The Bibliothecary
May 2006
The Omnigatherum

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Sorry for the lapse.  I didn't know I was taking a Memorial Day break until it happened.  BBQs can take a lot out of you.  

The Poe Shadow author, Matthew Pearl, wrote in to let me know about one of the Poe books he recommended in his Top
Ten Guardian list (see May 25 post):

"The Andrew Taylor book, originally published in England, was renamed in America, as An Unpardonable Crime, although I can't
say why -- somehow
American Boy would be too... American?"

And Matthew wrote again to recommend another cool historical mystery, this one set in Philadelphia: Inamorata by Joe
Gangemi.  A blurb from Publishers Weekly:

Set in the Roaring '20s and steeped in period detail, this energetic debut is narrated by one Martin Finch, a psychology graduate
student at Harvard. Possessed of a wry sense of humor, a practical intelligence and an appropriately skeptical interest in the
supernatural, Finch is tapped by the department chairman, Dr. William McLaughlin, to help him judge a Scientific American contest
that promises $5,000 to anyone with "conclusive evidence of psychic phenomena." Before Finch and McLaughlin arrive in
Manhattan for their first encounter with the paranormal, Gangemi has given the reader a thumbnail history of the Spiritualist
movement, which had its heyday in the years after World War I and was championed by the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle. History
notwithstanding, the narrative moves at a brisk pace: Finch and McLaughlin quickly expose two mediums as frauds before
evaluating the formidable talents of Mina Crawley, the wife of a Philadelphia doctor. Finch travels to Philly as McLaughlin's agent to
meet the lovely and charming seeress, and stays for several weeks in the Crawley household as he wrestles with his central conflict:
his affection for Mina versus his mandate to determine whether she's a fraud. The novel turns into a slightly bawdy thriller, and the
narrative vigor rarely flags as Finch pursues strange paths in the City of Brotherly Love.

Or you can read more from Gangemi's website.  Thanks, Matthew.  I love those historical Philly books.  If my wife is
reading this, you can add
Inamorata to my Father's Day gift list.  

Louis Bayard, the author of the other new Poe book, The Pale Blue Eye, talks about the great writer:

"He has so many layers and so many complexities," Bayard says, "and that's what makes him such a fascinating person to make a
character out of. Not all writers necessarily would make good characters, but Poe has so many dark patches and grandiosities and
excesses. Even a moderately competent biography makes him really leap out at you."

Add this one to the list, as well.  Man, I've got way too much to read these days.

And for fun, here's the funniest fake trailer I've seen yet, 10 Things I Hate about Commandments.


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Saturday, May 27, 2006
Looking for just the right phrase to enliven your prose.  Here's a loong titled book that may help:

Fifteen Thousand Useful Phrases: A practical handbook of pertinent expressions, striking similes, literary,
commercial, conversational, and oratorical terms, for the embellishment of speech and literature, and the
improvement of the vocabulary of those persons who read, write, and speak English
by Grenville Kleiser (1919).  

Or as I like to call it,
How to become the worst writer in the world. Some schlub is wrong and you are right?  Try this
knock-out phrase: "He is so ludicrously wrong."  Some schlub is rude?  "He has a queer conception of the proprieties."  You
might get some queer looks uttering that phrase.  Or try dropping "moonlight witchery" into your conversation (Actually, I
like that one.), or try "scurrilous blustering."  Want to be a better writer and you need one of those "striking similes" promised
in the title.  Just scroll down to section VIII to read such golden language as "Like a vaporous amethyst" or "Like a yellow
silken scarf the thick fog hangs."  Really, you need to scroll down and read the similes.  And if "A drowsy murmur floats into
the air like thistledown," don't say I didn't warn you of the "delusive charm" and "electric effluvium" of Grenville's "embryo
enterprise."  Hark! Are those "elephantine footsteps" I hear or is it the "elfish grace" of "emerald scintillations"?  No, it was
just "A glacial pang of pain like the stab of a dagger of ice frozen from a poisoned well" (I kid you not; Grenville really wrote
that.), "A quibbling mouth that snapped at verbal errors like a lizard catching flies."  I could go on.  I may stay up all night
reading this book.
Comments or Scurrilous Blustering

Exit, pursued by bear,

The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments, even if they are as bitter as the tear.

