30 June 2006

Early American Sunday School Books

Here's an online collection of early American Sunday School books: Shaping The Values of Youth: Sunday School Books In 19th Century America. It's a collection of writings that tackles the issue of slavery. Most of the items are from the Northern States, and therefore are abolitionist. Even though the books are written from an abolitionist perspective, they are not something that I would want to see used today. The creators of the collection acknowledge this: "Racism, of course, was widespread and one will find that through the lens of biblical tolerance, one will perceive racial prejudice and condescension." Still, the writings are an example of people thinking their way to more evolved opinions, and, as the site's creators say, "in the directive to love everyone, one at least can imagine the possibility of a radical form of fellowship."

29 June 2006

Garcia Marquez Home Town Keeps Original Name

The home town of Gabriel Garcia Marquez will not undergo a name change to honour the author. The mayor of Aracataca had suggested that the town's name be changed to Aracataca-Macondo. Macondo is the name of the town in One Hundred Years of Solitude, Garcia Marquez's seminal novel. Those who turned out to vote in the referendum were strongly in favour of the change (93%), but less than half the minimum number of votes were cast. Via CBC.ca.

28 June 2006

Online Exhibition Of Historical French Literature

Here's a great online exhibition that explores the historical relationship between French art and power: Creating French Culture: Treasures From The Bibliotheque Nationale de France. This info from the introduction places the exhibition in context:
Throughout French history the powerful have sought to harness culture to their own ends. They understood that the representation of power--what today we call "image"--is a form of power itself. They patronized artists, artisans, and intellectuals who produced works that proclaimed the legitimacy of their rule, reinforced their authority, and enhanced their prestige. At times, they stifled creative impulses incompatible with their ambition. The relationship between power--or politics--and culture in French history is thus an ambivalent one, defined as much by conflict and censorship as by cooperation and patronage.
The material features here goes back as far as the 8th Century. Some of the featured items include displays from illuminated manuscripts, lectionaries, psalter-hymnals, the works of Guillaume de Machaut, translations, royal chronicles, a lunar atlas, the works of Moliere, Zola's J'accuse!, and much more. The exhibition is divided into four categories: · monarchs and monasteries · path to royal absolutism · rise and fall of the absolute monarchy · from empire to democracy This exhibition is not limited to books, but they do make up a large part of it.

27 June 2006

Godey's Lady's Book Online

Parts of Godey's Lady's Book, the popular 19th century American women's magazine, can now be found online. The first (Godey's Lady's Book Online Home Page) has online copies of the publication for January, February, March, April, and November 1850. The second (Godey's Lady's Book: Hope Greenberg) has two collections. One is a highlights page: there are samples from the magazines from 1855—1858. The other has the complete issues from July, August, and September 1855 and a partial issue of May 1852. The magazine published stories (e.g. "The Earl's Death-Bed; or, The Force of Conscience") and poems (e.g. "To The Faithless One"). There are articles, illustrations, patterns for the latest fashionable item, and more. In the January 1850 issue we read advice about the following point of etiquette:
"We may as well mention here, for the sake of the other sex, that loud thumping with canes and umbrellas, in demonstration of applause, is voted decidedly rude. Clapping the hands is quite as efficient, and neither raises a dust to soil the dresses of the ladies, not a hubbub enough to deafen them."
A great browse.

26 June 2006

Kinky Friedman Makes the Ballot

I'm a few days late reporting this, but author Kinky Friedman has managed to get on the ballot for Texas governor. Kinky Friedman started out as a country musician (Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys), and performing such songs as "They Don't Make Jews Like Jesus Anymore." He then segued into life as a writer of offbeat mysteries, which is how I became aware of him. One of his books (Meanwhile, Back At the Ranch) made me laugh so hard that my cat got worried and came to investigate. Now he's aiming to be governor of Texas. He's running as an independent, and he's collected enough signatures to have his name listed on the ballot. Here's the web page that follows the campaign Kinky Friedman For Governor 2006 (complete with blog) and here's a New Yorker article by Dan Halpern. The Kinkster is also active in animal welfare work; he founded Utopia Animal Rescue. Here's a link to some quotations from his books. Finally, here's a link to an interview at Bookslut.

