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Herman Melville: Literary Giant Who Died In Obscurity

By Ellie Koczela. Aug 1, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature

When Herman Melville was seven years old, his father warned his teachers that he was “very backwards in speech and somewhat slow in comprehension.” Luckily for the rest of us, he appears not to have been deterred by this description. A prolific writer of both novels and poetry, he is now among the most renowned authors in the American canon.

     
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Raymond Chandler: Making Pulp Serious

Raymond Chandler is one of those rare authors who reminds the literary establishment that genre has no bearing over a book’s quality. Chandler bridged gaps in his career. His work helped bring crime fiction to academics, and the serious novel to Hollywood studios. He considered himself an intellectual snob and loved Charles Dickens, Henry James, and Ernest Hemingway. He was a man who studied Greek and Latin, but Chandler emphasized that his own strange preferences brought him to the world of the detective story.

     
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Edgar Allan Poe, Impoverished Literary Genius

By Andrea Koczela. Jul 3, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature

Today we celebrate Edgar Allan Poe, master of the short story and inventor of detective fiction. Although best remembered for his sinister tales and mysteries, during his life Poe was known for his scathing literary reviews. Poe lived most of his life on the brink of poverty and was the first well-known American author to live solely on his writing. Although his work initially received mixed reviews, Poe has since emerged as one of America’s most beloved writers.

     
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Top Books by State: California

Today we continue our Top Books by States series by talking a closer look at California. California is one of the most diverse states in the country, containing deserts, mountains, cities, beaches, and farmland all within its borders. It also serves as the heart of the American entertainment industry. California writers are just as diverse as their state. The books featured here are of a variety of genres, but what makes them some of the best and most representative of the state aren't just that their writers live in California, but that they all exemplify something of the beauty and spirit of the Golden State.

     
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The History of May Day and May Day in Literature

By Nick Ostdick. May 1, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature, Book History, History

For many bibliophiles, the month of May means the beginning of summerlonger days, warmer weather, and the unofficial start of “beach read” season. But May 1 packs a much more significant historical and cultural punch, the essence of which many authors have tried to capture in their stories and novels during the last 100 years.

     
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The History and Importance of the Pulitzer Prize

By Kristin Masters. Apr 15, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Pulitzer Prize, American Literature

The Pulitzer Prize—set to be awarded today—was established over 100 years ago to honor exceptional achievements in journalism. Since its inception, the award has grown to include 21 different categories, ranging from literature to musical composition. The prize is named for Joseph Pulitzer, a newspaper journalist with a fascinating life. 

     
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Washington Irving: Champion of American Literature at Home and Abroad

By Matt Reimann. Apr 2, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature

When "The Legend of Sleep Hollow" was published in 1820, the United States of America was a young nation. American-born authors were decades away from producing central classics like Leaves of Grass and Moby-Dick, and the cultural direction of this brave new world was anyone’s guess. The country was in need of a strong and talented writer to steer her on the right course. This author was Washington Irving.

     
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Death and Desire: A Tennessee Williams Round-Up

By Leah Dobrinska. Mar 26, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature

A jack of many literary trades, Tennessee Williams is best known as one of the most prominent playwrights in twentieth century America. His play, A Streetcar Named Desire, sits alongside Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman on the top tier of twentieth century theatrical output. Williams wasn't discovered until his 30s when the success of The Glass Menagerie in New York rocketed him into fame. He followed up this play and became a household name in the late 1940s and early 1950s thanks to his best work, including Streetcar (1947) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955). Many of Williams plays were adapted, adding to his notoriety.

     
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Free of All That Noise: A Philip Roth Round-Up

By Leah Dobrinska. Mar 19, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature

"Everybody else is working to change, persuade, tempt and control them. The best readers come to fiction to be free of all that noise." ~Philip Roth in Conversations with Philip Roth

Philip Roth was one of the great, American literary geniuses of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Through his works, he explored the idea of self. He also highlighted the social and political climate of the time in which he wrote, often with satire and his particular brand of literary panache.

When Roth died in 2018, he had been awarded two National Book Awards for Fiction, two National Book Critics Circle awards, three PEN/Faulkner awards, as well as the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (2002), a National Humanities Medal (2010), and a Man Booker International Prize (2011), among numerous other awards. But beyond these quantifiable accolades, Philip Roth had perhaps the most profound impact on countless readers who picked up his work. It's true that in his stories, he allowed us to "be free of all that noise". Today, in honor of his birthday, we've selected several of our favorite Philip Roth posts to share.

     
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James Joyce and Company: Sylvia Beach's Literary Table

By Brian Hoey. Feb 2, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Book History

Imagining literary Paris between the wars is almost too much.Many of us delight in the knowledge that, say, James Joyce and Henrik Ibsen exchanged some letters, or that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were fast friends. The prospect of a single time and place that contained the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and others has the trappings of a literary meeting of the minds unrivaled by any setting in human history.If you think that you’d be almost irrecoverably star struck in such a setting, you’re in good company.In fact, you’re in the same boat as F. Scott Fitzgerald himself.

     
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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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