Thursday, January 31, 2013

Authors with the Juciest Love Lives

The list, care of Flavorwire.

The Curious American Cuit of Jane Austen

Why do Americans love her so?

From a piece on the BBC...

In October 2012, more than 700 Janeites - many attired in bonnets and early 19th Century-style dresses - gathered in Brooklyn, New York for a Jasna event that incorporated three days of lectures, dance workshops, antique exhibitions, a banquet and a ball.

It's a curious phenomenon when one considers that Austen won little fame in her own lifetime, dying aged 41 in 1817 with only six novels to her name.

While she may be regarded as one of the greatest writers in English literature, it's difficult to imagine a similar level of fandom emerging around a novelist like, say, Charles Dickens.

For all that her stories can be by turns bleak and waspish, however, it's the romance of Austen's world that many Janeites say drew them in.

"There's a longing for the elegance of the time," says Myretta Robens, who manages one of the most popular US Austen fan sites, The Republic of Pemberley. "It's an escape."

Shirley Tucker on Designing Book Covers

Shirley Tucker on designing book covers from Faber and Faber on Vimeo.

The Enduring Legacy of Alice in Wonderland

Why does it still enchant us so?

From a story on the Oxford University Press blog...

For example, how did a satire on literary fashions in the early 1900s, centred on the retreatist, misogynistic fears of middle-aged men ever become a cosy national icon?* How did a series of novels satirising the British middle-class, and closely based on the 19th-century mores of the public-school system (which scarcely exists elsewhere) become the world’s biggest seller?** Or how did an anti-heroic, anti-empire broadside, whose narrator is corrupt and whose most memorable (and most admired) character is a brutal multi-murderer, become a classic for boys?*** Perhaps most curious of all, how did an intensely personal present from an eccentric bachelor to a little girl, packed with intimate in-jokes, ever come to be translated into most of the languages on earth?

Since its first translation in 1869, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has become, in Ireland Eibhlís i dTír na Niongantas, in Denmark, Maries haendelser I vidunderlandet, in Finland,  Liisan seikkailut ihmemaailmassa, in Iceland, Lísa í undralandi, and in Wales Anturiaethau Alys yng Ngwlad Hud and Alys yn nhir swyn. Alis, Alisa, Alicja, Alicji, Alenka, Elenkine, Elisi, Elsje, or Else, has her adventures im Wunderland, du pays des merveilles, nel paese delle meraviglie, csodaországban, I eventyrland, w krainie czarów, ülkesinde, or, in Slovak, divotvornej krajine (literally, the mad country). And, perhaps most improbably, the native peoples of northern South Australia, whose lands include Uluru, or Ayer’s Rock, and whose language is Pitjantjatjara, can read about Alitjinja ngura tjukurtjarangka  (Alitji in the Dreamtime). The book was translated into Russian by Vladimir Nabokov, a link that has not escaped critics; an Italian edition in 1962, La meravigliosa Alice was subtitled Una lucida invenzione, la creazione poetica di una ‘lolita’ vittoriana.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dave Eggers - Interviewed

The prolific author, and founder of McSweeney's, sits down with the Guardian.

From the story...

Did you consciously set out to write a novel about the global financial crisis?
I'd been taking notes for a few years for a novel about a man who'd been in manufacturing, but found himself adrift when his industry moved to Taiwan and China. I grew up north of Chicago, not far from where the Schwinn bicycle plant used to be, and was conscious of the fact that these beautiful, everlasting bikes were made just down the road. When the plant closed, psychically it was a big blow to Chicago, and ever since, there's been very little manufacturing done in or near the city. And that's very strange, given how central industry had been to the city's identity since the beginning.
So I'd been thinking about this guy, Alan Clay, who he was and where he was in his life, and then one day I heard about the King Abdullah Economic City, and about American businessmen waiting in the desert for an audience with the king. That seemed the perfect place for Alan, for a guy who knows he's in trouble but doesn't know how to find his way out. So he travels thousands of miles, to a desert, to wait for the approval of a despot. I liked that; it has a strong parallel to our own economy. The American economy had a lot of problems, and for the solutions we tend to look everywhere but the mirror.

