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Posts Tagged ‘Huckleberry Finn

“I’ve been accused of vulgarity. I say that’s bullshit.”*…

 

The author of A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue

Thirty years after Dr Johnson published his great Dictionary of the English Language (1755), Francis Grose put out A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785), a compendium of slang Johnson had deemed unfit for his learned tome. Grose was not one for library work. He preferred to do his lexicography in the sordid heart of after-hours London. Supported by his trusty assistant Tom Cocking, he cruised the watering holes of Covent Garden and the East End, eating, boozing, and listening. He took pleasure in hearing his name punningly connected to his rotund frame. And he produced a book brimming with Falstaffian life.

In Vulgar Tongues (2016), Max Décharné called Grose’s dictionary, “A declaration in favour of free speech, and a gauntlet thrown down against official censorship, moralists and the easily offended.” While a good deal of the slang has survived into the present day — to screwis to copulate; to kick the bucket is to die — much would likely have been lost had Grose not recorded it. Some of the more obscure metaphors include a butcher’s dog, meaning someone who “lies by the beef without touching it; a simile often applicable to married men”; to box the Jesuit, meaning “to masturbate; a crime, it is said, much practised by the reverend fathers of that society”; and to polish meaning to be in jail, in the sense of “polishing the king’s iron with one’s eyebrows, by looking through the iron grated windows”. Given this was the era of William Hogarth’s famous painting Gin Lane (1751), it’s not surprising to find the dictionary soaked through with colourful epithets for the juniper-based liquor: blue ruincobblers punchfrog’s wineheart’s easemoonshinestrip me naked. The Grose dictionary also contains hundreds of great insults, like bottle-headed, meaning void of wit, something you can’t say about its author.

Via Public Domain Review; read the Dictionary at the Internet Archive.

* Mel Brooks

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As we choose our words carefully, we might recall that it was on this date in 1865 that Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (or, in more recent editions, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) was published in the U.S.  Routinely listed among the greatest American novels, it was one of the first to be written in vernacular English.

Upon issue of the American edition in 1885 several libraries banned it from their shelves.  The early criticism focused on what was perceived as the book’s crudeness. One incident was recounted in the newspaper the Boston Transcript:

The Concord (Mass.) Public Library committee has decided to exclude Mark Twain’s latest book from the library. One member of the committee says that, while he does not wish to call it immoral, he thinks it contains but little humor, and that of a very coarse type. He regards it as the veriest trash. The library and the other members of the committee entertain similar views, characterizing it as rough, coarse, and inelegant, dealing with a series of experiences not elevating, the whole book being more suited to the slums than to intelligent, respectable people.

Writer Louisa May Alcott criticized the book’s publication as well, saying that if Twain “[could not] think of something better to tell our pure-minded lads and lasses he had best stop writing for them.”

Twain later remarked to his editor, “Apparently, the Concord library has condemned Huck as ‘trash and only suitable for the slums.’ This will sell us another twenty-five thousand copies for sure!”  [source]

Cover of the first U.S.edition

source

 

“‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, ‘and go till you come to the end; then stop'”*…

 

Index cards are mostly obsolete nowadays. We use them to create flash cards, write recipes, and occasionally fold them up into cool paper airplanes. But their original purpose was nothing less than organizing and classifying every known animal, plant, and mineral in the world. Later, they formed the backbone of the library system, allowing us to index vast sums of information and inadvertently creating many of the underlying ideas that allowed the Internet to flourish…

How Carl Linnaeus, the author of Systema Naturae and father of modern taxonomy, created index cards… and how they enabled libraries as we know them, and in the process, laid the groundwork for the Web: “How the Humble Index Card Foresaw the Internet.”

* Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

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As we do ’em up Dewey style, we might recall that it was on this date in 1991 that the handwritten script of the first half of the original draft of Huckleberry Finn, which included Twain’s own handwritten corrections, was recovered.  Missing for over a hundred years, it was found by a 62-year old librarian in Los Angeles, who discovered it as sorted through her grandfather’s papers sent to her from upstate New York.  Her grandfather, james Gluck, a Buffalo lawyer and collector of rare books and manuscripts, to whom Twain sent the manuscript in 1887, had requested the manuscript for the town’s library, now called the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library (where the second half of the manuscript has been all along).

