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H.H. Cool J

Helen (Hunt) Jackson was an author and an activist. Her mom died when Helen was 14, her dad 3 years later. Helen's first child died at 11 months, her second at 10 years old. In 1879 she was inspired after hearing Chief Standing Bear describe how the U.S. government took Native Americans' land. She began to publish in support of Native American rights. 1881 brought her book A Century of Dishonor [pdf], branded with the words "Look upon your hands! They are stained with the blood of your relations". In 1883, she published her most famous work, Ramona, a novel about racial discrimination set in California. If that's too much to take in, and now you need some kitties, she's still got you covered. Letters from a Cat (1879) is being featured at Archive.org today. [more inside]
posted by cashman on Aug 25, 2008 - 7 comments

O Hangout, My Hangout

The vault at Pfaffs where the drinkers and laughers meet to eat and drink and carouse
While on the walk immediately overhead pass the myriad feet of Broadway
As the dead in their graves are underfoot hidden
And the living pass over them, recking not of them,
Laugh on laughers! Drink on drinkers!

posted by Miko on Aug 15, 2008 - 9 comments

Quoth the raven, "Halloa old girl!"

"On the clock striking twelve he appeared slightly agitated, but he soon recovered, walked twice or thrice along the coach house, stopped to bark, staggered, exclaimed 'Halloa old girl!' (his favorite expression) and died... The children seem rather glad of it. He bit their ankles, but that was play..." So wrote Charles Dickens, describing the death of his pet raven "Grip," in a letter to a friend. Grip has an interesting legacy. Having served as an eponymous character in Dickens' Barnaby Rudge [full text] and subsequently inspiring Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven [full text], Grip has the distinction of being named a literary landmark. His taxidermied body is on display in the Rare Book Department at the Philadelphia Free Library.
posted by amyms on Aug 13, 2008 - 19 comments

a bookshelf full o' sorrows

Starting with Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes" and Dave Pelzer's "A Child Called 'It'" "misery lit" has blossomed into a peculiar genre all its own, one especially popular with the British.
posted by freshwater_pr0n on Aug 12, 2008 - 57 comments

Turkish folktales

The Uysal - Walker Archive of Turkish Oral Narrative is an immense repository of folktales from modern Anatolia. The full list of stories but luckily there's a search function. But that's not all, oh no, there's also a music section, with downloadable mp3s and a whole nother section with more stories and Turkish literature and mp3s. Here's a somewhat random selection of stories to get you started (all links pdf): Nasreddin Hoca's Brilliant Donkey, A Saint Urinates in Public, The Girl Disguised as a Monk and the Padishah's Youngest Son, Behlül Dane Discourses with the Dung Heap and finally, Elia Kazan in Kayseri (yes, that Elia Kazan).
posted by Kattullus on Jul 29, 2008 - 10 comments

Victorians, eminent and otherwise

The Victorian Web is your one-stop resource for England in the Victorian era (1837-1901). The site is much too extensive to give but a flavor. It is divided into 20 categories, including Technology, Gender Matters, Economic Contexts, Authors, Political History, Theater and Popular Entertainment, Science and Genre and Technique. Here are a few examples of the articles inside: Inventions in Alice in Wonderland, The Role of the Victorian Army, Earth Yenneps: Victorian Back Slang (and a glossary of same), Algernon Charles Swinburne and the Philosophy of Androgyny, Hermaphrodeity, and Victorian Sexual Mores, Evolution, progress and natural laws and, of course, Queen Victoria.
posted by Kattullus on Jul 28, 2008 - 10 comments

Which Barbapapa are you?