Is it true you write without the distraction of the internet? Do you think the internet helps or hinders thought processes?
I've never had WiFi at home. I'm too easily distracted, and YouTube is too tempting. About eight years ago, I had a DSL line for about three months, and I remember waking up one day, thinking I'd spend a few minutes on YouTube before getting to work. Next time I looked up, it was 1pm, and I was watching a 20-year-old video by Kajagoogoo. That proved that I couldn't have WiFi at home.

The Best Fictional Libraries in Pop Culture

The list, care of Flavorwire.

Edward Albee Interviewed

When You're Silently Reading, Is It Really That Silent?

Not really.

From a piece in Scientopia...

It's a relatively easy hypothesis to assume that if we are "reading aloud" when we read silently, we should see increases in activity in the auditory-related areas of our brains, particularly things like the temporal voice area (which is particularly sensitive to voices as opposed to sounds in general). There are some fMRI studies that have indeed shown activity in this area during silent reading. But when does this occur? Is it part of the processing of silent reading? Do we have to read "aloud" to ourselves to read silently? Or is it something that happens later on, where we insert the voice reading "aloud" in our heads to aid us in comprehension?

This isn't something that fMRI can answer. But it is something you can answer if you have electrodes implanted in the right places. While most people don't walk around with electrodes in their heads and are unlikely to volunteer to do it for science, there is a small population of people who DO. Some of these people have severe intractable temporal lobe epilepsy. One of the last-ditch treatments for this is often the resection (taking out) of the temporal lobes. But before this is done, you have to determine if the seizures really are the result of temporal lobe activity, and where the seizures start (you really don't want to have to take out more than you absolutely need to). So patients get implanted with electroencephalographic electrodes that are underneath the skull and over the temporal lobes to monitor their activity.

And of course, if you've got the electrodes anyway, you might as well participate in a reading study.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Can You Name the 25 Most Common 3-Letter Words?

Find out, here.

Suicide Watch

The Times Literary Supplement takes a look at the prevalence of suicide in 18th century literature.

From the piece...

In “Frederic and Elfrida”, Jane Austen’s early novelistic skit (dating from the late 1780s or early 90s), “the lovely Charlotte” finds herself agreeing to marry a handsome stranger within moments of having consented to become the wife of a rich old man. The next day, “the reflection of her past folly, operated so strongly on her mind, that she resolved to be guilty of a greater, and to that end threw herself into a deep stream which ran thro’ her Aunts pleasure Grounds in Portland Place”. The combination of a suggested mental disorder (folly operating strongly on the mind) and cool calculation (“she resolved . . . to that end”) is characteristic of a period in which suicides are presented, by turns, as helpless lunatics and rational agents. The first view makes them not responsible for their actions; the second renders them potentially culpable. After 1823, the bodies of suicides could be interred in consecrated ground and the ritual humiliation of their corpses was officially prohibited. But suicide remained a crime in England until 1961. 

As Dignitas, the Swiss right-to-die association, notes on its website, the majority of suicide attempts fail – although a failure in this context might also be counted a success. It is odd to think how many people were, and are, survivors of themselves: part of the OED’s definition of “suicide” is “One who . . . has a tendency to commit suicide”. If you try and fail to perpetrate self-murder you are, technically speaking, a “suicide”.

American Dreams - The Call of the Wild

Is Jack London’s The Call of the Wild a stirring defense of Social Darwinism or a critique of American individualism? That's the question posed recently in the Daily Beast.

From the piece...
London called The Call of the Wild a “parable of buried impulses,” but Buck’s impulses are not buried very deep. Mainly he wants to kill:
The blood-longing became stronger than ever before. He was a killer, a thing that preyed, living on the things that lived, unaided, alone, by virtue of his own strength and prowess, surviving triumphantly in a hostile environment where only the strong survived.
As might be clear from that last phrase, London was at the time a devoted disciple of Herbert Spencer, the British civil engineer who popularized the theory of Social Darwinism. (Spencer’s philosophy predated Darwinism—it was Spencer who coined “survival of the fittest.”) Social Darwinism would seem to be a philosophy ill-suited to Jack London, who ran for mayor of Oakland in 1901 and 1905 as a socialist. But The Call of the Wild, until the novel’s final line, channels both Spencer and Roosevelt as London tells the story of Buck’s ascension from docile pet to blood-lusting wolf. By the end Buck has been transformed into a monster—“the Fiend incarnate.” Even Cujo would whimper before him.

