Sunday, April 10, 2016

How I Came to Be the Governor of the Island of Cacona, by The Hon. Francis Thistleton (1852, reprinted by the Arion Press in 1989)



I recently picked up this little oddity from the wildly generous 30% everything sale that Powell's did a few weeks ago: this is How I Came to Be the Governor of the Island of Cacona by William Henry Fleet, writing pseudonymously as the Hon. Francis Thistleton. Originally published in Montreal in 1852, the Arion Press reprinted the book in 1989 after Andrew Hoyem (the founder of Arion Press) discovered a copy of the original volume.


It's a small volume bound in dark green cloth and ochre paper boards, beautifully typeset and letterpress-printed in black and green ink. There's an introduction by Robertson Davies, and each chapter features a delightful illustration in black and yellow ink by Andrew Hoyem himself. Here's a few of those illustrations:



Here's the original title page:




and Arion Press's updated title:




Cacona is a fictional Canadian island (how great is that map on the cover!), and the story here is in the realm of 19th Century British amusements like Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King and Anthony Hope's Prisoner of Zenda: in Thistleton's novel, a man is surprisingly granted governorship of Cacona by Her Majesty the Queen. Antics ensue as Cacona is further colonized and their government set up.

This is from an edition of only 325 unsigned/unnumbered copies. Here's a photo of the colophon:



Cacona is my second book from Arion Press (after Robert Louis Stevenson's The Silverado Squatters) and I'm looking forward to picking up more as I see them!


Currently reading:
Don DeLillo, Zero K
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

Currently listening to:
Max Richter, "Sleep"

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