Robert-Houdin Books Arrive in America!

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Jim Riser » 02/10/03 09:55 AM

FedEX just delivered my copy of "The Magic of Robert-Houdin An Artist's Life" - direct from Paris. The quality of this book set is outstanding. It's amazing to see how many things that Robert-Houdin was involved in. This will certainly be interesting and beautiful reading.

As always, Todd has come through with another quality product. One question: Todd, how soon can we expect our Al Baker books?
Jim :D
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Postby John LeBlanc » 02/10/03 10:54 AM

Originally posted by Jim Riser:
FedEX just delivered my copy of "The Magic of Robert-Houdin An Artist's Life" - direct from Paris. The quality of this book set is outstanding. It's amazing to see how many things that Robert-Houdin was involved in. This will certainly be interesting and beautiful reading.

As always, Todd has come through with another quality product. One question: Todd, how soon can we expect our Al Baker books?
Jim :D
I knew they were on the way, but I didn't expect them to arrive this soon. Excellent news, Jim. My copy should be waiting for me as soon as I roll into Houston. Can't wait.

Can't wait for the Baker books, too.

John LeBlanc
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Postby Guest » 02/10/03 11:47 AM

My copy appeared - shockingly - on a Saturday. But what a treat. For shear production values I don't think I've ever seen it's equal in a magic book, and only a few non-magic books come close.

Having been lucky enough to have a weekend to really dig in to the content I must say how enjoyable the text is. Scholarly, to be sure, but not dry. In fact, there is a warmth that comes through in every page.

This is obviously a product of love, one I plan to treasure for many years to come.

Zech Johnson
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/10/03 12:15 PM

My copy of "Robert-Houdin: The Artist's Life," also came today by Federal Express. I just wrote Christian Fechner an e-mail telling him how bad he makes other publishers look by delivery a ten pound book shipped from France by Federal Express! It must have cost him at least $50 to $75 just to deliver a book to everyone who ordered retail. He'll loose a ton of money even when every book is sold.
And, not to take anything away from Todd Karr (whose own publications are excellent), but he had nothing to do with the book other than doing a lot of editing on the translation (if not re-translating most of it). The publisher is Christian Fechner and he deserves all the credit for both the authorship of the books as well as the quality of production. Don't expect that kind of quality at that price from the rest of us magic-publisher-folks. We can't afford to lose money!
The book is wonderful. I would like to hear from everyone on this forum who ordered a book--call it marketing research. PLEASE post a note when you've received it.
Thanks.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/10/03 12:17 PM

Oh--Al Baker, at 900 pages, should arrive in late April or early May.
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Postby John LeBlanc » 02/10/03 03:46 PM

Originally posted by John W. LeBlanc:
My copy should be waiting for me as soon as I roll into Houston. Can't wait.
Wow. What an absolutely beautiful set of books. The quality is stunning. It's a good thing I hate television because I won't be watching any of it any time soon.

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Postby Guest » 02/10/03 05:19 PM

I received my copy of The Magic of Robert-Houdin today, too. The books look spectacular. I am very much looking forward to reading them.
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Postby Guest » 02/10/03 07:06 PM

Originally posted by Christopher Hanna:
I received my copy of The Magic of Robert-Houdin today, too. The books look spectacular. I am very much looking forward to reading them.
Reading them? I'm having a great time just looking at the pictures!

Truly a most amazing set of books, and I've heard a rumour that they are only the first two volumes in a several volume set.

I will be forever in debt to my lovely wife for buying them for me for Christmas.
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Postby Gary Hunt » 02/10/03 07:14 PM

Mine just arrived today, what an amazing book. This is a book (or should I say books) I prize for a long time. Have to say, even though I am one of those guys who likes e-books, this one needed to be in hardcopy. Got to go..have a lot of reading to do!!!

