It is not often that one discovers the work of an overlooked or forgotten genius, or a previously-unknown work of an established master. This is, of course, the hope which moves us to carefully examine all sorts of periodical publications and ephemera. So when Tom Congalton asked me to catalog two large folio volumes of the Philadelphia-based Saturday Evening Post, from 1827 and 1828, I was pleased to find the puzzle poem "Enigma" attributed to Edgar Allan Poe, and "Psalm 139th" by his brother Henry Poe. Perhaps the most interesting contributions to these volumes are not the Poeiana, but rather a whole series of botanical sketches and other contributions by an eccentric genius with the evocative name Rafinesque.
That's got that schmaltz out of the way … It's 2012! If you're of an excitable bent, then it's the year the world ends according to the Mayan Calendar (or more likely when the Mayan Calendar ends according to the world). If you're literary then it's 200 years of Charles Dickens; the man who brought you Bah! Humbug!, spontaneous human combustion, a series of character archetypes that for good or ill (or as is more usual, both) have endured (and been endured) for a good century and a half, and a new, disturbing and moving understanding of what it might have been like to be poor and deprived at the height of the British Empire's prosperity. Oh, and jolly fat people with odd names, can't forget them.
Most elegant! The Paris International Antiquarian Book Fair at the Grand Palais, in this year's edition the 25th ILAB International Antiquarian Book Fair, offers its ever increasing number of visitors a panorama of the highlights of our written heritage together with a vast selection of engravings and drawings, presented by nearly 200 leading professionals from around the world. Manuscripts and autographs, incunabula, rare and fine books, exceptional bindings, early maps and photographs, old and contemporary prints and drawings provide a fascinating potpourri for collectors and newcomers.
"Two of the oldest libraries in Europe will join forces in an innovative approach to digitization driven by the actual needs of scholars and scholarship" (Monsignor Cesare Pasini, Prefect of the Vatican Library). The Vatican Library takes a big step into the digital age. A huge project in collaboration with Oxford's Bodleian Library will make some 1.5 million digitised pages online including Greek manuscripts, incunabula, Hebrew and early printed books from the famous collections of both libraries. The project is funded by a $ 3.2 million grant from the Polonsky Foundation.
Thomas W. Lyster had been director of the National Library of Ireland since 1895. He was famous for his researches about Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and translated H. Düntzer's biography about the German poet into English. Lyster edited the anthology ‚English Poems for Young Students' – and became a key figure in the most important 20th century novel: "Ulysses", by James Joyce. In his article for the German "Literaturblatt", Rainer Pörzgen describes the library and its characters, and compares fiction with reality.
"Giacomo Girolamo Casanova was a gambler, swindler, diplomat, lawyer, soldier, alchemist, violinist, traveler, pleasure seeker and serial seducer. He was also a prolific writer who documented his adventures and love affairs in a steamy memoir that is one of the literary treasures of the 18th century. Born in Venice, he considered France his adopted country but was forced to flee Paris in 1760 after seducing the wives and daughters of important subjects of King Louis XV and cheating them out of their money."
Nineteen-ninety-one marked the 100th anniversary of the death of Herman Melville. Numerous observances were held to commemorate the work of that remarkable American writer, so widely forgotten a century ago and so widely celebrated today. The centenary was another step in the evolving attitude toward the man and his work. The re-evaluation of Melville's literary career began even before his death, and has grown in ever-widening circles ever since.