Interested in children's books? See our latest arrivals

Happy Birthday, Oscar Wilde!

By Adrienne Rivera. Oct 16, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Drama, Literature

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wilde was born on October 16, 1854 and today marks the 164th anniversary of his birth. The writer was schooled first in his native Dublin, then later at Oxford where he began to subscribe to the fledgling school of thought known as aestheticism, a philosophy he would adhere to for the rest of his life. He became a sort of aestheticism poster boy, writing in a variety of genres, from poetry and novels to plays and journalism. Wilde even spent some time lecturing in the United States on the subject as well as the tangentially-related topic of interior decorating, a turn which might seem odd at the outset but actually jives quite well with Wilde's notable, larger-than-life persona.

     
Read more...


Happy Birthday, T.S. Eliot!

By Leah Dobrinska. Sep 26, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Poetry, Nobel Prize Winners

T.S. Eliot authored some of the most recognizable poems of the 20th century. He was a major player in the modernist movement, and his "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is considered one of the best of the genre. Eliot won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, and the selection committee praised him for "his outstanding, [pioneering] contribution to present-day poetry." Many other writers owe a debt of gratitude to T.S. Eliot for paving the way, and as Britannica states, "From the 1920s onward, Eliot’s influence as a poet and as a critic—in both Great Britain and the United States—was immense, not least among those establishing the study of English literature as an autonomous academic discipline." 

     
Read more...


The Top 11 T.S. Eliot Quotes

By Brian Hoey. Apr 6, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Nobel Prize Winners

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.

     
Read more...


Collecting Latin American Authors

Latin American literature incorporates a variety of languages from Spanish and Portuguese to indigenous languages of Central and South America. Known for, but not exclusively devoted to, magical realism, Latin American literature came to worldwide notice in the 1960s an 1970s during a movement which is now known as the Latin American Boom. The boom, partially due to an exceptionally prosperous economic state throughout the continent, helped to a create an outpouring of literature that focused on the culture, language, people, and politics of a region that had not previously held a large place on the global stage. Since then, Latin American literature has been internationally recognized for the culturally rich and important work of its authors. For those hoping to expand their collections to include some of the most notable Latin American literary pieces, the following authors and selections are a great starting point.

     
Read more...


Five Works of Poetry You'll Never Get to Read 

By Brian Hoey. Mar 21, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Rare Books, Book History

In Jorge Luis Borges’ 1941 story "The Library of Babel", he describes an infinite library containing volumes that feature every possible combination of symbols. At one point, some of the inhabitants of this library go on a rampage, wantonly destroying many of the unique, unread books. While many of their fellow denizens are outraged that works with no copies have been expunged forever, they eventually reason that if the books really are infinite, then any particular destroyed volume will have an accompanying volume that is almost completely identical, and that, really, no harm can be done. I’m not sure whether that should make us feel better or worse when we think about all of the lost and destroyed works of art throughout the literary millennia, but in honor of World Poetry Day, let’s take a look at some works of poetry that we’ll never be able to read.   

     
Read more...


Collecting Nobel Prize Winners: Seamus Heaney and George Bernard Shaw

By Brian Hoey. Mar 17, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners, Poetry, Drama

Despite being a country of fewer than 5 million people, Ireland boasts four Nobel Prize in Literature winners: W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Becket, and Seamus Heaney. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s the highest Literature Nobel Laureates per capita outside of St. Lucia, which counted the late poet Derek Walcott among its 150,000 or so residents, even without James Joyce (who was famously snubbed) to round out the list. (Sweden appears to be a close third, with 8 prizes and a population just under 10 million). In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll be turning the attention to two of the Emerald Isle’s most gifted writers: George Bernard Shaw and Seamus Heaney.

     
Read more...


Twelve Women to Read on International Women's Day

International Women's Day is celebrated every year on March 8. It was inspired by a National Women's Day held in New York in 1909 as a response to a 1908 march for equal rights undertaken by 15,000 women. However, by the second year, the International Conference of Working Women decided that the holiday should expand worldwide. It was adopted by the United Nations in 1975 and declared an international holiday in all participating states. International Women's Day is dedicated to fighting for gender equality and to celebrating the social, political, and cultural achievements of women. While a common opinion today is that all the battles for women have been won, International Women's Day urges women to fight to close the pay gap, to end violence against women, and to push for more visibility for women both in the workplace and in national and international leadership positions. The following 12 women writers exemplify the goals of International Women's Day in their writing and activism.

     
Read more...


Ten Essential Dr. Seuss Quotes

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known by his pen name Dr. Seuss, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1904. He attended Dartmouth College where he wrote and drew for the Dartmouth Jack-o-Lantern. After he and his friends were caught with gin in the dormitories during prohibition, part of his punishment was being banned from all extracurricular activities. However, he continued to work for the magazine, using for the first time the pen name Seuss.

     
Read more...


Don’t Know Poet Rubén Darío? Here’s Why You Should

By Brian Hoey. Feb 6, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry

Jorge Luis Borges said that all writers create their own predecessors. Bold, new writing doesn’t simply reveal its own concerns, it reveals an entire literary history leading up to its creation, and sometimes that history involves works that might not otherwise be widely read. In American literature, Ernest Hemingway held up Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) as a kind of ur-novel to which all other American fiction can be traced. In Spanish-American poetry, that same considerable distinction is held by Rubén Darío.

     
Read more...


A Reader's Guide to Langston Hughes

By Brian Hoey. Feb 1, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry

In his seminal 1926 essay “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” then-burgeoning poet, essayist, novelist, playwright, and all-around giant of American letters Langston Hughes argued passionately that Black writers across the world should be proud of their racial and cultural heritage. He says, towards the essay’s conclusion, “The younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly, too.” Even then, at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, it’s hard to imagine that Hughes knew the momentous impact he would make merely by following his own advice.

     
Read more...


 

Get our communications?

* required information

About this blog

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.

Get blog notifications per email:

Download the James Bond Dossier

Recent Posts

Book Glossary
Get your free Guide to Book Care

Blog Archive

> see older posts
A Guide to Historic Libraries Part I