Beyond Downtown: 9 Illustrious Houses in Fiction


Monday, January 28, 2013

The Moveable Bookcase

Allen Ginsberg - Photographer


Anne Frank in the 21st Century

New photos, videos and and an app shed fresh light on Anne Frank's family life.

From a piece in the Guardian...

A photo of Anne with her elder sister and parents out together in May 1941 near their home in Amsterdam is a poignant reminder of the freedom they lost, while a jaunty image of Anne, taken by her sister Margot, shows her leaning over the balcony of a block of flats and letting her hair fly. The picture was meant to include their grandmother, Rosa, but a note in the scrapbook explains that she moved out of the way at the last moment.

Original documents, diary pages and footage are all included in the first app edition of The Diary of a Young Girl, the journal written by the teenage Frank during the two years she spent concealed from the Nazis in an annexe behind a warehouse.

Marion Deuchars World of Illustration

Marion Deuchars 'Illustration' from Chris Thomas (CT) on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

James Joyce Reading from Ulysses

Robert Burns Wasn't the Only Scottish Bard

No, he had many contemporaries.

From a piece on the Guardian...

In a slightly peevish strain, Sir Walter Scott wrote in the Edinburgh National Register of 1808 that "the success of Burns had the effect of exciting general emulation among all of his class in Scotland that were able to tag a rhyme. Poets began to chirp like grasshoppers in a sunshine day. The steep rocks poured down poetical goatherds, and the bowels of the earth vomited forth rhyming colliers". The reception Burns received from the Edinburgh literati – even their compliments and critical praises – had stressed a generation beforehand that he was something of a lusus naturae, that for a ploughman to write such poetry he must be "heav'n-taught", a minor form of miracle. But the truth is rather different. Scott deigns to mention only one similar poet, James Hogg, the "Ettrick Shepherd", who was a friend, a source for ballads and a rival. But there were a great many poets who were not from the monied classes at the times of Burns and in the decades thereafter, and it might be worthwhile this Burns Night to reflect on them. The valorisation of Burns as a unique, unrepeatable phenomenon of a writer obscures even further their achievements.

The Scott Monument has 16 busts of other Scottish poets surrounding the marble statue of Scott, including both Hogg and Burns (odd to think there was a time when the self-evident "national bard" was Scott, not Burns).

Book, Once Owned by Sir Isaac Newton, Found

Thomas Browne’s Myographia Nova was found in a Welsh library.

From a story on Wales Online...

Rare book cataloguer Ken Gibb discovered the book, Thomas Browne’s “Myographia Nova” or “A graphical description of all the muscles in the humane body”, at the Rare Books Collection at Cardiff University Library. He traced it back to the famous physicist’s library by tracking down the owners of several bookplates left inside.

He began to research the bookplates – paper marked with the owner’s coat of arms – last November, as part of a larger project after the university bought 14,000 rare volumes from Cardiff Public Library in 2010.

How is a Fantasy Book Cover Born?

Ask the person who made it.

From a post on Michael Whelan's blog...

My approach to A MEMORY OF LIGHT was dictated by unfamiliarity with the series. Not having read The Wheel of Time books, I focused on the scene provided and the characters therein while also keeping in mind that this book was the culmination of many years of reading for devoted fans.
It seemed best to start with the focus of the painting: Rand himself.

My initial sketches explored the pose he might adopt as he entered the dark confines of the cave. I attached light sticks to a wooden bokken and descended a flight of stairs with the lights off, trying to get a feel for how he would be holding the sword to light his way into darkness. (Since early in my career, I’ve found a kinesthetic sense of the figure’s pose is helpful before attempting to recreate it in it’s variations.)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Library Love

Who is the sexy librarian and where did she come from, anyway?

From a piece on Lit Reactor...

Librarians have been around as long as there have been libraries, but women entered the workforce en masse in the late 1800’s. Perhaps it was the much smaller salary we received compared to our male librarian counterparts (or just some bad fashion sense), but the stereotype of the middle-aged, frumpy, spinster librarian with her hair in a bun has been with us ever since. Christine Lutz’s Master's Thesis on librarian stereotypes traces how librarians and their (mostly male) administrators have dealt with this image problem for the last one hundred years. The typical “fix” was to hire young, attractive women and promote them in library literature and marketing. 

