Sunday, January 27, 2008

Links & Reviews

- First, let me note a new sidebar link to Ed and Edgar, Ed Pettit's new Poe-related blog. Ed writes: "I'll be travelling throughout the year to all sites related to Poe and interviewing all sorts of Poe fanatics. I'll also be spreading the Philly Poe gospel everywhere I go. The fun started in Baltimore on Poe's birthday and will take me to Richmond, New York, Boston, West Point, back to Baltimore and finishing in October in Philadelphia for Poe's death anniversary and his honorary holiday, Halloween." The official kickoff is tomorrow morning, 28 January, when Ed will write about his trip to Philadelphia last weekend for Poe's birthday. He's got a kickoff contest in the works, so make sure to stop by there tomorrow, and often.

- One of the most useful links from this week comes from the Typefoundry blog in the form of a post about the "Long s," that typographical oddity which makes pre-1800 printed materials look like they're scattered with strange one-armed f's where lowercase s's should be. Just Friday at work I was asked by a visiting 8th-grader why a book's title page referred to "Bofton."

- Motoko Rich has a fascinating story in the New York Times about a growing dispute over a recent edition of Robert Frost's notebooks. Claremont McKenna English professor Robert Faggen's 800-page Notebooks of Robert Frost was published last year by Harvard University Press, and includes the contents of some 47 notebooks plus additional materials scattered among various archival repositories. "The volume, which represents the first time the notebooks have been published in their entirety, was widely praised by reviewers. For scholars and fans of Frost’s work, the notebooks, filled with poetry fragments, lists, lecture notes and tangential musings, provide insight into his thinking and creative process." However, two scholars working independently with different volumes of the original notebooks have discovered what they say are very high numbers of errors in Faggen's edition.

- From BibliOdyssey, a lovely set of engraved round playing cards, produced by an artist known only as PW of Cologne around the beginning of the sixteenth century. The suits, notably, are Columbines, Hares, Parrots, Carnations and Roses.

- Vladimir Nabokov requested in his will that his last, unfinished manuscript (of a novel titled The Original of Laura) be destroyed after his death. Nabokov died more than thirty years ago, and his heirs have not yet carried out that request (the novel, on index cards, is sitting in a Swiss bank vault). Last weekend, Kate Connolly reported for The Guardian that Nabokov's only surviving son, Dmitri, recently hinted [to Slate's Ron Rosenbaum] that he might carry out his father's wish and burn the draft. Rosenbaum spoke with NPR's Scott Simon yesterday about the manuscript and Dmitri's difficult decision, saying that after his column in Slate, Dmitri emailed him to say that when the decision was made, it would be made privately and not announced. So it may be quite some time before we know how this all turns out.

- Joyce notes a NYTimes story from yesterday about the rediscovery of thousands of photographic negatives taken by Robert Capa during the Spanish Civil War.

- Over at Lux Mentis, Ian discovers an utterly brilliant alarm clock: it hooks up to your wi-fi (and, slightly troublingly, to your bank account), and every time you hit the snooze button it donates $10 to a cause you dislike. Heh.

- J.L. Bell highlights several upcoming lectures on the American Revolution, to be hosted at the David Library in Washington Crossing, PA. The lecture series is titled "Five Views of the Revolutionary War."

- A San Francisco ABC affiliate recently aired a report on Google's book-scanning project, focusing on the University of California's participation. [h/t RBN]


- From The Guardian, Hilary Spurling reviews Peter Ackroyd's new short Poe biography, Poe: A Life Cut Short. "Poe's brilliant, erratic, abbreviated career stands to gain rather than lose from the form of brief life patented by Ackroyd. A short biography is not a long one shrunk. Instead of patiently accumulated details, emotional complexity and architectural shaping, it operates by lightning strikes, atmospheric colouring, impressionistic techniques of concision and suggestion. If this one has a fault, it is precisely that it reads like the first, tenuous rough draft of a fuller, richer, more densely researched book."

- In the NYTimes, Geoffrey Ward reviews Drew Gilpin Faust's This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. Ward calls the book "profoundly moving," and says the author "overlooks nothing - from the unsettling enthusiasm some men showed for killing to the near-universal struggle for an answer to the question posed by the Confederate poet Sidney Lanier: 'How does God have the heart to allow it?'"

- Another joint review of Andrew Lycett's The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters, this one by Michael Sims for the Washington Post.

- Also from the Post, Jane Black reviews Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. Black: "What should we eat? The answer is here. Now we just have to see if Americans are willing to follow good advice."

- Over at Reading Archives, Richard Cox offers an abbreviated version of a forthcoming American Archivist review of Keepers of the Record: The History of the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives. Cox calls the book "the most comprehensive history of a corporate archives we have, trumping the rather thin literature on corporate archives in general and making a nice addition to the scholarship on the history of archives."

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