Who was R. Buckminster Fuller? In Stanford University Library’s description of the R. Buckminster Fuller Collection, the description describes Fuller as a “20th century polymath,” while the Buckminster Fuller Institute describes the man as “a 20th century inventor and visionary who did not limit himself to one field but worked as a ‘comprehensive anticipatory design scientist’ to solve global problems.” He was, indeed, a person of many interests, many academic pursuits, and many talents. Fuller lived through most of the twentieth century and published novels and essays, wrote poetry, designed architectural geodesic domes and works of contemporary art, and built prototype cars of the future.
His books are highly collectible, and if you are interested in seeing and learning more, you can access the R. Buckminster Fuller Collection at Stanford’s Special Collections and University Archives.
So you’re a book collector. Perhaps you’re just starting out, or maybe you’ve amassed a sizable collection. You have researched the proper methods to protect your books from the elements—things like proper humidity control and winning the battle against bookworms. Your book collection is your pride and joy, and you’re looking forward to passing it down to your kids and grand-kids someday, or donating it to a favorite museum or institute. Excellent. Now, have you considered how you should insure your book collection? If not, you should. We've been asked recently about how to insure book collections. Here are several things to think about when it comes to protecting your investment.
Especially on this blog, Love in the Time of Cholera (1985) author Gabriel García Márquez needs little introduction. William Kennedy declared that Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) was, "the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race," and the Nobel Prize committee seemed to more or less agree, bestowing the honor on a Colombian writer for the first time ever largely in recognition of One Hundred Years of Solitude in particular. Carlos Fuentes called him, "the most popular and perhaps the best writer in Spanish since Cervantes." Here are some interesting facts about him.
What does it mean to win a Nobel Prize in Literature? Some of the past winners have explained it better than we ever could. For example, Seamus Heaney declared, "I've said it before about the Nobel Prize: it's like being struck by a more or less benign avalanche. It was unexpected, unlooked for, and extraordinary." Doris Lessing, for her part, said, "As soon as I got the Nobel Prize, my back collapsed and I was in the hospital." Mario Vargas Llosa reminds us of the notoriety that comes with the title of Nobel laureate: "The Nobel prize is a fairy tale for a week and a nightmare for a year. You can't imagine the pressure to give interviews, to go to book fairs."
Any way you look at it, winning the Nobel Prize in Literature is certainly life changing. Take a moment to test your knowledge against these six facts about the Nobel Prize in Literature:
Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, is one of the most celebrated authors in all of American literature. Born in Florida, Missouri in 1835, Twain moved to Hannibal, the town that inspired the location for some of his most famous novels, when he was four years old. He began his career working as an apprentice printer before moving on to work as a typesetter. His brother Orion had recently purchased The Hannibal Journal, and Twain frequently contributed articles and sketches to the publication. He later went on to realize a lifelong ambition of working on steamboat, a vocation which provided him with his pen name. “Mark twain” means the depth of the river measures twelve feet, which meant the water was safe for the steamboat. Twain worked on steamboats until the Civil War, at which point he enrolled in the Confederate Army for a period of less than a month. After the war, he moved to Nevada to be with his brother who was working there as a secretary to the governor. Twain worked briefly as a silver miner, and this experience inspired him to write his first successfully published piece of fiction. Though Twain is best known for his novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, his first short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” is more representative of his great achievements as a humorist.
Medieval Germany: it brought us Otto the Great, the formation of the Hanseatic League, and the first stirrings of the Protestant Reformation. It also, as best as we can discern, brought us long stitch bookbinding, a non-adhesive form of bookmaking (meaning it eschews the use of glue or other adhesives) that gained some popularity in 18th and 19th century Europe.
The events of World War II shaped the world we live in today, from economic and political alliances, to scientific advancements. Now a major field of scholarship as well as a frequent inspiration for both fiction and film, World War II has captivated our minds and imaginations. The heroism, sacrifice, and suffering of both soldiers and civilians all around the world make the war not only an important part of the history of the world, but a fascinating topic for book collectors to seek out. The following books represent just a small portion of the quality literature available today for collectors to acquire.
Born in St. Louis, Nobel Prize winner T.S. Eliot remains one of America’s most treasured literary exports. The poet who famously authored “The Waste Land” (1922), “Four Quartets” (1943), and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915) also tried to revive the verse-drama genre (most notably with 1934's The Rock) and was an astute literary critic, giving advice to young writers who hoped to carry on the poetic traditions that Eliot himself reshaped. Though his social reputation was one of stuffiness and formality (Virginia Woolf liked to refer to Eliot as wearing a “four piece suit” to dinner), he was actually an avid prankster, once setting off stink bombs in the lobby of a posh hotel—and this playful sensibility is alive in works that can often seem obscure and forbidding. This is not to say that his work, often inspired by his Anglican faith, doesn’t have an imposing moral seriousness to it. Perhaps Robert Frost said it best: “We are both poets and we both like to play. That's the similarity. The difference is this: I like to play euchre. He likes to play Eucharist.” Here are some of Eliot’s most memorable quotes.
Centuries before Ian Fleming would write James Bond into existence, another man signed letters with "007." That man, John Dee, was a mathematician, astronomer, and (some say) magician. He was also a trusted member of Queen Elizabeth I's court. Some historians say that Dee was a spy for Elizabeth, thus making him an even more fitting inspiration for Ian Fleming's hero.