25 June 2006

Resource for 17th Century English Literature

If you're wanting some background information on English literature from the time of Beaumont and Fletcher, Webster, and Donne, here's a good site to check out: Early 17th Century Literature. The site categorises the Metaphysical Poets and the Cavalier Poets (listing them and giving a brief introduction to the terms). There are also pages devoted to many of the writers of the time, complete with quotations from their work, bios, a list of their writings, and lists of critical works about them. Finally, there are links to further resources about this time (such as writings about the politics of the period, music, the plague, and so on). Definitely worth a look.

24 June 2006

Oddball Comics

For fans of comics, here's a site to visit: Scott Shaw!'s Oddball Comics. Shaw is a cartoonist, comic book creator, and avid collector of comics. This collection features samples from his personal collection. You won't find Archie comics here, but you will find "Stop and Go, the Safety Twins" and "Doll Man." Shaw also has links to many sites in the cartoon world. Via memepool.

23 June 2006

Gypsy Folk Tales

Here's another site for lovers of folk stories: Gypsy Folk Tales. This site is the online version of Francis Hindes Groome's 1899 work Gypsy Folk Tales. There is an introduction with an overview of gypsy history and life. This is followed by the stories themselves. The tales are broken down by country (Turkish gypsy folk tales, Transylvanian gypsy stories, Scottish tinker stories, and so forth). Via idiolect.

22 June 2006

Books For Cooks

Books for Cooks is a great place to browse through excerpts from historical cookbooks. The books in the collection range from medieval times to the 1900s. In a cookbook from the 1940s we see recipes and food advice for hard times. For example, there's a recipe for Scotch eggs that includes suggestions for meat substitutes if money is tight. From the early 1700s there are recipes for savoury puddings. If you're wanting to recreate an historical dish, be warned that some cooking experience is required for these. One recipe gives the list of ingredients, advises the cook to mix them together, and then says simply, "Bake it not too much." Via Bibi's box.

21 June 2006

More About British Slang

Here's a website that's a good browse: A Dictionary of Slang. It features slang and colloquialisms from the U.K. (some explicitly sexual, so consider yourself warned). Many of the words I'm familiar with already because we use them in Canada. But there are many more that I've never heard of. I learned about the words "gatted," "nang," and "thrutch" all in one quick browse, and there's a lot of pages I didn't have the chance to get to. I'll be going back, though! Via arianafrench.com.

20 June 2006

Resurrecting the Works of Maimonides

I'm looking forward to the success of this project: Scientists to reassemble Maimonides' works. According to this story, there are 300,000 fragments of the writings of Moses Maimonides. Scientists are going to try to use digital technology to put them together.

Via Hassenpfeffer.

19 June 2006

100 Best First Lines

Here's an interesting link: 100 Best First Lines From Novels. The #1 best line is awarded to "Call me Ishmael." Jane Austen's opening to Pride and Prejudice comes in second. This is a great list to read, both as a reader and a writer. Via Reading Matters.

18 June 2006

A Tribute to the New York Times Crossword Puzzle

Here's an enthusiastic review of Wordplay, a documentary that was recently screened at Toronto's Hot Docs festival. Wordplay is Patrick Creadon's documentary on the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. He profiles people who love doing it (including such high-profile ones as Bill Clinton, Mike Mussina, and Jon Stewart) and he looks at the construction of the puzzle. I don't know if this documentary has opened in the U.S. or elsewhere, but it's now beginning to play in Canada. Via CBC.ca.

17 June 2006

Wretched English

If you're looking for an amusing website that focuses on the ways English is misused in everyday life, look no farther than James Harbeck's Wretched English. It's sub-titled "a collection celebrating the unlimited potential of the English language for being unintentionally amusing." He's collected numerous blunders and typos, such as this eye-opening recipe instruction: "Stew for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes, their juice and the sock." Lots of fun stuff here. Via Humanyms.

16 June 2006

More Summer Reading Lists

The wonderful Rebecca Blood at Rebecca's Pocket has started a compilation of summer reading lists. Some of them I've blogged about here before, but her list of lists just keeps growing. Now in addition to her general lists, there are books suggested for golfers, baseball fans, poetry lovers, young people, and more. Here are some of my favourite lists from the compilation: · Masuk High School's Summer Reading List for Grades 11 and 12 students · Masuk High School's Reading List for History and the Social Sciences (I'm biased toward this one because it features Brunelleschi's Dome, one of the books written by Saskatchewan's own Ross King · a "Reading List for Foodies"--the first one especially looks intriguing; it's called Insatiable: Tales From A Life of Delicious Excess and the brief blurb she gives for it makes me want to find it and read it this weekend · Karen Grigsby Bates' list of "Summer Pages For the Mind, Heart and Tastebuds" (a list that ranges from travel writing to mysteries) · the recommendations of Suzanne Perez Tobias of the Wichita Eagle, which include Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee and Money, a Memoir: Women, Emotions and Cash Keep checking back to Rebecca's list of lists; I'm sure it will continue to grow. Via Rebecca's Pocket.

