Get LISNews via email! Enter Your Email Address:
From the New York Times (scroll about halfway down to Found in the Margins):
In the last few months, foundations have given out hundreds of thousands of dollars to support research on the scribbles in the margins of old books.
Johns Hopkins University, Princeton and University College London have received funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to partner on a database, “The Archaeology of Reading in Early Modern Europe.” It will focus on 16th-century marginalia from the writers Gabriel Harvey, Isaac Casaubon and John Dee. Earle Havens, a library curator and professor at Johns Hopkins, said in an interview that the three “could not open a book without a pen in their hand.”
“The Archaeology of Reading” will result in searchable transcriptions of the annotators’ outrage, gossip, cross-references to other books and uncensored colloquial reactions. Harvey’s annotations are particularly revealing; he longed, futilely, to overcome his humble origins as a rope maker’s son and become a prominent legal figure.
Lisa Jardine, a professor at University College London, said that in Harvey’s marginalia, “You watch him move up the social ladder, but then he can’t straddle the final hurdles.”
Volumes marked up with handwriting used to be described as “dirty books” among dealers, she added. But in the modern age of words mostly appearing online, marginal notes can actually increase value. “Now they’re gold dust,” she said.
Nobel Prize-winning novelist Doris Lessing, who died last year, spent her early years in Zimbabwe. She is still giving back to the country whose former white rulers banished her for speaking against racial discrimination.
The bulk of Lessing's book collection was handed over to the Harare City Library (at the corner of Rotten Row and Pennyfeather), which will catalogue the more than 3,000 books. The donation complements the author's role in opening libraries in Zimbabwe, to make books available to rural people.
"For us she continues to live," said 42-year-old Kempson Mudenda, who worked with Lessing when she established the Africa Community Publishing and Development Trust.
"The libraries she helped set up are giving life to village children who would otherwise be doomed," said Mudenda, who said he used to trudge bush paths daily to reach remote villages with books.
Lessing's trust started libraries in thatched mud huts and under trees after the author was allowed to return to Zimbabwe following independence in 1980.
As if the work of Japanese fiction master Haruki Murakami weren't strangely beautiful by itself, his American publisher has just put out a stand-alone edition of his 2008 novella The Strange Library, in a new trade paperback designed by the legendary Chip Kidd.
"The library was even more hushed than usual," we read in the opening sentence (the entire book is set in a typeface called, appropriately, Typewriter), calling attention to the fact that we're in for a special event. Murakami sets his story — newly translated from the Japanese by Ted Goossen — in a realm of words, an unnamed city library. An inquiring schoolboy stops by on the way home from class returns some library books (How to Build a Submarine and Memoirs of a Shepherd) and asks for reading on a subject he says has just popped into his head: Tax Collection in the Ottoman Empire.
An unfamiliar female librarian sends him down to room 107, "a creepy room" where yet another strange librarian (a bald man this time) hands him the requested volumes — then conducts him to a secret space, behind a locked door and down a hall to a labyrinth of corridors where a small man dressed in a sheepskin puts him in a cell under lock and key.
A very strange library indeed!
Listen to Madison tell it like it is!! from the Washington Post.
Though there is still tension about what the library and librarians of today should be, the connection between librarians and sex is surprisingly persistent.
One of the frustrations of being a librarian is the occupational stereotyping. Librarians tend to be depicted in books and movies as elderly spinsters, rigid and frigid. More recently, in a predictable attempt to subvert convention, the slutty librarian trope has emerged: young, hot-blooded, yet not exempt from the cats-eye glasses.
From The Millions, librarian Elisabeth Cohen reviews a few books on the sexy librarian phenomena that you might have missed.
The National Book Awards shortlists — for fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature — were announced October 15 on Morning Edition by Mitchell Kaplan, co-founder of Miami Book Fair International and former president of the American Booksellers Association. On November 18, finalists for the National Book Awards read from their nominated works at The New School in New York City. The National Book Foundation will announce the winners Wednesday night. Read more about each of the finalists — and hear the authors read from their works here:
The Last Policeman trilogy imagines what we would all do if we knew the world would end in six months. Brooke speaks with the author, Ben Winters, about how the media might inform Earth's final days.
Jon Krakauer's 1996 book Into the Wild delved into the riveting story of Chris McCandless, a 24-year-old man from an affluent family outside Washington, D.C. who graduated with honors from Emory, then gave away the bulk of his money, burned the rest and severed all ties with his family. After tramping around the country for nearly two years, he headed into the Alaska wilderness in April, 1992. His emaciated body was found a little over four months later.
Krakauer's book struck a nerve with readers. But he never fully answered what motivated McCandless's ascetic renunciation, and the book drew scores of letters accusing him of arrogance, ignorance, and selfishness.
In a fascinating 2013 followup article in The New Yorker, Krakauer finally confirmed the cause of McCandless's death: A toxic amino acid in wild potato seeds, previously thought to be benign. He hoped that the new findings would squelch some of those accusations.
Now Chris's younger sister, Carine McCandless, 21 at the time of her brother's death, has come out with The Wild Truth, which tells a story as poisonous as wild potato seeds. Her memoir reveals what Chris was running from — and should lay to rest allegations that her brother's behavior was cruel to their parents.