At this point, I believe, the dichotomy emerges. Let’s consider what the librarian and library represent. Librarians are role models for scholarship and behavior. In public libraries, they are stand-ins for teachers and enforce a certain level of quiet and restraint with young patrons. In academic libraries, they are sometimes seen as the embodiment of knowledge.  A fascinating article by Gary and Marie Radford equates libraries with prisons and librarians with guards. They see the library as an environment of fear, in which surveillance and control are a constant, and the librarian is in a position to deny and humiliate the patron. 

I think the enduring power of the librarian stereotype and her role in the collective sexual imagination draws from this place in the psyche. We discard the de-sexualizing elements of the stereotype (frumpiness, old age) and retain elements of authority (conservative work “uniform”, glasses). The result is a sexualized power image that clearly appeals to both men and women.

In Defense of Puns

To pun or not to pun, that is the question. The lowest form of wordplay, or an ancient art form embraced by the likes of Jesus and Shakespeare, asks Sally Davies for BBC News.

From the piece...

No pun is an island. Within less than a mile of my house in Brooklyn, a wanderer will find:
  • Fish & Sip, a coffee and seafood joint
  • Prospect Perk Cafe, an allusion to the restorative properties of caffeine and of nearby Prospect Park
  • The Winey Neighbor, a liquor store that pays homage to the venerable New York tradition of grumbling about the noise from the apartment next door
Where good humour and refreshments abound, puns seem to follow. 

Yet this neat little linguistic device - which exploits the multiple meanings of words or phrases that sound the same or similar - is considered by its detractors to be as irritating as it is irrepressible.

10 Worst Book Covers in the History of Literature

The list, care of So Bad So Good.

Patti Smith - Snapshots of Life

Friday, January 25, 2013

Brazillian Literature's Plans to Go Global

This, according to Language Magazine.

From the story...

The Brazilian government is anteing up over US$35 million to fund a program over the next eight years that aims to inject Brazilian literature into international markets by funding translations into other languages, grants to publishers outside of Brazil to promote Brazilian publications in translation and in other Lusophone countries, and travel grants to send Brazilian authors on world publicity tours. Meanwhile, Brazilian publishers, authors and translators are preparing for the 2013 Frankfurt Book Fair, where Brazil will be the Guest of Honor. International companies are also looking to Brazil as an untapped digital publishing market.

Last month’s announcement that e-commerce leviathan, Amazon, closed deals with some of Brazil’s largest publishers, including Globo, Objetivo, and most recently Companhia das Letras is more evidence that Brazil’s culture industry is bleeding into the rest of the world. With the new Brazilian Kindle Store, readers everywhere have access Brazilian literature in a digital format.

A Calligrapher at Work

Unknown Carl Sandburg Poem Found

A volunteer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found it.

From a story in the Chicago Tribune...

Gullerud has volunteered at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library every Thursday for more than seven years. For the past two years, he's been working to classify and enter a file folder of poems into the school's electronic system.

He was working through poems by Sandburg this month when he came across "A Revolver" typed on scratch paper and recognized its relevance to current cultural debates across the country.

"When I wrote down that last line, I knew this was really big," Gullerud said.

Sandburg, a Galesburg native and at one time a Chicago newspaperman, received Pulitzer Prizes for poetry in 1919 and 1951 and another in 1940 for his biography of Abraham Lincoln.

My First Big Break - R.L. Stine

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Scientific Power of Thought

New Coen Brother Movie!

The 10 Most Anticipated Movie Adaptations from Books in 2013

The list, including Ender's Game and The Wolf of Wall Street, care of Publisher's Weekly.

Libraries Still Vital

Research proves it.

From a piece in the Los Angeles Times...

Libraries continue to serve a variety of functions, with nearly 60% of respondents having had some kind of interaction with a library in the last 12 months, and 91% saying that “public libraries are important to their communities.”

As for the way these numbers break down, the vast majority of patrons (73%) still visit libraries to browse the shelves and borrow print books. In contrast, only 26% use library computers or WiFi connections to go online.

That’s not to say that digital services are insignificant; 77% of those surveyed by Pew said it was “very important” for libraries to provide free access to computers and the Internet, numbers that go up considerably in black (92%) and Latino (86%) communities.