15 June 2006

Geoffrey Chaucer Hath Been Profiled

Well, lucky us! Norman Geras at normblog has profiled Daun Chaucer. We learn his most important piece of advice for life, what his favourite animal is, what his favourite movie is (guess! go on, guess!), what he worries about, and what his most treasured possession is--among many other things. Via In The Middle and, of course, Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog.

14 June 2006

Anagrams Gone Wild

The Internet Anagram Server (or I, Rearrangement Servant) is a wonderful way to waste time. I never have the patience to figure out anagrams on my own, but it's entertaining to see them. The web site tells us that "parliament is an anagram of partial men" and that "Clint Eastwood [is] an anagram of Old West Action." The website will create anagrams for you. Enter your word or phrase and watch as numerous anagrams appear—some that make sense, some that don't. For "reading saves lives" I got "a gravesend Elvis is" (among many others). There's also a Hall of Fame for anagrams, topical anagrams (featuring The Anagram Times), personal anagrams, and more. In The Anagram Times, under the headline "Heather Mills revealed to be a star in adult publications," I read that "Heather Mills McCartney" turns into "Chesty thrill, cameramen." Alternately, for the headline "Scottish orchestra seeks new national anthem," the phrase "Royal Scottish National Orchestra" can be rearranged to read "Och! A solo eh? Artistry in tartan clothes!" Finally, there is the delightful section of Odds & Ends, in which we learn that "Louis XIII, the King of France during early seventeenth century, appointed a Royal Anagrammist for a salary of £1,200 a year." Via Incoming Signals.

13 June 2006

Books About Teen Despair

The Guardian has a Top 10 List which covers teen despair: you can find it in the article "Sam Mills's top 10 books about the darker side of adolescence". The list is dominated by male authors (there's only one woman); I don't know if there's a significance to that or not. Is it mostly men who have a bleak adolescence? Probably not, but I do know that the one book I've read of those listed (Catcher In The Rye) didn't speak to me at all. Some of the other titles on the list include Lord of the Flies, The Outsiders, A Clockwork Orange, and Vernon God Little. Via bookshelves of doom.

12 June 2006

Images of the Fantastic

If you're feeling in the mood for the fantastic, check out The Fantastic in Art and Fiction. You can find images here in the following categories: · angels and demons · danse macabre · weird science · bestiary · the marvelous · the grotesque · possession and insanity · fantastic space · freaks, monsters, and prodigies The books referred to range from Paradise Lost to Histoire de la Magie. Via Boing Boing.

11 June 2006

The Word Detective

Check out The Word Detective (sub-titled "Words and Language in a Humourous Vein On the Web Since 1995"). This site is the online version of a newspaper column written by Evan Morris; it appears in newspapers in the U.S., Mexico, and Japan (which explains why, living up here in Canada, I've never heard of it). You can read the isses online, or you can subscribe. Each issue tackles numerous words/phrases; the most recent issue includes "fan mail from some flounder," "namby-pamby," "vindaloo," and much more. You can ask a question about a word or a phrase, but of course you're asked to consult the extensive archives before doing so. Thanks to the archives, I've finally found out what "five by five" means, which has puzzled me ever since I first heard it on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You can also submit a word to the "My Favourite Word" category, along with an explanation of why it's your favourite word. Some of the words already submitted include jillion, penultimate, echelon, and nectarine. Now I think I'll go ponder what my favourite word is. Hmm. Cinammon, maybe? Love the flavour, love the sound and appearance of the word, love the evocative images it conjures up. Or maybe—no, I think I'll stop right now. That way madness lies. Via Bonzer Web Sites of the Week.

10 June 2006

The Book Of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered

"The Book Of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered": the title says it all. Has everyone else but me heard about this wonderful poem by Clive James? I want to print it off, run out into the street, and thrust copies of it into people's hands (but I know that would be disrespectful of copyright, so I won't). This was featured tangentially yesterday on my other blog, but it's so great it deserves to be highlighted. Via the bears at onepotmeal.