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Postby Charles Spector » 02/10/03 07:31 PM

Got mine today. Wow, they are beautiful! They fit a little too tight in the box but I'm hoping it will loosen up.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/10/03 09:41 PM

Methinks I had the information about volumes 3 and 4 (the next two-volume set) in the February "Genii Speaks." They'll be out later this year. All the stage illusions (51 or so) described in full detail with original patter.
Are we drooling yet? Get a cloth.
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Postby Pete Biro » 02/11/03 11:02 AM

To those "lucky" enought to have seen Fechner's FISM Winning Performance of illusions... all original, will never forget them.

His attention to detail, coupled with a great imagination, in my opinion, are unequalled today.

Just think about someone coming on stage and doing half a dozen illusions with premises and methods you had never seen before.

For one... that fried the brains... he had a very large TV set onstage... it was on, with picture on screen... he covered it, lifted the cloth, came forward and threw the cloth into the audience.

Now... if that wasn't enough, he picked up the tv stand and it was all clear plastic, there was NOTHING to be seen.

His self-levitation, off the bar stool was beautiful to see... and could be viewed surrounded, tipping nothing.

His walking skeleton, that came onstage and lit his cigar awas a thing of beauty.... He "gave it" to Siegfried and Roy.

If you have seen Norm Nielsen do the floating Piano... that was Fechner's and he gave that to Norm...

Great story there.

Norm is at home. Doorbell rings. Delivery guy hands him a small package and says, "I have a bigger one in the truck."

Small package says, "Open this first."

It is a video... of Fechner, in his Paris apartment. He speaks to Norm... he is sitting at a grand piano... he starts to play the piano and suddenly it begins to raise up and float around the room....

He tells Norm, "The Piano is in the OTHER CRATE."

WOW! :D
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Postby Pete Biro » 02/11/03 11:03 AM

And.... all his illusions, including working blue prints, are in his first set of books! I think Stevens still has a few sets left. :cool:
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Postby chris morrison » 02/11/03 05:59 PM

I received my books on Monday too. Spent every free moment pouring over the images. Can't wait to dig into the text!

cm
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Postby Michael Edwards » 02/12/03 09:39 AM

Yes, mine arrived in Washington,D.C. on Monday as well. There has been a great deal of discussion on this forum about the printed word in its various forms -- books, ebooks, websites. If you are seeking evidence of the remarkable and unique aspects of a bound book, look no further. What a wonderful testament to the elegance, presence and power of a beautifully produced set of hardcover books.
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Postby Todd Karr » 02/14/03 01:33 PM

Hi, everyone

I'm glad everyone's so pleased with the Robert-Houdin book. Richard's correct: all credit goes to Christian Fechner. My involvement was editing and proofreading the English edition, and arranging its US release.

The Baker book should be out in April...our books are often late but I hope this one doesn't materialize in May! Incidentally, we received some wonderful last-minute material by Teller (on his search for Baker's Cake in Hat), Jay Marshall (including Baker's long-lost vent routine!), and Max Maven, plus excerpts from the original manuscript of Magical Ways and Means (courtesy of Charlie Randall). And yes, the book is up to 900 pages.

Best wishes,
Todd Karr
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Postby Michael Edwards » 02/15/03 08:19 AM

Richard: I know you didn't intend to dismiss the importance of the translation in bringing this work to American audiences...and Todd, you are far too modest. Let me quote Christian Fechner in his acknowledgements: "and to Todd Karr, who applied his remarkable editorial talent to the translation of the book to ensure it was as faithful as possible to the letter and spirit of the original version. Without Todd Karr's perfect knowledge of my native language, his attention to detail, and his constant efforts in the release of this biography, this book would never have been published in this form in the United States."

Michael

PS...I would be remiss if I failed to note that Fechner also thanks Richard for his "essential and precious" advice and encouragement. All I can say to anyone involved in the creation and production of this wonderful work is Thank You .
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Postby Dave Shepherd » 02/15/03 08:43 AM

I haven't seen this book, but let me put in a second vote for the value of the translator.

