Flavors of India Friday, Sep 26 2014 

Flavors of India

Flavors of India

 

The latest installment of staff picks celebrates some classics of modern Indian fiction. It features some well-known authors such as Salman Rushdie and Amitav Ghosh alongside some lesser-known titles such as Freedom Song by Amit Chaudhuri and English, August by Upamanyu Chatterjee. The selection brings to life some of India’s many landscapes and cultures and its rich social and political history, often through intimate portraits of family and community life.

You can explore the imaginary town of Malgudi and become acquainted with its colorful residents, including a venerable tiger named Raja, in three enchanting works by R. K. Narayan. You can travel to 1970s Bombay and follow the challenges faced by Gustad Noble, a devoted family man whose life begins to unravel as he becomes embroiled in the corruption of the Indira Gandhi years in Such a Long Journey. You can also be transported to the foothills of the Himalayas, and follow the lives of a retired judge and his granddaughter who become targets of Nepalese insurgents fighting for independence, in The Inheritance of Loss.

Alternatively, if you prefer something more surreal, learn of the misadventures of Alu, a young master weaver from a small Bengali village who is falsely accused of terrorism in The Circle of Reason.  Or travel from India to Spain with Moraes Zogoiby, the last surviving scion of a dynasty of Cochinese spice merchants and crime lords in Salman Rushdie’s family saga, The Moor’s Last Sigh.

There are many more titles besides. Each reveals something of the essence of India, past and present, and also something of the human experience. So whatever your tastes, dip in, try some Indian fiction today.

English, August: An Indian Story – Upamanyu Chatterjee

Freedom Song – Amit Chaudhuri

The House of Blue Mangoes – David Davidar

The Artist of Disappearance: Three Novellas – Anita Desai

The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai

The Circle of Reason – Amitav Ghosh

The Hungry Tide – Amitav Ghosh

A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

Such a Long Journey – Rohinton Mistry

Malgudi Days – R. K. Narayan

The Printer of Malgudi – R. K. Narayan

A Tiger for Malgudi – R. K. Narayan

Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

The Moor’s Last Sigh – Salman Rushdie

Namaste to our Guest Blogger, Kirsty Dain, Circulation Assistant Extraordinaire.

 

The Arctic 1818 – 1909 Monday, Jun 2 2014 

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The Providence Athenaeum is planning to explore the Victorian fascination with the Arctic. Starting with the above display from our circulating collection.

Tomorrow night, June 3rd, Rhode Island College Professor Russell Potter will present “‘Travel by Pictorial Means': Victorian Virtualities of the Arctic Regions.” Potter, author of Arctic Spectacles: The Frozen North in Visual Culture 1818-1875, will illustrate some of the ways in which Victorian audiences encountered the perils of the Arctic, seeming to accompany polar explorers via a variety of visual and mechanical contrivances, among them the Panorama, the Diorama, the Moving Panorama, and the Magic Lantern. Original engravings, handbills, and advertisements of these shows will be accompanied by images from books and lantern slides of the period, including some from the Athenaeum’s collections. The talk will conclude with a visit to one of the last, and most ambitious of polar spectacles, Carl Hagenbeck’s Eismeer- Panorama of 1896, which featured live polar bears and seals, with predator and prey separated by deep ditches hidden from the spectators.

ArcticSpectacles

Our next foray will be on June 9th when The Wonder Show presents The Arctic Theatre Royal, a magic lantern show featuring images and text sourced from the Athenaeum’s Special Collections. During the 19th century, Arctic exploration captivated the public imagination. Images of unfamiliar icescapes pictured in panoramas and magic lantern shows dominated visual culture. The Arctic –and specifically finding a northwest passage through it– was a main subject of national interest in England at the time. One of the most successful voyages of this kind was head by Captain William Parry in 1819. This would be the first British naval expedition of the 19th century to winter in arctic conditions, and its activities and precautions became a model for future expeditions. Parry instituted musical and theatrical entertainments, school classes, meteorological and magnetic observations, and even a weekly newspaper, The North Georgia Gazette and Winter Chronicle. Plays were performed every fortnight with written reviews following each act.  The Wonder Show’s performance, The Arctic Theatre Royal, takes its name from Parry’s shipboard theater. In this newly written production, The Wonder Show will share original poetry and text from Parry’s voyage, utilizing a form of entertainment used to share early glimpses of the Arctic, a magic lantern show.  The content comes directly from the shipboard documents of 1819, including Parry’s journal and the North Georgia Gazette, which are both housed within the Athenaeum’s Travel and Exploration Collection.

