Sunday, February 03, 2008

Links & Reviews

- There's more in the Boston Globe today about the impending closure of Somerville's McIntyre & Moore. Jan Gardner's report notes that the shop's owners are negotiating for a lease in a smaller space in Porter Square.

- UCLA announced the completion of a two-year cataloging and digitization effort to make the university's extensive collection of materials related to Italy's Orsini family available for research. "Held in the Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections, the Orsini papers offer a window into the public and private lives of this intrigue-filled family, particularly between the 16th and 19th centuries. Much of the material concerns property administration, including maps, registers, plans, inventories of houses and palaces, appointments of personnel, and reports from estate managers. The archive also contains dowries, wills and legal documents.

Not only is the UCLA Orsini archive vast in size, consisting of 572 boxes, but it is also unique among UCLA Library collections in terms of the extensive timeframe it covers - from 1150 to 1950. The archive offers information about a vast range of subject matter, including art, architecture, economics, gender issues and politics, making it "an amazingly rich resource for original scholarship," according to Victoria Steele, head of the library's department of special collections." The digital gateway into the collection is here.

- Common-place has a new companion blog, Publick Occurrences. It's written by Jeff Paisley (political historian at the University of Missouri), and seems so far to be more political than historical, but I hope he'll provide some interesting contemporary-historical intersections.

- Over at Critical Mass, NBCC member Suzanne Kleid has discovered The Diary of Samuel Pepys, the wonderful digital version of Pepys' journal.

- Paul Collins stumbles across a very strange book cover on eBay, and also notes the most recent incident of literary namejacking to cross the transom: a forged biography of Saddam Hussein not written by journalist Robert Fisk. Fisk's account of the strange saga is here.

- LibraryThing was mentioned in yesterday's Wall Street Journal; Tim responds to the story by noting "its infelicities show how complex LibraryThing's 'story' has become. The books in LibraryThing, the books in the libraries we search, and the books in the stores that integrate with us are all different. It's hard to get that across right. When you add the social side of LibraryThing, the story becomes impossible." I agree. And that's what I love about it. It's not just one thing, it's many things. And I suppose it is hard to get that into a sound bite.

- Joyce recommends Please Bury Me in the Library, a recent book of book/library-related poetry for children.


- In the TLS, Caroline Franklin reviews The Letters of John Murray to Lord Byron (Murray was, as we've noted here before, Byron's publisher). She declares the volume an "invaluable resource with which to find out exactly how a promising early nineteenth-century author was marketed and promoted by his entrepreneurial young publisher, and how this most competitive of writers, in turn, kept his finger on the literary pulse." An excellent long review, highly recommended.

- Stuart Kelly reviews Peter Ackroyd's Poe: A Life Cut Short for The Scotsman; he turns Ackroyd's title around, describing the bio as "A Life Of Poe Cut Short." Kelly adds "What makes this frustrating is that Ackroyd is clearly fascinated with his subject. He makes the reader want to re-read Poe, and indeed to read more of Ackroyd on Poe."

- For the NYTimes, Dana Goodyear reviews a new history of the Donner Party: Ethan Rarick's Desperate Passage. Rarick's book incorporates new archaeological evidence into the standard interpretation of the Donner Party story.

- In the Washington Post, Michael Dirda reviews (favorably) Charles Nicholls' The Lodger Shakespeare, and Michael Grunwald reviews (not-quite-so-favorably) Alan Pell Crawford's Twilight at Monticello (a new treatment of Thomas Jefferson's post-presidential years).

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