Compiling the flagship festschrift took us from Cabrières d’Avignon to the halls of the Harry Ransom and back to the filth-strewn streets of Glasgow, without having to leave our armchairs. We solicited submissions from a wide range of Christine Brooke-Rose enthusiasts, some of whom were unavailable, some of whom more enthusiastic than we could have hoped for, some of whom desperate, and some of whom merely there—it seemed rude not to ask. Our festschrift is an exhaustive (not exhausting) topological tour through the forking pathways of the Brooke-Rose intellect, navigated by our editor G.N. Forester’s illuminating career-spanning essay on her constraints—integral to the appreciation of CB-R as a critic and (Jo) reader is a basic understanding of her unshowy subtextual language games and metaphors. Forester’s essay is a lucid overview, assembled over six months of off-the-cuff scholarship and close reading, and we hope deglazes some of the “difficulty” attached to her reputation that has lead to her fate as a long-term unread experimentalist.
The kindness and encouragement of Jean-Michel Rabaté, whose remembrance opens the collection, has been indispensable to the launching of this volume (and our press), and thanks to his assistance, we were able to reproduce and reprint some terrific Brooke-Rose material. The long poem Gold is a piece of pure constraint—a scholarly and religious work with a strong social comment, based on the 14thC verse poem Pearl, caps her lesser-known skill as a poet (a skill she abandoned by the end of the 1950s, concentrating instead on the ‘poetry’ of her novels—anyone who reads Amalgamemnon will know instantly CB-R’s poetic credentials are not in question). The contributors run the gamut of critics, scholars, eager readers, and prose writers, and span her entire output from The Languages of Love to Life, End of.
Frances Winkler, our contact in Texas, kindly donated her time to poke around in the Harry Ransom archives, where we unearthed a trove of CB-R delights, including a selection of poems that are included here, and assorted paraphernalia that will appear in a later collection from Verbivoracious.
Further on Brooke-Rose from our contributors: