Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Extra Links

It's getting down to crunch-time in the last couple weeks of grad school (but who's counting?), so I am afraid I must throw out some really interesting links with much less commentary for each than I'd really like to be able to provide. But oh, that glorious day is coming when the class-chains will be lifted from my shoulders and I'll be able to read guiltlessly, and blog guiltlessly, and, well, you get the idea.

- Julia Keller's Chicago Tribune essay on the future of the book has been getting much and well-deserved attention - it's a funny and provocative piece, and comes as close to a bulls-eye about this oft-discussed question as anything I've read recently.

- The BPL's Norman Leventhal Map Center has unveiled a redesign of its website, which is quite nice.

- For reasons entirely passing understanding, the New York Times devoted a rather excessive number of column-inches to this story, about an "anomaly" (read: "ghost") which appeared on the security tapes from the New Paltz Public Library one night last October. See the video here, complete with what looks to me very much like an out-of-focus spider.

- Toronto's Globe and Mail has been running a series of interesting essays highlighting the "Fifty Greatest Books." This week's installment, by Jonathan Swift biographer Victoria Glendenning, covers Gulliver's Travels. It doesn't take much to make a good case for Gulliver's importance, but Glendenning does that one better and makes a great one. "Swift, his rage and despair barely controlled by his art, exposes what we humans do, and what we are like. Even though some of the political and doctrinal references were designed to be decoded by his contemporaries, the implications are disturbingly universal. Swift demonstrates the ludicrousness of conflict by substituting everyday issues — like the bitter dissension in Lilliput between the wearers of high heels and the wearers of low heels, and the war between Lilliput and Blefescu, costing thousands of innocent lives, about whether boiled eggs should be opened at the little end or at the big end." I think I shall reread the book this summer - it's been a couple of years, and if there's ever a book that warrants frequent rereadings, it is this one.

- Some interesting goodies from the most recent TLS: Margaret Drabble reviews Frances Wilson's The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth, while Jonathan Bate examines a recent collection of the works of Shakespeare contemporary Thomas Middleton. I hadn't heard of Middleton: Bate describes him as particularly adept at "more-than-Shakespeareanly inventive bawdy wordplay," among other things. Also from the TLS, a review of Richard Fortey's Dry Store Room No. 1, a behind-the-scenes look at a career in the [London] Natural History Museum.

- GalleyCat notes the ongoing struggle to save Edith Wharton's Lenox, MA home, The Mount, from foreclosure. The foundation in charge of the house is trying to raise $3 million by Thursday, which seems like a fairly tall order.

- Garrett at Bibliophagist offers up some delightful musings on booksellers' catalogs, writing "My aim here isn’t to give an exhaustive review of each catalogue but rather to try to start to figure out what pushes a catalogue out of the realm of simple commercial utility into the realm of quasi-literature. Perhaps the interesting catalogue sits somewhere in the intersection of curious material pointed up by obvious learning and a certain restrained enthusiasm. (Is an interesting title in a catalogue still interesting if you are not shown why it is of interest?) A brief explanation of the merits of a late 18th c. chapbook edition of Tom Jones is a tonic to the implicit rhodomontade of glossy auction or high-spot catalogues." [NB: I had to look up rhodomontade: the OED says "A vainglorious brag or boast; an extravagantly boastful or arrogant saying or speech; an arrogant act."]

- Travis provides some totally surprising (but noteworthy nonetheless) new facts from the James Brubaker case: he went around ripping off libraries because he needed some cash. Travis adds that Brubaker's trial date is set for 10 June.

- The University of Iowa's Digital Library Web now contains more than 100,000 items.

- Apropos of the above, NPR's "All Things Considered" ran a segment this week discussing libraries and their non-Google, non-Microsoft digitization efforts.

- J.L. Bell was on the radio this week discussing "John Adams" the mini-series. Listen here.

- The Guardian ran a lengthy article yesterday on "academic search engines," which I highly recommend. The list of links at the bottom is awfully handy as well.

- Mars Hill College (NC) has received a donated copy of a 1686 edition of Martin Luther's translation of the Bible into German.

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