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Judging books by their covers…

When Charles Dickens moved into Tavistock House in 1851, he decided to fill two spaces in his new study with bookcases containing fake books, the witty titles of which he had invented. And so, on October 22nd, he wrote to a bookbinder named Thomas Robert Eeles and supplied him with the following “list of imitation book-backs” to be produced.

(Source: The Letters of Charles Dickens; Image of Dickens, c.1860, via.)

History of a Short Chancery Suit
Catalogue of Statues of the Duke of Wellington
Five Minutes in China. 3 vols.
Forty Winks at the Pyramids. 2 vols.
Abernethy on the Constitution. 2 vols.
Mr. Green’s Overland Mail. 2 vols.
Captain Cook’s Life of Savage. 2 vols.
A Carpenter’s Bench of Bishops. 2 vols.
Toot’s Universal Letter-Writer. 2 vols.
Orson’s Art of Etiquette.
Downeaster’s Complete Calculator.
History of the Middling Ages. 6 vols.
Jonah’s Account of the Whale.
Captain Parry’s Virtues of Cold Tar.
Kant’s Ancient Humbugs. 10 vols.
Bowwowdom. A Poem.
The Quarrelly Review. 4 vols.
The Gunpowder Magazine. 4 vols.
Steele. By the Author of “Ion.”
The Art of Cutting the Teeth.
Matthew’s Nursery Songs. 2 vols.
Paxton’s Bloomers. 5 vols.
On the Use of Mercury by the Ancient Poets.
Drowsy’s Recollections of Nothing. 3 vols.
Heavyside’s Conversations with Nobody. 3 vols.
Commonplace Book of the Oldest Inhabitant. 2 vols.
Growler’s Gruffiology, with Appendix. 4 vols.
The Books of Moses and Sons. 2 vols.
Burke (of Edinburgh) on the Sublime and Beautiful. 2 vols.
Teazer’s Commentaries.
King Henry the Eighth’s Evidences of Christianity. 5 vols.
Miss Biffin on Deportment.
Morrison’s Pills Progress. 2 vols.
Lady Godiva on the Horse.
Munchausen’s Modern Miracles. 4 vols.
Richardson’s Show of Dramatic Literature. 12 vols.
Hansard’s Guide to Refreshing Sleep. As many volumes as possible.

Your correspondent is headed for the stacks in the Bodleian, where wi-fi signals do not penetrate; regular service will resume in a week or so…  In the meantime, readers will find many more inspiring indices and edifying enumerations at Lists of Note, from whence the treasure above.

 

As we check to be sure that we’re wearing at least a bit of green, we might send revolutionary birthday greetings to guitarist and co-founder of Jefferson Airplane, Paul Kantner; he was born on this date in 1941…

If you can remember anything about the sixties, you weren’t really there.” (source)

… and to “the ‘noir prophet’ of the cyberpunk movement,” author William Gibson; he was born on this date in 1948.

 “The future is already here. It’s just not very evenly distributed.” (source)

Written by LW

March 17, 2012 at 1:01 am

Cultural diplomacy…

From Abstruse Goose, a reminder that we are what we watch…

As we reach for our remotes, we might spare a thought for a master of the electromagnetic spectrum:  this is the birth date (1856) of Serbian-American electrical engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla.(Tesla’s birth certificate says “June 28” in the Orthodox system– most scholars convert this to July 9; some, to July 10.)  In his extraordinary career, Tesla patented over 110 innovations, ranging from the first AC motor and generator (c,f,: Niagara Falls; in the long run, Tesla was right; Edison– proponent of DC, and vicious opponent of Tesla– wrong) to the first wireless remote control.  Tesla designed and began planning a “worldwide wireless communications system” that was backed by JP Morgan…  until Morgan lost confidence and pulled out.  “Cyberspace,” as described by the likes of Bill Gibson and Neal Stephenson, is largely prefigured in Tesla’s plan.  Often mis-remembered (as a fringe figure, almost a looney), if at all, Tesla was a remarkable genius, whose talent ran far, far ahead of his luck.  He died penniless in 1943.

Nikola Tesla

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