viernes, 27 de marzo de 2015

The Last Bookaneer

The lack of copyright protection for books in both sides of the Atlantic Ocean gave birth to the bookaneers. But who were these men? 

Clover, a 19 year-old railway waiter, meets Mr Fergins, a fifty-odd years old bookseller who pushes a book cart in order to make a living. One day Fergins takes Clover into a courthouse, where a prisoner is about to be tried. This man is being called scoundrel, traitor and pirate by a multitude of angry people. That’s the first approach we’ll have to the bookaneers. 

"No, you will not find “bookaneer” in any dictionary". Mr Fergins narrates his own beginnings among these peculiar thieves. A cardinal man, Whiskey Bill, teaches him the ins and outs of publishing and maneuvering for a book to come to light. Fergins will soon be assistant to another bookaneer, Davenport, and enter a dark world full of rivalries. He also learns about publishing trade, bookselling business, writers’ way of life, and the most important thing: how to make profit from an unprotected book. 

The core of the novel comes when Whiskey Bill reveals in his deathbed that Robert Louis Stevenson lives in Samoa, on the island of Upolu, and is finishing the most important book of his life. Fergins and Davenport will also know that the Englishman Belial, another old fox, has already got the upper-hand on them. By 1890 the laws of copyright will go into effect. There’s no time to waste and it is crucial to travel to the South Seas and try to bring-steal this valuable book. It is the last chance to get something big! 

The Last Bookaneer is the first Matthew Pearl’s novel I have read, and I am quite impressed. I didn’t imagine it was going to be a thriller which leads us to understand the world through books. “A man’s library opens up his character to the world”. “Books are not dead things”. 

It is striking that Fergins, will never doubt their integrity and will always favor the skulduggery from a dishonest profession. Anyway, he has always fascinated by bookaneers. Between time leaps, Fergins tells Clover the story of Robert Louis Stevenson. The writer has “gone into far lands to die, and will stay here until buried". Stevenson, nicknamed by the natives Tusitala (Teller of Tales), lives without knowing today's date, writing his novel called The shovels of Newton French. They will sniff around in the house in search of the manuscripts. 

It’s worth emphasizing an anecdote about the late Elizabeth Barnard and her posthumous work, sold in a curious piracy act. We also find in this novel deep reflections on literature and get to know many details about writers and their works. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is quite mentioned as a masterpiece, which even the selfsame Sir Walter Scott envied. Shelley was just a 21 year-old girl! 

The author "tweaks" this novel relating a love story of two bookaneers, the French lady Kitten and Davenport.

1 comentario:

Gustavo D´Orazio dijo...

Gracias por la recomendación, Daniel... SALUDOS...