Nor does it suggest that library users are complacent; a big part of the report deals with “public priorities,” with an emphasis on literacy and curriculum.

Hundreds of Lost William Blake Etchings Found

Researchers at the University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library have stumbled upon a treasure trove of works by poet and artist William Blake.

From a story in the Independent...

After two years work the students, overseen by Blake expert and Manchester university art historian Colin Trodd, found about 350 engraved plates designed by Blake in the collection.

The library has held works by Blake including hand-coloured illustrations of Young’s Nights Thoughts, but the team suspected more were hidden in the collection of a million books and records.

John Rylands library archivist Stella Halkyard said: "The students had some specialist training in identifying prints from David Morris at the Whitworth Art Gallery before hunting through the collection. They found out we actually had a huge number of commercial engravings by Blake.”

Many will go on show at the library next month.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

John Hodgman's Advice to Writers

10 Literary Board Games for Book Nerds


Librarians of the Twitterverse

The New York Review of Books discusses the Library of Congress's efforts to collects all the Tweets.

From the story...

Here in the twenty-first century, the Library of Congress is now stockpiling the entire Twitterverse, or Tweetosphere, or whatever we’ll end up calling it—anyway, the corpus of all public tweets. There are a lot. The library embarked on this project in April 2010, when Jack Dorsey’s microblogging service was four years old, and four years of tweeting had produced 21 billion messages. Since then Twitter has grown, as these things do, and 21 billion tweets represents not much more than a month’s worth. As of December, the library had received 170 billion—each one a 140-character capsule garbed in metadata with the who-when-where.

The library has attached itself to the firehose. A stream of information flows from 500 million registered twitterers (counting duplicates, dead people, parodies, imaginary friends, and bots) who thumb their hurried epistles into phones and tablets and PCs, and the tweets pour into Twitter’s servers at a rate of thousands per second—tens of thousands at peak times: World Cup matches, presidential elections, Beyonce’s pregnancy—and make their way in “real time” to a company called Gnip, a social-media data provider in Boulder, Colorado. Gnip organizes them into one-hour batches on a secure server for download, where they are counted and checked and finally copied to reels of magnetic tape, to be stored in a couple of filing cabinets. In different locations, for safety. If you have ever tweeted, rest assured that each of your little gems is there for posterity.

Of course, the chance of even your very best tweet being seen again by human eyes is approximately zero.

Fighting Sexism - One Sci Cover Cover at a Time

Science fiction and fantasy novels routinely portray scantily clad woman on their covers - a device that draws the heterosexual male eye but may turn away women readers. Lynsea Garrison finds one fantasy author aiming to zap gender stereotypes for BBC News.

From the piece...

Since he started in January 2012, Hines' poses have become the most popular posts on his blog. So he launched a new series in December to raise money to fight Aicardi syndrome, a genetic disorder that mostly affects girls. 

The series has drawn more than 100,000 people to Hines' website and raised $15,405 (£9,623) for the cause.

The project is one of the latest expressions of a growing conversation about the portrayal of women in science fiction and fantasy cover art.
Tracy Hurley co-founded Prismatic Art Collection, a directory of artists who draw more diverse depictions of men and women in fantasy art, particularly for role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons.

"Women are so often portrayed assuming that a stereotypical hetero male is going to be the person looking at the cover," says Hurley.

"Male characters [are] powerful and strong, and women's sexuality will be emphasised. And why is that a problem? It's constraining for both men and women."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bertrand a Bollywood Movie

Lone Star Statements

The praise of professional critics hardly matters to the book-reviewing readers at A compilation of the best of the worst… about the best.

From the piece in The Morning News... 

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)
“While the story did have a great moral to go along with it, it was about dirt! Dirt and migrating. Dirt and migrating and more dirt.”

Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (1973)
“When one contrasts Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five with this book, it’s like comparing an Olympic sprinter with an obese man running for the bus with a hot dog in one hand and a soda in the other.”

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
“It grieves me deeply that we Americans should take as our classic a book that is no more than a lengthy description of the doings of fops.”

10 Novels to Solve All Your Problems

The list, care of Flavorwire.

Richard Blanco's Inauguration Poem

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Book at Bedtime

The A-Z of Epidemiology

7 Strategies to Combat Writer's Block

The list, care of Lit Reactor.

From said list...