Friday, May 26, 2006
It was "Pulp Fiction" week at Slate this
past week, featuring a couple articles a
day on pulp authors: Patricia Highsmith's
erotic lesbian thrillers, Donald Westlake's
Parker novels, the Poe review I linked
yesterday, Eric Ambler's spy novels.  
The coolest piece is the
creation of pulp
covers for "classic" works of literature.  
My favorite is the
Moby-Dick at right.


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readers' comments.

Thursday, May 25, 2006
I bought the new Matthew Pearl novel, The Poe Shadow and learned that I'll have another novel about Poe to read when
I'm finished: Louis Bayard has written
The Pale Blue Eye featuring Poe as a young West Point Cadet, helping to solve a
murder.  Matthew Pearl
gives a list to the Guardian, Top Ten Books Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe.  He mentions Bayard's
new book and another I'd not heard of,
The American Boy by Andrew Taylor, about Poe's childhood years in England.  
Another curious item on Pearl's list is No. 5:

An Antarctic Mystery by Jules Verne
Speaking of novels, Poe wrote only one,
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. Never heard of it? Most people haven't, but this
urgent, staccato transatlantic tale is oddly hypnotic. Verne was preoccupied with the intentionally incomplete and mysterious (and
possibly supernatural) ending, and wrote a sort of sequel that completes the narrative.

I've never heard of this.  Project Gutenberg has an 1899 translation.  Chapter V, "Edgar Poe's Romance," is a synopsis of
Pym.  The rest of his list is pretty good and I have to agree with him on the Daniel Hoffman book (and not just because
Hoffman has written some
great Philadelphia poetry).  His Poe book is outstanding.  

Christopher Benfey reviews The Poe Shadow in Slate and Matthew Pearl gives an engrossing introduction to Poe in the


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Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Terry Jones is profiled in the Independent.  He has a new series on those barbaric Romans:

"At the heart of Rome was death". On the bloodied sands of the arena, Jones locates the dead and deathly centre of imperial power:
"To enjoy watching people suffer and die was the very essence of Roman identity."
He does salute the sceptics who helped to expose this Toga Terror - not least Rome's own chroniclers. "One of the things that
impressed me in the reading was how good a lot of the Roman historians were - how critical of their own regime," he says. One
problem, he thinks, is that "What we've inherited is the Renaissance adulation of Rome", not to mention an abiding cultural hangover
from "19th-century scholars who idolised and idealised Rome and all things Roman".

Sounds like fun stuff.  I enjoyed his series on The Crusades.

My friend, Ev, took some great photos of some of the murals of Philadelphia (the Athens of America).  Not included is the
Frank Rizzo mural (the Italian Market section was closed off for a festival), but Ev did get a great shot of the new Larry Fine
mural.  Yes, the Stooge, Larry Fine.  He's from Philly, if you didn't know.  The old Larry Fine mural had to be destroyed
because the wall needed to be rebuilt.  But I like the new one much better.  A little more Three Stooges trivia, latecomer
Curley Joe DeRita, the third Stooge in their full-length movies, also hails from Philly.  Two Stooges from Philly?!  Just
another reason why this is the Athens of America.


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Monday, May 22, 2006
You must check out the stunning
illuminated manuscript of Elizabeth
Barrett Browning's
Sonnets from
the Portuguese
, illustrated by
Phoebe Anna Traquair in Edinburgh
in the 1890s.  The National Library
of Scotland has put the
manuscript online:

Throughout the manuscript, as
elsewhere in her art, Traquair drew
on a wide range of ideas from the
visionary illuminated books of Blake
to Pre-Raphaelite romance and the
realist paintings of the late Victorian
age. She included portraits of both
Robert Browning and Elizabeth
Barrett Browning (see
sonnet 26).

But what do you do if you're not
romantically inspired by Victorian
poetry?  Well there's always
NASCAR.  Harlequin Romance is
starting a
NASCAR inspired series.  
The blurb for one title:

A female NASCAR owner.
A hotshot rookie driver.
Fasten your seatbelts—
it's going to be a wild ride.

I don't know about you, but my heart is racing!


