Cormier’s Book Collection, Moncton, ca. 1936

letters

A note from Ed Lemond, Frye Festival, Moncton:

In August, 1936, one year before their marriage, Frye and his wife-to-be were going through a very rough patch, including the turmoil around Helen’s abortion and his preparations for departure to England. In a couple of his letters from Moncton (the first dated August 10, the last dated August 29) he mentions a neighbour by the name of Cormier, a good friend of his father’s. Cormier, “a mere trainman,” had what Frye believed to be the “best library in Moncton,” put together over 20 years of buying from a bookstore in England, with a heavy (in every sense of the word) emphasis on anthropology, comparative religion, and evolutionary theory. Haeckel, Frazer, that sort of thing, all “very dogmatic and violently anti-clerical.” This library eventually ended up in the hands (literally in the fraying boxes) of a descendant (a grand-daughter probably, with an unforgettable name, Beer), and in 1994, in my capacity as a used book store owner, I purchased what must have been almost the entire collection. It was the most spectacular purchase of my 21-year career as a book dealer, including the complete first edition Golden Bough, complete 1882 Arabian Nights, first American editions of Darwin’s masterpieces, etc. More than a thousand books, all hardcover, all in wonderful condition, despite the years. Frye was impressed by the books Cormier collected but not by the company he kept, most of whom Frye found to be “pig-headed.”

Google Books has online excerpts from the Collected Works Frye-Kemp correspondence.

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