Creating rare, handcrafted letterpress books at Pegana Press since 2009.
Creating rare, handcrafted letterpress books at Pegana Press since 2009.
Join Mike and Rita as we discuss letterpress printing, favorite authors, book collecting, nearly forgotten works of fantasy, and other bookish conversations.
The twilight coming down over the fields we know, the iridescent shimmer of Elfland just beyond; the flash of sunlight on Spanish steel. All these he gave us.
The horrors of war and the hopes of a charwoman etched in shadow.
So many images…
With the printing and publication of "Lost Tales Volume I" by Lord Dunsany, Pegana Press Books brings new unseen images from the Master's quill pen to amaze and delight us all.
My path to this beginning started some 25 years ago when I first held a limited edition of "Don Rodriguez" in my hands and saw it as a work of art and beauty.
The long and winding journey to printing uncollected Dunsany is a tale in itself.
I began by printing Dunsany's first published poem " Rhymes From A Suburb" as a limited broadside poster.
I then stumbled upon a lost work called "Paris" from Hope Mirrlees, the author of the wonderful fantasy novel Lud-In-The-Mist.
I determined to reproduce "Paris" by hand and bring it back to the world of literature, thus the second release from Pegana Press, a limited handbound edition spanning a year in production.
Throughout this time I continued to ponder my desire to print more Dunsany.
Hours of research eventually led to lists of uncollected stories with references to their original publication and my search began. After collecting enough stories to begin work I contacted Lady Dunsany who very graciously gave permission and support of the project. Thus "Lost Tales Volume I " was born.
The fascinating part for me in printing Dunsany as a work as opposed to reading Dunsany was how the stories gradually brought their meaning to me letter by letter. The charm and pathos buried in these stories were as powerful as anything Dunsany had ever done.
In these stories, Dunsany gives voice to the hopes, dreams and fears of mankind. The universality of this language is undeniable. The messages are timeless though framed in the past.
To teach and remind the reader of their humanity, to connect them with the mystical and magical we all begin and end our lives with. To embrace it in the space between. This is the magic of Lord Dunsany.
Lord Dunsany wrote much of his work using a quill pen, holding and treating his writing as a living thing.
Pegana Press prints in the same fashion. Setting each letter to create the word then locking the page in a press, applying ink and pressure by hand to capture the thought in a slice of time called paper. Everything is done by hand here, as in the old days, and in homage to masters like William Morris.
Where does Pegana Press go from here? There are many uncollected and forgotten pieces of Dunsany's art and genius hidden away but anxious to be revealed. I will help as best I can with that noble project.
September 27, 2012
Hi Mike and Rita, I’m really looking forward to Dark Dreamlands, it looks like another beauty!
I want you to know that I have really enjoyed “Baldfolk”. The Sime illustration is a nice addition. The artwork makes your already beautiful books that much more enticing.
My copy of 'The Men of Baldfolk' arrived today and I have to say it is an absolute gem. The skill and care that went into everything from selecting the materials to designing, printing and then assembling this beautiful and stylish little volume are evident. In terms of fit and finish, it's a high quality production from cover to cover. It has already assumed pride of place on my shelf. Thank you Mike and Rita!
Another lovely edition for Dunsany enthusiasts and collectors. These short tales spanning 44 years of Dunsany's lyrical prose range from a tongue-in-cheek recounting of the superstitions of his beloved fellow Irishmen to the oft-repeated themes of fickle gods, the wistful lamentation of olden times when Man was closer to and could communicate with Nature, and the contemporary (yet ephemeral) supremacy of Man over Nature, who patently waits our passing. "Fuel", the concluding story, is my favorite in this book. It elegantly encompassies many of these Dunsanian insights in his haunting poetic prose. Thank you Mike and Rita.
--R. Finegold USA
Hi Mike and Rita,
Just unwrapped my Lost Tales — a gorgeous book as usual. I think this one is the best yet — especially loved the Sime painting.
Thanks very much, and congratulations on another fine production,
--David Sorensen USA
I've been meaning to write to you for a long time. Just wanted to express my thanks for Poseidonis Cycle 1. This and the Dunsany books are such a joy to read. They bring me great happiness. I wanted to write a letter sooner but when I saw the post that Michael Swanwick put up on the Flogging Babel blog about this new CAS book, he took the words right out of my mouth. Thank you once again.
Just wanted to let you know that the book arrived safely this afternoon. It is, as anticipated, a treasure of beauty and craftsmanship. Thank you so much for selling it to me and for your dedication to your craft, which I strongly suspect is a labor of great love rather than vast profit. Artisans like you and Rita are an asset to those of us who appreciate that art and literature can be easily entwined, even in the age of Kindle.
Dear Mike Tortorello,
Thank you so much for the first volume of Lost Tales by Lord Dunsany. I shall treasure it, along with the Dreamer's Tales my father bought 80 or 90 years ago...
Ursula K. Le Guin
Thank you so much for Paris. It was astonishing and moving. Astonishing because it's a glorious piece of the book maker's art. Moving because it really threw into sharp relief how important Paris is in the history of poetry- published by the Woolfes, predating (and inspiring?) "The Waste Land". Thank you so much for this. It makes it even stranger that the poetry she wrote in her later years was so constrained and uninspired.
The Dunsany pages look amazing too--I can't wait to see the finished books.
With enormous thanks,
20 May 2011
Winter Tales arrived today. I spent the evening reading it in my backyard, among the gentle, cool winds and the dim fiery colors of a setting sun. I finished reading it just as it got dark, and then I took a moment to look up at the sky and just stare in thought and wonder.
Mike, you are a truly talented visionary. Same to you, Rita, and also an exquisite authoress. Your stories are so... gosh. I'd have to write some kind of essay as beautifully as possible to express my love of your Tales, and even that runs the risk of over complicating such a simple yet profound and precious thing.
Each story brought more than one smile to my face. I smiled at the songs contained in the wood, I smiled at the fire's loving caress, I smiled at the creatures of Sagarmatha and their adopted child (I am reminded of the fabulous Simurgh, a wonderful bird of wisdom who had seen countless worlds and adopted abandoned children), I smiled at the magical colors swirling in the cup of cheer, and I smiled at the pear which had known the touch of sun and bee and wind. Each story touches my soul in such a way that a couple tears rolled down my face as I listed and remembered my smiles...
Even the cover brought a smile to my face. The moment I opened the packaging (like a child opening a present on Christmas!) and saw that magical snow blue color, with the little glittering as of ice, I couldn't help but feel joy. It immediately brought memories of treading through snow to my mind.
Now that things have calmed down after the holidays, I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the three "Winter Tales” stories. I think prose poems is a more accurate description.
I shared them with my wife Carol, who also enjoyed them. Keep noticing such stories, please!