Sunday, October 25, 2009

Links & Reviews

We watched the 1957 movie "Desk Set" last night - about a corporate reference department's qualms about a new "electronic brain" that they're afraid might take away their jobs. A useful reminder that the "human element" was - and always will be - important. And with that, here are your links and reviews for the week.

- Haven't seen much press about this but ReadWriteWeb notes that the Internet Archive has launched BookServer, the goal of which is to "allow users to find, buy, or borrow digital books from sources all across the web."

- In Time, a piece on how plagiarism-detection software has - supposedly - identified Shakespeare and Thomas Kyd as co-authors of The Reign of Edward III.

- In today's Globe Matthew Guerreri discusses how the transcendentalists in 1830s-40s Boston were largely responsible for "bringing Beethoven to America," while columnist Sam Allis sets his rhetorical sights on the "Secret Six," the men who largely financed John Brown's activities in the late 1850s.

- Nick has a neat post about Milton and censorship.

- James Glanz writes in the NYTimes on recent historical reassessments of the Battle of Agincourt.

- To mark the 250th anniversary of the publication of Tristam Shandy, Shandy Hall has mounted an exhibition, The Black Page. Watch a short film about the project here. [h/t Book Patrol]

- In ARTNews, Milton Esterow examines early Chinese copies of American paintings, particularly a c. 1800-1805 copy of Gilbert Stuart's Washington portrait made by Chinese artist Foeiqua. This painting is now on display at the New Britain Museum of American Art, where the director says it's raised some real questions: "Should it be at an American art museum? Is it an American work of art? The truth is that it’s a copy of a Stuart made by a Chinese artist for an American collector." Interesting look at early copyright and intellectual property debates.

- In the WSJ, Stephen Marche has an essay on the global reach of the Kindle 2, which he says "will likely change our thinking and our being as profoundly as the two previous pre-digital manifestations of text." Marche writes that the Kindle is "a transbook, by which I mean that it is the book which can contain all books. Why are so many writers so afraid of this staggeringly wonderful possibility? A book is a singular object that can contain many voices, but the transbook has the potential to be a singular object containing all voices. It is not just another kind of media; it is the dream of ultimate text."

- Liane Hansen talks to Hilary Mantell about Wolf Hall on Weekend Edition Sunday.

- Writing in The Times, David Hayles examines the life and suicide of author Robert E. Howard.


- Anthony Grafton reviews Donald Kagan's Thucydides and the Invention of History in Slate.

- Leslie Klinger reviews the new Dracula "sequel" (Dracula: The Un-Dead) in the LATimes.

Also in the LATimes, Jonathan Handel reviews William Patry's Moral Panic and the Copyright Wars.

- In the TLS, John Bowen reviews Michael Slater's Charles Dickens.

- Toby Lester's The Fourth Part of the World is reviewed by James McConnachie in The Times. This one's about Ringmann and Waldseemüller's 1507 map, the first to feature "America."

- In Books & Culture, Brett Foster reviews Vivat Rex, the new Grolier Club exhibition/catalog marking the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's reign.

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