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From Solaris to the Zone

Through a spasm of serendipity whose mechanism I cannot begin to fathom, two inarguable masterpieces of Eastern European science fiction - Solaris by Stanislaw Lem and Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky - have recently been accorded fresh translations. In this posting I would like to briefly consider the virtues of these new versions [...] [more inside]
posted by smcg on Jul 11, 2012 - 51 comments

INTERVIEWER: "Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?" HEMINGWAY: "Getting the words right."

To Use and Use Not: [NYTimes.com] "In an interview in The Paris Review in 1958 Ernest Hemingway made an admission that has inspired frustrated novelists ever since: The final words of “A Farewell to Arms,” his wartime masterpiece, were rewritten “39 times before I was satisfied.” A new edition of “A Farewell to Arms,” which was originally published in 1929, will be released next week, including all the alternate endings, along with early drafts of other passages in the book."
posted by Fizz on Jul 8, 2012 - 19 comments

I prefer a ruin to a monument.

A liquor store in Amsterdam. A veteran in Bagdad. A family in Rome. A WWII veterans memorial in Berlin. A house in Oxford. Edouard Levé photographed towns in the United States that shared names with famous cities. He photographed fully-clothed actors reenacting scenes from rugby and pornography [nsfw]. He also wrote some novels, influenced by Oulipo. Autoportrait, describes his life in 120 pages of unordered vignettes and brief, declarative sentences—"The girl whom I loved the most left me. [...] I am uneasy in rooms with small windows." and so on. His fourth novel, Suicide, is a one-sided conversation between an anonymous narrator ("I") and his friend ("you"), who committed suicide twenty years ago. It's a painfully intimate meditation on the act and its fallout on its own merits—"Your life was hypothesis. Those who die old are made of the past. Thinking of them, one thinks of what they have done. Thinking of you, one thinks of what you could have become. You were, and you will remain, made up of possibilities."—but few will read Suicide unburdened with the knowledge that Edouard Levé killed himself several days after completing it, at the age of 47. [more inside]
posted by spanishbombs on Jul 7, 2012 - 7 comments

}}} so — ;;;;[blacked out ]] # # # – do you have my (keys)}} ?

Drunk texts from famous authors. (More good ones in the comments)
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jun 19, 2012 - 40 comments

Literature and porn stars

Consider everything here potentially NSFW, even if not marked. Lots of background and sidebar images that may offend.

Kayden Kross (NSFW) and Stoya (previously) aren't stereotypical porn stars. For the release of Adam Levin's Hot Pink, Kross interviewed Levin on the McSweeney's website. Stoya was featured (along with Paul Dano) in the book trailer for Adam Wilson's Flatscreen. And together Kross and Stoya discussed Chad Kultgen’s Men, Women & Children — a novel that mentions Stoya by name. Kross digs David Foster Wallace; Stoya digs some good stuff, too. Both keep (very NSFW) blogs (Kayden 1, 2; Stoya 1, 2) where they write about all kinds of stuff. Last November on Fleshbot (NSFW) Stoya did a five-part series on sex in Japan. And check out Stoya's guest post on Warren Ellis's blog. [more inside]
posted by skilar on Jun 17, 2012 - 52 comments

Smart Authors and Designers Discuss Their Covers

Talking Covers: authors and designers talk about the ideas behind their book covers. [more inside]
posted by mattbucher on Jun 13, 2012 - 9 comments

The heroine’s socioeconomic position and much of her character were determined by real estate.

For his 2008 novel The Museum of Innocence, about a man who obsessively collects objects associated with his beloved and eventually creates a museum of those objects in his beloved's old house, Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk has built a museum in a house in Istanbul containing the objects mentioned in the novel, including a half-eaten ice cream cone (made of plastic) and 4,213 cigarette stubs, complete with lipstick and ice cream stains. Elif Batuman reports on how the museum, which opened in April, came to be.
posted by Cash4Lead on Jun 6, 2012 - 5 comments

Language of Origin

"You are a junior spelling champion. Your parents have been teaching you at home since you were four." Bee: a choose-your-own-bittersweet-coming-of-age novella by Emily Short. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jun 5, 2012 - 36 comments

immenatizing the shrug

Both novels are ridiculously long. Both were largely ignored by the literary and educational establishments, due to their unmistakable whiff of madness (This fear of insanity is, of course, why the literary and educational establishments always miss out on all the good stuff.) They have both, however, found a devoted readership, been hailed as life changing, and have remained in print since publication. Between them, they explain much of our current twenty-first century world, from the underground anarchism of Anonymous and the shift from hierarchies to networks, to the Tea Party and neo-conservative hijack of American politics and the massive shift in wealth distribution towards the super rich.
posted by philip-random on Jun 4, 2012 - 126 comments

