Sunday, June 26, 2016

Errata of the Protestant Bible

Thomas Ward - Errata of the Protestant Bible (1688, edition of 1841) direct link
Open Library main page

If you haven't poked around the archives then the sheer amount of anti-Catholic publications up to the 20th century may come as a surprise.  There's no reason to post any of that but this Catholic response (tail end of the Counter-Reformation or just a tad after, depending on how you view it) has the kind of impassioned but grounded (at least in the author's mind) argument that I usually find interesting, even if in this particular case I don't care how the decision goes.  But not exactly civil:  "Note here another damnable corruption" and "How deceitfully they deal with scripture in this place" are just samples.

But I'm also posting it because it deals with an issue that seems of key theological impact that is mostly ignored nowadays - translation.  The book itself doesn't actually consider that issue directly since it's really about how Protestants got their translations wrong but the basic idea is still clear - if you're basing anything on texts in a different language then your translations should be accurate.  The catch, of course, is that you don't have to be a post-structuralist to know that any translation beyond the most rudimentary and mundane becomes slippery or a minefield, choose your metaphor.  And it's even more true with artistic and religious/philosophical texts where a "the pen is on the table" clarity is beside the point.

Much of the book seems to have been drawn from Gregory Martin's 1582 Discovery of the Manifold Corruptions of the Holy Scripture but I can't find a scanned copy or in fact even a completely reliable source verifying this.

Edward Ryan published in 1808 an Analysis of Ward's Errata but I've only glanced at it.  "The Latin Vulgate A Fallible Standard" runs one heading.

Thomas Ward (1652-1708) was born in Yorkshire and during his schooling seems to have convinced himself to become Catholic.  He bounced around France and Italy for a while, even fighting in the papal guard against the Turks.  He returned to England and started writing poetry and books such as this one.  After the Revolution he moved to Flanders and finally died in France.

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Annie van den Oever - Ostrannenie: On "Strangeness" and the Moving Image. The History, Reception, and Relevance of a Concept (2010)

Direct link

Ostrannenie is a term created by Viktor Shklovsky to indicate ways that practical language becomes poetic through defamiliarization (the term itself apparently meaning something like "making strange").  This book is a collection of academic pieces exploring the concept in film studies.  It's made free for download and personal use by the publisher.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Furniture of Our Forefathers

Esther Singleton - The Furniture of Our Forefathers (1905) direct link 
Open Library main page

I'll admit to having almost no interest in this subject - in museums the furniture, clothing, crafts sections are the ones I zip through.  But some of you are interested and this appears to be a quite thorough.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

KRAB Program Guide archive

Direct link

Seattle's KRAB was a noncommercial, freeform radio station from 1962 to 1984.  (A different station uses the call letters now.)  This archive of their program guides is a look at both the era and the foundations of a sensibility that won't be unfamiliar to listeners of WFMU, WREK, Resonance FM, WXYC and others.

The guides often include short essays (some by freeform pioneer Lorenzo Milam), letters, art work and other information.  As you can see below the covers and designs were imaginative and well executed.  (I couldn't resist the Ernie Bushmiller tribute.)

For instance, the February 1973 guide lists Elizabethan songs, material from a Gertrude Stein opera, classic jazz, a reading of the Pentagon Papers, bluegrass, 20th century piano music, stories on a lettuce boycott and the Philippines, religious songs of the Bahamas, an interview with a writer for Sing Out, 16th century Spanish music, Billings choral music, Jean Shepherd rebroadcasts, legal information, more Purcell than is probably appropriate, a show about "journeying the shifting paths of consciousness", poetry readings and so on.

As you can tell despite the innovative approach it's overall closer to a current NPR station with heavy emphasis on classical with some jazz, folk and ethnic thrown in, then lots of talk.  Programs from the 80s show more rock, mainly early or punk.  Still, not that many current NPR stations would play Babbitt, Stein, Crumb or Ligeti; program so much Baroque (or opera); or lean quite so clearly leftist.  (As documented in David Grubbs' Records Ruin the Landscape even the most forward thinkers among the avant-garde of that time still followed almost unconsciously some pretty solid genre boundaries.)

The main page has links to audio and soundchecks along with background information.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Physical Training for Business Men

Harrie Irving Hancock - Physical Training for Business Men (1917) direct link
Open Library main page

Need a few exercise tips?  Here you go!  Don't worry, there's also another one for women (though the photos are much more bland).  It's all the usual kind of vague clean living ideas that still exist in new forms a century later.

Not all the advice will be very useful today.  For instance at one point he suggests "Should the reader live or at any time be near an American Army post, he should make an effort to secure permission to be present at one or more of the drills."  Just imagine how such a request would go over today.

Hancock (1866/68-1922) mainly wrote juvenile adventure books such as the Motor Boat Club and Grammar School Boys series.  In 1916 he wrote four such books describing a German invasion of the US in 1920.  For such a prolific author surprisingly few titles seem to have been digitized - the most are at Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Women of Versailles

Imbert de Saint-Amand - Women of Versailles (1874 & 1876?, English 1893) direct link (Court of Louis XIV) direct link (Last Years of Louis XV)
Open Library main page

Two connected books that get tied together in many records because it's only the subtitle that distinguishes them.  The best I can determine is that Court appeared in 1874 and Last Years in 1876 but that's not certain.