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Saturday, May 20, 2006
And I thought only L. Ron Hubbard's sci-fi inspired mass idiocy.  Ever hear of Goreans?  They're adherents to the
"philosophy" espoused in John Norman's Chronicles of Gor.  
Police in Britain raided a house of Goreans:

No one is quite sure exactly why the Koatian sect, as it calls itself, has taken root in a pebbledash street in the north east. An
offshoot of the Goreans, a larger group with some 25,000 British followers, they live their life according to commandments hidden
within books written by John Norman.
In Norman's fictional land of Gor, which is divided into castes, couples must ditch any pretence of equality and instead strive to
achieve the master-slave dynamic in their relationships.

They even have their own crossword puzzles, featuring such Gorean clues as 12 Across: "It is regarded, by most Goreans,
as being far more humiliating and degrading to a woman than the piercing of a girl's septum" or 27 Down: Kailiauk was filled
with the sale of these types of girls (plural)" and most odd of all, 7 Down "the red-haired girl from Pennsylvania."  I think I
dated her.

When I was a kid I read a lot of Edgar Rice Burroughs, especially his Pellucidar novels, about a
prehistoric world inside the
earth .  You know, people and dinosaurs, living together.  Lots of reality-defying science.  I could start a movement based
upon these beliefs.  Pellucidians!  Sounds better than
Goreans!  Oh, but the fundy-christians have already beat me to it.  
And they don't have crosswords yet, but they do have word
seek-and-finds.  In this one, the kids can find both
brachiosaurus and Shem.  


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Friday, May 19, 2006
Seamus Heaney was reading his poetry and answering questions yesterday on the radio program, On Point.  If you listen,
you'll get a good idea of the reading I heard at the Philly Free Library last week.  One of the callers to the On Point show is
Bobby Breen, a firefighter from Boston.  Years ago, he presented Heaney with an unusual gift, his fire helmet.  At the Free
Library, Heaney recounted that for years he tried to write a poem about the helmet, but couldn't seem to summon the words
that fit such a magnificent gift. However, after 9/11, the fire helmet took on a much more heroic significance and Heaney was
inspired to write this Beowulfian tribute:


Bobby Breen's.  His Boston fireman's gift
With BREEN in scarlet letters on its spread
Fantailing brim,

Tinctures of sweat and hair oil
In the withered sponge and shock-absorbing webs
Beneath the crown—

Or better say the crest, for crest it is—
Leather-trimmed, steel-ridged, hand-tooled, hand-sewn,
Tipped with a little bud of beaten copper . . .

Bobby Breen's badged helmet's on my shelf
These twenty years, "the headgear
Of the tribe," as O'Grady called it

In right heroic mood that afternoon
When the fireman-poet presented it to me
As "the visiting fireman"—

As if I were up to it, as if I had
Served time under it, his fire-thane's shield,
His shoulder-awning, while shattering glass

And rubble-bolts out of a burning roof
Hailed down on every hatchet man and hose man there
Till the hard-reared shield-wall broke.

Magnificent stuff.


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Wednesday, May 17, 2006
The creator of the Baskerville type, John Baskerville, was born three hundred years ago this year.  And yes, there will be

Project Gutenberg find of the day: Tea-Cup Reading, and the Art of Fortune-Telling by Tea Leaves.  Written by "A
Highland Seer."  Ooh, spooky.  From the preface:

Reading of the Tea-cups affords but little opportunity to the Seer of extracting money from credulous folk; a reason why it was
never adopted by the gypsy soothsayers, who preferred the more obviously lucrative methods of crossing the palm with gold or
silver, or of charging a fee for manipulating a pack of playing-cards.
Reading the Cup is essentially a domestic form of Fortune-telling to be practised at home, and with success by anyone who will
take the trouble to master the simple rules laid down in these pages: and it is in the hope that it will provide a basis for much
innocent and inexpensive amusement and recreation round the tea-table at home, as well as for a more serious study of an
interesting subject, that this little guide-book to the science is confidently offered to the public.

