27 January 2007

In Aleppo Once.Taqui Altounyan, 1969.

When a formally valuable book (like Taqui Altounyan's father's poems - see below) is exposed as not being as uncommon as once thought and copies come to roost on the web at comparatively modest prices the book is said to be 'net blown.' Said by me, that is. This happens alot, a classic example was the 1984 book about the birth of Silicon Valley 'Fire in the Valley' - once making $200, but the high price brought so many out that $40 is the 2007 price. Tastes change and computer books are not what they were. That being said, something signed by Alan Turing would be an object of wonder...

Taqui Altounyan. IN ALEPPO ONCE. John Murray, London, 1969 (ISBN: 0719519225)

Current Selling Prices
$220-$320 /£100-£150 Want level 15 -30 Quite High

Unusual account of a vanished world by Armenian writer, the daughter of poet and doctor EHR (Ernest Haig Riddell) Altounyan. Friend of the family, 'Uncle' Arthur Ransome used the Altounyan childrens' adventures as inspiration for his "Swallows and Amazons." Taqui was 'Captain John'. Born in England in 1917, the author was the daughter of Dora Collingwood (herself the daughter of Ruskin's biographer and closely related to the philosopher R.G. Collingwood) and Ernest Altounyan, a doctor raised in England whose father was Armenian and mother Irish. On the Armenian side, the author's relations were eminent philanthropists, her grandfather the founder of a famous hospital in Aleppo (Syria.) EHR Altounyan published a poem, 'Ornament of Honour' (Cambridge University Press 1937). It is addressed to his close friend T.E. Lawrence and was written in Aleppo within six months of the news of Lawrence's death. This used to have some value as a Lawrence item but the web has exposed it as being relatively common and what was a $200 book can now be had for $60. The title of Taqui Altounyan's book comes, of course, from Othello and was also used at the title of a short story by Vladimir Nabokov.

Set you down this;
And say besides, that in Aleppo once,
Where a malignant and a turban’d Turk
Beat a Venetian and traduc’d the state,
I took by the throat the circumcised dog,
And smote him thus.

VALUE? Wanted mainly for its Ransome connection and also as a beautifully written memoir of a world that disappeared in WW2. Its value always seems to stay above £100 nice in jacket.

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