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as natural and unaccountable as bloom and branch
16 November 2019

We are still in transition. Aside from a small number of art treatments being prepared by colleagues, John D. Berry has everything essential that he will need from a production standpoint to see the editions through the press. I am still in the process of compiling and shipping the Project’s administrative records to the new manager. When that’s done, she will need to review the materials to get fully up to speed on the Project’s complexities, which are not inconsiderable. My work has been slowed since spring by a detached and shattered left retina, which was finally operated on in mid-August; it’s clear now that I’ve suffered a permanent net loss in the quality of the focal vision in that eye, a loss that may be partially ameliorated by new corrective lenses.

I am saddened by the news of Harold Bloom’s passing. His Afterword to our edition of Little, Big was completed long before. Bloom was so pleased with my editing of his work (which among other things cut 500 words from the 10,000-word manuscript he submitted and made more than a few adjustments to his language elsewhere) that he gave me carte blanche to make any further changes I might deem necessary without consulting him. But by that point I was done; only a few minor corrections at the time we finalized the essay’s text and layout proved necessary.

Once the four-page signature sheets for the Numbered and Lettered editions of the book were printed, I took myself and them off to New Haven, where I spent four hours on each of two days (with a day off in between) with Harold and Jeanne Bloom in their home. They were gracious, welcoming hosts. We set up the sheets on their dining room table, and I placed each sheet before Harold for his signature, there where he sat at the head of the table, and removed it when he was done, to then set the next sheet into place. Unsigned stacks of sheets slowly diminished on his right while signed stacks slowly grew on his left. Eight hours later he had signed over 500 sheets (enough for both limited editions plus more than a hundred extras) – sheets that I subsequently shipped to Peter Milton for his signature, who then shipped them on to John Crowley for his signature and, for the Lettered copies, his elegantly cursive inscriptions and transcriptions of selected passages from the novel. Ever since, Crowley has kept those multiply-signed sheets safe, pending the day when through an intermediary he will pass the signature sheets on to the bindery to be integrally bound into the printed books.

What I recall most vividly from our time together: Bloom blooming with literary, cultural, religious, historical, and natural references, allusions, resonances, echoes, lines or sentences begun by one writer in one millennium and place finished by another in another space and time through the medium of his living voice, the palpable sense that the greatest works of the human world’s articulated thought filled every corner of his mind and spirit and that those Ten Thousand Voices and more were in constant conversation with one another and at any moment one or another happenstantial exchange between far-flung ever-living long-dead singular individuals might fall or rise from his lips, recast the light in his eyes; moments never to be revisited in quite the same way again, voices never again to be entangled or disentangled quite so. He was in his way among the most joyful and grateful of men, happy in his myriad contradictions’ many baskets where most of us must settle ours in just one. I have never seen or heard the like; it was a unique pleasure being in his company. All moments are yet rich.

—Ron Drummond

Updated Friday, 27-Jan-2023 06:53:11 MST
Published 20 November 2019