Gluck apparently took the first half from the library, intending to have it bound, but failed to return it.  He died the following year; and the manuscript, which had no library markings, was turned over to his widow by the executors of the estate.  She eventually moved to California to be near her daughter, taking the trunk containing the manuscript went with her.  It was finally opened by her granddaughter, Barbara Testa.

 source

 

Written by LW

February 13, 2016 at 1:01 am

“There Are Two Typos Of People In This World: Those Who Can Edit And Those Who Can’t”*…

 

Typos can be embarrassing. They can also be costly. And not just for those individuals whose jobs depend on knowing the difference between “it’s” and “its” or where a comma is most appropriate. In 2013, bauble-loving Texans got the deal of a lifetime when a misprint in a Macy’s mailer advertised a $1500 necklace for just $47. (It should have read $497.) It didn’t take long for the entire inventory to be zapped, at a loss of $450 a pop to the retail giant. (Not to mention plenty of faces as red as the star in the company’s logo.)

Google, on the other hand, loves a good typing transposition: Harvard University researchers claim that the company earns about $497 million each year from people mistyping the names of popular websites and landing on “typosquatter” sites … which just happen to be littered with Google ads…

From a NSFW travel agency ad to “the most expensive hyphen in history”– “10 very costly typos.”

* Jarod Kintz

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As we check our work, we might send carefully-edited birthday greetings to Samuel Langhorne Clemens, AKA Mark Twain; he was born on this date in 1835 in Florida, Missouri.  One of the best-known writers and aphorists of his time and ours, his The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is consistently cited as a (if not indeed the) Great American Novel, at the same time that it is equally consistently the target of censors who would ban it from school and public libraries… but not for sloppy editing or typos: Clemens began his career as a newspaper man– first as a typesetter, then as a reporter, where he honed his copy editing skills.  And he carried those skills with him into the use of new technologies:  he was the first author to submit a typewritten manuscript to his publisher.

Matthew Brady’s photo of Mark Twain

Written by LW

November 30, 2015 at 1:01 am

Gabba Gabba Hey meets Yabba Dabba Do…

 

The late Seventies re-imagined: from artist Dave Perillo (AKA montygog), a look at what might have happened if two paragons of Punk had instead gone the Hanna Barbera route…

[TotH to the always-amazing Dangerous Minds and to the ever-bodacious Boing Boing]

 

As we contemplate the consolations of a cel out, we might send trenchant birthday wishes to two of history’s most acute observers of the human condition:  Jonathan Swift, the satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet, and cleric who’s probably best remembered for Gulliver’s Travels and A Modest Proposal, was born on this date in 1667.

source

And Samuel Langhorne Clemens– Mark Twain– the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and its sequel, “The Great American Novel” Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, was born on this date in 1835.

source

Swift ultimately rose to high church office, serving as Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.  Clemens did not.

Lest we doubt…

While some things stay (surprisingly, gratifyingly, depressingly) the same, there are some things– many things– that really are materially different, both in kind and in degree, from times past.

By way of demonstration, the folks at Globaia have compiled a collection of charts that is stunning (in both the literal and the figurative senses of the word).

to enlarge, click on the image above, or here, and again 

And as to the infrastructure that’s abetted all of this change, see Globaia’s Map of Global Transportation Systems.

[TotH to Curiosity Counts]

 

As we ponder the implications of so many hockey sticks all in a row, we might recall that Samuel Clemens’– Mark Twain’s– route to writing was round-about: In 1861, Clemens’ brother Orion became secretary to the territorial governor of Nevada; the national-treasure-to-be, having worked as a printer in St. Louis, New York, and Philadelphia, jumped at the offer to accompany his sibling West. Clemens spent his first year in Nevada prospecting for a gold or silver mine.  Out of money, he took a job as reporter for the Virginia City, Nevada, newspaper Territorial Enterprise; his articles on the booming frontier-mining town began to appear on this date in 1862.

Like many journalists of the day, Clemens adopted a pen name, signing his articles “Mark Twain,” a term from his old river boating days.

In 1864, he traveled farther West to cover the booming state of California, where he wrote “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”– the Tall-Tale success of which catapulted Clemens out of the West to become a globe-trotting journalist.

In 1869, Clemens settled in Buffalo, New York, and later in Hartford, Connecticut.  Clemens had spent only about five years in the West, and the majority of his subsequent work focused on the Mississippi River country and the Northeast.  Still, his 1872 account of his western adventures, Roughing It, remains one of the most evocative eyewitness accounts of the frontier ever written.  And surely more importantly, even his non-western masterpieces like Tom Sawyer (1876) and Huckleberry Finn (1884), in their playful rejection of Eastern pretense and genteel literary conventions, reflect a frontier sensibility.

