ERIS gems
ERIS gems make available in the form of beautifully produced saddle-stitched booklets a series of outstanding short works of fiction and non-fiction. Some neglected and some notorious, they are all brilliant and indispensable.

Among the inaugural titles are H.G. Wells’s disconcerting tale The Country of the Blind, Edith Wharton’s lacerating essay on The Vice of Reading, and Tony Judt’s The Glory of the Rails—a moving hymn to public transportation and technological modernity. 

Each title can be purchased separately, but the series as a whole is also available through a subscription.



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EDITH WHARTON


The Vice of Reading

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 26 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475773 • £5 ORDER


“No vices are harder to eradicate than those which are popularly regarded as virtues. Among these the vice of reading is foremost.”

A great American novelist offers a scathing attack on the worst kinds of reading. Edith Wharton argues that the growing cultural influence of “mechanical” readers is having a disastrous impact on the world of letters. A subtly devastating work of social criticism, The Vice of Reading is also a celebration of the voracious and amoral consumption that marks out the very best readers.


STEPHEN LEACOCK

Humour as I See It

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 26 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475780 • £5 ORDER


“The world’s humour, in its best and greatest sense, is perhaps the highest product of our civilization.”

Stephen Leacock writes a masterful account of how humour works—and of how it very often doesn’t. As well as being remarkably insightful about the various ways in which a joke can fall flat, Humour as I See It is an exceptionally humane testimony from one of the English language’s most gifted humourists.



LAURO DE BOSIS

Story of My Death

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 18 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475872 • £5 ORDER


“We are going to Rome to scatter these words of liberty far and wide, words which for seven years have been forbidden like a crime. And with reason, for if they had been allowed, they would have shaken the fascist tyranny to its foundations within a few hours.”

In 1931 the Italian poet Lauro de Bosis flew over Rome in a small plane in order to scatter anti-Fascist pamphlets from the sky. He did not survive the journey, but in Story of My Death he left behind a remarkable testament: a denunciation of Mussolini’s regime and a refusal, even in the face of death, to abandon the cause of liberty.


BARON D’HOLBACH

Essay on the Art of Crawling

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 18 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475827 • £5 ORDER


“Serpents and reptiles reach the heights of mountains and rocks, while the most fiery of steeds can never climb there.”

Baron d’Holbach’s 1776 Essay on the Art of Crawling is a delicious satire on the sycophancy and self-abasement rife in the courts of Europe. A penetrating account of the workings of power that applies as much to today’s courtiers as it did to those of the eighteenth century, it also makes a compelling case for the value of moral independence and personal dignity.






WALTER BENJAMIN

Unpacking My Library

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 26 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475841 • £5 ORDER


“I fully realize that my discussion of the mental climate of collecting will confirm many of you in your conviction that this passion is behind the times, in your distrust of the collector type. Nothing is further from my mind than to shake either your conviction or your distrust.”

Walter Benjamin was one of the great cultural critics of the twentieth century. In Unpacking My Library he offers a strikingly personal meditation on his career as a book collector and on the strange relations that spring up between objects and their owners. Witty, erudite and often moving, this book will resonate with bibliophiles of all kinds.


IAN FLEMING & GEORGES SIMENON

The World of Bond and Maigret

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 34 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475858 • £5 ORDER


“I invent the most hopeless sounding plots; very often they are based on something I’ve read in a newspaper. And people say, ‘Oh, this is all nonsense’—and then the Russians come along in Germany and shoot people with potassium cyanide pistols.”

Between them, Ian Fleming and Georges Simenon created two of the best-known heroes of modern fiction. In this illuminating dialogue, the authors who gave us James Bond and Jules Maigret discuss (among other things) their approaches to the craft of writing, the origins of their characters’ names, and the critical reception of their novels. It is essential reading for admirers of either man’s work.



TONY JUDT

The Glory of the Rails

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 26 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475834 • £5 ORDER


“More than any other technical design or social institution, the railway stands for modernity.”

In this brilliant essay the historian Tony Judt describes the singular contribution made by rail travel to the development of our shared way of life. From the transformation of urban spaces to the reorganisation of our sense of time, it is impossible to imagine the world we live in without the social and economic changes wrought by rail travel: no other mode of transport can represent with such potency “risk, opportunity, uncertainty, novelty, and change: life itself.”


H. G. WELLS

The Country of the Blind

Saddle-stitched booklet • Published: 2022 • Extent: 62 pages • Trim: 11 x 19.5 cm • ISBN: 9781912475810 • £5 ORDER


“Over the mountains I come,” said Nunez, “out of the country beyond there—where men can see. From near Bogota, where there are a hundred thousands of people, and where the city passes out of sight.”

One of the acknowledged masters of speculative fiction, H.G. Wells conducts in this short story a disconcerting thought experiment. What would become of a community if its members were somehow deprived of sight? How would society evolve in the absence of the very concept of visibility? And what if, one day, a sighted outsider suddenly found himself in this country of the blind?


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