PROJECT GUTENBERG AUSTRALIA

MONTHLY NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 2008

includes details of ebooks placed online during
October 2008


Dear Subscriber,

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CONTENTS:


News and Reviews

Milestones

During October we reached a total of 1700 ebooks online at the PGA site. We started online in August 2001. A big thank-you to all of the people who have contributed books over the past seven years.

'Sapper'

'Sapper' was the pseudonym of Herman Cyril McNeile MC (1888-1937)
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapper_(author)

The Wikipedia article states that "he was one of the most successful British popular authors of the Interwar period" and that "his principal character was Bulldog Drummond." The article goes on to state that "it is thought that McNeile's first work was published before the First World War, but this is difficult to verify as a serving officers in the British Army was not permitted to publish under his own name."

McNeile was a man of his time and there is quite a lot of violence, racism and 'blokiness' in his books. We have a number of his ebooks at PGA which can be accessed from http://gutenberg.net.au/plusfifty-n-z.html#sapper including several Bulldog Drummond stories.

McNeile wrote many short stories and in October we posted 'The Saving Clause' http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801151.txt a collection of 9 stories. All begin with a compelling first paragraph and usually finish with a twist. The book was first published in 1927 and was reprinted 14 times by 1935, so it was certainly popular at that time.

My copy of the paper book is stamped 'RAAF Williamtown Officers Mess' and that might be a good indication of McNeile's audience. The fact that the book recently ended up in a charity sale of second hand books might be an indication of changing taste in reading matter in the Officers Mess, over more than half a century.

I read only the first story. It begins "I guess I don't hold with missionaries..." and the hero takes 25 pages to tell us what his 'saving clause' is; that is, his exception to the rule that he does not "hold with missionaries." The story held my interest throughout, although the writing was a little "overdone" for my taste. I guess that is an indication of his work has dated. The Wikipedia article notes that "his writing caught the public mood at the time--it was grimly realistic enough to seem authentic."

Captain Franz Von Rintelen

Coincidentally, at the time of planning this article, I received an ebook of "The Dark Invader: War-Time Reminiscences of a German Naval Intelligence Officer" by Captain Franz von Rintelen. I knew nothing of the book, so I did some searching on the internet. It seems that von Rintelen was a spy for Germany during World War I and this is the story of his activities during that time.

There is a Wikipedia article on Von Rintelen at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_von_Rintelen and an "advanced" search on "von Rintelen" within ebooks at Project Gutenberg at http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/search revealed that he is mentioned in a number of ebooks relating to World War I. As someone has already remarked, it won't be long until all the knowledge in the world is available on the internet.

You can read "The Dark Invader" at http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801121h.html

Helen Simpson and Henry VIII

I have written before about Helen Simpson, in the September 2008 newsletter at http://www.gutenberg.net.au/newsletters/200809-newsletter.html This current piece is a review of a short biography of Henry VIII; Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_VIII For those such as myself, who have only a hazy idea of the life and times of Henry VIII and the circumstances leading to the separation of the Anglican Church from Roman authority, this book provides a clear explanation. Henry VIII, Wolsey, Cromwell, and the wives--Jane, the Annes and the Catherines--are all on parade.

Interestingly and cleverly, Simpson sprinkles throughout the book quotations from Machiavelli's "The Prince" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machiavelli She explains in in the Foreword that:

"In a book of this length the writer must choose; he may record events or interpret them. Either method has its pitfalls. For example, if the reign of Henry VIII is told as a story, the central figure easily becomes an ogre, moving through a succession of cruel caprices to an unregretted end. This is to do a great King poor justice.

"It is more interesting, I think, to try his character and rule by a touchstone, which comes irresistibly to hand when we remember that Machiavelli's 'Prince' reached European statesmen somewhere about the year 1515. It is not my contention that Henry consciously took any part of his policy from this book; but its brutally clear exposition of the art of contemporary government allows a reader to understand by comparison where, and why, he succeeded or failed.

"Only the chief incidents of this life and reign, therefore, are given, viewed from the political perspective of the Florentine Secretary (Machiavelli). Quotations from him are given in italics throughout."

This book was one of a series of short biographies commissioned by the publisher Peter Davies Limited. At the end of the book are listed other titles in the series, including Voltaire, Lenin, Ruskin and Macaulay. Each is written by a different author. Most are still copyright in Australia, however, "Julius Caesar" by John Buchan and "Mark Twain" by Stephen Leacock, are on my list to look out for.