Saint-Amand (1834-1900) was a prolific writer on Famous Women of the French Court as the book's advertisement lists it.  Three each on Marie Antoinette, Empress Josephine and the Duchess of Berry with four on Empress Marie Louise plus some other assorted works.

This seemed like an interesting title though perhaps almost too much detail for most of us.  ("The Queen and the Dauphin were lodged, the one on the first story, the other on the ground-floor, in the south part of the old chateau of Louis XIII, that which has a view of the orangery and the Swiss lake." p37 Court)  Then again this is a fascinating period and two books are way less than Saint-Simon even if likely less well-written and less perceptive.  (One contemporary reviewer claimed Saint-Amand had no interest in anything but surfaces.)

The only substantial information about the author that I can find is a note to the Oxford World's Classic edition of Nostromo that dismissively says Saint-Amand was "minister of state under Napoleon III and a prodigiously prolific historical novelist who concocted a heady mix of sex and snobbery".  I'm not sure Saint-Amand wrote any novels (there's only a title or two in the Bibliothèque nationale's catalog that look possibly like fiction) and scanning these books don't see much sex - the snobbery is part of the point.  Saint-Amand doesn't even rate an entry in the French Wikipedia.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Labyrinte de Versailles

Isaac de Benserade - Labyrinte de Versailles (1677) direct link 
Open Library main page

The labyrinth at Versailles had 39 fountains, planned by Charles Perrault to illustrate one each of Aesop's fables.  This book has engravings of the fountains along with short prose versions of each fable (apparently by Perrault) and verse by Benserade, a poet and playwright patronized by Richelieu.  Louis XVI had the labyrinth destroyed in 1778.

Just was finishing this I discovered an English translation though the scan quality is so shoddy I find it hard to read.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Essays in the Study of Folk-Songs

Countess Martinengo-Cesaresco - Essays in the Study of Folk-Songs (1886) direct link
Open Library main page

Another work from the great period of comparative myth and folklore studies.  Oscar Wilde gave it a positive review which he concluded with this great sentence that would drive most modern editors nuts:  "In a volume of moderate dimensions, not too long to be tiresome nor too brief to be disappointing, she has collected together the best examples of modern Folk-songs, and with her as a guide the lazy reader lounging in his armchair may wander from the melancholy pine-forests of the North to Sicily's orange-groves and the pomegranate gardens of Armenia, and listen to the singing of those to whom poetry is a passion, not a profession, and whose art, coming from inspiration and not from schools, if it has the limitations, at least has also the loveliness of its origin, and is one with blowing grasses and the flowers of the field."

The book also received positive notice from Francis Child, leading one writer to note "His praise makes all others' superfluous."

Perhaps I don't need to point out that this is only European folk songs but in any case it's certainly a deeply researched, scholarly work.  She doesn't hesitate to bring in any information that helps the study, whether it's local religious beliefs, classical history, linguistic connections or detailed analysis.

Countess Martinengo-Cesaresco (1852-1931) was born Evelyn Lilian Hazeldine Carrington in England and later married into Italian society.  At age seven she had a "sunstroke" and stopped the normal education routine, instead embarking on what appears to have been largely self-directed work, with assistance from her father (who translated Hugo and other French poets).  She married a Lombard nobleman in 1882 and they settled at Salo.

She wrote several well-regarded books about her new home including The Liberation of Italy, 1815-1870, Italian Characters in the Epoch of Unification, Cavour (perhaps her most widely acclaimed book and which seems to be the only English-language biography until one in 1985), The Place of Animals in Human Thought and The Outdoor Life in Greek and Roman Poets.  Several of those seem worth a post in the future.  She corresponded with W.E.B. Du Bois.

As with many writers I cover in this blog biographical information is scarce until finding one source, in this case an essay by William Roscoe Thayer in his 1908 Italica.  Unfortunately it's too early to cover the rest of her career.  I can find a notice of her death in The Spectator which didn't even bother to separate it from another notice - it has no details.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

Thomas Keightley - Secret Societies of the Middle Ages (1837) direct link
Google Books direct link (expanded edition)

This had some recent interest, resulting in reprints from Dover and Inner Traditions among others, though despite the connotations of the title today this is more genuine history than conspiracy speculations.  As you could guess from the title it focuses on the Assassins, Templars and Westphalia tribunals.  I've heard it was the first English-language book with an extensive treatment of the actual Assassins.

Thomas Keightley (1789-1872) was a prolific Irish writer who mainly focused on mythology and history.  This book and 1828's The Fairy Mythology are his best remembered but as with so many who scribbled for cash he covered a wide range - the war of Greek independence, the Crusaders, several works on Milton, an edition of Shakespeare, editions of Horace, Virgil and Ovid, translation of a Dutch novel, ancient Rome, numerous textbooks and educational aids.  The DNB claims "But he ludicrously overestimated all his performances, and his claim to have written the best history of Rome in any language, or to be the first to justly value Virgil and Sallust, could not be admitted by his friends."

There are two download choices.  For some reason this isn't listed in Open Library but has a scan (actually two but this is the better).  Google has a more clean scan of an expanded edition (apparently more info on the Assassins) but as usual they hide the download choices.  Click on the small options wheel in the top right and there are PDF and epub selections.  (The link in the top left will put it in your Google Play account.)