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From the Vault

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Madame Guillotine

During the Reign of Terror, large-scale public executions were conducted, including King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, executed in 1793. Thousands were sentenced to the guillotine by the Revolutionary Tribunal, often on little or no grounds - mere suspicion of "crimes against liberty" was reason enough. Death estimates range from 16,000 to 40,000 during this time. The executions were popular entertainment and attracted huge numbers of spectators. A group of female citizens, the tricoteuses ("knitters"), became regulars, functioning as macabre cheerleaders as they watched while knitting. The man most associated with the Terror was Maximilien Robespierre, and as the appetite for executions waned, he was arrested and executed in the manner of those he condemned - by Madame Guillotine.
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University of Oxford – Podcast on book historical topics

The Centre for the Study of the Book at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, is now offering podcasts on book historical topics. The series is hosted by Adam Smyth. His interviews with Oxford and visiting researchers like Willi Noel and Tiffany Stern highlight the current research on the material history of the book. The first podcasts include:
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Manuscript Collecting - An Endangered Species

I am the owner of Barry R. Levin Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, a firm of rare book dealers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and I was discussing with her the acquisition of a manuscript written by one of her authors. When I say manuscript, I mean the physical artifact — the words on the paper. Manuscripts are the most important literary collectible and over the years my firm has handled many of the major ones, a number of them for award-winning novels. We always try to purchase all notes and drafts, so that the creative process can be traced from the original idea to the final setting-copy. To that end I asked Perkins to make sure that her client included in the final manuscript package the final draft, the setting-copy (this is the manuscript copy sent to publisher from which the publisher's printer sets the type). She told me that the author had submitted his copy on a disk - that no setting-copy was sent to the publisher at all. From the standpoint of collectors, archivists and literary scholars, this has to be the last straw.
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Article

Collecting - Picaresque Authors from Cervantes to Bellow

"Picaresque" derives from the Spanish word "picaresca," which comes from "picaro" ("rogue" or "rascal"). Usually satirical, a picaresque novel follows the exploits of a hero, usually low born, who must survive by his wits as he travels about on various (usually unlooked-for) adventures. The roots of the genre can be traced all the way back to Rome, with works like Petronius' Satyricon and Apuleius' The Golden Ass. Although influential writers like Chaucer and Boccaccio certainly included elements of the picaresque in their writing, the first modern picaresque novel is Lazarillo de Tormes. It was published anonymously in Spain and Antwerp in 1554. Cervantes undoubtedly popularized the genre, which blossomed in the next two centuries all over Europe. Sterling examples Voltaire's hilarious Candide and Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. Here's a look at other great authors who have contributed to the genre of the picaresque.
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The International Book Fair - Amsterdam, October 5 - 9, 1965

"Dear Colleagues, We have the honour to give you herewith full details about the First International Antiquarian Bookfair. We cordially invite all members of national associations affiliated with the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers to take part in this manifestation." With these words Nico Israel and Bob de Graaf, Chairman and Secretary of the Dutch Antiquarian Booksellers' Association (NVvA) announced the first ILAB International Antiquarian Book Fair. At the Ravenna Congress 1964 the Dutch proposal to organize a fair under the auspices of the League was unanimously carried. A year later, from October 5 to 9, 1965, ILAB dealers met at the Arti et Amicitiae in the centre of Amsterdam for their first joint fair in the history of the League. W. R. Fletcher was among the exhibitors.
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