1) Eat the best brain foods.
The core dilemma: We're adrenaline junkies. Our minds are accustomed to using stimulants to break through emotional blockages. This can lead to behaviors with self-destructive consequences.
Do you smoke, drink caffeine, or overeat when stressed about a writing project? Those behaviors are responses to an intuitive system that indicates more focus will be required for the task at hand. The chemical outcome of stimulants and binge eating is that your brain gets a shot of dopamine and/or adrenaline. These are the focus drugs that allow us to "push through" the anxiety that underlies writer's block. This is also why being right up against a deadline gives a kick; your increased level of adrenaline is a natural stimulant. 

The solution: Eat the right types of food to get a similar chemical response without the self-destructive outcomes. 

You can give yourself a healthy dopamine boost by eating foods high in protein and amino fatty acids. This lets you sidestep both the health risks and the negative emotional spiral that can be triggered by stimulants or binge-eating. Supplements specifically designed to give you protein and amino fatty acids are great. Fish, lean poultry, eggs, and beans are also good options.

Lousy Book Covers

The Tumblr.

Top 10 Literary Preachers

The list, care of the Guardian.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Scarlet Letter

Why Print Books Will Never Die

Some thoughts, care of Mashable.

From the piece...

But for people who truly love books, print is the only medium that will satisfy.  

"People who need to possess the physical copy of a book, not merely an electronic version, believe that the objects themselves are sacred," he wrote.

"Some people may find this attitude baffling, arguing that books are merely objects that take up space. This is true, but so are Prague and your kids and the Sistine Chapel."

50 Essential Science Fiction Books

The list, care of AbeBooks.

Jane Austen's Scottish Contemporaries

Most of us will be familiar with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, published 200 years ago, but few will have read similar novels by two Scottish contemporaries.

From a story in the Scotsman...

The writer in question was Susan Edmonstone Ferrier, who was born in 1782. Like Scott, Ferrier was born in the Old Town of Edinburgh and moved as a child to the then New Town. Her social circle included the aged novelist Henry Mackenzie, whose only prose narrative, The Man Of Feeling, influenced both Scott and Austen. Scott left this account of her company, after she visited Abbotsford: “This gifted personage besides having great talents has conversation the least exigeant of any author, female at least … simple, full of humour, and exceedingly ready at repartee, and all this without the least affectation of the blue stocking”.

Ferrier wrote three novels: Marriage, by far her best book, was started in 1810 and was co-written in part by her friend Charlotte Clavering. It was published in 1818, and followed by The Inheritance in 1824 and Destiny in 1831, which commanded impressive advances of £1000 and £1700.

Ferrier very gently undermines Scott’s romanticism: her contemporary Highlands have “dingy turnip fields” and asthmatic, pompous lairds. Although her reputation sank in the 20th century she has latterly been more favourably appreciated.

100 Best Blogs for the Modern Writer

The list, care of LiveHacker.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Raymond Chandler's Cameo in "Double Indemnity"

20 Ways to Be Really Annoying at the Library

The list, care of the Independent.

Love with You

Hurray for bookshelves:

Baarregaard & Briem - "Love With You" from Harald Haraldsson on Vimeo.

Last Copy of "Mein Kampf" Signed by Hitler

It's going to auction soon.

From a story in Hindustan Times...

The copy is believed to have been signed by the Nazi leader before he committed suicide in April 1945. He gave the book to an unidentified senior member of his staff in what is said to be a last defiant gesture in the hope his Nazi ideology would continue after his death, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

Experts say that his signature at the time was rushed and resembled little more than a squiggle, a reflection of his scrambled state of mind at the time.

The copy of Mein Kampf (My Struggle) was a limited print-run from 1939 to mark Hitler's 50th birthday. Underneath his autograph he wrote the date of March 5, 1945.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

This is One of the Oldest Baseball Cards That Exist

It should do well at auction.

From a story in the Times Colonist...

It's not the same as a modern baseball card, which became commonplace beginning in the 1880s. Instead, it's an original photograph from 1865 of the Brooklyn Atlantics amateur baseball club mounted on a card. The card shows nine players gathered around their manager.

Thibodeau said he's aware of only two such cards in existence, the other at the Library of Congress. Putting a dollar-figure value on it is difficult, he said, but he expects it to fetch at least $100,000 at the Feb. 6 auction.

