Thursday, April 28, 2016

Les poètes maudits

Paul Verlaine (ed) - Les poètes maudits (1884) direct link
Open Library main page

The original anthology (though in a 1920 reprint) - a kind of critical work and small anthology, much as Edmund Wilson would later do.  It started, to some degree anyway, the reputations for Rimbaud, Mallarmé and Corbière.  The others haven't lasted as well (Villiers is known almost entirely to English-speakers for his stories not his poetry, though Edmond Lepelletier claims that was actually his strength).  Pauvre Lelian is actually Verlaine.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

English Travellers of the Renaissance

Clare Macllelan Howard - English Travellers of the Renaissance (1914) direct link 
Open Library main page

A look at British travel literature of the 16th and 17th centuries which may not seem particularly interesting except to people like me but let Howard tell it:

"These discussions of the art of travel are relics of an age when Englishmen, next to the Germans, were known for the greatest travellers among all nations.  In the same boat-load with merchants, spies, exiles, and diplomats from England sailed the young gentlemen fresh from his university, to complete his education by a look at the most civilized countries of the world."

The book covers the development from religious pilgrimage to the Grand Tour, dwelling on the dangers as well as the pleasures, on satire, on France against Italy, on fencing, on guidebooks, on how to behave at inns, what to eat.  For games see the picture below of tennis being played in 1632 France (note the sagging net).

The book was basically the PhD dissertation of Clare Macllelan Howard (1881-1967).  (At the time of this writing "Macllelan" was misspelled at Open Library.)  Howard was assistant professor of English at Barnard College.  She edited an edition of the work of Elizabethan poet Sir John Davies.  In The Evolution of the Grand Tour (p387), Edward Chaney wrote that she "wore her superior scholarship lightly" when comparing some other histories of travel literature from that period.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Legal Jingles

Frederick Rudolph Barlee - Legal Jingles (1922) direct link
Open Library main page

Need to remember specifics of the law?  How about some poetry!  As you can see from the sample below this may be less than memorable but is certainly a different approach.  (I should note that this is Australian law so everybody else can merely take inspiration.)

"Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in Common"

What's tenancy in common, what
A tenancy that's joint?
In Morley versus Bird you'll get
The law on either point.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Library Jokes and Jottings

Henry Thomas Coutts - Library Jokes and Jottings: A Collection of Stories Partly Wise But Mostly Otherwise (1914) direct link
Open Library main page

For those who might be interested in a little library humor though I'll have to confess it doesn't seem particularly humorous to modern eyes.

Henry Thomas Coutts (1881-1916) worked in the Islington and Croydon public libraries.  For a couple of years he was president of the Library Assistants' Association.  He also wrote Manual of Library Bookbinding (1911).  He died of tuberculosis.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Published English Translations of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey

Direct link

A nice directory of numerous translations with dates, form, useful comments and links where available.  I think it's fascinating and stumbled across it while trying to find out if there had ever been a translation using the original meter (dactylic hexameters which would be close to unreadable in English - and of course there have been some attempts).

Most of the translators are unfamiliar to me though there are surprises such as one from Thomas Hobbes.  (Oxford currently has an edition in print which claims it's a translation "of a great poet by a great philosopher".  They must have really been desperate for something nice to say.)

There's also a couple done into Spenserian stanzas which is so inexplicable that the translator must have felt the need for a challenge.

It's missing one recent translation of the Iliad by Caroline Alexander but there's enough here to stay busy for a while.

My only real and minor complaint is that the comments are at the end of the excerpts so you can't easily skim the selections.  Then again that keeps the main page clean so maybe it's a trade off.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Television Commercial

Harry Wayne McMahan - The Television Commercial: How to Create and Produce Effective TV Advertising (1954, rev 1957) direct link 
Open Library main page

Almost sixty years old but a friend in the business tells me most of the principles are still valid though of course many of the specifics (and the racial attitudes) are long outdated.  Still, if you're interested in building customer identification, effective use of cartoons, getting the most money from jingles (don't put singers on camera or you'll pay twice as much), where humor may help or hurt, writing techniques - it's all here.

