Posts Tagged ‘books’
For almost 30 years Candida Höfer has photographed interiors, mostly representational spaces accessible to the public– staircases, lobbies, reading halls or exhibition spaces. Rather than staging them, she captures them in as she finds them, with both discretion and humor.
Now, she’s trained her lens on libraries across Europe and the US: the State Archive in Naples (above, via), the Escorial in Spain, the Whitney Museum in New York, Villa Medici in Rome, the Hamburg University library, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, the Museo Archeologico in Madrid, the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, and many, many others.
Luxuriate in these temples of knowledge– and enjoy Umberto Eco’s exquisite introductory essay– in Libraries.
And on a lighter note, from Literary Man, “If Libraries Could Get Any Sexier“…
* Victor Hugo
As we remain quiet, please, we might spare a thought for playwright, poet, artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; he died on this date in 1832. Probably best remembered these days for Faust, he was “the master spirit of the German people,” and, after Napoleon, the leading figure of his age.
Emily is a self-proclaimed Luddite:
I use the term because that’s what most people, my own parents included, call me. Fun Fact: the term “Luddite”, although it has now come to mean one who fears and resents progress, originally referred to a movement that developed during the first Industrial Revolution in the factory towns of Northern England where workers feared that new technology would threaten their livelihoods. They weren’t anti-progress; they were just pro-humans.
She has turned her passion for books and bookshops– “the joy of book-hunting, of going in with no idea what you want and finding that hidden gem or that old favourite recalled from a foggy memory”– into a calling: The Matilda Project. Emily wanders London, finding and reporting on the independent book stores that graces its streets. From The Southbank Book Market to Stoke Newington Bookshop, she delivers “by a book lover, for book lovers” reviews and rankings.
It’s altogether enchanting– and inspiring. For while Emily’s is a disciplined London-specific focus, her example could– and surely should– be replicated worldwide.
As we delight in the feel of yellowed pages between our fingers, we might send modern(ist) birthday greetings to Nancy Woodbridge Beach (or, as she was better known later in life, Sylvia Beach); she was born on this date in 1887. An American expat in Paris to do bibliographic research, Beach met and fell in love with Adrienne Monnier, one of the first women in France to own her own bookstore. Inspired by her partner, Beach open a small English-language bookshop at 8 rue Dupuytren (in the 6th); she called it Shakespeare and Company.
The shop quickly became a gathering place for both French and American writers, and succeeded sufficiently that Beach had to move to larger premises across the street. She made occasional forays into publishing (e.g., when James Joyce couldn’t find an English-language publisher for Ulysses, Shakespeare and Company put it out). Beach’ memoir, Shakespeare and Company, recounts her experiences with Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Thornton Wilder, André Gide, George Antheil, Robert McAlmon, Gertrude Stein, Stephen Benet, Aleister Crowley, Harry Crosby, Caresse Crosby, Berenice Abbott, Man Ray, and many, many other icons of Left Bank intellectual and artistic life in the years between the two world wars.
Shakespeare and Company was closed during the German Occupation of Paris; Beach was interned for 6 months, but hid her books in a vacant apartment above the store. When the war ended, Hemingway symbolically “liberated” the store; but it never re-opened. The Shakespeare and Company that operates today (as featured, e.g., in Richard Linklater’s and Woody Allen’s films) is a different operation, in a different location, renamed in 1964 “in honor” of Beach and her creation.
Happy Einstein’s Birthday!
(Be sure to celebrate with a slice of pie: it’s 3.14– Pi Day)
What’s a reader to do? The disciplined Matt Kahn has a plan: he’s reading– and reviewing– every one of the novels that reached the number one spot on Publishers Weekly annual bestsellers list, starting in 1913. All 94 of them.
Check out the list, and follow Matt’s progress at Kahn’s Corner.
* Frank Zappa
As we renew our library cards, we might send wistful birthday greetings to Douglas Noel Adams; he was born on this date in 1952. A writer and dramatist best remembered as the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Adams surely, by merit, belonged on Kahn’s list. That will never be; Adams passed away in 2001. Still, one can honor his memory in a couple of month’s time by celebrating Towel Day.
From the extraordinary resource that is The Public Domain Review, a compendium of do-it-yourself diversions from 1820– all “so clearly explained, as to be within the reach of the most limited capacity.”
Page through Endless Amusement for more things that it was apparently OK to try at home back then.
As we count our fingers to be sure that they’re all still there, we might recall that it was on this date in 1876 that Alexander Graham Bell first spoke through his experimental “telephone”– to his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, in the next room. Bell wrote in his notebook, “I then shouted into M [the mouthpiece] the following sentence: ‘Mr. Watson–come here–I want to see you.’ To my delight he came and declared that he had heard and understood what I said.”
May 8, it’s right around the corner: ”Post horns, W.A.S.T.E. insignia, the novels of Thomas Pynchon read unashamedly on trains”– Pynchon in Public Day.
As we prepare to take on Thurn und Taxis, we might recall that it was on this date in 1481 that England’s first printer, William Caxton completed his translation of The Mirror of the World (a French encyclopedia probably written by Walter/Gossuin of Metz). Printed later that year, it is generally believed to be the first illustrated book printed in English. (The other candidate is Caxton’s Cato, which appeared at about the same time).