The Barbapapa family are shapeshifters. (In French, Barbapapa's name loosely translates to "Cotton Candy.") Barbapapa was lonely; thus he went on an adventure to find others of his species, only to find that his Barbamama had been laying dormant in the same garden where he'd been first discovered! He and Barbamama now have seven brightly-colored children. Here are all of their names. [more inside]
posted by not_on_display on Jul 25, 2008 - 38 comments

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

Great Opening Sentences From Science Fiction from io9.com.
posted by blue_beetle on Jul 25, 2008 - 105 comments

And All The Time You Could Feel Your Heart Beating Along The Wounds

Roald Dahl (1916-1990) is probably best known as one of the principal architects of the 20th century children’s fairy tale, with such sly, savage and addictive masterpieces as The Enormous Crocodile, The Witches, The BFG, and personal favourite The Twits. [more inside]
posted by turgid dahlia on Jul 22, 2008 - 70 comments

The Apparition of Enoch Soames

In the summer of 1897, the Devil transported a minor Decadent poet named Enoch Soames one hundred years into the future to see what posterity would make of his work. The only witness to the affair was the parodist Max Beerbohm, whose account of Soames and his journey ensured that at 2:10 P.M. on June 7, 1997, some dozen pilgrims waited in the Round Reading Room of the British Museum to see the poet appear...
posted by Iridic on Jul 22, 2008 - 26 comments

Russian poetry and drama

Early Twentieth Century Russian Drama and From the Ends to the Beginning: A Bilingual Anthology of Russian Poetry are both products of Northwestern University Slavic Department. The former is devoted to Russian theater from the 1890s through the 1930s and focuses on the visual aspect of theater, with images of costumes, set designs and photographs of stagings. The latter is a collection of 250 poems, both in Russian and English translations ranging from the 18th Century to the modern day. There are some amazing images from the history of Russian drama, such as Kazimir Malevich's designs for Victory over the Sun and a quicktime video of actors doing Meyerhold's biomechanical exercises. The Listening Gallery of russianpoetry.net has over 75 recitals of poems, including Vladmir Mayakovsky reading his own And Could You? and a reading of Velimir Khlebnikov's famous Invocation of Laughter.
posted by Kattullus on Jul 19, 2008 - 8 comments

Encyclopedia of Greece, from ancient times to the modern day, focusing on science and technology

Hellenica is an encyclopedia of Greek culture, from classical Hellas, through the Byzantine Empire until the modern day, though its focus is on antiquity and especially the science and technology of Ancient Greece. Featuring technical diagrams and explications, there's no better site if you seek information on gigantic galleys, now obscure great Greek mathematicians, the last still working Ancient lighthouse and gears and how they were used by Archimedes and other ancients. This is not to denigrate other sections of the site, such as the page on the Olympics (including a Google Map of the site of the games), biographies of ancient, Byzantine and modern Greeks, the warring and healing of the Byzantines or the overview of Greek literature, taking in antiquity, the medieval era and modern times. That said, Hellenica is at its finest when treating science and technology.
posted by Kattullus on Jul 18, 2008 - 8 comments

Art and poetry from the post-Enligthenment and pre-Modernist era

ArtMagick is a collection of art and poetry that roughly dates from after the Enlightenment but before Modernism. While the poetry section is extensive the main draw is the sites extensive art collection, which can be browsed by artist, art movement, title, theme or albums created by the site's users. So, forget the summer heat with some chilly pictures of winter, check out famous objects of devotion or search the archive.
posted by Kattullus on Jul 14, 2008 - 5 comments

Condensed: 'Care, constraint, concise, cut, character, clarity, and charity.'

How to Write With Style.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Jul 13, 2008 - 36 comments

A Web of Geeks, Every One of Which Knows a Lot about Something

Vegging Out vs. Geeking Out. Romance as the MSG of film. The bifurcated careers of Lucy lawless, Sigourney Weaver, and Hugo Weaving. Characters making smart decisions vs. stupid decisions. Neal Stephenson discusses Sci-Fi/Speculative Fiction as a literary genre at Gresham College. (Warning: requires Flash 9)
posted by Navelgazer on Jul 13, 2008 - 29 comments

