The Guardian has published a number of the earliest drawings and water colour paintings from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. When producing his art for The Hobbit, Tolkien borrowed from his short story Roverandom, which was written for his son, Michael.
Holden Caufield’s first appearence in print was in a short story ‘I’m Crazy’ published in Collier’s Magazine on 22 December 1945.
It was about eight o’clock at night, and dark, and raining, and freezing, and the wind was noisy the way it is in spooky movies on the night the old slob with the will gets murdered. I stood by the cannon on the top of Thomsen Hill, freezing to death, watching the big south windows of the gym – shining big and bright and dumb, like the windows of a gymnasium, and nothing else (but maybe you never went to a boarding school).
I just had on my reversible and no gloves. Somebody had swiped my camel’s hair the week before, and my gloves were in the pocket. Boy, I was cold. Only a crazy guy would have stood there. That’s me. Crazy. No kidding, I have a screw loose. But I had to stand there to feel the goodby to the youngness of the place, as though I were an old man. The whole school was down below in the gym for the basketball game with the Saxon Charter slobs, and I was standing there to feel the goodbye.
I stood there – boy, I was freezing to death – and I kept saying goodbye to myself, ‘Good-bye, Caulfield. Good-bye, you slob.’
Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Žižek appears at Occupy Wall Street: Part 1, Part 2. And The Chronicle looks at the philosophical origins of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Author James Bradley provides a form guide for the Booker Prize.
In an ambitious project researchers have collected over 6,000 personal letters of Ernest Hemingway. They expect to publish them across 16 volumes and the first, The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, 1907-1922, is now available. Although Hemingway did not want his letters published his surviving son has said that the letters “will elucidate his humanity, which is what people are always looking for in a writer”.
This is a beautiful photograph of Caffè Florian a Venetian cafe that is one of the oldest coffee houses continuously in operation.
It attracted notable guests including Carlo Goldoni, Goethe, Casanova, Lord Byron, Marcel Proust, and Charles Dickens, Rousseau, Stravinsky, Modigliani, and Antonio Canova.
Click the image for the original.
Robert Manne analyses the response to his essay ‘Bad News: Murdoch’s Australian and the Shaping of the Nation‘ in The Australian.
The Occupy Wall Street has a library.
NPR take a look at The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.
In a Guardian interview with author Maurice Sendak he reveals some blunt opinions about eBooks (“I hate them. It’s like making believe there’s another kind of sex.”), Rupert Murdoch (“His name should be what everything is called now.”), Schubert (“a darling boy”), Salman Rushdie (“That flaccid fuckhead. He was detestable. I called up the Ayatollah, nobody knows that.”), Roald Dahl (“He’s dead, that’s what’s nice about him.”), Stephen King (“Bullshit”), Gwyneth Paltrow (“I can’t stand her”). Although he admits: “I’m not kind all of the time, I’m not nice all the time.”
Alright, it’s Friday, so here are a bunch of photos of Marilyn Monroe reading.
‘The Pact’ by John Kinsella
He stares hard in through the flyscreen, heavy red face glowering with thousands of midday suns. It’s hot, and he looks hot. His eyes, deeply recessed, tell her nothing except that it’s flaming hot. They are lakes of sweat threatening to burst their banks. The eyeballs are reflections of strange parallel suns. He pulls them back down further into the molten realm of his head, breaks the stare, then turns back to his vehicle, giving both kelpies a rub on the head before he gets in and drives off.
‘Song’ by Ali Cobby Eckermann
Another visitor to Koolunga is a lone kookaburra. The locals in the pub say there has never been a kookaburra known here, in living memory. He is heard most mornings, sometimes in the tree outside my store. But his call is never complete. Without a partner for back up, the verse remains unfinished. I heard one of the retirees followed the bird along the river, imitating the call, trying to teach him the song. But one cannot sing true with love. Nature teaches us that.
The best reader, is one who is most open to human possibility, to understanding the great range of plausibility in human actions. It’s not true that modern life is too fantastic to be written about successfully. It’s that the most successful work is so demanding…. the novel’s vitality requires risks not only by them [writers] but by readers as well. Maybe it’s not writers alone who keep the novel alive but a more serious kind of reader.
– Don DeLillo, ‘A Talk with Don DeLillo’, The New York Times
Sam Harris talks about the pressure facing the (print) publishing industry.
If your book is 600-pages-long, you are demanding more of my time than I feel free to give. And if I could accomplish the same change in my view of the world by reading a 60-page version of your argument, why didn’t you just publish a book this length instead?
The honest answer to this last question should disappoint everyone: Publishers can’t charge enough money for 60-page books to survive; thus, writers can’t make a living by writing them. But readers are beginning to feel that this shouldn’t be their problem. Worse, many readers believe that they can just jump on YouTube and watch the author speak at a conference, or skim his blog, and they will have absorbed most of what he has to say on a given subject. In some cases this is true and suggests an enduring problem for the business of publishing. In other cases it clearly isn’t true and suggests an enduring problem for our intellectual life.
Interestingly Harris goes on to discuss his success in publishing a $1.99 ebook. For an established author it may actually be easier to independently publish work in digital format. Of course this doesn’t address the problems of physical publishing and the work involved in marketing, editing and distributing both physical and digital content by publishers. There are lots of arguments about the future of the book with most arguments settling on the side of digital. A few pundits argue that there will be a mixed model which seems most likely at least in the short term.
What is most unclear, and of most interest to Mycroft Books, is the future of literature.
The penny dreadful was a type of sensationalist fiction printed on cheap pulp and are in many respects analogous to the straight to video film market. Books of a certain quality, books that seem destined for the airport lounge or bus stop, will perhaps be consigned straight to ebook. Similarly, but for different reasons, manuals, non-fiction works – I’m thinking specifically of text books – might also be best served in digital format allowing readers to take advantage of the quality of hypertext and the ability to easily search indices.
Of course literature* will also be published in digital format but also, hopefully, as a traditional book. And the reason for this desire is not simply a conservatism and fondness for the object. Nicholas Carr in his excellent book The Shallows examines the way reading on the screen is in fact shaping the way we think. The plasticity of the human brain means that we are starting to adapt to shallow reading, the constant interruption of email and other notifications, the lure of hypertext and the skimming of ‘posts’ online.
The book as an object is well suited to deep reading. It offers no distraction just linear, page-by-page advancement. And so the book is perhaps the best place to publish and write complex ideas so that they can be read and understood. It would seem a shame to lose complex, rich prose, and possibly our capacity to read and understand it, because there isn’t a suitable economic model for the book.