“Symptoms included a frenzy for culling and hunting down first editions, rare copies, books of certain sizes or printed on specific paper.” Lauren Young writes in Atlas Obscura about the phenomenon of bibliomania, “a dark pseudo-psychological illness” that afflicted upper-class victims in Europe and England during the 1800s. And for a first-hand account of more contemporary book theft, read John Brandon on his high school pastime: “The first time was nerve-racking, a rush, but by the third book I was already settling in.”
In his review of Lee Friedlander’s collection, Playing for the Benefit of the Band: New Orleans Music Culture, Nathaniel Rich remarks on the “unsettling beauty” of the artist’s photographs.
Last October marked the release of a new volume in The Cambridge Edition of the Letters of Ernest Hemingway. Spanning three years in the writer’s early twenties, the letters in the volume track events including his first bullfight, the birth of his son Jack and the publication of his first collection of stories and poems. In The New York Review of Books, Edward Mendelson reads through the new volume. This might also be a good time to read our own Michael Bourne on A Farewell to Arms.
Back in 1988, Tad Williams published the first book of the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, which inspired George R.R. Martin to start writing A Song of Ice and Fire. Now, more than twenty years after publishing the last installment (and just as the new season of Game of Thrones begins), Williams announced that he’s writing a sequel, The Last King of Osten Ard. You could also read our own Janet Potter’s review of the first Game of Thrones book.
The translators behind books such as Don Quixote, My Struggle, and Swann’s Way talk about their translation process. Lydia Davis explains, “When I was translating novels, I would not read the text first, and that was very important to me because it let me retain the excitement of the unknown.”