Ancient, Medieval and Classic Works

In Parentheses is a collection of many ancient, medieval and classic texts from all over the world, many of whom are hard to find anywhere, let alone on the internet. There are translations from Greek, Old Norse, Medieval Irish, Japanese, Incan, Old French, Medieval Latin and many more! As well as all that they have papers in medieval studies and vaguely decadent and orientalism series. Adding to that there's a linguistics section with wordlists and language flash cards in languages such as Icelandic, Quechua, Basque, Classical Armenian and a whole bunch more. [flashcard links go to pdf files]
posted by Kattullus on Jul 10, 2008 - 18 comments

Dystopian Evolution: Imagining an Envirogeddon

Dystopian storytelling is pillar of Western narrative tradition, but this decade has seen a significant shift in the way our apocalypse is told. Orthodox tales of government tyranny are giving way to visions of humans running helpless in the wake of environmental meltdown. From the plausible to the fantastic, most of this fiction remains hauntingly real while the non-fiction can get downright scary. In 2008, the 20th anniversary of climatologist James Hansen's landmark speech before Congress, popular art is beginning to reflect an increasingly bleak public sentiment on the future, playing out some of our worst nightmares. It may be that these writers and directors are wishing for the end of the world, but even so, they are certainly giving voice to the creeping feeling that indeed, we might not make it.
posted by dead_ on Jul 7, 2008 - 21 comments

The Book of Accidents

The Book of Accidents: Designed for Young Children (1831). "In presenting to his little readers The Book of Accidents, the Author conceives he cannot render a more important service to the rising generation and to parents, than by furnishing them with an account of the accidents to which Children, from their inexperience or carelessness, are liable. If generally studied it will save the lives of thousands, and relieve many families from the long and unavailing misery attendant on such occurrences." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jul 3, 2008 - 34 comments

Turkish Literary Delights

A Mid-summer Night's Story - one of hundreds of novels, poems, and tales in English translation at Suat Karantay's Contemporary Turkish Literature pages. Also: Turkish Poetry in Translation (the side-by-side translations of Dağlarca are particularly well-done), and selected stories of childhood & youth from Turkish authors in the mid 20th century.
posted by Wolfdog on Jun 25, 2008 - 4 comments

Autobiography of Read

Happy Birthday, Anne Carson! The iconoclastic modern poet who published the arresting, compulsively readable Autobiography of Red turned 57 this weekend. [more inside]
posted by zoomorphic on Jun 23, 2008 - 9 comments

Colorful Allusions

Colorful Allusions
Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour. In these rebus-style puzzles, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes.
posted by carsonb on Jun 11, 2008 - 8 comments

Fritzl, all too nonfictional

The horrifying crimes of Joseph Fritzl shocked Austria and the world. Recently two essays explored Austrian literature in an attempt to understand what cultural conditions could foster such monstrosity. Nicholas Spice, in Up from the Cellar, explores the work of Nobel Prize laureate Elfriede Jelinek and her dissection of male violence. Ritchie Robertson searches for antecedents in Josef Fritzl's fictive forebears. [via The New Yorker's Book Bench]
posted by Kattullus on Jun 8, 2008 - 63 comments

"social problems of a somewhat mixed-up but dynamic, even brash, modernizing community"

From the Bookstalls of a Nigerian Market. Onitsha Market Literature consists of stories, plays, advice and moral discourses published primarily in the 1960s by local presses in the lively market town of Onitsha [in then-newly-independent Nigeria]... In the fresh and vigorous genre of Onitsha Market Literature, the commoner wrote pulp fiction and didactic handbooks for those who perused the bookstalls of Onitsha Market, one of Africa’s largest trading centers. Examples: How To Write And Reply Letters For Marriage, Engagement Letters, Love Letters And How To Know A Girl To Marry, Learn To Speak 360 Interesting Proverbs And Know Your True Brother, Struggle For Money [All full-text links are in pdf format, and some are quite large]. With links to additional resources.
posted by amyms on Jun 4, 2008 - 25 comments