For those who will not be referring to this ebook on Henry VIII, in spite of this overwhelmingly persuasive review, I include the following extract, which provides a succinct summary of the situation in early 16th century England:--

"The King, knowledgeable in theology, had always been one of the Church's champions. His book on the Sacraments, against Luther, had earned him the title of Defender of the Faith. A few years later he received from Pope Clement, for a token that he was regarded with friendship and gratitude by the Holy See, 'a tree forged of fine gold, and wrought with branches, leaves, and flowers, resembling Roses.' He was, besides, a man of pious practices, hearing his three Masses a day even on hunting mornings. His jealousy for the good name and fame of convents may be seen in his refusal to put the abbey of Wilton in the hands of an unworthy woman, though she were of Anne's own family.

"But once more care for his dynasty brought him conflict. It is interesting (and quite useless) to speculate upon the fate of England had the little boy lived who was born to Henry and Katherine and died in June 1511, and who was mourned at Westminster with 432 pounds' weight of wax candles; or that other son, born prematurely three years later. The whole coil has for origin the King's fear lest, his issue failing and the pretenders loosed, England should go back to barbarism and civil war. Once more, implacably, each succeeding step follows the first. The divorce was necessary that he might have another chance of a child. To obtain the divorce it was necessary to set aside the Pope's brief; defiance of Rome's authority led to an assumption that such authority was not valid; if the Pope were not Christendom's overlord, then he need be paid no tribute; with Peter's Pence and Peter's thunder equally out of the way, what need had the Church of any head other than Henry himself?"

Australian Humour

THE SHEARING OF THE COOK'S DOG

The dog was a little conservative mongrel poodle, with long dirty white hair all over him--longest and most over his eyes, which glistened through it like black beads. Also he seemed to have a bad liver. He always looked as if he was suffering from a sense of injury, past or to come. It did come. He used to follow the shearers up to the shed after breakfast every morning, but he couldn't have done this for love--there was none lost between him and the men. He wasn't an affectionate dog; it wasn't his style. He would sit close against the shed for an hour or two, and hump himself, and sulk, and look sick, and snarl whenever the "Sheep-Ho" dog passed, or a man took notice of him. Then he'd go home. What he wanted at the shed at all was only known to himself; no one asked him to come. Perhaps he came to collect evidence against us. The cook called him "my darg," and the men called the cook "Curry and Rice," with "old" before it mostly.

Rice was a little, dumpy, fat man, with a round, smooth, good-humoured face, a bald head, feet wide apart, and a big blue cotton apron. He had been a ship's cook. He didn't look so much out of place in the hut as the hut did round him. To a man with a vivid imagination, if he regarded the cook dreamily for a while, the floor might seem to roll gently like the deck of a ship, and mast, rigging, and cuddy rise mistily in the background. Curry might have dreamed of the cook's galley at times, but he never mentioned it. He ought to have been at sea, or comfortably dead and stowed away under ground, instead of cooking for a mob of unredeemed rouseabouts in an uncivilized shed in the scrub, six hundred miles from the ocean.

They chyacked the cook occasionally, and grumbled--or pretended to grumble--about their tucker, and then he'd make a roughly pathetic speech, with many references to his age, and the hardness of his work, and the smallness of his wages, and the inconsiderateness of the men. Then the joker of the shed would sympathize with the cook with his tongue and one side of his face--and joke with the other.

One day in the shed, during smoke-ho the devil whispered to a shearer named Geordie that it would be a lark to shear the cook's dog--the Evil One having previously arranged that the dog should be there, sitting close to Geordie's pen, and that the shearer should have a fine lamb comb on his machine. The idea was communicated through Geordie to his mates, and met with entire and general approval; and for five or ten minutes the air was kept alive by shouting and laughter of the men, and the protestations of the dog. When the shearer touched skin, he yelled "Tar!" and when he finished he shouted "Wool away!" at the top of his voice, and his mates echoed him with a will. A picker-up gathered the fleece with a great show of labour and care, and tabled it, to the well-ventilated disgust of old Scotty, the wool-roller. When they let the dog go he struck for home--a clean-shaven poodle, except for a ferocious moustache and a tuft at the end of his tail.

The cook's assistant said that he'd have given a five-pound note for a portrait of Curry-and-Rice when that poodle came back from the shed. The cook was naturally very indignant; he was surprised at first--then he got mad. He had the whole afternoon to get worked up in, and at tea-time he went for the men properly.

"Wotter yer growlin' about?" asked one. "Wot's the matter with yer, anyway?"

"I don't know nothing about yer dog!" protested a rouseabout; "wot yer gettin' on to me for?"

"Wotter they bin doin' to the cook now?" inquired a ring leader innocently, as he sprawled into his place at the table. "Can't yer let Curry alone? Wot d'yer want to be chyackin' him for? Give it a rest."

