Sunday, August 28, 2011

Links & Reviews

Irene's winds and rains have begun to move into Portland overnight, although we're not expected to see the worst of it until this afternoon and evening. So today will be a day for hunkering down and getting some serious reading done, with any luck at all. Meanwhile, here's what happened this week:

- The book world received the very sad news this week that longtime Rare Book School faculty member and world's expert on 19th-century American publishers' bindings Sue Allen passed away after a short illness. She was 93. I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting Sue at RBS this summer, and was immediately struck by her generosity, kindness, and expertise. She will be greatly missed.

- That volume of Harbottle Dorr's annotated newspapers I mentioned recently sold at auction this week for a total of $345,000. The buyer was, as I'd hoped it might be, the Massachusetts Historical Society, which holds the other three volumes. The purchase was made possible by gifts from anonymous donors. Coverage in the Portland Press-Herald, or see the MHS press release.

- From The Collation (a new Folger blog that you should be reading), Steven Galbraith writes about this summer's re-evaluation of the number of First Folios in the Folger's collection (now being counted as 82 rather than 79). A fascinating look at the process behind this.

- In the NYTimes, Geoff Dyer writes about "what we do to books" (by which he seems to mean that he beats up on his pretty hard).

- Peter Ackroyd has embarked on a six-volume history of England, the first volume of which will be published in the UK next month. He says in a Telegraph essay that he's taking Gibbon and Macaulay as his models, and wants to "address the general public and introduce to them the long story of England."

- Author and historian Deborah Harkness talked to Humanities Magazine about her historical research, animated pies, and how she came to write her recent novel A Discovery of Witches. She also answers (and correctly, too), that age-old question "Footnote or endnote?"

- The Google Book Search blog had a post this week in honor of what would have been Jorge Luis Borges' 112th birthday, putting their Ngram viewer to good use.

- At Anchora, Adam Hooks examines examples of blank A1 leaves (which gradually begin to turn into half-title pages during the later part of the 17th century) in the Iowa collections (he found six neat examples).

- From Antipodean Footnotes, a very nifty discovery: printed prospectuses for an edition of Johnson's Dictionary have been found in the binding of a copy of the 1785 folio edition of the Dictionary.

- Skinner has posted a preview of their November Books & Manuscripts sale; highlights will include a manuscript draft petition calling for passage of the 13th Amendment, a George Washington letter about a house in D.C., and a Lincoln letter to Massachusetts Governor John Andrew (not Andrews) about the defense of Boston Harbor. The sale will be held on 13 November.

- Over on PW's ShelfTalker blog, Elizabeth Bluemie asks "Is the Personal Library Doomed?"

- This week's earthquake caused minor structural damage at the National Archives Records Center in Suitland, MD, but the damage did not seriously affect any records.

- Yale will work with the National Library of Korea to digitize some 140 rare Korean works from the Yale collectios.

- I quite like the most recent William Reese Co. bulletin, titled "Evidence" [PDF]

- Unabridged Chick has an interview with David Liss about his new novel The Twelfth Enchantment (which may well become one of the books I take up this afternoon for hurricane reading).

- Files released this week by the UK National Archives reveal that MI5 briefly investigated P.G. Wodehouse as a possible Nazi collaborator for making radio broadcasts from WWII Berlin.

- From the Edinburgh book festival, Ewan Morrison's argument about the future of publishing and authorship is well worth a read.

- Stepanie Williams writes about her new book Running the Show: Governors of the British Empire in the Telegraph.

- Menachem Youlus, who set up the Save a Torah charity in 2004 to rescue Torahs supposedly lost in the Holocaust, has been charged with mail and wire fraud; prosecutors say he bilked the charity out of hundreds of thousands of dollars and lied about where he "rescued" certain Torahs (in some cases having simply purchased them from dealers).

- A 15th-century illuminated lectionary has been returned to St. Kieran's College; it had apparently made its way to the National Library of Ireland in the 1960s and been catalogued into the library's collections.

- Berlin's library will return some 70 books stolen from the German Social Democratic Party during the 1930s, including Engels' copy of The Communist Manifesto. The return is part of an ongoing project to give back books stolen from Jewish and other political organizations during the Nazi years.


- James Pennebaker's The Secret Life of Pronouns; reviews by Ben Zimmer in the NYTimes and Dennis Drabelle in the WaPo.

- Lev Grossman's The Magician King; review by Dan Kois in the NYTimes.

- Robert Booth's Death of an Empire; review by Michael Kenney in the Boston Globe.

- Simon Garfield's Just my Type; review by Janet Maslin in the NYTimes.

- Maeve Gilmore/Mervyn Peake's Titus Awakes; review by Michael Moorcock in the LATimes.

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