British Literature Blogs

British Literature Blogs is the brainchild of six British literary bloggers. Each working hard at bringing readers to forgotten or overlooked books, our BritLitBloggers decided that combining their latest blog entries together in one place would highlight the breadth and depth of British literary blogging.
posted by Fizz on Jun 2, 2008 - 2 comments

Literary Interviews from The Atlantic Monthly

The Atlantic Monthly has helpfully indexed literary interviews from its archives. These include, among others, Alice Munro, Chinua Achebe, Dennis Lehane, Zadie Smith, Charles Simic, Salman Rushdie, Susan Sontag and John Irving.
posted by Kattullus on May 31, 2008 - 5 comments

Reading Proust or Proust Reading You?

Waggish Reads Proust Reading In Search of Lost Time, or Remembrance of Things Past, is quite the daunting task. Whether you've read Proust, or are considering reading Proust for the first time, a helpful summary & guide, that examines significant passages for your own discussion.
posted by Fizz on May 27, 2008 - 46 comments

From Zadie Smith to The Kindle

Observer literary editor Robert McCrum, retiring after ten years in the job, writes about the revolution in the book world he's seen over the last decade.
posted by fearfulsymmetry on May 25, 2008 - 16 comments

Shakespeare's Sonnets

William Shakespeare wrote some of the world's finest sonnets. The website shakespeares-sonnets.com is a fine place to start delving into the poems. Here you can see scans of the first edition of The Sonnets as printed by Thomas Thorpe in 1609. If you wish there were more sonnets by Shakespeare, your jones might be eased by the Shakespeare Sonnet Shake-Up, which lets you remix them according to taste. And finally there's Shakespeare in Tune, a site where Jonathan Willby recites each of the 154 sonnets following a short improvisation on a German flute.
posted by Kattullus on May 24, 2008 - 8 comments

"The fact that I was a girl never damaged my ambitions to be a pope or an emperor..."

The Willa Cather Archive is an incredible resource provided by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, including biographies, letters, photos, and even full (often annotated) text of much of her writing, including scholarly editions of two of her greatest (and most famous) works, My Antonia and O Pioneers. About the archive.
posted by dersins on May 22, 2008 - 8 comments

Chinese Poems

Chinese Poems is a simple, no frills site with over 200 classical Chinese poems, mostly from the Tang period. The poems are presented in traditional and simplified chinese characters, pinyin and English translation, both literal and literary. Here's Du Mu's Drinking Alone:
Outside the window, wind and snow blow straight,
I clutch the stove and open a flask of wine.
Just like a fishing boat in the rain,
Sail down, asleep on the autumn river.

Among other poets featured are Li Bai (a.k.a. Li Po), Du Fu and Wang Wei. As a bonus, here's the entire text of Ezra Pound's Cathay, most of whom are from Li Bai originals.
posted by Kattullus on May 19, 2008 - 15 comments

The blah story.

Blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah.
posted by LSK on May 16, 2008 - 60 comments

Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Calligraphy

Selections of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Calligraphy from the collection of The Library of Congress. 373 individual pieces from ranging in time from the 9th to the 19th Century, all explained and some translated. A few personal favorites (note that very high quality scans can be viewed by clicking the appropriate link after clicking thumbnail): marriage decree, verses on tragic love, practice sheet, verses 10-11 of the 48th chapter of the Qur'an, poetic verses offering advice, frontispiece of Qur'anic exegesis and quatrain by Rumi. There are also four special presentations: Calligraphers of the Persian Tradition, Ottoman Calligraphers and Their Works, Qur’anic Fragments and Noteworthy Items. This last presentation also features representational art, for instance images of The battle of Mazandaran and the Persian king Bahram Gur hunting.
posted by Kattullus on May 12, 2008 - 11 comments

Shakespeare and philosophy

Martha Nussbaum reviews three recent books on Shakespeare and philosophy. The essay offers an excellent analysis of love in Antony and Cleopatra and Othello, and an excellent discussion of the interaction between philosophy and literature. [more inside]
posted by painquale on May 5, 2008 - 17 comments