"Well, look here, chaps," observed Geordie, in a determined tone, "I call it a shame, that's what I call it. Why couldn't you leave an old man's dog alone? It was a mean, dirty trick to do, and I suppose you thought it funny. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, the whole lot of you, for a drafted mob of crawlers. If I'd been there it wouldn't have been done; and I wouldn't blame Curry if he was to poison the whole convicted push."

General lowering of faces and pulling of hats down over eyes, and great working of knives and forks; also sounds like men trying not to laugh.

"Why couldn't you play a trick on another man's darg?" said Curry. "It's no use tellin' me. I can see it all as plain as if I was on the board--all of you runnin' an' shoutin' an' cheerin' an' laughin', and all over shearin' and ill-usin' a poor little darg! Why couldn't you play a trick on another man's darg?...It doesn't matter much--I'm nearly done cookie' here now...Only that I've got a family to think of I wouldn't 'a' stayed so long. I've got to be up at five every mornin', an' don't get to bed till ten at night, cookin' an' bakin' an' cleanin' for you an' waitin' on you. First one lot in from the wool-wash, an' then one lot in from the shed, an' another lot in, an' at all hours an' times, an' all wantin' their meals kept hot, an' then they ain't satisfied. And now you must go an' play a dirty trick on my darg! Why couldn't you have a lark with some other man's darg!"

Geordie bowed his head and ate as though he had a cud, like a cow, and could chew at leisure. He seemed ashamed, as indeed we all were--secretly. Poor old Curry's oft-repeated appeal, "Why couldn't you play a trick with another man's dog?" seemed to have something pathetic about it. The men didn't notice that it lacked philanthropy and logic, and probably the cook didn't notice it either, else he wouldn't have harped on it. Geordie lowered his face, and just then, as luck or the devil would have it, he caught sight of the dog. Then he exploded.

The cook usually forgot all about it in an hour, and then, if you asked him what the chaps had been doing, he'd say, "Oh, nothing! nothing! Only their larks!" But this time he didn't; he was narked for three days, and the chaps marvelled much and were sorry, and treated him with great respect and consideration. They hadn't thought he'd take it so hard--the dog shearing business--else they wouldn't have done it. They were a little puzzled too, and getting a trifle angry, and would shortly be prepared to take the place of the injured party, and make things unpleasant for the cook. However, he brightened up towards the end of the week, and then it all came out.

"I wouldn't 'a' minded so much," he said, standing by the table with a dipper in one hand, a bucket in the other, and a smile on his face. "I wouldn't 'a' minded so much only they'll think me a flash man in Bourke with that theer darg trimmed up like that!"

From: While the Billy Boils by Henry Lawson http://freeread.com.au/ebooks/e00108.txt


Last month's postings

A list of all the books we provide is available from http://gutenberg.net.au/plusfifty.html
Check there to see if there are other works by the authors listed below


-- OCTOBER POSTINGS --

Oct 2008 The Gunner, Edgar Wallace                         [080126xx.xxx] 1708A
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801261.txt or .zip
Oct 2008 Chick, Edgar Wallace                              [080125xx.xxx] 1707A
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801251.txt or .zip
Oct 2008 She Devil, Robert Ervin Howard                    [080124xx.xxx] 1706A
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801241.txt or .zip
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801241h.html
Oct 2008 The Man on the Ground, Robert Ervin Howard        [080123xx.xxx] 1705A
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801231.txt or .zip
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801231h.html
Oct 2008 Cupid vs Pollux, Robert Ervin Howard              [080122xx.xxx] 1704A
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801221.txt or .zip
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801221h.html
Oct 2008 Old Garfield's Heart, Robert Ervin Howard         [080121xx.xxx] 1703A
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801211.txt or .zip
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801211h.html
Oct 2008 Edgar Wallace by Himself, Edgar Wallace           [080120xx.xxx] 1702A
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801201.txt
Oct 2008 Henry VIII, Helen Simpson                         [080119xx.xxx] 1701A
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801191.txt or .zip
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801191h.html
Oct 2008 The Devil Man, Edgar Wallace                      [080118xx.xxx] 1700A
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801181.txt or .zip
Oct 2008 The Dark Eyes of London, Edgar Wallace            [080117xx.xxx] 1699A
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801171.txt or .zip
Oct 2008 The Finger of Fate, Sapper                        [080116xx.xxx] 1698A
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801161.txt or .zip
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801161h.html
Oct 2008 The Saving Clause, Sapper                         [080115xx.xxx] 1697A
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801151.txt or .zip
Oct 2008 A Knight of Spain, Marjorie Bowen                 [080114xx.xxx] 1696A
http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0801141.txt or .zip


Other Information

Newsletter Editor: Colin Choat.

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To view past newsletters go to gutenberg.net.au/oldnews.html.


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