Mark Twain, honorary Westerner, by Mathew Brady (source)

A Life Well Lived…

As the late Twentieth Century philosopher Jim Morrison noted, “nobody gets out of here alive”… the more important, then, to make that most of the time one has.

Omer L. Baumgartner

AMES, Iowa – Noted Midwestern raconteur Omer L. Baumgartner passed away at this home in Ames, Iowa on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011. He was 90 years old. Mr. Baumgartner had lived a long and passionate life dedicated to rambunctious performances and dairy products.

Born on a dairy farm in Walnut, Ill., Baumgartner was prodigious with the movement of manure from an early age, and exercising these and other talents, earned recognition for his National 4-H Grand Champion Dairy Heifer, Clementine’s Ramona, in 1930 at the age of 10. After this debut, and as the Depression raged, Baumgartner cut his teeth in the livestock industry while attending hundreds of county and state fairs, showing and selling cattle, frying oysters, skinning rabbits, and drinking whiskey. While still a freshman at the University of Illinois, he successfully quelled the great dairy upraising of 1938, averting a desperate ice cream shortage in Chicago, and was immediately recruited, without finishing college, by the state’s Guernsey Breeders Association as a field agent.

Despite never learning to cook anything other than fried oysters, Baumgartner attained the rank of captain during World War II for running mess halls feeding over 5,000 in Tennessee and Alabama for the Army Air Corps. He was wildly popular with the troops for his mess hours bongo drum performances accompanied by dancing girls. Baumgartner notably worked for L.S. Heath and Company, running the dairy division and inventing Heath Bar ice cream in 1951. He also co-ran Wilkinson’s Office Supplies with his wife Jattie Wilkinson Baumgartner, serving one-third of the state of Illinois and parts of Iowa. Baumgartner disliked vegetables his whole life. Despite consuming more than 2,000 pounds of butter, he never suffered from any kind of heart disease. His last meal was ice cream.

[Galesburg.com, where readers will find the full obit; via Dangerous Minds]

As we commit to carpe each diem, we might recall that it was on this date in 1885 that Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in the U.S.   Considered by many to be the Great American Novel, Huckleberry Finn has been controversial from it birth (e.g., here and here)– indeed, the controversy began before its birth:  The UK and Canadian edition came out two months earlier; the U.S. version was delayed because one of the engravers added an obscenity to one of the illustrations: on p. 283, an illustration of Aunt Sally and Silas Phelps was augmented by the addition of a penis.  Thirty thousand copies of the book had been printed before the unwanted addition was discovered.  A new plate was made to correct the illustration and repair the existing copies; still, copies with the so-called “curved fly” plate remain valuable collectors items.

Huck, as drawn by E. W. Kemble for the original edition of the book (source)

The worst of the best…

“Mary and Holly” (Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner) are librarians at “a medium-sized public library in Michigan,” who have worked together for over ten years.  They’ve developed a long suit in culling library collections– those of their own institution and those of libraries to which they consult.

In the course of that selective work, Mary and Holly face choices that are tough… and some that are not so tough.  By way of celebrating that latter group– books that are “odd, outdated or maybe should be reconsidered under a current interpretation of collection policies”– they created Awful Library Books, showcasing such (currently-in-a-public-library-collection) gems as…

Published in 1971:  Usually the lingo and references are so dated, I can’t believe this would work for any school report for kids.  Interestingly, this book also mentions nutmeg and a few cleaning fluids as sources of a nice high.  So I guess this is more a “how to” type of book

“I can be obsolete”
Published in 1985:  there are a lot of public libraries out there that own it. However, this is the first computer book we have posted that doesn’t seem to have an abundance of mullet hairstyles.

Browse the shelves at Awful Library Books.

As we head for the reference desk, we might spare a celebratory thought for an author who has had his own share of troubles with libraries (though, I’m quite confident, never with Mary and Holly): writer and aphorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens– Mark Twain– who was born on this date in 1835.  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is consistently cited as a (if not indeed the) Great American Novel, at the same time that it is equally consistently the target of censors who would ban it from school and public libraries.

200px-Mark_Twain,_Brady-Handy_photo_portrait,_Feb_7,_1871,_cropped

Matthew Brady’s photo of Mark Twain

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