traveling Antiquarian, and I am a librarian, a literary scholar, a book collector (antiquarian and otherwise,) a writer, and an amateur genealogist.

In this blog, you will find:

1) Articles relating to my collection of antiquarian books, specifically the works of the aforementioned authors and subjects.

2) Articles relating to my scholarly endeavors, including the expansion of my thesis, and literary criticism relating to the Big Three.

3) Articles relating to librarianship, including such topics as information literacy, digital preservation, rare books and manuscripts, and equal access to special collections.

4) Articles on book binding, book repair, book appraisal, and book restoration.

5) Articles and photographs concerning both antique, and modern-replicas-in-the-antique-style, grandfather clocks. (I love all kinds of ornate / old fashioned clocks, from pocket watches to wall clocks, but grandfather clocks are my favorite.)

6) Anything else that I can think of that would somehow relate to the overall intent of this blog, including a new post category: Wish List.

The posts will probably be spaced further apart, but they will no longer be rushed, and they will no longer focus solely upon the physical act of collecting. I'd rather have five quality posts per year than to have 20 mediocre ones. And I hope that you, my reader, will agree.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sir Walter Scott at the Austin Book, Paper, & Photo Show

Hello again, gentle readers; I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to Larry McMurtry for the awful pun on his "Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen," but I simply couldn't resist. How often does one get the chance to use a title like that?

I went to the Austin BP&P Show this afternoon, arriving in the last hour of the last day of the show, just in time, it seems, to stumble upon a really good deal. I'd like to thank Chuck Whiting for telling me about it, because I was otherwise oblivious to the occurrence this event, and hindsight being all that they say it is, I would have regretted not attending.

I don't usually collect Sir Walter Scott's works, but the book was so beautiful, I was unable to ignore it. The seller was, surprisingly, the Austin Public Library Bookstore. Their blog, Recycled Reads, can be found here.

Before today, I hadn't realized that the APL even had a bookstore, let alone one that boasted rare and antiquarian titles among its inventory; I would have thought that the library would have put such books in its special collections room, but it appears that I was blessedly mistaken. I think that I shall be paying them a visit quite soon. Their prices were quite reasonable.

And of course, all the monies collected by the store benefits the APL, a noble cause to be sure.

Without further ado, here are the pictures of my new treasure:

Front Cover

Spine Detail

Seller's Detail Card

Ephemera From Past Sellers: An Antique Advertisement

Penciled Inscriptions

Title Page

I couldn't be happier with this find. And I suspect that the APL Book Store will soon become one of my favorite haunts.

Until next time, I wish you, my readers, all the best in your book collecting endeavors. Cheers!

Monday, January 10, 2011

English Poets: Ben Jonson To Dryden

Hello again, gentle readers. I apologize for my long absence, but November and December were incredibly hectic for me. The upside is that, on December 17, 2010, I graduated from library school. Thus, my day to day schedule is now a lot more flexible, which means that I can once again turn some of my attention to leisurely pursuits such as this blog.

This post concerns a windfall, upon which I stumbled completely by chance. I was at the local used book store, looking for books on genealogy, and I just happened to see this book on the clearance rack for one dollar, on my way out of the store. Granted, the spine is in grievous need of repair, and the book is a "student edition," which means that it was meant as a textbook, probably as an introductory text for high school or freshman college students. But to me, it is a treasure. As you will see from the pictures, it was published in 1881, with an introduction by Matthew Arnold, and has an inscription from 1884; and of course, its subject matter is close to my heart. I really enjoyed discovering this little jewel, just as I am also enjoying the process of adding it to this blog. So without further ado, here are the pictures:

That's all for now. Until next time, may your discoveries be fortuitous, and your journeys safe and fulfilling.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Congreve, Bound!

Well, here it is, after more than a month in the making, I proudly present to you the process of book restoration, in pictures, as performed by Michael Atha of Restoration Books Bindery & Fine Press. 

Here is the URL to Mr. Atha's website:  (http://www.rarebookrestoration.com/)

I have to say, now that I am holding the book in my hand, I couldn't be happier; Michael's high quality work far exceeded my expectations, and I feel like a kid at Christmastime. Owning this unique volume is truly both a pleasure and a privilege.

So without further ado, here are the pictures:



Sewing Begins

Front & End Papers Added

No Detail Overlooked

Cover Panels

Cutting Out The Leather

Doing The Corners

Sans Decoration

Decoration Added

Time To Do The Spine


Make Sure It's Securely Glued

Give The New Book A Little Weight Training.

Spine Detail Work


 As you can see, I ended up with a very nice book, one that I will always treasure. Thanks, Michael, you really made my day!

To my gentle readers, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the restoration process. Until next time, I wish you all the best in your book collecting endeavors!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Congreve Dis-bound, Part Two: The Journey Towards Restoration

Well, my gentle readers, I have sent the book to a restoration specialist, and he wrote me an email today to let me know that the book arrived safely:


Just to let you know, your copy of Congreve's "The Way of the World" just arrived safely in the mail and looks great!  It will rebind beautifully.  We'll get to this as quickly as possible, and I will keep you posted of our progress and when we're prepared to return ship.  At any point, please feel free to call me if you have any questions.  Thanks again and I'll look forward to speaking with you again soon.

I'm not going to mention who I sent it to just yet, because I have another surprise in store; the next post will be one that you won't want to miss!

Until next time, I wish you the best of luck in your book collecting endeavors!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Congreve Dis-bound, Part One

Finally, the postal system has delivered my latest online acquisition: a dis-bound copy of William Congreve's "The Way of the World," published 1777 by John Bell. The frontispiece is, alas, missing entirely, as are the remaining pages of the epilogue beyond the first. At any rate, it's still a nice piece to have; the remaining pages are crisp and tight, and only slightly yellowed with age. For something that's 1 year younger than the United States, it's in remarkable shape. Here are some pictures, including one next to a tape dispenser, to illustrate the small size of the item. It was probably a "coat pocket" edition, meant to be easily portable.

As promised, this little item is going to be featured in two posts; the reason being that I plan to take it to a restoration shop and have it re-bound, if possible. When the new cover is on, I shall post pictures of it. If I am told that re-binding is not possible, then the second part of this post will be a simple note to that effect; I sincerely hope that this is not the case, as I would love to see it with a proper binding.

Until next time, gentle readers, I bid you good day, and wish you well.