A translation is itself a creative work. Translation is rather like sleight of hand, in that a first-rate translation will be essentially invisible to the reader. A bad translation, on the other hand, can actually interfere with the meaning of the original, sometimes to the point of totally obscuring it.

My last academic book was an annotated translation of a play, and it took me about two years of hard work to get it right. Rah, rah, go translators!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/15/03 10:37 AM

I was not minimizing Todd Karr's involvement, as I stated in my original post. I just wanted to correct the impression given in Jim Riser's original post in this thread which didn't mention Christian Fechner's name. This book, written and produced by Fechner, existed in French before Todd entered the picture. In fact, the book existed in English, completely layed out and ready to go the printer, before Todd entered the picture. Christian Fechner sent a few printed out proof copies of the entire English-language book to a few of us. Upon seeing the translation, I contacted Christian and explained that it was poorly translated and that it needed a lot of editing. Todd was a good person to fix it, since he is fluent in French. Even though he receives an "editor's" credit, I believe he redid substantial portions of the translation. All of this, again, is not to minimize what Todd did, but simply to point out that he is neither the author, designer, nor publisher of the book--jobs he indeed does very well on the books he does write, design, and publish.
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Postby Dave Shepherd » 02/15/03 11:26 AM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
...Upon seeing the translation, I contacted Christian and explained that it was poorly translated and that it needed a lot of editing. Todd was a good person to fix it, since he is fluent in French. Even though he receives an "editor's" credit, I believe he redid substantial portions of the translation.
Sorry, Richard, I didn't mean to sound like I was attacking anything you had said. Indeed, I imagine you more than most people appreciate good translation work.

And, as you imply, the most brilliant translator cannot take an insubstantial work and make it more than it is. I'm sure that M. Fechner's original work shines through Todd's "new and improved" translation! :)
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Postby Guest » 02/15/03 08:29 PM

I ordered this set of books via my local shop. They will be supplied by Murphy's. To make a long story short: I could be waiting a while. This sucks!
And how great is it that more in this series is coming!
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Postby cwilcox » 02/17/03 10:28 AM

With regard to the last posting by John Blaze...does anyone have any idea when copies of the Robert-Houdin book should arrive if they were ordered through a dealer. I've been getting mixed messages when asking the dealer and checking with Murphy's. I've heard everything from "any day now" to "the end of March." Does anyone out have any info?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/17/03 12:06 PM

I would imagine that Todd Karr could answer that question best, since he is the only person likely to know exactly HOW the copies have been shipped to Murphy's, which is the exclusive distributor. Considering that it's many hundreds of copies, they are being sent by some sort of air freight or sea freight.
Perhaps Todd can update us.
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Postby Pete Biro » 02/17/03 01:45 PM

I consider Fechner's efforts beyond the level of anyone else in magical publications... no one, no one, comes clost to the attention to detail, the artistic sense, the passion, like Christian.

If there exists a video of his FISM winning act, and you can see it, you will see the same kind of thoroughness, the same creativity, the same passion in his effects as in his writing, collecting, and his "acadamy award nominated films." What a treat to get a set of his books and join him in his discoveries.
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Postby Todd Karr » 02/17/03 02:50 PM

Hi again

Murphy's is the only one who knows when dealers will get their copies...I hope it's soon! They made all the arrangements themselves for the shipping of the books with Fechner's printer. I wish I had more information, since I know lots of you are awaiting your books.

Best wishes,
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/17/03 04:25 PM

Hey, how about each one of you purchasing a copy of my new book on Stanley Collins while you're waiting for your copy of the Robert-Houdin books to arrive. :)
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Postby Robert Kane » 02/21/03 11:21 PM

Picked up a copy of the Stanley Collins book for my birthday earlier this week. A quick scan immediately revealed how neat this book is going to be to read and savor.

Collins is fascinating and many of his effects are excellent. Can't wait to learn more about the Collins Aces.

Eddie Dawes is an excellent writer and Richard Kaufman's production quality is really superb.

Great stuff at a fair price. Plus a cool tipped in CD. What more could you want? I am happy :)
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