Tales of the City

In 1974 - or 1976, depending who you ask - Armistead Maupin began writing "an extended love letter to a magical San Francisco” in the form of a serialized, fictional drama published originally in the Pacific Sun, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner, originally called "The Serial" which then became collectively known as Tales of The City. It is a suprisingly beautiful, deep, emotional, cosmopolitan and lasting tale about life in San Francisco in the turbulent, heady days of the 1970s and 1980s. Widely credited with and cherished for helping spread a little of the openess, tolerance and acceptance that San Francisco is now famous for. It then became a series of books - Tales of the City, More Tales of the City, Further Tales of the City, Babycakes, Significant Others, Sure of You - and lastly, the spin-off tale of Michael Tolliver Lives. Almost exactly twenty years after first publishing, it then became an excellent miniseries from the United Kingdom's Channel 4, which aired in the United States on PBS, but not without protest or limitations. [more inside]
posted by loquacious on May 4, 2008 - 39 comments

Kumeyaay Information Village

Kumeyaay.info welcomes visitors and indigenous peoples of all tribal nations and provides a casual village environment to share and network their culturally relevant creative work, information and opinions. (previously)
posted by netbros on May 2, 2008 - 2 comments

Men of Honour

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away--there lived men who dressed in suits of glittering steel... their purpose: to roam the lands in search of good deeds to be done in order to earn their salvation. The journey, although perilous, would be one of virtue and piety. Having to face down monstrous creatures and beastly men, they would sometimes take the help of other beasts in carrying out their conquests. (Of course, there were still others who may have been a bit misguided, but the myth endures, if not accurately portrayed.)
posted by hadjiboy on May 2, 2008 - 34 comments

The Modernist Journals Project

The Modernist Journals Project collects literary arts journals from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including both issues of Wyndham Lewis' Vorticist manifesto Blast, the first ten years of Poetry magazine (with Amy Lowell, T.S. Eliot, G.K. Chesterton and foreign correspondent Ezra Pound), topical essays, the Virginia Woolf-inspired December 1910 Project, the amazing proto-dada zine Le Petit Journal des Réfusées and a searchable biographical database of famous and not so famous artists and writers.
posted by mediareport on Apr 28, 2008 - 10 comments

Dianetics is one of them, ho ho.

50 best cult books from The Telegraph.
posted by Artw on Apr 26, 2008 - 85 comments

Horton Sees A Hooter

My Beautiful Mommy is a children's book for children whose mothers suddenly come home from the doctor with giant hooters, or significant amounts of fat suddenly missing. A bold new market in childrens publishing awaits.
posted by jonson on Apr 18, 2008 - 66 comments

Literature Isn't Dead, It Just Smells Funny

Those big, wonderful book blogs like Paper Cuts, Guardian Books, and Poetry Foundation haven't totally satisfied your book blog bloodlust? [more inside]
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches on Apr 16, 2008 - 14 comments

Shepard Fairey Meets George Orwell

Shepard Fairey's cover art for Penguin releases of 1984 & Animal Farm.
posted by jonson on Apr 13, 2008 - 29 comments

Ezra Pound, foreign correspondent to the Richmond News Leader

In 1958, Ezra Pound, after being released from a mental hospital, became a foreign correspondent for the Richmond News Leader. All but one of his dispatches were deemed unprintable by the editor and the one that was printed ran as a letter to the editor. The Virginia Quarterly Review has put scans of the dispatches up on their site. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus on Apr 11, 2008 - 44 comments

Jules Verne Illustrations

The Smithsonian's Jules Verne Centennial site has a collection of a large number of high quality scans of original, engraved illustrations from Verne's works. From the fantastic (interior of space vehicle, flying ship, spacewalking) and mundane (two dogs, a nice meal, elephant trying to break free from a hot-air balloon). And don't forget to check out the portrait of Jules Verne and his many technological prophecies. For information about the publishing history of Jules Verne read this scholarly article by Terry Harpold about illustrations of Jules Verne stories, focusing on Le Superbe Orénoque. It also includes a wealth of illustrations. Finally, as a bonus, here's a picture of the National Air and Space Museum's scale model of the spacecraft Verne came up with for his De la Terre à la Lune.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 10, 2008 - 14 comments

Wot No Dostoevsky?!

