Sphinxes and Obelisks by Mark Valentine
Hardcover – Tartarus Press – Apr 2021 – 266 pages
Why did Queen Victoria demand to see the disembodied head of a talking sphinx? Why will you never find the fabulous art deco book In That Look the Unicorn Stood? What was the slight flaw in the idea of racing cheetahs at the White City? What was the date confidently given for apocalypse at a Somerset railway station book-stall? Who had visions of Atlantis in an old house in Nightingale Lane?
These and many other enigmas are discussed in this new book of essays from Mark Valentine. As in his previous well-received collections, you will also be offered suggestions for recondite reading in overlooked books that ought to be better known: an interplanetary fantasy by a Welsh squire; a timeslip into a mysterious England by a priest once called the original of Dorian Gray; an avant-garde novel about a tea-party and the Holy Grail.
Whether he is discussing old inn signs, Cornish tin mine ruins, how to play Cat-at-the-Window, or the joys of book-collecting expeditions, the author shares with us an array of enthusiasms and explorations, told in an enquiring and engaging way.