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Multilingual Literature of Singapore

By Audrey Golden. Apr 8, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Literary travel

Have you read any literature from Singapore lately? This city-state is located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, and it has long been along various trade routes throughout Southeast Asia. As a result of its geographic location, as well as its status as a British colony through much of the nineteenth century and into the first half of the twentieth century, Singapore has attracted immigrants from across the region. Indeed, there are four national languages in Singapore, including English, Malay, Mandarin (Chinese), and Tamil. Given the wide range of national languages in the region, the literary history of Singapore is also a multilingual one. We thought we’d suggest some texts you might read to familiarize yourself with this multilingual region of the world.

     
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First Books vs. First Editions: The Difference and Significance

By Nick Ostdick. Apr 7, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting, Modern First Editions

Everyone thinks they understand the value of a first edition. The first printing of a book automatically makes it rare, right? Because X or Y novel is a first run, it’s immediately valuable and worthy of collecting, yes? While this is certainly the case with a number of books throughout the literary landscape, first editions are not necessarily sought after by collectors just because they’re the first run. In fact, when you think about it, every book ever published has a first edition printing, but some were not lucky enough to see a second or third.

One factor that truly makes a book rare, valuable, and the apple of a collector’s eye is the combination of a first edition and a first bookthat is, the first printing of an author’s first novel, usually an author of great regard or with a long, profound literary career. These literary Easter eggs are usually printed in small quantitiesremember: we’re talking about first novels from predominantly debut authorsand are often hardcover and ornate or individualized in cover design as subsequent printings tend to reduce artistic quality for mass reproduction. By the time these authors publish their second, third, or fourth books, first print runs usually increase based on demand, which makes the first editions of these first novels even more rare and valuable.

     
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Famous Writers and Their Famous Spouses

By Adrienne Rivera. Apr 6, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Poetry, Literature

Creativity attracts creativity. It's true: creative minds often gravitate to one another. Perhaps this is why it is not uncommon to see couples formed after two people come together in a shared desire to create something meaningful, important, and lasting. Here's a list of famous and creative writers whose relationships with their spouses were forged by a mutual love of everything from aviation to photography.

     
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Collecting Nobel Laureates: Miguel Angel Asturias & Pablo Neruda

By Leah Dobrinska. Apr 5, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Nobel Prize Winners

Recently, we began spotlighting Nobel Prize in Literature winners from Latin America. Today, we’d like to highlight a couple more of our favorites. Read on for general information, ideas, and collecting points on Miguel Angel Asturias and Pablo Neruda, winners of the Prize at a time in history when the world as a whole was waking up to the amazing works and writers emerging from Latin America.

For more information on our previous Latin American Nobel laureate spotlights featuring Gabriela Mistral and Mario Vargas Llosa, please see the end of this post. 

     
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George MacDonald: Master of Fantasy & Religious Thought

By Matt Reimann. Apr 4, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books

For a while in the West it’s been somewhat difficult for Christian intellectuals to be taken seriously. Though not exactly extinct (Marilynne Robinson comes to mind), religious writers are hard to find, and they are often dogged by the presumption that to be credible you must be secular. Even Christian writers of generations past, like G.K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis, felt and battled this anxiety. But for these thinkers, the Scottish author and minister George MacDonald presented an enduring model for being both an intellectual and a person of faith.

     
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Writers of Ghazals and Persian Poetry

By Audrey Golden. Apr 1, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Literature

What is a ghazal, and who writes them? In short, it’s a poem that is typically composed of anywhere between five and fifteen couplets that are, according to the American Academy of Poets, “structurally, thematically, and emotionally autonomous.” Traditionally, the first couplet of a ghazal will introduce a scheme, which subsequent couplets will pick up. The final couplet of a ghazal usually will refer to the poet and sometimes even includes his or her name. It’s a poetic form that began in what we now call the Middle East in the seventh century, and it was popularized in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries by Rumi and Hafiz, two internationally renowned Persian poets. Since its introduction, it is a form that has been employed by poets in a variety of language and for varying uses. Today, we’d like to think a bit more about the ghazal’s origins and its contemporary appearances.

     
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Rethinking Form: Musician Lou Reed's Short Stories

By Audrey Golden. Mar 31, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Biographies

It has now been more than three years since Lou Reed’s death, yet fans across the globe continue to listen to his music, and musicians cover his songs in homage. We’re willing to bet that you’re at least somewhat acquainted with the Velvet Underground, the band fronted and formed by Reed in the 1960s that was once managed by Andy Warhol, and you might even be a fan of Reed’s later solo work. But what do you know about the connections between his music and the world of literature? There are more links between famous fiction and Reed’s songwriting process than you might guess.

     
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Novelist Ken Kesey's Life and Work

By Adrienne Rivera. Mar 30, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

Novelist Ken Kesey was an important member of the 1960s counterculture movement. His home served as a meeting place for some famous, like-minded friends. Indeed, he fostered and befriended a community of artists that included such important Beat and counterculture figures as Allen Ginsburg and Tom Wolfe. Likewise, Kesey's own work remains an important reflection of counterculture ideas, the treatment of the mentally ill, and life in the American Northwest. His novels One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962) and Sometimes a Great Notion (1964) are considered modern classics. Let's learn a bit more about Kesey's life and work.

     
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Lars Bo's Literary Engravings

By Audrey Golden. Mar 29, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Literature

Have you seen the literary engravings of Lars Bo? While you may not be familiar with Lars Bo’s name, we’re willing to bet that you’ve seen his work in some of your favorite books. Bo was a Danish artist who was born on May 29, 1924 and lived until October 21, 1999. He studied design in Denmark until 1943, and later traveled through Europe before moving to Paris, where he would remain until his death. During his early years in Paris, Bo wrote a novel entitled The Wonderful House in Paris [Det vidunderlige hus i Paris]. Yet most literary enthusiasts aren’t familiar with Bo because of his writing. Rather, Bo has become known for his marvelous illustrations and aquatints, which provided illustrations for a number of works of twentieth-century literature. According to an article in The Paris Review, the artist preferred to think of his engravings as “illuminations . . . in the tradition of the medieval Books of Hours".

     
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Collecting Limited Editions Club Publications

By Leah Dobrinska. Mar 28, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting

As book collectors, we know the importance of the book as a physical object. From marginalia to dust jackets, numerous factors come in to play when determining what to collect and how much any given collectible is worth. Indeed, the condition of the physical book goes a long way in determining its value to collectors, and in many case the look of a book—from its illustrations to its binding and everything in between—charts the course for collectors.

Many ‘groupings’ of collectible books exist, and they often direct the collecting ways of interested bibliophiles. For example, some collectors focus on collecting the leather-bound Franklin Library editions. Others have a special place in their hearts for the Penguin Classics, either the Deluxe Editions or the familiar black-spine series. Still others look to fine-press operations for their aesthetic outputs. One of the most important and valuable ‘groupings’ of collectible books is the Limited Editions Club and its publications.

     
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How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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