Quill and Quire

Book news

« Back to
Quillblog

Dedicate that book wisely

The Sydney Morning Herald has a fun wee piece on the perils of lovey-dovey book dedications that might come back to haunt you later, and a dedications page’s potential as a zinger launchpad.

“But, when love turns sour, loving dedications can have a horrible, inexpungable irony. Novels have an unfortunate habit of surviving marriages,” according to the article. “Peter Carey — two-time Booker winner and one-time divorcee — is reportedly asking his Australian publishers to remove the dedications (four, by my count) to the ex-Mrs. Carey, Alison Summers, from future editions of his work. His current novel, Theft, dwells on the ‘evisceration’ the central character undergoes at the hands of the divorce lawyers. ‘Alison Summers, with all my love’ was the dedication to Oscar And Lucinda. He might have toyed with ‘Alison Summers: with a sizeable proportion of my cash’ for Theft.”

Then there’s Saul Bellow, whose biographer noted that “to get his muse working, the novelist liked to change wives.” According to the story, “he got through five and his dedications are a trail of marital gore. His last great novel, Ravelstein, contains a vicious portrait of Mrs. Bellow No. 4 (Alexandra Ionescu Tulcea, Romanian mathematician) and a fulsome dedication to Mrs. Bellow No. 5 (Janis Freedland, former student): ‘A la bella donna della mia mente. To Janis, The star without whom I could not navigate.'”

Related links:
Read the Sydney Morning Herald story here