The A-Okay Gatsby

The goons at Something Awful have a field day photoshopping downgraded and cut-rate literary classics. Part 2.
posted by The Whelk on May 31, 2012 - 150 comments

Life in the mist

Tove Jansson's short stories about artistic creation are often chillingly cold. The artists she portrays have become lost in their isolated solitude, their creativity, which shuts other people out. Portraits of such loneliness are drawn in three short stories in the collection Lyssnerskan ('The listener', 1971), 'Ekorren' ('The squirrel'), 'Svart & vitt' ('Black & white') and 'Vargen' ('The wolf’), which probably frightened many readers - particularly those who knew and loved her Moomin books - away from Jansson's work. In their cosmos, warmth is unknown; their landscapes are frozen, just like the people who seek expression for their artistic dreams. [more inside]
posted by smcg on May 31, 2012 - 19 comments

Stan's Report

Stan's Report (a short story). Stan waited for me to ask him a question, hoping to tease some curiosity out of me, I suppose, though I don’t want to make assumptions about Stan’s intentions. Whatever his intent, I chose not to ask anything about it, not wanting to start my thinking down that road. It wouldn’t have been fair to B. to talk about him and what he said or meant since he wasn’t there to defend himself or to amend the tone or the full context. I preferred to turn my attention to my e-mail, but I didn’t want to ignore Stan or imply that I disapproved of his interest in sharing his news with me. He had a right to say whatever he wanted and it was up to me to choose how I’d deal with it.
posted by shivohum on May 27, 2012 - 24 comments

Goodbye to all That

Paul Fussell, author of The Great War and Modern Memory and winner of the first National Critics Award for Criticism, but who is probably best known for writing Class: A Guide Through the American Status System, is dead. [more inside]
posted by postcommunism on May 23, 2012 - 48 comments

Where Do We Go From Here?

SF author and Mefi's Own Charles Stross talks about the future of "big idea" Science Fiction: If SF's core message (to the extent that it ever had one) is obsolete, what do we do next?
posted by The Whelk on May 23, 2012 - 71 comments

What becomes a legend most?

In 1929, John Galsworthy won a Guardian poll as the novelist most likely to still be read in 2029. Three years later, he won the Nobel Prize, and the prices of his first editions skyrocketed. His reputation has since been on a 80-year wane that shows no signs of abating. The New Yorker asks Why is Literary Fame So Unpredictable? And who will they be teaching in literature class a century from now?
posted by Horace Rumpole on May 22, 2012 - 65 comments

Fresno

Fresno was a mistake from the beginning, a story by Michael Thomsen. Part of N+1 magazine City by City series.
posted by growabrain on May 22, 2012 - 52 comments

James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake"

simply read Finnegans Wake. Since it is said to make more sense when recited aloud, you could start with this recording of James Joyce performing a passage from the "Anna Livia Plurabelle" section - which has been described as "one of the most beautiful prose-poems in English". [more inside]
posted by Trurl on May 18, 2012 - 40 comments

Career Implies I Had A Career Plan

Novelist Neil Gaiman tells the graduating 2012 class of the University Of The Arts everything he wishes he knew starting out and all the best advice he failed to follow. (Vimeo 19:55)
posted by The Whelk on May 18, 2012 - 20 comments

Today, Maman died.

Rethinking "Mother died today": Translating a work requires a surprising amount of thought to avoid leading readers into contextual pitfalls, and The Stranger is no exception. "Within the novel’s first sentence, two subtle and seemingly minor translation decisions have the power to change the way we read everything that follows."
posted by estlin on May 16, 2012 - 47 comments

Are those swans? | László Krasznahorkai: novelist

‘You will never go wrong anticipating doom in my books, any more than you’ll go wrong in anticipating doom in ordinary life’—László Krasznahorkai. [more inside]
posted by misteraitch on May 16, 2012 - 7 comments

"Please don't go. We'll eat you up. We love you so."

Maurice Sendak, Children’s Author Who Upended Tradition, Dies at 83 [NYTimes.com] "Maurice Sendak, widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche, died on Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. He was 83 and lived in Ridgefield, Conn."
posted by Fizz on May 8, 2012 - 290 comments

O'Sullivan: Master of the Fallen Years

"As the Nazis approached Paris, the American Colony broke camp & abandoned the city like rats from a sinking ship. Behind them they left a frail, elderly, impoverished, homeless Irish-American who, as a young man, had been an heir to wealth, a close friend to Beardsley & Wilde, & the only important American in the 1890s Aesthetic movement of England & France. He was Vincent O'Sullivan, one of the world's great authors of horror fiction..." [more inside]
posted by Iridic on May 7, 2012 - 9 comments

“How do you know the moment when you cease to be human?"

