Sunday, November 23, 2014

Links & Reviews

Another excellent Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair was held last weekend; it was great to see so many good friends there and in Providence! Apologies if I've missed anything big in this roundup; I confess I was unable to pay quite as much attention to Twitter and other news during the fair.

- Rebecca Rego Barry has a good Fair rundown.

- Princeton alumnus William Scheide died on 14 November at the age of 100. See the Princeton obituary for a full run-down of Scheide's important philanthropy to his alma mater and elsewhere.

- The Museé des Lettres et Manuscrits in Paris, along with an associated institute and Aristophil, a company run by the museum's founder, Gérard Lhéritier, were reportedly raided by anti-fraud police on 18 November. It seems the company, which raised funds for the purchase of rare books and manuscripts, may have been involved in a massive Ponzi scheme. More on come on this front, I'm sure!

- The New York City Bar Association is set to auction off its rare books in a series of three auctions at Doyle New York. The first sale will be held tomorrow. The New York Law Journal also ran a piece on the upcoming sales, featuring some pretty shocking comments from Association staff and criticism from members.

- Bookseller Rick Gekoski's Guardian column "I quit: why I won't be finishing my history of the book" made the rounds this week. He's either completely missed the boat or is simply running in the wrong circles if he really believes his own statement: "I know of almost no creative writer or passionate reader who has the slightest interest in the history of the book." And as a bookseller, how on earth could he be "not particularly interested in the book as object"? Clearly he wasn't the right author for this book in the first place, and frankly I'm glad he's let it go.

- There's a story at Quartz by Daniel Hernandez about a Mark Twain-related plagiarism contretemps. See Kevin Mac Donnell's original review of the book in question. A co-author and editor of the book have issued a quite unsatisfying response.

- From Atlas Obscura, Secret Libraries of Paris.

- Scribner's is relaunching an e-magazine, Scribner Magazine.

- Amazon and Hachette have resolved their contract dispute, apparently leaving nobody very happy.

- A post from the Chicago SCRC blog highlights the Argos Lectionary, known as the "Gangster Bible" because Al Capone's gang reportedly swore their oaths over the book.

- Publisher David Godine is profiled in the Boston Globe.

- Over at AbeBooks, Beth Carswell has a feature article on Vesalius' Fabrica.

- The University of Michigan has claimed exemption from state public records laws, arguing that its employees do not have to keep official correspondence.

- Barbara Basbanes Richter has a short synopsis of the new Folger exhibit, "Decoding the Renaissance: 500 Years of Codes and Ciphers."

- James Atlas comments on the massive biography, and having received several 500+-page biographical tomes this month alone, I certainly get what he's saying!

- The winners of the 2014 National Book Awards were announced this week.

- A previously unknown Dylan Thomas notebook will be offered at Sotheby's London on 9 December.

- Amazon beat out Bowker and others for the rights to administer the .book domain name.

- Modern Notions has a short piece (with lots of good pictures) on Eric Kwakkel and his work on medieval doodles.


- Ezra Greenspan's William Wells Brown; review by Nell Irvin Painter in the NYTimes.

- Kirstin Downey's Isabella: The Warrior Queen; review by Richard L. Kagan in the WaPo.

- Pamela Smith Hill's Pioneer Girl; review by Lane Brown in the CSM.

- James McPherson's Embattled Rebel; review by Steven Hahn in the NYTimes.

- Mike Pitts' Digging for Richard III; review by Nick Romeo in the CSM.

- Jenny Uglow's In These Times; review by Peter Stothard in the TLS.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Links & Reviews

- On my way to Boston this week for the 38th Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair (look for me at the Rare Book School table) I'll be stopping off in Providence to give a talk, "Ownership Marks in Early American Books: Outliers & Oddities" as part of the Rhode Island Center for the Book's 2014 program, "Mine! Ownership Marks from Curses to Bookplates." See the full schedule of events and exhibits here.

- Speaking of Boston, the ABAA blog has been running a great series of posts on the Boston Book Fair and the Boston book scene writ large. Rusty Mott offers up "Recollections of the Boston Book Fair, by a Lifer," Peter Stern covers "Characters in the [Boston] Rare Book Trade," and Joyce Kosofsky writes about changes to the Boston rare books scene since the Boston Book Fair began.

- Many congratulations to Steve Ferguson, who has been named the Acting Associate University Librarian for Rare Books & Special Collections at Princeton.

- Thought this might be coming: the Rosenbach Library has filed a lawsuit against the executors of Maurice Sendak's will, charging that they are failing to comply with his wishes in various respects. There are some real howlers here, like the executors refusing to turn over rare Beatrix Potter books because they are "children's books, not rare books," or works by William Blake.

- Phil Collins has donated his collection of artifacts related to the Alamo and the Texas Revolution to the state of Texas.

- Both the Warburg Institute and the University of London claimed success after a judge handed down a decision in the dispute between the two sides. More from the Warburg Institute here.

