Book Dedications--So short, so meaningful


Here’s the thing, they say book dedications are an act of love. It’s the next best thing to having the subject of your dedication’s name tattooed on your chest inside a big, red heart. And if you’re like me, you read the dedications even though you might not have any inkling of its meaning, whether it’s pedestrian or filled with secrets and longing. Dedications can be sweet, silly and mysterious. Of course many authors dedicate their books to a spouse. And, as in the case of F. Scott Fitzgerald, they do this in every book. For example, Once Again, For Zelda. And, given the sorry state of their marriage the words “Once Again” sound a bit tired. Ayn Rand dedicated Atlus Shrugged to her husband and her lover-two different men. Most of the time we have no clue who the person or persons are that the author names. Roald Dahl dedicated James and the Giant Peach to Olivia and Tessa. I suppose book dedications have a bit of immortality to them—just as books do. Oh, they go out of print but it seems to me that once a book is out there, it’s out there forever. So perhaps dedicating a book to a person we love, someone who has had an effect, maybe good, maybe bad on our lives is a way of making them immortal also.

Behind every-- “This Book is dedicated to . . . “ is a story. A story of the special relationship between an author and his or her friend, spouse, dog, sibling, student, even inanimate objects as was the case for one author whose name escapes me that dedicated his book to his beloved typewriter—a Remington I believe.

Here are some of my favorite dedications:

Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
This book is dedicated to
My son, GUY JOHNSON
And all the strong blackbirds of promise
Who defy the odds and gods
And sing the song

Corneila Funke, Inkheart
For Anna, who even put The Lord of the Rings aside
To read this book.
Could anyone ask more of a daughter

And for Elinor, who lent me her name
Although I didn’t use it for an elf queen

There are many books dedicated to a wife or husband (some having out-lived the marriage)

Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
To my WIFE
This book is affectionately dedicated

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
To Lucy Barfield
My Dear Lucy,
I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand, a word you say, but I shall still be
your affectionate Godfather,
C.S. Lewis

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
To Mackenzie, my beautiful daughter, I dedicate her ink and paper twin
(The story behind this is that JK was pregnant as she wrote and both the book and her daughter were finished together.)

Zora Neal Hurston dedicated her novel Jonah’s Gourd Vine:
TO
BOB WUNSCH
WHO IS ONE OF THE LONG-WINGDED ANGELS
RIGHT ROUND THE THRONE
GO GATOR AND MUDDY THE WATER
-THE AUTHOR

Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove
For Maureen Orth
And
In Memory of
The nine McMurtry boys
(1878-1983)
“Once in the saddle they
Used to go dashing . . . “

So, what are your favorite book dedications? Include it in the comments and I will pick two people to receive an autographed copy of Griselda Takes Flight, dedicated to my dear friend Nancy Rue or if you’ve already read it, Blame it on the Mistletoe which is dedicated to my mother.

2 comments:

Pam Halter said...

My favorite dedication is the one from Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise which is in a tie with the one from Carrying Mason. ;)

love you!!

Diana said...

How about the song: This is dedicated to the one I love; which could be the one your with right?