Arcimboldo_Librarian_.jpgThe Bibliothecary Blog

a blog of literary endeavour                                       



Wrestling with Miltonic Angels

Some Miltonic goings on in the press:

AN Wilson writes about Why Milton is the Father of Modernity.

Stanley Fish on a new prose(?!) translation of Milton's Paradise Lost, that he rather likes, but I don't understand the need for.  However, the translation is published as a parallel edition, with the prose on one page facing Milton's verse on the other, so I guess the prose just acts as a crib.  Why then call it a translation, I'm not sure.

Boyd Tonkin looks at the still controversial legacy of Milton.

John Crace on Milton as a neologist.

And Jennifer Howard on a Milton Marathon, in which participants read out loud the entire Paradise Lost, at St Olaf College in Minnesota.  Too late, I realized I should have organized a Milton Marathon here in Philly.  Oh well, next Quadricentennial.


Miltonic radio

BBC3 Radio is featuring a month-long series of broadcasts about Milton and his works, including an unabridged reading of Paradise Lost to go out in parts over 12 days.

The John Milton Season on Radio3 also includes a new production of Samson Agonistes, a series on Milton the essayist, readings of many poems and a new production of Milton's masque, Comus, at Ludlow Castle, where it was first performed in 1634.

The Essay series has already begun (hurry, the listen again option is only two days more on the first one).  Samson Agonistes runs tomorrow and Paradise Lost runs from Dec 22 until Jan 2. 


Caffeinated Milton

NPR ran a piece on Milton's 400th the other day. William Kerrigan, the editor of the Modern Library's Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton talked about the best way to read Milton's Paradise Lost:

Kerrigan says the best way to read Paradise Lost is in a single sitting, as he did when he was in graduate school.

He set aside 24 hours, loaded up on coffee and snacks, and read the entire manuscript, ending with the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden. By the time he got to the final line — "They hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow, / Through Eden took their solitary way" — he had tears streaming down his face.

I'm tempted to do that one of these days over break.  I wonder how many hours it would take to read all of it. 


It's a Miltonic Saturday!

Dec 9 was the 400th anniversary of John Milton's birth and there have been celebrations throughout the year.  Today on the Bibliothecary blog, we're going to go full Miltonic and provide some interesting links for your listening and reading pleasure. 

For a start, here's the Milton-L home page, a listserv group devoted to Milton.  I used to subscribe but dropped it a couple years ago (you know there's only so much reading time per day).  I should have picked it up again this year.

And if you're looking to read Milton online, look no further than The John Milton Reading Room from Dartmouth College.

From an exhibit at the NY Public Library


BSRB No. 10: Busy Sunday Edition

The Bibliothecary Sunday Review of Books is in a bit of a rush today. The morning was family-filled, the afternoon taken up by the Eagles game, after the game I'll be heading out to Noir at the Bar with Sandra Ruttan and tonight I need to finish my review of Ken Bruen's Once WereCops. So, my review of Cordelia Biddle's Deception's Daughter will have to wait until next week. The Bibliothecary has a very busy Sunday, but here are some review links from around the web:

The LA Times joins the best of the year list with their Favorite Books of 2008 edition, including Sarah Weinman'sCrime Fiction Favorites.

The NY Times narrows down its Ponderous 100 listfortheir Top Ten of 2008and Marilyn Stasio picks her favorite crime books.

Nicholas Delbanco reviews Robert Roper's Now the Drum of War: Walt Whitman and His Brothers in the Civil War.

Kathryn Harrison reviews a book I'll be sure to pick up, The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits by Les Standiford (Whew, now that's a sub-title).

Toni Bentley reviews Ian Kelly's Casanova: Actor Lover Priest Spy.

Alan Light reviews the hefty new book by/about The Clash.

Kim Newman reviews The Last Watch, the latest in Sergei Lukyanenko's Night Watch series.

Nick Owchar reviews Orson Welles at Work by François Thomas and Jean-Pierre Berthomé.

Michael Dirda's Ten Commandments of Book Giving.

Carolyn Kellogg bids farewell to the Forry Ackerman.

Paul Collins on the "Oddball Know-It-All," George Leonard Herter.

And the Guardian picks 10 of the best literary pirates, but inexplicably leaves out Rafael Sabatini's Captain Blood


This Week's Books

Another big week because I dropped in at the Harvest Book Outlet to feast on their $2 bargains.

