What was the very first ebook? It’s hard to say with any degree of precision, but a pretty good candidate is Peter James’s Host, which was copied and stored on a floppy disk back in 1993. At The Guardian, a look back at the early life of the format. You could also read David Rothman’s tribute to the ebook pioneer Michael Hart. (h/t The Paris Review)
In The New York Times, Anne Lamott (of Bird by Bird fame) reveals the one book she’d recommend to President Obama. It might not surprise many readers of her memoir that her choice — Anti-California: Report from our First Parafascist State — is a nonfiction book by her father.
Medievalist Elaine Treharne teaches a course on Beowulf at Stanford, and one of her primary theoretical questions for her students is, “What is (the) Text? … What constitutes Beowulf?” So she got to thinking. She wondered what she and her students would do “with a social media version of the poem.” What ensued is a distillation of the great epic in 100 tweets, which you can read over here.
We don’t often stop to think about the art of literary translation, but translator Margaret Jull Costa examines the field in her Times Literary Supplement essay on The Cahiers Series. “What these fascinating Cahiers offer is an insight into what literary translators actually do, as well as fuel for the endless debate about what we mean when we talk about ‘faithful’ translation.”
HTMLGiant’s A. D. Jameson went and saw part one of The Hobbit in theatres so now none of us have to do the same. Instead, sit back and check out his “250 Points” about the film. Or, if you’d prefer a blast of Tolkien analysis from the past, check out W. H. Auden’s 1956 book review of The Return of the King.
“These elements of scandal, by now familiar in the #MeToo era, claimed an unusual casualty on Friday: The Nobel Prize in Literature, the world’s most prestigious accolade for writing.” In the wake of a sex abuse scandal, The Swedish Academy announced it will postpone this year’s award until next year when they will name two winners. In the meantime, maybe we should all mull over the problem with prestigious prizes.