Sunday, March 15, 2009

Links & Reviews

Made the Boston bookstore rounds yesterday, visiting the Brattle (you can follow them on Twitter now), Commonwealth, and Brookline Booksmith. Found a few things and chatted with the good folks on the front lines.

- More evidence that libraries are thriving these days, from an 11 March article in the NYTimes. Key paragraph: "Indeed, the bad news on the economy is good news for libraries — so long as they can escape the budget ax that is falling on many municipal services as cities and towns struggle with declining revenue."

- A scholar working with a fifteenth-century copy of the Polychronicon at Eton has discovered a marginal note reading (in translation from Latin): "Around this time, according to popular opinion, a certain outlaw named Robin Hood, with his accomplices, infested Sherwood and other law-abiding areas of England with continuous robberies." Dr. Julian Luxford says the annotation suggests that Robin Hood may have operated later than thought, too; the note comes during the reign of Edward I, rather than Richard I.

- A new blog to follow is AuntieQuarian, started by my friend and colleague Meredith Neuman to explore new archival finds and debate questions of book history and research in an informal way. Meredith, who was a long-term fellow at MHS this fall and is now working at AAS, does fascinating work, and I'm delighted that she's going to be posting about the interesting things she discovers. She's also invited me and some others to contribute occasionally, which I look forward to doing.

- If you're an undergraduate book collector from Rhode Island, please check out the John Russell Bartlett Society's Margaret B. Stillwell Prize - you could win up to $750! Entries are due 3 April.

- A blessedly small (and solved) book crime to report: a New York woman has admitted stealing rare books, silver and other items from a private residence in Amenia, NY back in October 2007. She was on probation for a prior larceny crime at the time, and is currently serving a 1-3 year sentence on those charges. She faces another 2-4 years in prison when sentenced on 31 March. The materials, which included an early biography of Handel and some manuscripts by the composer, were recovered.

- The AP notes that an early Superman comic sold for a whopping $317,200 to John Dolmayan, a comic book dealer and the drummer for the band System of a Down (who says he bought the comic for a client). About 100 copies of this issue (Action Comics No. 1) are known to exist.

- Rare Book Review reports that author Graham Swift's personal archive has found a home at the British Library, and the LATimes adds that Aldous Huxley's literary papers are going to UCLA.

- David Mehegan has some questions (but no tough ones) to Joyce Lee Malcolm about her new book Peter's War.

- Early machines, from BibliOdyssey.

- Laura's got a Scientific American slideshow of some of the anatomy illustrations she's been studying - very cool!

- The Houston Chronicle reported recently that an early Texas document (an order to print copies of the Texas Declaration of Independence) has been rediscovered and returned to the Texas state archives. [h/t Everett Wilkie, who comments "For once a story with a non-controversial, happy ending."]

- Bibliophile Richard Prince is denying reports that he is in negotiations with the Morgan Library to donate his collection: he tells ArtInfo "I have never talked to anybody at the Morgan about this possibility and have never talked to any reporter about this possibility."

- I'm jumping into this controversy mid-battle, but Lawrence Lessig and Michael Eisen have taken on a great fight against John Conyers over copyright. Lots of links to background at the bottom of that article.

- This is a little ridiculous. A paperback copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone sold for $19,120 at Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas.

- The Typefoundry blog examines a Bodoni mystery.


- Drood and The Last Dickens are jointly reviewed in The Independent. Seems like this always happens with Matthew Pearl: The Poe Shadow came out at just about the same time as The Pale Blue Eye, too. Weird.

- Eric Ormsby reviews Anthony Grafton's Worlds Made By Words in the WSJ. I didn't know Grafton had a new one out ... can't wait!

- James McConnachie reviews Andrew Robinson's Lost Languages in the Times.


Matthew Pearl said...

Jeremy, thanks for your mentions of The Last Dickens. I'm excited for the book's release this Tuesday. You're right it is strange coincidence of timing! In fact, Louis Bayard's The Pale Blue Eye was published the very same day as The Poe Shadow (and vice versa)! But it wasn't just that--The Dante Club was also preceded by a "doppleganger," a thriller called In the Hand of Dante. I probably should write an essay about the hat trick, no? There are pros and cons--one obvious pro is you could get some media coverage as a "trend" that you otherwise wouldn't have in this age of shrinking book media. And, better, Lou and I actually became friends by doing some joint events, and you'll see him in the acknowledgements of The Last Dickens, of which he was one of my very helpful advance readers in manuscript phase.

JBD said...

Wow, that is kinda creepy, and yes, you definitely should write that essay! I was trying to think of what might have matched up with Dante Club, I'd forgotten Tosches' book (loved yours, didn't like his at all).

Looking forward to The Last Dickens - Amazon says it shipped today!