110 Best Books. 'The perfect library' - According to the Torygraph... at least there's a 'Sci-fi' section among the usual suspects (And one or two bizarre choices - Pelzer! What the heck!)
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Apr 8, 2008 - 78 comments

Getting It All Wrong: Bioculture critiques Cultural Critique

Bioculture critiques Cultural Critique Until literature departments take into account that humans are not just cultural or textual phenomena but something more complex, English and related disciplines will continue to be the laughingstock of the academic world that they have been for years because of their obscurantist dogmatism and their coddled and preening pseudo-radicalism. Until they listen to searching criticism of their doctrine, rather than dismissing it as the language of the devil, literature will continue to be betrayed in academe, and academic literary departments will continue to lose students and to isolate themselves from the intellectual advances of our time.
posted by jason's_planet on Apr 7, 2008 - 107 comments

Readers' Travels

I know a man who once went to Sioux City, not one of the world’s leading destinations, precisely because he had never been there before. More than a decade later he still talks about the experience, from the Sergeant Floyd obelisk to the dog track of North Sioux and the meat packing plant converted to a shopping mall. The same impulse explains a non-specialist’s reading a history of Byzantine iconography or a survey of Australian wildlife. Both offer a break in daily life and an enlargement of our sense of wonder and possibility. That awareness can provide a sense of transcendence, and connection, or even the spark of divine discontent that leads people to change their lives.
Reading as Vacation, an essay by J. D. Smith and Subway Reader, pictures of people who read while using public transportation.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 6, 2008 - 17 comments

Database of free speculative fiction online

Free Speculative Fiction Online is a database of free science fiction and fantasy stories online by published authors (no fan-fiction or stories by unpublished writers). Among the authors that FSFO links to are Paul Di Filippo (14 stories), James Tiptree, Jr. (4 stories), Connie Willis (3 stories), Eleanor Arnason (3 stories), Bruce Sterling (5 stories), Robert Heinlein (7 stories), Ursula K. LeGuin (3 stories), Jonathan Lethem (5 stories), Michael Moorcock (6 stories), Chine Miéville (2 stories), Samuel R. Delany (3 stories), Robert Sheckley (8 stories), MeFite Charles Stross (33 stories) and hundreds of other authors. If you don't know where to start, there's a list of recommended stories.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 5, 2008 - 34 comments

Users of Covers and Cozies, Ready-Made Souls in Platic Bags, Negligible Generalities

Vladimir Nabokov discusses Lolita with Lionel Trilling. [more inside]
posted by mattbucher on Apr 3, 2008 - 23 comments

Classic Tales and Fables

Over 2000 classic tales and fables including Aesop's Fables, Bulfinch's Mythology, Indian "Why" Stories, tales by Oscar Wilde, Beatrix Potter, Rudyard Kipling, Louisa May Alcott, L. Frank Baum and Harriet Beecher Stowe and stories about Abraham Lincoln, Robin Hood and Baron Munchausen. And more! The folk and fairytale collection is particularly rich, with hundreds of stories from all over the world.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 1, 2008 - 15 comments

The Wakefield twins are back... and thinner?

If you're a girl and you grew up in the 80's, chances are you read Sweet Valley High books. Guess what? They're being re-released. Don't worry, they're being updated to reflect the times- Jessica and Liz will be a size 4 now, and Liz's gossip column will be a gossip blog instead. Those wishing to relive the glory days can read reviews of the old series at The Dairi Burger, a blog devoted to all things Sweet Valley. [more inside]
posted by ThePinkSuperhero on Mar 27, 2008 - 63 comments

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