Sunday, January 20, 2008

Links & Reviews

- At BibliOdyssey, images from Levinus Vincent's Wondertooneel der Nature (1706-1715). They've added some very interesting background on Dutch wunderkammer (cabinets of curiousities). Also, aquatint engravings of flowers by Priscilla Susan Bury from her A Selection of Hexandrian Plants, Belonging to the Natural Orders Amaryllidae and Liliacae (published beginning in 1831; her engraver was Robert Havell, who also engraved most of the plates for Audubon's Birds of America).

- In the NYTimes this week, a write-up of the National Library of France's current exhibit, "Hell at the Library, Eros in Secret." The exhibit "offers a peek at [the library's] secret archive of erotic art, putting on display more than 350 sexually explicit literary works, manuscripts, engravings, lithographs, photographs, film clips, even calling cards and cardboard pop-ups."

- Also in the Times, Susan Dominus profiles NYC's book scavengers, those industrious folks who find unwanted books and sell them to the Strand or other bookshops. Michael Lieberman adds comments on this story over at Book Patrol, using it to suggest that public libraries should begin buying used books.

- For all you catalogers out there, Tim points out Carnegie Mellon's Library of Congress Classification arcade game. Fairly amusing, actually.

- The Telegraph has a list this weekend of 100 Books Every Child Should Read.

- Michael Lieberman notes that the University of British Columbia has acquired more than 4,700 books on golf, donated by meat-packing magnate Sam Martz. The collection is called "the greatest collection ever assembled on the sport that will be kept intact and available for public perusal." Unfortunately, the university has no funds to catalog the books, so it may be awhile before they're available for use.

- Paul Collins points out an interesting map (with U.S. states renamed for countries with comparable GDPs - hello from Belgium!). Paul also highlights his recent New Scientist piece on an early-twentieth-century stereophone system (the Theatrophone) and comments on the most recent plagiarism scandal (that of Cassie Evans). Also about Paul Collins, I should note that in cataloging Isabella Stewart Gardner's library, I found that she had an 1869 edition of Pedro Carolino's New Guide of the Conversation in Portuguese and English, the basis for Paul's English As She is Spoke.

- From Rare Book Review, news that Christchurch, NZ bookdealer John Arnold Palmer, 77, has been exonerated on charges stemming from Operation Pukapuka. Palmer had been accused of receiving stolen property. "Three men have already been jailed through Operation Pukapuka prosecutions, and another awaits sentencing next month." Also at RBR, comments on last week's Sotheby's sale of Fred Feinsilber's library and news that the identity of Samuel Pepys' mistress Deb Willet may have been confirmed.

- In the Wall Street Journal, Andrew Higgins covers the rediscovery of a long-hidden archive of 450 rolls of film containing pictures of antique manuscripts of the Koran. Scholar Anton Spitaler of the Bavarian Academy of Science in Munich claimed the films had been destroyed by bombs in 1944, but, Higgins writes "Mr. Spitaler was lying. The cache of photos survived, and he was sitting on it all along." Fascinating story: read the whole thing.

Reviews

- In the Washington Post, Michael Dirda reviews Brian Jay Jones' Washington Irving: An American Original. Dirda says that Jones does what he sets out to do well: "Nonetheless, Irving needs far more than a crisply written account of publishing successes and business failures or of his lifelong sociability and devotion to his brothers and sisters. What Washington Irving really needs is someone to champion his books. ... We really need a contemporary introduction to Irving's wonderful stories and sketches, one that makes people want to explore and enjoy his humorous, elegant and atmospheric prose."

- In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Ed Petit has a joint review of Andrew Lycett's The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters.

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