Wednesday 14 July 2010

On book dedications

Book dedications are generally a pretty bland affair. From time to time, you come across a humorous or poignant dedication. C. S. Lewis dedicated a book to his close friend Owen Barfield, "wisest and best of my unofficial teachers". One of Tim Winton's novels bears the beautiful dedication to his wife, "Denise, Denise, Denise". But in exceedingly rare instances, there have actually been dedications that are works of art in their own right. One of the most moving and powerful is the dedication to Charles Olson's great essay in literary criticism, Call Me Ishmael (1947). This was Olson's first book; his father had died several years earlier; the dedication page reads:

O fahter, fahter
gone amoong

O eeys that loke

Loke, fahter:
your sone!


Anonymous said...

Zizek's dedication to Alain Badiou in "In Defense of Lost Causes" is pretty funny:

"Alain Badiou was once seated amongst the public in a room where I was delivering a talk, when his cellphone (which, to add insult to injury, was mine - I had lent it to him) all of a sudden started to ring. Instead of turning it off, he gently interrupted me and asked me if I could talk more softly, so that he could hear his interlocutor more clearly... If this was not an act of true friendship, I do not know what friendship is. So, this book is dedicated to Alain Badiou."

Greg Clarke said...

I too love the Winton dedication to his wife best. You have to love Les Murray for consistency in dedicating every volume 'To the glory of God'. Another breathtaking one is Toni Morrison's 'Beloved': 'Sixty million and more'.

Justin said...

My favorite: "For David, who, when he and this study were younger, gave me a more healthy perspective on the subject by saying, 'Dad, what's so great about Schlachermeier?'" - Jack Forstman

James Orr said...

I particularly enjoyed the dedication to Terry Eagleton's recent book "On Evil" - 'To Henry Kissinger'.

Father Anonymous said...

Not theological, but I Iike Ben Hecht's dedication to his pretty wretched novel Fantazius Mallare: "To my enemies ..." -- and then he names them, in considerable detail.

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