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Collections Librarian, Kate Wodehouse will be mounting an exhibit in the Philbrick Rare Book Room titled: A Peep at the Arctic: Visions of Polar Exploration, 1818-1909  available for viewing from June 15th to August 31st, but more on that later. For details on the events mentioned above check our June Programs page.

Staff Picks: Scandinavian Literature Wednesday, May 28 2014 

Great though they are, there is more to Scandinavian literature than murder mysteries!  This month’s staff picks celebrates some of Scandinavia’s best writing across a range of other genres.

The selection includes a variety of different kinds of fiction, from the great emotional depth and simple, economical prose of Per Petterson and Tarjei Vesaas to Arto Paasilinna’s tragi-comic stories of a journalist who sets off to explore Finland’s wildernesses with a hare as his sole companion and of a miller with a tendency to howl like a wolf at night and the trouble it causes.  There are also some classic examples of children’s literature that are much loved by adults as well from two of Scandinavia’s best-known writers, Astrid Lindgren (of Pippi Longstocking fame) and Tove Jansson (creator of the Moomins).  There is travel and adventure in Thor Heyerdahl’s extraordinary – and true – story of his attempt to cross the Pacific Ocean by raft and Franz Bengtsson’s fictional account of the expeditions and conquests of Red Orm, a Viking oarsman.  And there is autobiography in the first volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s extraordinary My Struggle, exploring in great detail and with astonishing honesty his life, feelings and relationships, focusing in this volume on his attempt at coming to terms with the death of his father.

     There is something from almost every section of the Athenaeum represented in the display so, whatever your tastes, there should be something here to interest you.  And if not, there’s always another murder mystery instead…

  • The Long Ships – Frans G. Bengtsson
  • To Siberia – Per Petterson
  • The Dreamers – Knut Hamsun
  • The Ice Palace – Tarjei Vesaas
  • Kon Tiki – Thor Heyerdahl
  • The Summer Book – Tove Jansson
  • Finn Family Moomintroll – Tove Jansson
  • My Struggle – Karl Ove Knausgaard
  • Independent People – Halldor Laxness
  • Ronia The Robber’s Daughter – Astrid Lindgren
  • The Tomten – Astrid Lindgren
  • The Howling Miller – Arto Paasilinna
  • The Year of the Hare – Arto Passilinna
  • Out Stealing Horses – Per Petterson

Thanks to our guest blogger, Kirsty Dain, Circulation Assistant. She and her family are spending the summer in Norway. Reading Scandinavian literature?

Writing for Wadewitz: An Adrianne Wadewitz Memorial Edit-a-Thon Wednesday, May 14 2014 

Photo credit: HuffingtonPost

Photo credit: HuffingtonPost

This is part of a global event to memorialize eighteenth-century scholar and Wikipedian Dr. Adrianne Wadewitz, who died suddenly in April. This loss has deeply affected Wikipedia and the academic world. Her work is recognized internationally as helping to encourage more women to contribute to Wikipedia to tackle the gender gap and systemic bias in its content. Wadewitz was one of the first academics to bring Wikipedia into the classroom as part of the Wikipedia Education Program, working with her students to improve Wikipedia instead of writing traditional term papers. At the time of her death, she was Mellon Digital Scholarship Fellow at Occidental College. She had over 50,000 edits and wrote numerous featured and good articles, including Mary Wollstonecraft. You can read more about Wadewitz and her contributions via The Wikipedia Signpost, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and the Omaha World-Herald.

What to bring: Your laptop and a power adapter.
Cost: Free
You do not need to be an experienced Wikipedia editor
in order to attend, just bring a willingness to learn.
Hashtags:
#wadewitz and #wikiwomen
RSVP:
Either sign up on the Wikipedia Event pages using your username. If you are unfamiliar with Wikipedia, try this training module. There will also be alternative RSVP information on the event pages.

A group at Brown and Northeastern University will hold Write-Ins on Wednesday, May 21st and Thursday, May 22nd. Another Boston group is planning an event for June. Information for each, including links to RSVP are below.

Writing for Wadewitz: three New England edit-a-thons in memory of Wikipedian and Digital Humanities scholar Dr. Adrianne Wadewitz.
More information about Dr. Adrianne Wadewitz is on the main listing for these memorial edit-a-thons.
Thanks to Emily Kugler for the content of this post. It is Ravenous’s pleasure to spread the word.

Edward Gorey Wednesday, May 7 2014 

There is an independent film maker, Christopher Seufert, who is raising money to bring a documentary of Edward Gorey to the Sundance Film Festival and later to PBS. Here is his  Kickstarter campaign and here is the official trailer:

YouTube has an extensive list of Gorey videos including versions of the PBS Mystery! introduction.

