Sunday, December 21, 2008

Links & Reviews

- At Cliopatria, a very interesting video demonstration of the reconstructed Antikythera Mechanism, plus a roundup of links related to the reconstruction and to Jo Marchant's new book on the Mechanism, Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the World's First Computer.

- The Folger Shakespeare Library has launched a new feature which allows users to search across the Library's digital collections. More info here. I like this idea very much (and the images are excellent).

- Some holiday humor: from McSweeney's, Sigmund Stern offers "The Gutenberg Christmas Catalogue, 1608", and Forrest offers up a memo relating to the economic downturn and its impact on the Twelve Days of Christmas.

- Nick Basbanes points out a 1997 essay by David Halberstam on the New York Society Library.

- J.L. Bell notes the news from this week that the New England Historic Genealogical Society will sponsor a scholarly edition of Hannah Mather Crocker's never-before-published Reminiscences and Traditions of Old Boston (finished in 1827). The editors are seeking an image of Crocker to use in the book, so if you can help them out with that, please do.

- has released its annual top ten list of most-sought out-of-print books. Once a Runner tops the list again, although its reign ends this year since it's scheduled for a reprint in 2009.

- The Times reports that three small sketches were discovered on the back of da Vinci's "The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne" when it was examined in September. An infrared camera revealed a horse's head, a partial human skull, and a drawing of the infant Jesus with a lamb drawn in black stone or charcoal on the wooden panel, all mostly rubbed away. Specialists at the Louvre say they're being "very careful" about attributing the drawings to da Vinci, but that the images do resemble Leonardo's work.

- Paul Collins announces the release of the newest Collins Library book, a collection of the essays of "eccentric Victorian naturalist and surgeon Frank Buckland," Curious Men.

The 19 December NYTimes featured a review of the Morgan Library's current exhibit, "Protecting the Word: Bookbindings of the Morgan."

- Britannica Blog reported this week that beginning in January, the Encyclopedia's "Great Books" series will be available online at libraries (by subscription) through Ingram's MyiLibrary e-book platform. There will also be opportunities for private purchase.

- Lew's got some Christmas cards made by bookplate designers, plus some Christmas-related bookplates.


- In the NYTimes, Anthony Gottlieb reviews Ingrid Rowland's Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic.

- In the WaPo, Michael Sims reviews the new bios of Samuel Johnson by Peter Martin and Jeffrey Meyers, concluding "If you know Johnson's work and want to see it in context, turn first to Meyers. If you want to peer inside a person and his era, you may prefer Martin. Both biographers emphasize the heroism in Johnson's determination to rise above poverty, ailing flesh and torturing obsessions. In doing so, they reveal the alloy of genius and paradox molding a man whose sheer force of personality has flourished from Grub Street to the Internet."