We are the artistically creative authors of the truths we live by. We must then, if we are honest, live more tentatively in relation to the security and consistency we achieve through language. The effect of this conclusion, at least for me, at least most of the time, is bracing.

It is not bracing for everyone.


Scott Abbott examines the violent, funny, and philosophically distressing fictions of Brian Evenson, one of our most accomplished dark fantasists and genre-bending authors. [more inside]
posted by Idler King on May 2, 2012 - 6 comments

“They pay me absurd amounts of money,” he observes, “For something that I would do for free.”.

A Stephen King interview: by Neil Gaiman "I interviewed Stephen King for the UK Sunday Times Magazine. The interview appeared a few weeks ago. The Times keeps its site paywalled, so I thought I'd post the original version of the interview here. (This is the raw copy, and it's somewhat longer than the interview as published.) I don't do much journalism any more, and this was mostly an excuse to drive across Florida back in February and spend a day with some very nice people I do not get to see enough. I hope you enjoy it."
posted by Fizz on Apr 28, 2012 - 51 comments

Dark things in the closet, literal and figurative

The Vulture ranks all of Stephen King's books from worst to best.
posted by mightygodking on Apr 24, 2012 - 300 comments

Hand On The Shoulder

Hand On The Shoulder, a short story by Ian McEwan. My name is Serena Frome (rhymes with "plume"), and forty years ago, in my final year at Cambridge, I was recruited by the British security service.
posted by shivohum on Apr 23, 2012 - 17 comments

Spoiler Warning: He did.

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, great-grandson of African nobleman and military strategist Abram Petrovich Gannibal, is well known for the tremendous influence his writings have had on both Russian and American literature. What is somewhat less known is that Pushkin, a notorious firebrand, fought in a total of twenty-nine duels in his youth.

Imagine how different the world would be if he had died as a result of one of them.
posted by 256 on Apr 20, 2012 - 46 comments

Only those in love would know what a town without pity can do

I prepared for my first-ever trip to Japan, this summer, almost entirely by immersing myself in the work of Haruki Murakami. This turned out to be a horrible idea. For his cover article on the novelist Haruki Murakami, Sam Anderson visited some key places from Murakami’s life and work. Murakami's Tokyo. The Fierce Imagination of Haruki Murakami. [more inside]
posted by byanyothername on Apr 20, 2012 - 49 comments

Reading Markson Reading

Reading Markson Reading: ‘Exploring the mind, method and masterpieces of David Markson through the marginalia found on the pages of the books in his personal library.’ (previously: 1, 2)
posted by misteraitch on Apr 20, 2012 - 4 comments

Marcel Proust's "A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu"

"The Threat to Proust" by Roger Shattuck: When Proust’s novel fell into the public domain in 1987, three Paris publishing houses were ready with new editions that had been in preparation for several years. They all carry the same basic 3,000-page text with few variations. The differences lie in packaging and presentation. Laffont-Bouquins chose to publish three fat volumes prefaced by elaborate historical and biographical materials. Garnier-Flammarion produced ten pocket-sized volumes competently edited by Jean Milly. The new Pléiade edition, published by the original copyright holder, Gallimard, made the boldest, most ambitious, and most expensive bid to claim the market. In a combination of editorial, literary, and commercial decisions, Gallimard proposed to influence the way we read Proust and, to some degree, the way we approach all great literary works. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Apr 19, 2012 - 32 comments

To read or not to read

How to read a paper is a series by Trisha Greenhalgh in BMJ, the British Medical Journal, that explains how to critically read and apply the biomedical literature. Deciding what the paper is about. Assessing methodological quality. Statistics for the non-statistician: parts I and II. Drug trials, diagnostic and screening tests, economic analyses, systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PDF), and qualitative research (PDF).
posted by grouse on Apr 19, 2012 - 14 comments

Leggete Nanni Balestrini

"An imprecation to read an avant-garde novelist is not something you often see written in spray-paint". And why should we pay attention? Because it "will fill your spine with gunpowder and light a match in your brain". Verso republishes Nanni Balestrini's The Unseen (with a brand new foreword by Antonio Negri), an epic monument to the struggle of the Italian Autonomia movement of the 1970s.
posted by hydatius on Apr 17, 2012 - 23 comments

“Hello old friend,” I whispered.