See, reading tea leaves is a "science," not some greedy gypsy scam.  But  I am intrigued by the assertion that tea divination is
domestic, prophecy for the hearth and home.  Also fascinating is
Chapter IV, "An Alphabetical List of Symbols with Their
Significations," in which we learn that apes are "secret enemies," an ass is "misfortune overcome by patience; or a legacy,"
and very curiously, a dagger means "favours from friends."  Of course, the seer must visualize these symbols in the leaf dregs
of the cup, but never fear, this book is
illustrated.  And we can make a Seek-and-Find out of it, like those old Hidden
Pictures from Highlights magazine:

                                   Can you spot the following symbols in this cup?

Two pistols.
A cannon in conjunction with
a trident.
A pear.
A tree.
A house.
A pair of compasses.
Several small triangles.
Initial letters 'L' (twice), 'N,'
and 'V' (twice).

But wait, there's more.  
Chapter VI, "Omens," contains many nuggets of old wifery wisdom.  Acorn falls on your head?  
That's good luck.  Born on a Wednesday?  You will be full of woe.  And pigs? "To meet a sow coming towards you is good;
but if she turns away, the luck flies."  So I want to attract pigs?


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Tuesday, May 16, 2006
James Fenton writes about the castration of medieval lover/philosopher, Abelard:

"The next morning," Abelard tells us, "the whole city gathered before my house, and the scene of horror and amazement, mingled
with lamentations, cries and groans which exasperated and distressed me, is difficult, no, impossible, to describe. In particular, the
clerks and, most of all, my pupils tormented me with their unbearable weeping and wailing until I suffered more from their
sympathy than from the pain of my wound, and felt the misery of my mutilation less than my shame and humiliation."

Another curious Project Gutenberg find:  The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Debate Index from 1912 is just a listing of
the subjects debated, but I am so intrigued by the topics.  Tucked amidst such yawners as "Ought arbitration in trade
disputes to be enforced by law?" and "Should our national government establish postal telegraphy?" are such rabble rousers

Is the Iliad a greater epic than the Æneid?
Was Alfred the Great as great and good as Washington?
(Great and good?)
Is ambition a vice or a virtue?
Ought Pope to rank in the first class of poets?
Are Lord Byron's writings moral in their tendency?
Was chivalry in its character and influence more good than evil?
Is a classical education essential to an American gentleman?
As discoverer and as man, was Columbus greater than Livingstone?
(I love that "and as a man" addendum.)
Ought we to obey Mrs Grundy?
(Is there a modern equivalent to Mrs. Grundy?)
Is the "Divine comedy" a greater poem than "Paradise lost"?
Marriage with a deceased wife's sister; ought it to be legalized in England?
Are such popular amusements as dancing and card-playing harmful in their influence?

I could go on.  But I'll stop to give my short answers to those above:
Virtue until you get in my way.  
No, thank god.
Good in character.  Evil in influence.
Should be.
As a discover, Columbus.  As a man, ask the natives.
Good god, no.
No.  Forbidden love is more exciting.
Footloose to the contrary, yes they are.


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Sunday, May 14, 2006
Matthew Pearl's The Poe Shadow will be released on May 23.  The London Times has an early article on the new novel.  
Not so much a review, as a piece on the enduring legacy of Poe:

But perhaps it is because Poe is so adaptable that he keeps cropping up in popular culture. People have suggested that his stories are
archetypes of frightening situations — the threat of the stranger, the threat of madness, the nightmare of the enclosed and
diminishing space. These universally frightening themes continually bring him to new audiences.

More to the point, Poe still scares the shit of people.  Especially when he does the can-can.

A piece in the Guardian on David Campbell, the publisher who resurrected the Everyman Library imprint:

The publisher David Campbell tells a revealing anecdote about a reporter friend who recently went to cover a terrorism story in
Afghanistan. In an Al Qaida safe house he found a copy of Clausewitz's treatise on war. The book-mark was at the section on
"Courage"; the imprint was Everyman's Library.

My ideal classic lit series would feature the notes and scholarship of Penguin Classics with the design and durability of
Everymans.  Maybe someday.

