|Panic Spring published in the United States by Covici-Friede, first edition 1937|
They make interesting reading. As the blurb I wrote for the cover of Pied Piper of Lovers says, the book 'introduces in nascent form themes, techniques and characters that Durrell will develop in his later novels. Not least intriguing are his protagonists Walsh and Ruth who will appear again in the streets of Alexandria, Athens and Avignon; their mysterious relationship, which lies at the heart of Durrell's creative urgency, is first explored here in Pied Piper of Lovers'. And, I should say, it is further explored in Panic Spring, set on a Greek island and written while Durrell was living in Corfu.
Even reading the front flap blurb of the first US edition of Panic Spring is to sense the familiar, what will become fully developed in The Alexandria Quartet - for the island read the city, for Rumanades read Nessim, for his beautiful young mistress read Justine, etc.
But apart from all that there is the inscription in my copy which has its own story to tell - just as the inscription in my first edition of A Passage to India that I mentioned in an earlier post also had its tale.
My copy of Panic Spring is signed by its owner Harriet Bienstock and dated 6 June 1938. Later it is stamped with Harriet's ex libris device; she has married Eric Fried and among the pleasures of the loving young couple is to lie before a fire with nothing much on reading books such as Panic Spring.
|Ex Libris: Nothing much on.|
A little bit of research revealed that seven months before Harriet read Panic Spring her father Samuel Bienstock died. Born in Russia, he came to America and founded a drug company and a chain of drug stores; he also served as treasurer of the Jewish Telegraph Agency in the 1920s. Samuel had two sons and three daughters; one of his daughters, Ida, married Jacob Landau, founder of the Jewish Telegraph Agency for which Ida became a correspondent during the Second World War; while one of his sons was Victor Bienstock, a journalist who worked for the Herald Tribune and then, when Hitler came to power in 1933, joined the Jewish Telegraph Agency for which he too covered the war and later supervised such writers as Theodore H White and the Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel. The Jewish Telegraph Agency became intimately linked with the Jewish Agency, which acted as a kind of autonomous Jewish government for Palestine during the Mandate period, and continues to this day as an international news agency serving Jewish community newspapers and media.
A curiosity - an association of no significance, if there is such a thing - is that the Landaus were close to Albert Einstein, author of the theory of relativity. In 1933 Einstein became godfather to Ida and Jacob Landau's son, and in the late 1940s, as the Landaus were working for the creation of the State of Israel, they drew on the public support of their friend.
|Correspondence between Albert Einstein and Jacob Laundau, Harriet Bienstock's brother in law.|