Writer and Interactive Fiction author Adam Cadre (previously) runs the Lyttle Lytton contest. A variation on the Bulwer-Lytton contest, the current incarnation of Cadre's contest has a 200-character limit per entry. Here are this year's winners.
posted by griphus on Apr 16, 2012 - 29 comments

Youths big plans and vague longings, the binges, crashes, and marathon walks and talks

Joseph O'Neill on the Dutch literary hero Nescio No one has written more feelingly and more beautifully than Nescio about the madness and sadness, courage and vulnerability of youth: its big plans and vague longings, not to mention the binges, crashes, and marathon walks and talks. No one, for that matter, has written with such pristine clarity about the radiating canals of Amsterdam and the cloud-swept landscape of the Netherlands. [more inside]
posted by joost de vries on Apr 15, 2012 - 13 comments

¶ THANK YOU FOR YOUR NOTE.

David Foster Wallace Writes to Don DeLillo: Among the many curiosities of this correspondence: “No offense intended” by the card’s image (a book cover from Sheldon Lord’s A Woman Must Love), the mention of Jonathan Franzen’s New Yorker piece on William Gaddis, the brick shithouse of a palm tree, and a request to eyeball DeLillo’s “new novel” (Cosmopolis?). So many of the sentences create space for wondering what more there is to know. [Via: The Outlet] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Apr 13, 2012 - 21 comments

What is the meaning of malady?

"As a career patient, I’ve learned one thing at least: the importance of clinging to the rag-end of your sense of self, however you define it—intellect, sense of humor, generosity of spirit, a stoicism worthy of Seneca or Mr. Spock, or, in a writer’s case, the mind that makes sense of itself as a reflection in the mirror of language. In the M.A.S.H.-unit chaos of the E.R.; in the nowhere, notime of the hospital room; in the O.R., where the euphoria of oncoming anesthesia and the doting attentions of apparitions in scrubs make you understand, in an instant, the perverse seductions of Munchausen’s Syndrome as you ride into the stage-light radiance on your gurney like the Son of Heaven in his sedan chair, feeling for all the world like a pathological celebrity—in these moments of inescapable embodiment, I’ve learned to float free in my head, a thought balloon untethered from the body on the sickbed or the operating table."
-A Season in Hell by (Mefite) Mark Dery [Previously]
posted by lemuring on Apr 13, 2012 - 10 comments

"You should say Dad."

'My son got a very low mark': Writer Ian McEwan describes the odd experience of helping his son with an A-level essay about one of his novels, Enduring Love, and finding his son's teacher disagreed with his interpretation of the novel. This is an excerpt from Ian Katz's interview with McEwan at the Guardian's Open Weekend festival on 24 March 2012. [Full Interview]
posted by Fizz on Apr 11, 2012 - 80 comments

Lit Videos on YouTube

YouTube does not have a "Literature" category. Yet. "Perhaps it can be argued that literature is "entertainment." But aligning literature with "entertainment" is disingenous. Literature is never merely "entertainment." [more inside]
posted by mattbucher on Apr 9, 2012 - 17 comments

"The bed has become a place of luxury to me! I would not exchange it for all the thrones in the world."

Literary Style: 15 Writers' Bedrooms: Truman Capote, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O'Connor, Alexander Masters, William S. Burroughs, Slyvia Plath, Henry David Thoreau, Victor Hugo, Emily Dickinson, Miranda Seymour, Mary Roach, Marcel Proust, Michael Morpurgo, William Faulkner.
posted by Fizz on Apr 4, 2012 - 29 comments

"Bringing up the women’s question — I mean the women’s fiction question — is not unlike mentioning the national debt at a dinner party."

If “The Marriage Plot,” by Jeffrey Eugenides, had been written by a woman yet still had the same title and wedding ring on its cover, would it have received a great deal of serious literary attention? Or would this novel (which I loved) have been relegated to “Women’s Fiction,” that close-quartered lower shelf where books emphasizing relationships and the interior lives of women are often relegated? Certainly “The Marriage Plot,” Eugenides’s first novel since his Pulitzer Prize-winning “Middlesex,” was poised to receive tremendous literary interest regardless of subject matter, but the presence of a female protagonist, the gracefulness, the sometimes nostalgic tone and the relationship-heavy nature of the book only highlight the fact that many first-rate books by women and about women’s lives never find a way to escape “Women’s Fiction” and make the leap onto the upper shelf where certain books, most of them written by men (and, yes, some women — more about them later), are prominently displayed and admired.
So begins The Second Shelf: On the Rules of Literary Fiction for Men and Women, an essay in the New York Times by novelist Meg Wolitzer. She was interviewed about her essay in the NYT Book Review podcast (mp3 link, interview starts at about 18:30). Wolitzer references the classic 1998 essay by Francine Prose, Scent of a woman's ink: Are women writers really inferior?, and further back in time you find Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, which, as literary critic Ruth Franklin notes, still sounds fresh today.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 4, 2012 - 105 comments