"There hasn't been another one that's sold," he said. "When there are only two known in the world, what's it worth?"

Last summer, the auction house sold a rare 1888 card of Hall of Fame baseball player Michael "King" Kelly for $72,000. The priciest baseball card ever is a 1909 Honus Wagner card, which sold for $2.8 million in 2007.

The Library of Congress has had another copy of the Brooklyn Atlantics photograph since the late 1800s, when it took possession of it from a New York court where the photographer, Charles Williamson, had submitted it for copyright.

36 Reality Show Themed Novels

The list, care of Goodreads.

The X-Men...Err...The X-Women?

Indeed. Marvel is launching an all-female X-Men team in April.

From a story on Comics Alliance...

The gender-confused name doesn't bother writer Brian Wood, who told USA Today, "I feel like as far as the X-Men go, the women are the X-Men. Cyclops and Wolverine are big names, but taken as a whole, the women kind of rule the franchise. If you look at the entire world as a whole, it's the females that really dominate and are the most interesting and cool to look at. When you have a great artist drawing them, they look so amazing and always have."

The great artist in this case is Olivier Coipel, whose amazing cover for the first issue reveals the line-up for the book's opening arc: Storm, Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Rachel Grey, Psylocke and Jubilee. Yes, Jubilee, most recently seen as a vampire as a result of Marvel's failed attempt to cross superheroics and the Twilight demographic in "Curse of The Mutants" and related storylines; not only is she a surprise addition to the team, she also happens to be the book's central character (Wood admits, though, "I don't want to make it the 'Jubilee and friends book.' They're all A-list characters - I've got to make them all shine").

2013 Oscar Nominations - One for the Books

The Christian Science Monitor celebrates the movies that started on the printed page.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

National Geographic Still Exploring, 125 Years Later

WWI Posters

Enjoy, care of BibliOdyssey.

Sylvia Plath - 50 Years After Her Death

She's still going strong.

From a piece in the Independent...

Plath is a defining voice in 20th-century poetry. For women poets she was also a turning-point, a new vocal role model, but purely as poet she is part of the tradition for the whole poetic community. Most of today's leading poets, men included, would be different if she hadn't written. Each in a different way would be thinner, and have less sense of linguistic possibility – of where a voice can go, freedom, blaze and reach - without her.

Some react against her work, as you do. That is how tradition works, but they still have to reckon with her and are enriched by doing so. Her greatest work has offered one touchstone for how words behave in a poem: the tone, pitch and dramatic burn; freedom, balance, and that exhilarating delight in language. In the image of her poem "Words", the linguistic units in her work are axes, "After whose stroke the word rings./ And the echoes!/ Echoes travelling/ Off from the centre like horses.// The sap/ Wells like tears, like the/ Water striving/ To re-establish its mirror/ Over the rock…"

But Plath had a complicated, painful and much mythologised life, and this life can film the poems over with peripherals.

The First Kindle...from 1935

It was, however, a little unwieldy.

A story in the Daily Mail...

The drawing carries the explanatory labels: 'miniature film carries photographs of book pages', 'page reproduced (enlarged)', 'ground glass screen', 'button turns leaf', 'adjusting focus' and 'swing screen to proper angle.'

It is not known whether the device was ever developed.

The design was carried in the magazine, 'Everyday science and mechanics' in its April 1935 edition.

The first generation Kindle was released in America in November 2007 to a fanfare of publicity and sold out in five and half hours.

Monday, January 14, 2013

How Book Are Made...Err...Were Made in 1947

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Lost Robert Burns Poems Discovered

Original versions of two poems, as well as letter from poet's beloved 'Clarinda' have been found.

From a story in the Guardian...

"I get quite a few calls like this, and I tried to let her down gently," he said. "But she said she still thought I should have a look. Within 15 minutes of looking at them I could see there was some very important and original material."

Also unearthed were a handwritten manuscript by Burns himself of the song "Phillis the fair", with minor textual variations, a pencil manuscript by Burns of an early draft of "Ode to a Woodlark", lost since 1877-1879, and a handwritten letter from Burns "to Robert Muir, Kilmarnock". The treasure trove also contained a letter from Clarinda to Burns, dated 2 August 1791 and containing for the first time her complete poetic response to Burns's poem "On Sensibility."