McMahan was a columnist for Advertising Age and a consultant (through his Hollywood-based company Five Star Productions).  According to the May 16, 1953 issue of Billboard he was planning to do "psychological research" in Chicago, presumably on the effects of ads.  (That same Billboard page also announced how a potential nickel shortage might limit TV tube production.)   He also wrote a book on TV production.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Playgrounds: One of Canada's Great Needs

Playgrounds: One of Canada's Great Needs (1914) direct link 
Open Library main page

OK Canada, get with the program!  We're helpfully reminded that "Exercise dispels headaches" so we fully expected clear-headed Canadian children by now.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Atomic Bombing: How to Protect Yourself

Science Service - Atomic Bombing: How to Protect Yourself (1950) direct link
Open Library main page

The last post had detailed information about surviving an attack - this one is more mass audience friendly and even has illustrations.  The Science Service was a non-profit organization to promote traditional forms of poetry and oral narrative....nah, to promote science.  Despite first impressions of this atomic-fear publication the Science Service appears to have been level-headed and non-political.  It later became the Society for Science and the Public and still exists today.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Nuclear Survival Manual

James R. Fairlamb - Nuclear Survival Manual (1963) link

Every now and then it's time to post something of direct utility - well at least in theory because I hope this book is never really useful.  But since we're now all preparing for the zombie apocalypse maybe it's a reminder of what else we should be worried about.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Human Dissection

Arthur M. Lassek - Human Dissection: Its Drama and Struggle (1958) direct link 
Open Library main page

Historical overview of, well, human dissection from antiquity to the modern era.  Lassek was Professor of Anatomy at the Medical College of the State of South Carolina Charleston.  He published fairly widely but I can't find much other information.

Friday, April 8, 2016

A Biographic Outline of Homer as He Reveals Himself in His Works

Denton Jaques Snider - A Biographic Outline of Homer as He Reveals Himself in His Works (1922) direct link
Open Library main page

One notable thing about a 400+ page biography of Homer is, well, we basically know nothing about Homer or his life.  Sure, a lot of legends and passed-down stories, most of doubtful reliability, though that's not exactly where Snider is starting - he even admits the lack of documentation.  He's drawing from more recent secondary sources and crucially as the title says is trying to pull information from the works, a dubious task at best.  Still, Snider seems to stay somewhat reasonable.  That's only the first part of the book - in the second he gives us a long poem about Homer's life that appears to be a kind of historical fantasy (since I haven't read it).

Denton J. Snider (1841-1925) was a St. Louis-based language teacher, philosopher, author and lecturer.  His many books includes ones on Goethe, Shakespeare, Lincoln, Emerson and Johnny Appleseed.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Fashion Is Spinach

Elizabeth Hawes - Fashion Is Spinach (1938) link

Yes, I mainly chose this for the title but it turns out to be an attack, good-natured but an attack nonetheless, on the fashion business done by an insider.  The praise of French designers, how fashion has no use for the average person, the inexplicable changes, the behind-the-scenes troubles.  If nothing else you'll learn more about artificial silk than you probably ever wanted to know.  This may sound a bit sarcastic but I suspect that this book's criticisms are as true now as they were when it was written.  (In 1954 the author published It's Still Spinach.)

Elizabeth Hawes (1903-1971) was born in New Jersey, studied in Paris and ended up a famous designer.  She strongly supported the idea that people should have clothes that they were comfortable with and that worked for them, not something chosen by the fashion industry.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Legend of the Luray Caverns

Pauline Carrington Rust - Legend of the Luray Caverns (1887) direct link 
Open Library main page

I heard about this from a piece at Atlas Obscura (The 19th Century ‘Show Caves’ That Became America’s First Tourist Traps - how could anybody pass up that title?).  The book is an utter fantasy based on a human skeleton found in the caverns - the author wanted some story to explain the find.  Needless to say, it's completely unhistorical.

