Thursday, 31 May 2007

William T Vollmann's Rising Up and Rising Down, seven volumes, arrived at my workplace today. I mentioned the purchase on 22 May. The sellers, James & Mary Laurie of Minneapolis, took care to pack the set well. Inside the outer box, nested in newspaper, a smaller box sat. Inside it, again with plenty of newspaper to buffer against knocks, was the maroon case containing the lovely books themselves.

McSweeney's Books had them printed in China. It is now out of print, although a one-volume digest has also been published. Freight was US$80. The purchase price was US$750, taking the total to just over US$800, with the seller absorbing part of the freight cost.

On LibraryThing, there are 29 copies of the seven-volume set listed. The first volume contains a complete table of contents for the whole set. This is a photo of part of the table.

Part One, 'Categories and Justifications', has such divisions as 'On the Aesthetics of Weapons', 'Where do My Rights End?', 'Defense of Honor'. Part one takes up volumes one, two, three and four.

Volumes five through seven contain Part Two, 'Studies in Consequences (1991-2003)'. It looks as though these are based on personal observation. It seems as though Vollmann, who also writes journalism (though he is best known for his novels), has travelled around different parts of the world, taking notes. The books are illustrated with black-and-white photographs.

In addition, there is volume MC, which has, starting on page 33, 'The Moral Calculus'. There is an annotated contents table beginning on page 15 and continuing to page 23.

The whole package is intriguing. I feel, on this cursory inspection, that it is some sort of popular history of violence. In typical Vollmann style, the text is thoroughly end-noted. The illustrations are also typical.

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