American Poetry in the Age of Whitman and Dickinson

Dedications

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W. said he had never dedicated a book. “I do not know why — probably there was no why. Dedications have gone out of vogue — are no longer regarded as necessary.”
With Walt Whitman in Camden

For no particular reason I’ve been thinking about dedications this week. Has anyone ever compiled a book of the really good ones? Here’s an instance I’d include, from a book I was reading this week, Our Famous Women (1884):

"To / Men and Women / WHO HONOR MAN AND WOMAN, / AND SEE THE SPECIAL FITNESS OF / THIS BOOK, TO-DAY, / IT IS DEDICATED." (click for a larger view)

I’ll have more to say about that book in the coming weeks, if I can find time to scribble it out. There are a few really fascinating biographies of poets included in it, and a few other biographies that were written by poets. In the meantime, the book’s dedication brought another to mind, this one from Mary Berenson’s A Modern Pilgrimage (1933):

"To / THE INTELLIGENT (BUT NOT TOO INTELLIGENT) / THE LEARNED (BUT NOT TOO LEARNED) / AND THE CURIOUS (BUT NOT OVER- / CURIOUS) TRAVELLER / THIS BOOK IS ADDRESSED" (click for a larger view)

Index under “Genres — paratextual.”

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Written by Ben Friedlander

March 21, 2010 at 9:18 am

Posted in book history

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One Response

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  1. Not a dedication, but the best acknowledgments I know of: http://www.scsh.net/docu/html/man.html

    Will Fitzgerald

    April 7, 2010 at 11:54 am


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