Pauline Carrington Rust (1860-1928) later published under her married name of Bouvé.  She was born in Arkansas and her father was Albert Rust, Confederate general and post-war member of US House of Representatives.  Her mother's maiden name was Cabell and born in Virginia so I suspect a connection to James Branch Cabell but can't find any.  (There's a book The Cabells and Their Kin which probably has the answer but I'll leave that to somebody with more patience for genealogy than I have.)  After the father died the family moved to Luray, Virginia where his brother lived.  Rust was a journalist and popular writer married to another writer Thomas Tracy Bouvé.  They lived near Boston.  (Her sister Julia Tutwiler was not the Alabama educational reformer.)

So, all that out of the way, what else did she publish?  Probably the best remembered is her 1899 The Shadows Before: A Novel of the Southampton Insurrection (today more commonly called Nat Turner's Rebellion).  It's told from an adult narrator's perspective who witnessed the events as a child.  There's a chapter on it in Mary Kemp Davis' Nat Turner Before the Bar of Judgment (1999).  Her other works were the miscellany of a working writer - Pilate's Wife (seems to have been a short novel), a translation of The Golden Fleece (from a French book not the original), Tales of the Mayflower Children, and an assortment of articles, poetry, histories and so forth.  Apparently she wrote an unpublished memoir of Luray.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Red Network

Elizabeth Dilling - The Red Network: A "Who's Who" and Handbook of Radicalism for Patriots (1934) link

A directory of early 30s political groups that's a fascinating time capsule of that era - though many of the attitudes and beliefs are just as prevalent now.  I originally thought this was a guide for radicals and thought that was pretty nice (the Chicago location made sense) but started to read and it's actually an anti-communist guide against radicals, complete with attacks on Gandhi, Einstein, Jane Addams, pacifists and of course the New Deal.

The real basis of the book is the directory, listing a few hundred different groups with what appears to be solid information about them.  Some of the conclusions, though, are a different story.  It's no surprise to see the ACLU or IWW here but the American Association for Old Age Security?  Apparently it has the "immediate objectives of the Socialist program".  Harlem Progressive Youth Club?  "Communist club".  Finnish Cultural Federation?  "Communist".  Committees for Human Rights Against Naziism?  Well, I don't quite follow their reasoning but it appears to be that while trying to save Jews in Germany the group isn't also protesting against Russia.  NAACP?  Communist infiltrated (and there's a direct slam against James Weldon Johnson).  Bahai?  Pacifists and the authors claim they aid communists.

Yep, the author was finding communists everywhere.  The book ends with a directory of people, in case you want to look up names.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Fools of Shakespeare

Frederick Warde - The Fools of Shakespeare: An Interpretation of Their Wit, Wisdom and Personalities (1913) direct link 
Open Library main page

A brisk look at Shakespeare's fools (in the plays six pretty clearly presented as such then Warde adds others who serve a similar function such as Hamlet's grave diggers).  It starts with a quick historical overview of fools, so quick and from so few sources that it's not very reliable but does give an idea of what the actors were likely thinking.  Then each chapter gets into the specific character with description of their parts and an analysis.

Frederick Warde (1851-1934) was a British actor with a special interest in Shakespeare who found more fame in the US performing around the country.  One writer Alan Woods described him (in 1977) as "an old-fashioned, ranting performer".  Warde claimed that at an 1875 performance of David Copperfield he was so overcome with emotion that he began sobbing and had to halt peforming.  (Thomas P. Collins' Arizona on Stage p78)  Warde was friends with the Barrymores and Douglas Fairbanks Jr (who made a point of meeting the older actor and gaining a small job that launched his career).  Willa Cather saw him perform in Henry IV in 1891.  He appeared in a few silent films including Richard III (1912) and King Lear (1916), the latter apparently using an optical dissolve to indicate the actor's transformation into Lear.  He published a memoir Fifty Years of Make-Believe in 1920.