- Some excellent news from New York: next year the Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair ("The Shadow Show") will take place on Friday 10 April at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, 869 Lexington Avenue at 66th St, New York (right across the street from the Armory show).

- The University of Chicago has received a $250,000 gift from Roger and Julie Baskes to enhance online catalog records.

- The Getty Research Institute has acquired a number of unpublished Joseph Cornell letters.

- Staff at the Imperial War Museum are pushing back against the planned closure of the museum's library.

- The Boston Athenaeum is digitizing its collection of Boston city directories from 1789 through 1900.

- The Ashmolean Museum is planning to reconstruct William Blake's studio as part of an upcoming exhibit on the artist.

- Richard Adams talked to the Telegraph about his writing, to mark the publication of a new edition of Watership Down.

- Over at Printeresting, a look at the Museum of Printing and Graphic Communication in Lyon.

- Bruce Holsinger writes for Humanities about the writing of historical fiction.

- The Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from the Conan Doyle estate, with the effect that Sherlock Holmes stories published before 1923 are determined to be in the public domain in the United States.

- Heritage Auctions is selling the archive of American Heritage Publishing.

- David Whitesell has compiled a few highlights from the new acquisitions to the McGregor Library this year.


- Bradford Morrow's The Forgers and Charlie Lovett's First Impressions; review by Rebecca Rego Barry at Fine Books Blog. The Forgers is also reviewed by Colin Dwyer for WSHU.

- Richard Norton Smith's On His Own Terms; review by David Nasaw in the WaPo.

- Jenny Uglow's In These Times; review by Nicholas Shakespeare in the Telegraph.

- Robert Darnton's Censors at Work; review by Alberto Manguel in the NYTimes.

- C.D. Rose's The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- E.O. Wilson's The Meaning of Human Existence; review by Danny Heitman in the CSM.

- E.O. Wilson's A Window on Eternity; review by Jonathan Weiner in the NYTimes.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Links & Reviews

- Sarah Werner and Matthew Kirschenbaum have written a piece for this year's edition of Book History: "Digital Scholarship and Digital Studies: The State of the Discipline."

- The AAS has acquired two photos of 19th-century printers posing with their tools.

- Nick Basbanes' piece on Rare Book School for the NEH's magazine, Humanities, is now online.

- Sotheby's has been sued by a consignor for an attribution: the seller argues that if the auction house had attributed the painting to Caravaggio rather than to a follower, the auction price would have been far higher.

- A fragmentary typescript of an unpublished memoir written by Simon & Schuster co-founder Richard Simon is currently listed in a bookseller's catalog for $5,000.

- UVA Today takes a look at the Book Traces project.

- Over at the Provenance Online Project, a few nifty GIF animations from old books.

- Eric Kwakkel found a fantastic example of a scribe putting some defects in his parchment to good use. And he writes about how, in certain cases, the destruction of medieval books actually served to lead to their survival.

- I'm not a big fan of the trend of historical institutions "updating their brands" by changing their names, but there's a report on the phenomenon in the NYTimes.

- The Fine Books Blog collects the links to Terry Belanger's recaps of the Case Western special collections symposium.

- Douglas Greenberg's essay on Michael Kammen in the LARB is highly recommended.


- Edward J. Larson's The Return of George Washington, 1783-1789; review by David Waldstreicher in the NYTimes.

- Francois Furstenberg's When the United States Spoke French; review by Hank H. Cox in the WaPo.

- Harold Holzer's Lincoln and the Power of the Press; review by David S. Reynolds in the NYTimes.

- Andrew McConnell Stott's The Poet and the Vampyre; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Armand Marie Leroi's The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science; review by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein in the NYTimes.

Book Reviews: "Gutenberg's Apprentice" and "First Impressions"

A couple new biblio-novels have made appearances recently:

Alix Christie's Gutenberg's Apprentice (HarperCollins) is a fictionalized account of the Gutenberg workshop in Mainz during the production of the 42-line Bible. The story is told from the perspective of the eponymous apprentice, Peter Schoeffer, and Christie has at least to a significant degree tried to get the details right. She hasn't always succeeded, alas, and the actual plot of the novel is pretty lackluster, but Christie's writing is lovely and makes this historical reconstruction entirely worth a read. The contextualization of Gutenberg's (and Fust and Schoeffer's) work within the political and religious upheaval of 1450s Mainz alone would recommend it to anyone interested in the period.

Charlie Lovett has followed his The Bookman's Tale with First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen (Viking). Aside from the primal screams I must force myself to swallow every time an otherwise-sympathetic character in one of these novels steals a rare book or manuscript (surely, dear authors, there must be other ways to accomplish these things!) I quite liked this book as a biblio-mystery: it's got good characters, a quasi-believable plot, and a reasonable mystery with a healthy number of red herrings swimming around for good measure, even if the whole thing does follow a fairly obvious formula. I'm sure there's lots more fan service to Janeites in here than I caught, but the biblio-bits are quite nicely handled.