Now that the Library of Congress is shut down, it’s as good a time as any to remember why we have it in the first place. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova looks through a collection of vintage catalog cards, two of which include early entries for A Room of One’s Own and Ulysses.
“[Christa] Wolf was a committed dissident in the GDR (East Germany) and a forceful voice resisting Western triumphalism after reunification. It would seem like some sort of explanation was owed to the public. Yet how does one give an account of oneself when the link to the past, to the psychological and cultural backdrop of such fateful decisions, is not even subjectively available?” On City of Angels: Or, the Overcoat of Dr. Freud.
“All war literature, across the centuries, bears witness to certain eternal truths: the death and chaos encountered, minute by minute; the bonds of love and loyalty among soldiers; the bad dreams and worse anxieties that afflict many of those lucky enough to return home.” In an omnibus review for The New York Times Michiko Kakutani looks at the fiction and journalism being written about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including recent Year in Reading alum and National Book Award winner Phil Klay‘s Redeployment and Dexter Filkins’s The Forever War, “the one book that most fluently and kaleidoscopically captures both the micro and the macro of Iraq.” She also wonders, and attempts to explain, “why has there been no big, symphonic Iraq or Afghanistan novel?”
When University of Iowa Special Collections librarian Colleen Theisen found hidden fore-edge paintings on a 19th century scientific book Autumn, she made a gif of it, of course. Then, she realized there were more secret paintings for each season and more gifs followed. Who said old books weren’t interactive?
“Our great poet forever has one foot on Mount Parnassus and the other in the rue Quincampoix,” the Wall Street of eighteenth-century Paris. On how Voltaire outsmarted one of the earliest lotteries and made a fortune. Also check out how Goethe became an amateur auction theorist.