The NY Times has a Literary Travel feature in today's paper.  Included are "Mark Twain's Hawaii," the book town, Hay-on-
Wye, in Wales, and "Borges' Buenos Aires."  
Some writers were also queried as to the books that inspired their own
wanderlust.  Stephen Colbert (who hasn't actually written a book, but, I guess, he's hso hot right now that everyone wants to
include him) gives his pick:

"Lord of the Rings." I always wanted to travel to Middle Earth. And now wherever I go, I am always on the lookout for Hobbits.

I'd settle for a trip to Hay-on-Wye.  Three dozen used book shops.  Three dozen!  That's 36.  Ah, one day.

And a very happy Mothers' Day to all the mothers out there, especially my wonderful wife.


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Saturday, May 13, 2006
A genre I'd never thought of: Science-Fiction Poetry.  And SF poetry has enough readership to warrant it's own journal,
although judging from the sample, it's hard to know why.  From a poem entitled

Let us spend a moment
contemplating synthetics, allowing
the paint on the ceiling of the casino
to imitate our sky. Where we sit, stories below,
the replica looks as real as any cloud.

These are our limitations:
that being ovine, Dolly, our premier imitation,
succumbed early to pneumonia. Others tried to follow,
the fiber of their images in newsprint pale by comparison.

There's more, but you get the idea.  Not absolutely terrible, but it reads like the author loves to use the thesaurus.  The
language is artificial.  Ah, perhaps that was the ironic intent: craft an artificially sounding poem about synthetics.  Pretty clever,
huh?  I think I'm giving the author a little too much credit here.

And I just love the headline for this obit:

Jim Delsing, 80, Pinch-Runner for Midget in Baseball Stunt, Dies

Readers' Comments
Dan comments on Wednesday's pipe post:
Ed, Those pipes are the bomb. Just having read the post this morning, I am now going to go outside and smoke my pipe.
The I will follow up by smoking a Camel. I plan to repeat this process many times during the day.

And Dan sent me this link to the best movies based on
alcoholic consumption, which fits in quite nicely with Monday's post
about medieval drinking songs.
Dan, The Thin Man movies are my favorite to drink by (and smoke by, as well).  In fact, watching these movies in a place
where one cannot indulge is like slow torture of the Tantalus kind.  In one of the Thin Man movies, Nick is taking their son
for a stroll in the park and is called to home when he telepathically hears Nora shaking a martini.  Now that's love.


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Thursday, May 11, 2006
Went to see Seamus Heaney at the Free Library of Philadelphia (the Athens of America) on Tuesday night.  The reading was
sold out but that didn't stop us from getting tickets.  We watched a live feed of Heaney on a big screen in another room.  
That's right: pay-per-view poetry.  Now if I could sit at home and pay six bucks
for a live poetry reading, I'd do it.  I could smoke and drink and shout at the TV
if I didn't like a poem or just make general comments throughout.  But to sit in
another room at the site of the reading really smacks of the "dorky."  But Seamus
made it all worthwhile.  He is still a fantastic reader, emotional when he reads his
own stuff and erudite when he talks in between his poems.  His readings are part
lecture.  He has a deep memory of great poems and he quotes liberally: Beckett,
Horace, Herbert, Ginsberg, Yeats, Milosz.  But what makes a Heaney reading
special is his acceptance of the sacred art of the poet, as a Bard, as a Chorus for
humanity.  And he does it without pretension.  Heaney doesn't aspire to be some
grand poo-bah of language; he has just learned to accept the position over the
course of his life.

Heaney's new book,
District and Circle, is solid and moving.  You can read reviews by Andrew Motion, Tobias Hill, John
Carey, Mark Ford, Clive Wilmer, Anthony Cuda and an interview with Sam Leith.  


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Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Project Gutenberg now has the greatest book ever written about smoking, G.L. Apperson's The Social History of Smoking
(1914).  I was never able to track down a copy of it for purchase, but I did find through a university library, so I now have a
well-thumbed xerox-copy.  Don't miss
Chapter XIV, "Smoking in Church."  Sure to be a favorite. They even have
index fully linked to the text.  First name in the index?  Parson Adams:

