jueves, 4 de junio de 2009

Dedications




In his interesting volume, The Dedication of Books, London, 1887, Mr. Henry B. Wheatley traces three stages in the history of the dedication. In its first stage, the dedication is seen as the spontaneous expression of an author's love and respect for his friend or patron. "Under these regards," runs the quaint language of the Tatier, "it was a memorable honor to both parties and a very agreeable record of their commerce with each other." In the second stage, we travel through the years when all sense of shame was absent from the mind of the author, who sold his praises to the highest bidder on the simple principle, — ^the more praise, the more pay. Even the greatest authors did this. Prices varied from twenty shillings to twenty pounds, but Bayle refused two hundred guineas from the Duke of Shrewsbury for a dedication of his dictionary. He said, "I have so often ridiculed dedications that I must not risk any." Prom the Revolution to the time of George Pirst, the current price for the dedication of a play varied from five to ten guineas but was often less when the author happened to be in immediate need.

Nathaniel Pield said that the dedication fee was forty shillings and he dedicated his comedy, A Woman is a Weathercocke, to any woman "that hath been no weather-cocke"; he comments, "I did determine not to have dedicated my play to anybody, because forty shillings I care not for, and above few or none will bestow on these matters, especially falling from so fameless a pen as mine is yet." (1612.)

In the case of not a few works of Erasmus as with many other books of the time, it seems evident that in exchange for the dedication, the "patron" of literature had provided the funds requisite or the printing of the book, or sometimes even for the support of the author while it was being
written.

Heame tells us in his Diary that Lawrence Eachard received £300 from George I for the dedication df his History of England, and Dr. Hickes a hundred guineas from Prince George (afterwards George II) for the dedication of his Thesaurus. On the other hand we read that Aristotle's book on Animals, dedicated to Pope Sixtus IV by Theodore Beza, brought to Beza only the cost of the binding.

In the third stage we revert to customs resembling the first, for at the present day the dedication is chiefly used by an author who wishes to associate his work with some friend or person greatly loved, or admired, a favorite reader with whom he may be supposed to be in special simpathy . Of this class of dedications a charming authoress writes to a friend: ''A good book is not merely a book but a gathering together of the highest of the thoughts which, bom in our minds, escape with unfledged wings into the great open world. Many of these go free forever but there are those among them which leave behind shadow and substance of hemselves and become books; ideas and aspirations in concrete embodiment for the permanent satisfaction of htunanity. The human parent of a worthy book knows well its heavenly origin and rejoices in the rights and privileges of half-parentage. Realising that the work is not all his own but that it has come into being through spiritual influences mediated by his fellow-men, it is his impulse to dedicate his book to the one in whom he sees its ideals embodied, or to those upon whose sympathy and insight he relies to receive its message, or to whose action he looks to accomplish its purposes."

M. E. Brown

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