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Posts Tagged ‘Princeton

“To pore upon a book, to seek the light of truth”*…

 

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Gertrude Stein. James Joyce. Ernest Hemingway. Aimé Césaire. Simone de Beauvoir. Jacques Lacan. Walter Benjamin.

What do these writers have in common? They were all members of the Shakespeare and Company lending library.

In 1919, an American woman named Sylvia Beach opened Shakespeare and Company, an English-language bookshop and lending library in Paris. Almost immediately, it became the home away from home for a community of expatriate writers and artists now known as the Lost Generation. In 1922, she published James Joyce’s Ulysses under the Shakespeare and Company imprint, a feat that made her—and her bookshop and lending library—famous around the world. In the 1930s, she increasingly catered to French intellectuals, supplying English-language publications from the recently rediscovered Moby Dick to the latest issues of The New Yorker. In 1941, she preemptively closed Shakespeare and Company after refusing to sell her last copy of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake to a Nazi officer.

The Shakespeare and Company Project uses sources from the Beach Papers at Princeton University to reveal what the lending library members read and where they lived…

Hemingeway

The Project is a work-in-progress, but you can begin to explore now.  Search and browse the lending library members and books.  Read about joining the lending library. Download a preliminary export of Project data. (And in the coming months, check back for new features and essays.)

Recreating the world of the Lost Generation in interwar Paris: The Shakespeare and Company Project.

* Shakepeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

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As we know them by what they read, we might recall that it was on this date in 1830 that Sarah Josepha Hale published Poems for Our Children, which included “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (originally titled “Mary’s Lamb”); later in the decade Lowell Mason set the nursery rhyme to music.  While Hale is probably best remembered for this, she was also a successful novelist and magazine editor, a fierce and effective abolitionist and champion of women’s rights, the founder of several charities, and the leader of the successful campaigns to create Thanksgiving Day as a holiday and to complete the Bunker Hill Monument.

Hale retired in 1877 at the age of 89– the same year that Thomas Edison spoke the opening lines of “Mary’s Lamb” as the first speech ever recorded on his newly invented phonograph.

220px-Sarah_Hale_portrait source

 

“An investment in knowledge almost always pays the best interest”*…

 

Agnes Scott

The Agnes Scott GE College Bowl team: Katherine Bell, Karen Gearreald, Malinda Snow, and Betty Butler

 

America’s anti-intellectualism can be traced through the decline in popularity of the American quiz show. Most viewers think of Jeopardy! as the peak of quizzing aspirations. But Jeopardy!, while challenging, is still geared toward the viewer, feeding the audience accessible clues and manageable categories.

Take a look at Britain’s University Challenge in comparison. The program, whose format is based on the midcentury GE College Bowl, is aggressively uncharismatic. The quiz itself is notoriously difficult, tasking contestants with identifying obscure Indian cities, deep-dive classical compositions, and even failed American vice presidential hopefuls. University Challenge is still wildly popular, anchoring a Sunday evening slot on BBC. While the college quiz bowl continues to exist in the U.S., American television stopped broadcasting the event in 1970.

It’s been said over the years that trivia skews male. The assumption is not that women are less intelligent; the assumption is that for various reasons—structural discrimination, biology, increased pressure—women aren’t as able to compete. But GE College Bowl knocked that assumption on its ass. Women’s colleges won time and again on the decadelong program, handily beating elite institutions.

Barnard College beat Notre Dame and the University of Southern California in 1959 before going on a five-game winning streak in the 1967–68 season. Bryn Mawr had its own four-game tear in ’67. Wellesley won four consecutive games in ’70. And Mount Holyoke won twice in ’66 before losing to Princeton.

And then, of course, there’s the Agnes Scott game, now legendary among quiz fans for its high stakes, for the wide gap in expectations for the two teams, and for a killer last-second comeback…

The story of the match-up between Agnes Scott and Princeton on the GE College Bowl in 1966: “The Greatest Upset in Quiz Show History.”

* Benjamin Franklin

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As we celebrate cerebral celerity, we might send healing birthday greetings to Susan LaFlesche Picotte; she was born on this date in 1865.  A doctor and reformer in the late 19th century, she is widely acknowledged as the first Native American to earn a medical degree.  Beyond her medical practice, she campaigned for public health and for the formal, legal allotment of land to members of the Omaha tribe.

Doctor.susan.la.flesche.picotte source

 

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend…

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.
– Groucho Marx

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Your correspondent is departing for points South– for the dune-banked, hammock-hung, deep-fried seat of his youth.  Consequently, (R)D will be more Roughly than Daily until the 16th or 17th of August.

In order to keep readers amused until regular service resumes, Five Books:

Every day an eminent writer, thinker, commentator, politician, academic chooses five books on their specialist subject. From Einstein to Keynes, Iraq to the Andes, Communism to Empire…

For example, Peter Paret (of Princeton’s Institute of Advanced Study) on “War and Intellect” (chosen as an example, your correspondent confesses, in part because it opens with your correspondent’s own most-recommended book:  Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis)…  or Pillip Vannini on “The Ethnography of Music“… or Carlos Eire’s “Time and Eternity” picks– which range from St. Augustine to Kurt Vonnegut…   Or any of many, many more.

Read ’em and reap!

As we curate our own short shelves, we might recall that it was on this date in 1890 that Cy Young pitched his first professional baseball game, leading the Cleveland Spiders past the Chicago Colts. Over the course of his 22-year career, Young won at least 508 games (511 is the generally accepted number) and averaged more than 23 victories per season.

Denton True Young earned his nickname when a bystander watched him, as a boy, devastate a wooden fence with pitches, observing that the fence “looked like it had been hit with a cyclone.”

Young was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937, in the first class inducted. The Cy Young Award, bestowed annually on the best pitcher in each professional league, was instituted in 1956.

Young’s 1911 baseball card (source: Library of Congress)

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