The most famous of country clergymen of the early Georgian period is, of course, Fielding's lovable and immortal Parson Adams.
Throughout "Joseph Andrews" the parson smokes at every opportunity. At his first appearance on the scene, in the inn kitchen, he
calls for a pipe of tobacco before taking his place at the fireside. The next morning, when he fails to obtain a desired loan from the
landlord, Adams, extremely dejected at his disappointment, immediately applies to his pipe, "his constant friend and comfort in his
affliction," and leans over the rails of the gallery overlooking the inn-yard, devoting himself to meditation, "assisted by the inspiring
fumes of tobacco." Later on, in the parlour of the country Justice of the Peace, who condemned his prisoners before he had taken
the depositions of the witnesses against them, and who, by the way, also lit his pipe while his clerk performed this necessary duty,
Adams, when his character has been cleared, sits down with the company and takes a cheerful glass and applies himself vigorously
to smoking. A few hours later, when the parson, Fanny, and their guide are driven by a storm of rain to take shelter in a wayside ale-
house, Adams "immediately procured himself a good fire, a toast and ale, and a pipe, and began to smoke with great content, utterly
forgetting everything that had happened." In the same inn, after Mrs. Slipslop has appeared and disappeared, Adams smokes three
pipes and takes "a comfortable nap in a great chair," so leaving the lovers, Joseph and Fanny, to enjoy a delightful time together.

In the "if I were rich" category, here's a pipe in an auction at Christie's, London that I would buy in a heartbeat, from the
private collection of
Alfred Dunhill:

Viking head is pretty cool, too.  And so is this coiled snake.  I can imagine the looks I'd get smoking that.


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Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Ben Macintyre on the John Donne portrait (see my post of Feb 5):

Comparisons are odious (another gift from Donne’s quill), but looking around the National Portrait Gallery it is hard to find another
face that radiates so much character and charisma. Even the various depictions of Shakespeare, among which the Newbattle
portrait now hangs, seem stiff and artificial alongside Donne’s rangy, sad half-grin. Holbein’s portrait of Henry VIII was selected,
this year, as one of the 12 essential English icons. Yet Donne’s face, and his poetry, are surely far closer to a definition of what
Englishness means than Holbein’s gorgeous and brutal portrait of power.

Whitman rises from the grave.  My God, it's a
miracle!  What kind of embalming methods did
they use a hundred years ago.  Walt looks great!
But really,
this looks like a fun day.  I might just
reserve tickets for this.

But for tonight I'll be seeing Seamus Heaney at the
Free Library of the Athens of America (that's
Philadelphia, for the uninitiated).


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Monday, May 8, 2006
Wine the good and bland, thou blessing
Of the good, the bad's distressing,
Sweet of taste by all confessing,
Hail, thou world's felicity!
Hail thy hue, life's gloom dispelling;
Hail thy taste, all tastes excelling;
By thy power, in this thy dwelling
Deign to make us drunk with thee!

From Project Gutenberg, Wine, Women, and Song: Medieval Latin Students' Songs by John Addington Symonds, in
which the translator assures us, "Next to spring and love, our students set their affections principally on the tavern and the


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Saturday, May 6, 2006
Another Project Gutenberg find: Among Famous Books by John Kelman (1912), a collection of lectures on literature.  In
Chapter IV, "Celtic Revivals of Paganism," I learned of Fiona Macleod, a pseudonym for William Sharp, who wrote stories
of Celtic folklore and myth.  Kelman tells Macleod's story in comparison with WB Yeats:

One can always understand a Scottish Celt better by comparing him with an Irish one or a Welsh; and it will certainly prove
illuminative in the present case to remember Mr. W.B. Yeats while one is thinking of Fiona Macleod. To the present writer it seems
that the woman-soul is apparent in both, and that she is singing the same tune; the only difference being, as it were, in the quality of
the voice, Fiona Macleod singing in high soprano, and  Mr. Yeats in deep and most heart-searching contralto.

Gutenberg doesn't have any Macleod, but you can find his work online here.


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Friday, May 5, 2006
I recently discovered you can check what books have been recently added to Project Gutenberg.  You can even check as
far back as the
last 30 days.  I found some fascinating new additions.  Atlantis, the Antediluvian World by Ignatius
Donnelly (1882) is a thorough compilation of the historical and anthropological evidence of the fabled kingdom that perished
long ago.  You can find the
Gutenberg text here, but on this website you get the text with the illustrations.  In Chapter IX,
"The Artificial Deformation of the Skull," Donnelly links the similar practices of skull flattening throughout the world to Atlantis:

We must add the fact that the extraordinary practice of deforming the skull was found all over Europe and America to the catalogue
of other proofs that the people of both continents were originally united in blood and race.

