Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Fluxus Reader

Ken Friedman (ed) - The Fluxus Reader (1998)

Swinburne Research Bank direct link

Digital copy authorized by the copyright holder.  Collection of material on the Fluxus movement.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Curious History of Phyllis on Aristotle

Darin Hayton blog direct link

"We can easily explain the enduring relevance of the Phyllis on Aristotle motif as just the perennial male anxiety about powerful women. There is, no doubt, considerable truth to that explanation, but it doesn’t help us understand why this particular story of women upending society and more specifically this particular visual trope remained popular. Whatever the reason, the ever youthful and attractive Phyllis was still riding around on Aristotle more than 400 years after overcoming the old philosopher."

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Poetica Erotica

Thomas Robert Smith - Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse (1921)

Open Library direct link (volume one)
Open Library direct link (volume two)
Open Library direct link (volume three - supplementary)
Open Library main page

This isn't exactly what you might first suspect.  The Latin title, the "subscribers only" notice, the dedication to Mencken & Nathan - all might suggest a more explicit collection of under-the-counter literature than what is actually presented.  The "amatory" in the title might indicate where it's really going as well as included authors such as Donne, Marlow, Beaumont & Fletcher, Behn, Villon, Herrick, Ovid and so on.  It's basically love poetry leaning more towards the flesh than the spirit.

Mabel Norman owned a copy (Anderson's Twilight of the Idols, note p201).

Thomas Robert Smith (1880-1942) was an editor at The Century from 1914 to 1920.  (This conflicts with Wikipedia and some other sources but it's in the NYT obit.  He was definitely there from 1919-1920.  Online scans of the magazine are poorly indexed so it's hard to check.).  In 1921 he became editor at Boni & Liveright who published this book that year.  Nathan says he and Mencken first met Sinclair Lewis at Smith's apartment (Sinclair Lewis Remembered).  Bennett Cerf described Smith as "very erudite, round-faced, gray-haired cherubic man who wore a pince-nez with a black ribbon". (At Random p31)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Book of English Epithets, Literal and Figurative

James Jermyn - Book of English Epithets, Literal and Figurative (1849)

Open Library direct link
Open Library main page

A collection of numerous epithets drawn from a couple of centuries of literature.  A first impression is this might be useful for writers but that's probably unlikely - maybe it's more a browser's book.  For instance, "moon" has dozens of epithets including "argent-horned" (Lovelace), "bent" (Chaucer), "clouded" (Shakespeare), "dull" (Sotheby), "humid" (Hogg), "lover-loving" (Byron), "timorous" (Darwin) and so many more.  There are four full pages for "nightingale", the result clearly of British poets' inexplicable fascination with the animal.  There's also "tiger", "smile", "zephyr", "jest", "drum", "beard", "gold", "hill", "yell" - I almost wish the book was longer.  In fact this was intended to raise interest in a much more extensive project and Jermyn had collected volumes of material but never went further when the world apparently expressed its disinterest.  (Notes and Queries, Jan 15, 1887, p55)

James Jermyn (d1852) was the son of a ship's captain who became a philologist.  "He was called to the bar, but being possessed of a private fortune did not practise."  (DNB, 1892 edition)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Picturesque Arizona

Enoch Conklin - Picturesque Arizona (1878)

Open Library direct link
Open Library main page

I have a weakness for old travel narratives though in actuality I don't read many all the way through.  (Have been slowly working on Pausanias for a couple of years.)  This is a journalist's account of Arizona in 1877 and is considered "one of the first national publications to focus attention on the scenic wonders of the American Southwest" (Brian McGinty's The Oatman Massacre p186).  Probably of more interest today are the many descriptions of Indian life which Conklin appears to be (I'm skimming again) a fairly sympathetic observer.  True to a writer of that time he cites Prescott and Humboldt but otherwise seems to be reporting accurately though certainly tinged with romanticism.  There's also material on the ruins he found, Tucson of the period, mining, river conditions, what "desert" means - the usual grab-bag that makes travel books so surprising and, if we're lucky, entertaining.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

French Renaissance Paleography

Direct Link

Manuscripts, books, maps - you can even help transcribe if so inclined.  There's some background material under Resources and things like dictionaries under Reference.  It's not completely done yet (some spots are just placeholders) and some of the scans seem hastily done but still an interesting site.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Vatican Library Digitization Project

Direct Link

Have only had time to give this a brief look but it's pretty jawdropping - illustrated Bibles, a Koran, bilingual Iliad, an Aztec manuscript.  Unfortunately they all seem to be watermarked in a hard-to-ignore way and can't be downloaded.  Still, some nice browsing.