“I felt strong enough to lift a mountain” declared Alexandre Dumas after a visit to Georgia in 1858.
Presidents of ILAB’s member associations certainly felt equally inspired after a week of meetings in the capital, Tbilisi.
LET ME TELL YOU A STORY. Well, it felt like a story at the time, and not without a whisper of magic. Celtic magic. Book collectors, after all, are irrepressible raconteurs. For every book in their collection, there is a backstory to spin. Here is one of mine:
The UK Guardian has picked up on one of the most significant archival discoveries of recent times; a first folio with hundreds of annotations by John Milton, possibly one of the most important literary discoveries of modern times.
The endowment of the ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography has recently been funded with a further generous donation of $25,000 from the B.H. Breslauer Foundation of New York — Submissions are currently being accepted for the 2022 prizes.
I have long admired those occasionally found sheets of decorative Victorian notepaper – a handsomely engraved view of your place of resort at the head of a folded sheet of letter-paper: enough space to write a full four-page letter – the more leisurely and elegant precursor of the picture-postcard. While they enjoyed their brief spell of fashion in the mid-nineteenth century there were a number of specialist London (as well as local) manufacturers, but the most appealing of them to my mind – a little larger, a little more artistic – employing decent artists like Thomas Abiel Prior and Edward John Roberts, and certainly better engraved – were those produced by the Harwoods of Fenchurch Street, who also produced bound selections of these views printed on heavier paper under a multitude of titles, such as "Harwood's Scenery of Great Britain", "Harwood's Views of Guernsey", "Harwood's Views of Derbyshire", etc.
The worst insult you can hurl at academics is to say they haven't even read the books they presume to comment on. A confession: Not only do I have to admit that there are reference books in here that I haven't read through; in fact, there are very few works that I have read from cover to cover - or, since many are in multiple volumes, from cover to cover to cover to cover to cover.... One work I haven't read is the Yongle Encyclopedia. I think I have pretty good reasons, though, for not reading it: viz., 1. It's very long; 2. It's in a language I don't read; and 3. It doesn't actually exist.
Washington Irving's name and fame reached Germany suddenly when in 1819–20 The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. was published in England and America. Diedrich Knickerbocker's History of New York (1809), which had appeared ten years earlier and had established Irving's reputation as a writer, held no appeal for Europe. Its native satire and its mockery of American politics were incomprehensible to those not intimately acquainted with New York life and its political scene. But when British journals began to praise this first American man of letters and reprinted authorized or pirated sections from The Sketch Book, German papers and periodicals promptly translated these extracts. Editions in book form quickly followed, and the reception was enthusiastic.
Anyone who reads much so-called academic fiction may be forgiven for thinking that some of the folks teaching our sons and daughters are, for the most part, a bunch of narcissistic, neurotic misfits (Malcom Bradbury: The History Man; Elain Showalter: Faculty Towers). Although the rise of this fictional genre began in earnest in the mid 1950s, its roots can be traced as far back as Anthony Trollope's 1857 novel of provincial Anglican preferment, Barchester Towers, and - more to the point - George Eliot's Middlemarch (1872).