Secondhand Rows 

Join Stephen Reid, our secondhand maestro, every month here as he takes a closer look at a couple of titles from his shelves.

April 2018

 - Thursday, April 05, 2018
The Blue Mountains: Jacaranda Travel Guides by Patricia Rolfe. Jacaranda Press, Brisbane. 1964. First Edition. Octavo. Hardcover. 156pp., b/w and colour photos, maps, index. Slight water stain along top edge. A Canterbury Boys High School Library stamp on p. 31. Tape residue marks on end papers. Good condition in a Good Dust jacket with a small tear. $30.00.

Autumn tourist season is upon us the Mountains, and the discovery of this small, well produced, informative travel guide allows the reader to enter the Dr. Peabody Way-Back Machine and revisit the Blue Mountains region of over half a century ago. It’s an entertaining read also for its sometimes Enid Blyton type prose and characterisations of the Blue Mountains. Spring and Autumn are the recommended times to visit being the ‘most benign and beautiful’. Visitors are warned however that the school holidays fall during these seasons and ‘the area is overrun with apple-cheeked children’.
Most revealing is Chapter 5 – How the Blue Mountains People Live. Be prepared— the guide advises in blunt language—to encounter both a social and physical difference of population and appearance between the Lower Mountains—up to Springwood—and the Upper Mountains, that is, Leura, Katoomba & Blackheath: Because of the amount of post-war building, the Lower Blue Mountains have a spic-and-span homemaking magazine look compared with much of Leura and Katoomba. Leura in particular has a sort of shabby gentility… However, our travel guide author is just getting started: The shabby genteel is a Blue Mountains type. He lives probably at Leura or Blackheath, on a fixed income which shrinks each year, among the remnants of former wealth…It may be twenty years since he was in Sydney, which he loathes and hopes to never see again. In fact, he rarely goes even to Katoomba, which he loathes.  As for the tourists – he loathes them even more. Oh dear!
Four other chapters of the guide are interesting short essays by a quartet of authors.
Journalist and historian Malcolm Henry Ellis (189–1969) provides a chronicle of Blue Mountains history from first settlement to the end of WW2 in his colourful and lively style. Blue Mountains geography is described by Professor Griffith Taylor (1880–1963), Antarctic explorer and renowned geologist. Alec Chisholm (1890–1977), writer and ornithologist, surveys the Flora and Fauna. 
The most interesting essay is the final offering—subtitled: The Blue Mountains Back-to-Front—which are novelist Hugh Atkinson’s (1924–1994) recollections of growing up in the Blue Mountains in the 1930s. As a young boy he had very little regard for explorers Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth: By the time I read about them in school, I had walked and climbed in my mountains for fifty miles around with my father and his friends…It was a surprise to learn that they were blue and brooding, tumbled and terrible, mile on mile of precipice and peak. I could not see them that way at all....They (the explorers) and I fell out altogether when I took up the subject with Tom Grey, a bushman friend of the family’s. Tom had come to the house to tan green kangaroo skins. While he pegged the hides on the feed-room walls and I handed him nails from a tin, I questioned him. ‘Well boy’, he told me, ‘them were back of my time. A pack of no ‘opers who took years and years to get over a range I could cross in a week with a quart pot stuffed on me ‘ead’. Stephen

(Small tear and moderate edgewear to dust jacket. Good tight clean copy).
Tales of Mystery & Imagination—Illustrated by Arthur Rackham, $20(Edges and endpapers lightly spotted. Otherwise excellent tight clean copy).
Not particularly rare but two nicely illustrated editions capturing the nightmarish atmosphere of Poe’s stories and poems. Rackham’s bold black and white drawings are amongst the illustrator’s best while Marsden’s wonderfully grainy photographs are straight out of the Hammer Horror copy book.
(Excellent copy in ‘Fine’ condition). Like Poe, Serbian poet Jovan Docic formulated his own lonely world of the imagination. Working at the turn of the last century, when Romantic and Realist poetry was coming to a close and Modernism was just beginning, Docic’s unique style and esoteric themes set Serbian poetry on a new course. 
Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath’s Art of the Visual.
Edited by Kathleen Connors and Sally Bayley, $15
(Moderate edgewear to dust jacket including small tear on spine. Otherwise excellent tight clean copy).Bringing to light a side of Plath that is scarcely known, Eye Rhymes documents the poet’s formative experiences as a visual artist. Many of the themes and sophisticated visual and colour effects of her later writing find early expression in the paintings and drawings of Plath’s childhood and teenage years.
(Covers and edges lightly spotted. Very small crease on front cover. Generally good clean copy). Number Twenty Five in the City Lights rare Pocket Poets Series. Picasso’s delightfully earthy poems vividly recall his boyhood in Malaga. Scott