A search of the Providence Athenaeum’s collection produced a cross section of titles; from the children’s room to poetry, to adult art and biography:

For a complete bibliography of Edward Gorey’s works (as of 2006) check out Goreyography. Titles can be viewed, with cover art, alphabetically or chronologically.  For fans of Pinterest there are some eclectic boards. And if you live in the Northeast, there is the Edward Gorey House in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts.

Pencil sketch by Bruce Gerlach

Pencil sketch by Bruce Gerlach

Who doesn’t love the artist Edward Gorey?

 

 

Wikipedia Wednesday, Apr 16 2014 

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Did you know that there has been a campaign to get all of the over four million Wikipedia pages printed into books? It’s called the Wikipedia Books Project and the promoters hoped to publish the 1000 books, display them at the Wikimania Conference in London in August 2014, and then send the volumes, as a traveling exhibit, around the world.  The fundraiser, hosted by Indiegogo, has failed to reach it’s goal of $50,000. Maybe it failed because a fundamental question remained unanswered: Why? Why convert a constantly changing, essential, organic, internet entity into a static, heavy, dust collecting object? Here is their answer:

 

Another Wikipedia item of interest reported recently by Mashable is the Tumblr known as “TL;DR Wikipedia.” Silly, irreverent, and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… an example:

 

 

A final bit on Wikipedia is this amusing piece by Judith Newman from the New York Times:  What does Judith Newman have to do to get a page?

Flappers Wednesday, Apr 2 2014 

Image credit: NYPL Digital Collections

Image credit: NYPL Digital Collections

This is one of a collection of cigarette cards held by the New York Public Library, and written about in the blog The Passion of Former Days. Flappers as butterflies, ephemeral and beautiful. But the darker side is explored in the new book, Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation. Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, and Zelda Fitzgerald, are Americans; Diana Cooper and Nancy Cunard, are British; and Tamara de Lempicka, is an escapee from the Russian Revolution. Their young lives led among the avant garde in Paris and New York, unconsciously furthered women’s rights.  

 

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Of course a lot of what went on looks like a silly good time:

 

Beowulf, Again Friday, Mar 28 2014 

The Guardian reported recently that J. R. R. Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf  will be published this May by HarperCollins and that it will include Tolkien’s Oxford lectures on the poem from the 1930’s.

Prompted to search our catalog for copies of the “epic poem”  I found that we have some interesting editions. Our oldest is A. Diedrich Wackerbarth’s 1849 edition:

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Although criticized for abandoning the original meter in favor of a more readable Middle English ballad meter, it makes sense we would have this more “popular” version.

But this poem lends itself to illustration and we have a couple of fine examples. In the children’s collection we have James Rumford’s Beowulf: A Hero’s Tale and in the YA graphic novel section we have Gareth Hind’s adaptation:

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Both are imaginative and the illustrations are wonderful.

Should the Athenaeum purchase the Tolkien edition? We shall see.

Margaret B. Stillwell Book Collecting Prize Friday, Mar 21 2014 

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The Stillwell Prize, sponsored by the John Russell Bartlett Society, has been awarded  to budding bibliophiles, earning undergraduate degrees in Rhode Island, since 1985. Students with a collection of printed material are welcome to apply and if chosen, present their collection and receive a cash award. The winning topics are far ranging, as this list of past award winners shows. The Providence Athenaeum has hosted the event in the past but this year the judging will be held at the John Carter Brown Library on April 14th.

Zarafa: Spectacle of the Giraffe, 1826 – 1839 Friday, Mar 14 2014 

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     As a complement to the Salon series, “What Use is the Giraffe?” the exhibition Zarafa: Spectacle of the Giraffe, 1826-1839 documents the historical, political, and social/cultural influence of the Pasha of Egypt’s gift of a giraffe to King Charles X of France in 1826. The “bel animal du roi” wintered in Marseille where she was met by the natural historian Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, and escorted on foot by an entourage that included several exotic attendants and three cows, on the 560 mile journey to Paris. She created a growing spectacle as crowds gathered along the route to see the first giraffe in Europe in over 300 years, and her image appeared on decorative objects like ceramics and wall- paper, influenced hairstyles, and led to paint colors with such names as “belly of giraffe.”

     The exhibition culminates in the arrival of the first giraffe or “camelopard” onto American soil, which was on display in downtown Providence in 1839.

This exhibit will be on display in the Philbrick Rare Book Room from February 7th to May 31, 2014.

Thanks to guest blogger, Kate Wodehouse, Collections Librarian

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