09 June 2006

The 2006 Alex Awards

Here are some awards that I hadn't heard of before: the Alex Awards. The awards are given to books that are written for adults but that will appeal to teens as well. The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) administers these awards; the sponsors are the Margaret Alexander Edwards Trust and Booklist. According to the YALSA website, "The Alex Awards were created to recognize that many teens enjoy and often prefer books written for adults, and to assist librarians in recommending adult books that appeal to teens." This year's winners include Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys, Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, and Susan Palwick's The Necessary Beggar. Via Rebecca's Pocket.

08 June 2006

Faulkner's Maps

Faulkner fans can see how he visualised Yoknapatawpha County by viewing his handdrawn maps online. These maps aren't new; they were originally drawn to be included with Absalom, Absalom! and The Portable Faulkner. But it's good to have access to them online, too. Via Incoming Signals.

07 June 2006

Some Examples Of Shakespeare's Influence

Here are two interesting lists showing Shakespeare's influence on our language: Some Words First Used By Shakespeare and Lines From The Plays. The first list contains words that are now part of our everyday life: advertising, manager, numb. Mind you, some of these I have a hard time believing were first used by Shakespeare. Did no one else ever mention Xantippe before he did? The second list contains phrases that have become cliches (such as "budge an inch" or "cold comfort"). This is the companion site to the 2001 book The Shakespeare Book Of Lists. Via kottke.

06 June 2006

The Limerick Dictionary

Here's a dictionary with a difference: The Omnificinet English Dictionary in Limerick Form. Contributors are working to create an online dictionary that includes not only the standard definition, but a limerick to help define the word. The limericks often include puns, so be warned if you're not a fan of them! Here's the limerick (by Carol June Hooker) for "ayurvedic": If Kapha and Pitta and Vatta Unbalance, then something's the matta. Your alternative medic, Through routes ayurvedic, Rebalances dosha errata. If you love writing limericks, the dictionary creators welcome help. It looks as though they're about to start working on words starting with "c." Via Yahoo! Picks.

05 June 2006

Europe's Oldest Surviving Text To Be Studied

Scientists plan to use a highly-refined form of digital analysis on Europe's oldest surviving text: the remains of the Derveni papyrus. Previously there were large portions of the scroll that could not be read; scientists are optimistic that this will no longer be the case. The results will be published some time in late 2007. Via Hassenpfeffer.

04 June 2006

ReLit Awards Shortlists Announced

The shortlists for the ReLit awards have been announced. The winners will be announced in early July. ReLit is short for Regarding Literature, Reinventing Literature, Relighting Literature...

03 June 2006

John Donne Portrait Will Stay In the Public Domain

A while back I blogged about the campaign to keep the best-known portrait of John Donne in the public domain. I'm happy to report that the campaign has been successful and that the portrait will not be put up for auction. Apparently this was the most successful appeal the National Portrait Gallery has ever undertaken. Individual donations to the campaign ranged from £2 to £100,000.

02 June 2006

Poet Sylvia Legris Wins the $50,000 Griffin Prize!

Wonderful news! Saskatchewan poet Sylvia Legris has won the prestigious Griffin Prize, Canada's top award for poetry. Legris won for her third book, Nerve Squall. As the Griffin's web site explains, "The C$100,000 Griffin Poetry Prize, the richest prize in the world for a single volume of poetry, is divided between the two winners. The prize is for first edition books of poetry, including translations, published in English in 2005, and submitted from anywhere in the world." Here's a review of Nerve Squall.

The international award went to Kamau Braithwaite.

01 June 2006

American Women's Dime Novels

Here's a site about a topic I'd never thought about before: American Women's Dime Novels, 1870—1920. The site gives us information about the cheap fiction for women that became popular in this time period. Thanks to the growing number of literate people and the cheaper cost of paper, publishers had a bigger readership, and the dime novels were created. They were written by authors such as Effie Adelaide Rowlands and Bertha Clay--names unknown today, but very celebrated at the time. The popularity of these novels was not universally appreciated. The site quotes Hawthorne as saying the following:
America is now wholly given over to a dammed mob of scribbling women, and I should have no chance of success while the public taste is occupied with their trash--and should be ashamed of myself if I did succeed. What is the mystery of these innumerable editions of the 'Lamplighter' and other books neither better nor worse?--worse they could not be, and better they need not be, when they sell by the 100,000.
There's a lot of information here, and there are also some good links to even more specific material about the topic. Via Yahoo! Picks.