"This monster of a land, this mightiest of nations, this spawn of the future, turns out to be the macrocosm of microcosm me." ~ John Steinbeck

Language of the Land: Journeys into Literary America: The inspiration for this exhibition was the Library of Congress's collection of literary maps--maps that acknowledge the contributions of authors to a specific state or region as well as those that depict the geographical locations in works of fiction or fantasy. Throughout the exhibition, these colorful and varied maps reflect the contributions of authors to specific states or regions and locate their imagined people and places. Through these maps, authors' words, images, and characters, Language of the Land presents a tapestry of the impressions that endure in our collective imagination of the American land and its culture. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Mar 31, 2012 - 4 comments

Literature

The top 25 American writers, as determined by the amount of scholarship on them. Literary flowchart by Jimmy Chen.
posted by stbalbach on Mar 29, 2012 - 72 comments

The next night we ate whale

Go to bed, Tao Lin. Cole Styker, author of Epic Win for Anonymous: How 4Chan's Army Conquered the Web interviews and considers Tao Lin and 'trollgaze'. [more inside]
posted by shakespeherian on Mar 29, 2012 - 44 comments

Certainly not Hugh Hefner

Who Was Casanova? "Today, Casanova is so surrounded by myth that many people almost believe he was a fictional character. (Perhaps it’s hard to take seriously a man who has been portrayed by Tony Curtis, Donald Sutherland, Heath Ledger and even Vincent Price, in a Bob Hope comedy, Casanova’s Big Night [and many more].)" [more inside]
posted by Kirth Gerson on Mar 29, 2012 - 20 comments

R.I.P. Christine Brooke-Rose

Experimental novelist and critic Christine Brooke-Rose has died. The Guardian has an obituary and an appreciation. [more inside]
posted by twirlip on Mar 27, 2012 - 12 comments

Louise Fitzhugh's "Harriet the Spy"

In December 1974, there was a memorial service at St. James Episcopal Church on Madison Avenue for Louise Fitzhugh, author and illustrator of Harriet the Spy, the groundbreaking children's novel that has sold 2.5 million copies since its publication in 1964. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Mar 26, 2012 - 45 comments

Less Wrong: The Best Textbooks on Every Subject

For years, my self-education was stupid and wasteful. I learned by consuming blog posts, Wikipedia articles, classic texts, podcast episodes, popular books, video lectures, peer-reviewed papers, Teaching Company courses, and Cliff's Notes. How inefficient! [...] What if we could compile a list of the best textbooks on every subject? That would be extremely useful.
Less Wrong, a community dedicated to rationality, is compiling a list of The Best Textbooks on Every Subject.
posted by Foci for Analysis on Mar 25, 2012 - 49 comments

What will be the next possible trend in Dystopian Literature? Robotics? Climate change? Insect overlords?

The Dystopian Timeline to The Hunger Games [INFOGRAPHIC] .
posted by Fizz on Mar 24, 2012 - 91 comments

"Two years before Hannah Arendt declared evil banal, Vonnegut was staking it out for stand-up treatment."

In the spring of 1945, three weeks after VE Day, Private First Class Kurt Vonnegut, Jr wrote a letter home to inform his family that he was alive. His infantry unit had been smashed by Panzer divisions in the Ardennes; his unmarked POW train attacked by the RAF; miraculously, he and a handful of fellow prisoners escaped incineration by American and British bombers. "Their combined labors killed 250,000 people in twenty-four hours and destroyed all of Dresden – possibly the world’s most beautiful city", Vonnegut wrote. "But not me."
- Survivor: How Kurt Vonnegut created a novel, a cult following and one of the most loyal readerships in American Fiction by Thomas Meaney in The Times Literary Supplement.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 11, 2012 - 85 comments

Old Books

Old Book Illustrations are vintage pictures that were originally wood engravings or woodcuts, etchings or metal engravings. Old Book Art is pictures, drawings, maps and other images from antiquarian, public-domain books and other old documents. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Mar 10, 2012 - 8 comments

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