Books acquired this week

From Harvest:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy          Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor         Prague by Arthur Phillips

Jonathan Strange & Dr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (because I thought it would good to have an extra copy)

The Quest for Corvo by AJA Symons (long on my battered book list)

Selected Short Stories of Franz Kafka (Modern Library edition)

The Mammoth Book of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures edited by Mike Ashley

The House of Barrymore by Margot Peters

Also these pulp paperbacks:

The Black Ice, Chasing the Dime and Echo Park by Michael Connelly (haven't read Connelly yet, but I've been slowly acquiring his books for when I do get around to him)

The Fidelio Score by Gerald Sinstadt (Lancer)

The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny

Han Solo's Revenge by Brian Daley

The Long Hot Summer, a dramatic book from the four-book novel The Hamlet by William Faulkner (Signet)

On the Yard by Malcolm Braly

The Quiet American by Graham Greene (Bantam)  I liked the cover.

The Dragon's Eye by Scott C.S. Stone (Fawcett Gold Medal) Another great cover (by Robert McGinnis) and this copy is signed by Stone.

And two Gold Medals:

Assignment Sulu Sea and Assignment Manchurian Doll by Edward S. Aarons, from his Sam Durell series (turns out Aarons was born in Philly)

My non-Harvest scores were

Scalped: Dead Mothers, book three of Jason Aaron and RM Guera's brilliant comic series for Vertigo.

Silver by Edward Chupack.  Treasure Island from Long John's perspective.  I won this in a Bookgasm contest.  Hooray!  I love winning stuff.

The Lincoln Anthology edited by Harold Holzer, coming next month from The Library of America

From the library (I love my library card)

What Burns Within by Sandra Ruttan

Why Poetry Matters and The Art of Teaching by Jay Parini

The Scholar Adventurers by Richard Altick, a book I shold just buy one of these days,a s I've taken it from various libraries many times.  Altick died earlier this year (Telegraph obit, Guardian obit).


The Saturday Idler, No.8

  Of course, the best way to idle away a Saturday is with a book (and a good pipe), but if your mind is a little restless and you find yourself idling in front of the computer, here are some interesting things to read to while away your hours:

William Deresiewicz on the limits of the Woodian literary aesthetic and how its plain bark pales next to the rich textures of bygone American critics.

Morris Dickstein on how Shakespeare's King Lear, and great works of literature like it, allow us to "hear the sea."

Joseph Bristow on Thomas Wright's Oscar's Books, and Wilde's "lifelong romance" with his library.

Or take a turn with some filmic stuff:

Mickey Rourke, primed for a legit comeback in Aronofsky's "The Wrestler," is profiled in the NYTimes Magazine.

Terry Gilliam and his son, Harry, reflect on their relationship in the London Times.

Louis Bayard writes about the cultural influence of Brian DePalma's "Scarface," as delineated in Ken Tucker's Scarface Nation.

Have a lazy day and smoke well. 


Marbled Michelangelo

Have you reserved your copy yet of “Michelangelo: La Dotta Mano” (“Michelangelo: The Learned Hand”)? It's only 100,000 euros (about $126,864), but with a bas-relief marble cover (yes, actual marble), that's not too outrageous. The NYPL put one on display.  However, they wrapped it in plastic, somewhat lessening the viewing experience. 

You can page through a digital version at the maker's website, FMR (click on 33 times Michelangelo).


Noir at the Bar VI

Come by the Tritone Bar on South St in Philly tonorrow night (Sunday Dec 7) for the latest edition of Noir at the Bar featuring Sandra Ruttan.  Details at Detectives Beyond Borders.  I'll be there.



Here are a pack of noirish links:

At Bookslut, Cathi Unsworth, Megan Abbot and Christa Faust talk about noir, hard-boiled and all things crime fiction.

The Nerd of Noir reviews Ken Bruen's first crime novel, Rilke in Black.

Carolyn Kellogg posted about a James M. Cain bus tour in California.  Esotouric does lots of cool tours (Bukowski, Chandler, Fante, even Tom Waits).

At Crime Scene NI, a mini-interview with Philly noir guy Seymour Shubin.

Art Taylor interviews Hard Case Crime editor and author Charles Ardai.