A new description of Merryland. Containing, a topographical, geographical, and natural history of that country. - Thomas Stretzer 1841
Mission accomplished? great! Well no not really but my day at the The British Library turned out to be very useful. I had my moments of confusion but they involved lockers that need a £1 coin to lock, clear plastic bags and requesting books that are not, as it turns out, delivered to your reading desk (number 59) on a silver tray. I have to say that the staff there are very, very helpful, particularly when its obvious that the customer (?) is new to the place.
I got my hands on some bibliographies of British erotic fiction. The best of which had a section dedicated to the titles and any illustrations on the front covers of books or pamphlets. Many of these are no longer in existence or if they are someone isn't sharing. So I made lots of notes and drawings.
What I had really gone for: The 1841 edition of Merryland. It arrived to me in an envelope, no longer in possession of its cover, much of it's binding had disintegrated but this allowed me to take a close look at the remaining stitched binding and the thick yellowed pages that had held on to the remnants of some thick glue still clinging to the spine of this 30 page (or so) text.
I was so excited to see this book, my hands were sweaty which made me panic a bit which made my hands sweaty, and so it continued. The font was a nice surprise, large and rather graceful, not that easy to read but I soon got into it. This is a funny book (or at least it is now) a male author, of course, writing about the wonders of the female body as if it were a land mass with occupants. But I must confess, I expected some topographical maps...yes, I know. Having only read snippets from the book and a vague outline, I got carried away with the idea that this was a more deeply hidden nod to pornography, than in fact it was. However I intend to make use of my slight misunderstanding.
So next: Well I will return for another visit. There is an earlier version of this book called Bettyland, available in digital format (1684) and I have struck off my list but also added books to track down. The day helped me draw out what I'm really interested in and what I can let go of.
I needed to see an early edition of Marryland, hold it in my hands before moving on with some work, some of which will branch off into the second edition of my zine The Collector. The initial ideas are starting in drawing form, inkjet prints and text.
'I was assured that when I was in Merryland my instrument was inferior to none, but from years after, happening to be there again and repeating the experiment I found both [my notes are illegible] increased by degrees. Though I tried in the same spot and with the same instrument as before it may perhaps be suspected that my instrument may have suffered since the first experiment was made as it is well known that the best are damaged by time and frequent use but that was not the case for me. I must confess that it has been often used but with such prudent care and caution that it was in great perfection...'
Merryland - Thomas Stretzer
I think its ok to embrace your inner immaturity and have a chuckle. Given the time of writing I was expecting a text where women were far more objectified than it actually turned out to be. Personally I felt that the author gave the female strength and ferocity amidst the ridiculousness of the concept, in some ways. But I do plan a re read, my opinion may change.
The Collector Zine Issue 2: Love Letters
Often in the texts I am reading at the moment the text or story are derived from letters found by the author or perhaps sent to him by a friend via another. All a cover up for the authors original writings and this got me thinking about letter writing in general while I was deciding the theme for the next issue of The Collector. I have asked friends on twitter & Fb to send me snippets of love letters either sent by or to them. I wasnt specific about what a love letter actually means I am very interested to see what I get back and then compile them into the zine. I am also working on some drawings to interact wit the text.
Atlas 5 launched on 5th August taking the Juno mission to Jupiter up, up and away with it. I like the look of this rocket.