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Collecting Nobel Laureates: Saul Bellow

By Brian Hoey. Mar 17, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Book Collecting, Nobel Prize Winners

Since Saul Bellow won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976, only a few other American writers (the inimitable Toni Morrison, who earned the sought-after medal in 1993 and most recently, Bob Dylan, come to mind) have accomplished the same feat. This fact speaks to a number of phenomena, but it chiefly indicates the way that Bellow’s fiction represented a sort of capstone in American fiction. Born in Quebec to Lithuanian-Jewish immigrants, Bellow soon moved to Chicago, a city he would come to immortalize in his works. Perhaps more than any other writer, Bellow brought the modernist and intellectual traditions in 20th century fiction into conversation, crafting unforgettable characters in the process.

     
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Rainer Maria Rilke: Travel, Poetry, and the Search for Morality

By Stephen Pappas. Mar 1, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Poetry

Rainer Maria Rilke was a Bohemian-Austrian born in Prague in 1875. Throughout his life, Rilke searched for a way to reconcile religion, philosophy, and art. The closest he came was when he traveled to Russia with Lou Andreas-Salomé, his close friend and confidant. Rilke glorified Russian peasant life. To him it seemed that Russians were inherently more moral than their European equivalents. What led Rike to this determination? What were the greatest influences on arguably one of the most adept lyrical poets the German language has to offer?

     
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Happy Birthday, John Steinbeck!

By Brian Hoey. Feb 27, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Nobel Prize Winners

Since its inception, the criteria for the Nobel Prize in Literature have always been slightly fuzzy. Some have taken Alfred Nobel’s assertion that the prize should determine "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction" as suggesting a kind of preference of idealism in the awarded work, and recent picks like Bob Dylan and Svetlana Alexievich have tended to bear out that reading. If one is wont to understand the award in those terms, then 1962 Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck, who would have turned 115 today, is perhaps one of the most auspicious picks of the last century. After all, the author of The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and Of Mice and Men (1937) virtually never wavered from his devotion to the idea that “In every bit of honest writing in the world … there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love.”

     
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How the Iowa Writers' Workshop Proves the Value of an MFA

By Matt Reimann. Feb 7, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature

Six years ago, author Chad Harbach wrote an essay about the two cultures producing the glut of literary fiction writers today: that of New York City media and publishing, and that of the university MFA program. New York City has long been the hotbed of American cosmopolitan culture, and many of the country’s great writers from the very beginning, like Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and Edith Wharton helped ossify New York as the closest thing the nation would have to a literary epicenter. Yet in the past few decades, a new titan has emerged, coming from the halls of higher education and graduate creative writing programs across the country. And of all of these, perhaps the most significant has been the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.

     
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Beyond Winnie-the-Pooh: A. A. Milne's Lesser Known Work

By Connie Diamond. Jan 18, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Children's Books

Those of us who grew up in the shade of the Hundred Acre Wood, or who raised our children there, owe a debt of gratitude to A. A. Milne. That name, or more accurately those initials, are as famous as the charming stories he penned. The four classic books that comprise the original Winnie-The-Pooh set are, of course Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) along with The House at Pooh Corner (1928), When We Were Very Young (1924), and Now We are Six (1927). The same voice that animated the stuffed toys in his son’s nursery room and brought them into most every nursery for generations to come also wrote other works for different audiences and spanning different genres. Here are some of the lesser known, yet wonderful books by A. A. Milne.

     
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Umberto Eco: A Retrospective

By Adrienne Rivera. Jan 5, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Umberto Eco, Movie Tie-Ins

In February of 2016, one of the greatest thinkers and writers of this era died. Indeed, Umberto Eco was a rare and notable writer. Not only did he publish over twenty books of academic nonfiction in the field of semioticsthe study of signs and symbolsbut he also wrote novels that achieved the type of blockbuster success many authors only dream of having. His fictive work married his interest in his academic pursuits with a love of mystery and pop culture that captivated readers, many of which had no clue what semiotics are and were simply drawn to the captivating plots and heroes populating his novels. Both Eco's nonfiction and popular work left an indelible mark, cementing him as one of the most important writers of our time.

     
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Why Did Ernest Hemingway Despise Ford Madox Ford?

By Brian Hoey. Dec 17, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Nobel Prize Winners

Ernest Hemingway, author of A Farewell to Arms (1929) and The Old Man and the Sea (1952), was not one to shy away from literary feuds. He and F. Scott Fitzgerald had a friendship that seems, in retrospect, more like a sibling rivalry than anything else, and his and fellow Nobel laureate William Faulkner’s mutual distaste for each other’s writing is well documented. Often forgotten, however, is Hemingway’s feud with English novelist Ford Madox Ford. This in spite of the fact that one of the most scathing character sketches in Hemingway’s posthumously published memoir A Moveable Feast (1964) focuses not on Fitzgerald or Gertrude Stein (though both are dealt with roughly) but on Ford.

     
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Toni Morrison Papers Now Open to Students and Researchers

For students, faculty members, and scholars across the globe, the papers of Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison are now open at the Princeton University Library. Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her novel Beloved (1987), and she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Morrison taught at a number of colleges and universities during her career, including at Howard University, Bard College, and Rutgers University. From 1989 until 2006, Morrison taught at Princeton University as the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities. Since 2014, Princeton has owned the writer’s collected papers, and archivists have been working to organize and catalogue them. Now, if you’re interested in exploring drafts of Morrison’s eleven novels, along with other significant materials, the Manuscripts Division of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton has what you’re looking for.

     
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Visiting the Nadine Gordimer Papers at the Lilly Library

Are you interested in doing more than just reading the works of Nadine Gordimer? If you’re ever visiting Bloomington, Indiana, you might consider scheduling a visit at the Lilly Library to explore the materials contained in The Nadine Gordimer Papers. As most lovers of Gordimer’s fiction and South African literature in general know, the Nobel Prize-winning author was born in Springs, South Africa to Jewish immigrant parents in 1923. She wrote fiction for much of her life, with her first short story published in the Children’s Sunday Express when she was 15 years old. The New Yorker published one of her short stories for the first time in 1951, introducing world readers to Gordimer’s work. Now, researchers at the Lilly Library at Indiana University can have access to Gordimer’s correspondence, lectures, speeches, notes, and drafts from 1934 to 2001.

     
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The Playful Madness of Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum

By Matt Reimann. Oct 15, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Umberto Eco

On February 19 of this year, world literature lost one of its most wise and respected members: Umberto Eco. A recent passing, one wonders if his reputation will go the way of many “greats” with penchants for humor and madness. Canonical reverence, as it does with Moby Dick, Ulysses, and others, often obscures the joyous play and zaniness of the object it praises. Eco, a literary trickster if there ever was one, would be disheartened to see his memory so distorted.

     
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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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