What's particularly wonderful about Donnelly's book are the leaps in logic to find his Atlantis.  His book reads like a fantasy
novel.  Got a flat skull?  Blame the Atlanteans.

Today is the birthday of one of my favorite authors, Christopher Morley, writer of novels, essays, poetry and a plethora of
prefaces for great works of literature.  Morley was also a pipe smoker of the first order.  Several of his works are
Gutenberg, including my favorite collection of his essays (his first), Shandygaff. seems to be honoring Morley
on his birthday by featuring, as their poem of day, "Smoke" by Henry David Thoreau:

LIGHT-WINGED Smoke! Icarian bird,  
Melting thy pinions in thy upward flight;  
Lark without song, and messenger of dawn,  
Circling above the hamlets as thy nest;  
Or else, departing dream, and shadowy form         
Of midnight vision, gathering up thy skirts;  
By night star-veiling, and by day  
Darkening the light and blotting out the sun;  
Go thou, my incense, upward from this hearth,  
And ask the gods to pardon this clear flame.       

Today, my hearth will be my briar and my smoke rises in honor of Morley.

More Gutenberg finds tomorrow and Sunday.


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Wednesday, May 3, 2006
China has banned Golden Books!  To "curb corruption"!  The
Poky Little Puppy is corrupting China?  Ohh, not
Books, China has banned
golden books.  Wait a minute.  
They make books out of gold in China?


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006
Here's a great pastiche of Sherlock Holmes that reproduces the correspondence between Holmes and his brother after the
detective's "
death" at Reichenbach Falls.  I thought this was clever and very well done.

Dan comments on yesterday's post:
Ed, Ah…trying to read in bed: the most frustrating thing in the world to me. Well, that and popcorn stuck in my teeth. I try
everything to get in the right position to read, but just can’t do it. It’s not even that I fall asleep or doze; I just flip around like
a fish out of water and eventually just give up. When I do get in a reasonably comfy position, the lighting is all wrong.
Typically, it’s not a big deal, but when I’m at a hotel or staying with friends and there is no T.V. alternative, it drives me nuts!
And Beowulf…I just can’t wait to see it. You think it’ll come to Roswell?

Dan, Your worries are over!  Now you can read in bed in comfort!  Or at least you can read
Tarzan or Heart of Darkness
comfortably.  Are we supposed to be comfortable while reading Heart of Darkness?  
Beowulf in Roswell?  I don’t think so, but I hear you can catch some nifty UPS commercials.


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Monday, May 1, 2006
Here's a curious publishing venture: Bed Books.  I've done my share of reading in bed (although I usually fall asleep pretty
quickly) and sometimes holding a book seems a little awkward.  But if I lie on my side, I do I really need the text printed
sideways on the page?  Can't I just TURN THE BOOK SIDEWAYS?  And check out
the photos of the "Reading Postions
from the Gallery of Pain" that people use to cozy up with a book in bed.  People do the darnedest things, don't they?  And
pain?  Yeah, holding that pulp is something like bamboo spikes under the fingernails.  What I find most curious is the list of
titles this company publishes.  Obviously, they're going for the "classics," but is there really a market for Importance of
Being Earnest
printed sideways?  Or Tarzan?  Isn't it easier to read all of the books in this catalogue in lightweight
paperback format?

Last year I was excited to hear about the movie adaptation of Beowulf filmed in Iceland. Looks like it's finally making the
rounds, at least in Canada.  
An article in the NYTimes yesterday also mentioned it along with the animated one by Zemeckis
and a few others.  Looks like a very Beowulfian year shaping up.  Good times for
Old English.

Wes thu hal,

The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.
A Meerschaum pipe of the Sherlockian actor H.A.
Saintsbury Circa 1903
The Silver mounted leather case engraved H A
Saintsbury on his 500th performance of Sherlock
Holmes Dec 21st 1903
Estimate: 1,000 - 1,500 British pounds