[Posted by Michelle Deluse for AMST 851: The World of Rare Books (Instructor: Richard Ring)]

img948When L. Frank Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, he created more than a children’s book.  The book inspired a legacy of children’s literature that expands beyond Baum’s own work and includes the many authors inspired to continue creating stories in the world he created.  The world of Oz also inspired a loyal fan base and, for some, a desire to collect and study the works that collectively make up Oziana.  Bibliographia Oziana : A Concise Bibliographical Checklist of the Oz Books by L. Frank Baum and His Successors by Peter E. Hanff & Douglas G. Greene provides a scholarly resource for students and collectors alike with an interest in exploring the Oz books.  Hanff & Greene claim their work, published by The International Wizard of Oz Club, is “founded on and continuing the Baum Bugle checklist,” and the bibliography serves as a “concise, descriptive publishing history of the Oz books” (11).

Hanff and Greene take great care to define what constitutes an Oz book in their introduction.  According to their parameters, books about Oz written by Baum or his successors written in the same format as other Oz books and published by the same firm, Reilly & Britton (later known as Reilly & Lee) can be considered an Oz book (12).  Other books that do not necessarily meet these qualifications, but are generally accepted by the field as Oz books are also listed in this text, but they are included as addenda (12).  Hanff and Greene organize the texts by author, beginning with Baum, and they include any relevant addenda at the conclusion of each author’s section.

Including official Oz books, addenda, and a brief section of “curiosa,” the bibliography catalogues a total of 52 texts and features 8 different authors.  Hanff and Greene credit Baum with a total of 16 Oz books, beginning with the original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and ending with Glinda of Oz, the manuscript Baum completed before his death in 1919 (67).  The list of Oz books authored by Baum totals at slightly less than the 19books Ruth Plumly Thompson contributed after Baum’s death.  Baum’s and Thompson’s works constitute the large majority of the Oz books; the other authors listed in the bibliography (John R. Neill, Jack Snow, Rachel R. Cosgrove, Eloise Jarvis McGraw and Lauren McGraw Wagner, W.W. Denslow, and Frank Joslyn Baum) each contributed one to three texts in total.

img949The description of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz reveals how complex the original publication was.  Hanff and Greene indicate that it was “an unusually elaborate book” and represented a “conscious effort of the author and the illustrator… to produce a children’s book that would be as enjoyable to look at as to read” (12).  The emphasis on the visual aspects of the original publication encouraged me to pay closer attention to the visual content of the bibliography itself.  The images included in Bibliographia Oziana : A Concise Bibliographical Checklist of the Oz Books by L. Frank Baum and His Successors enrich the textual information provided.  For example, the bibliography includes a section entitled “Plates,” with photographs of the cover art for titles included in the bibliography.  Each plate is annotated with the page in the bibliography the title depicted appears on, making it easy for the reader to associate something visual with the information provided.  Examining this section of the text allow readers the opportunity to see the changes in style of cover art for Oz books through the years.  For example, the art for the first printing of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz differs greatly from The New Wizard of Oz (a republication of the same text).  A quick glance at the cover art for Hanff and Greene’s work and the plate for The New Wizard of Oz leaves no question that the former took inspiration from the latter (which is also confirmed by a brief note on the verso of the title page of the text).

However, of all the images included in the bibliography, one image is conspicuously absent.  Many modern fans of Oziana (myself included) have  a particular fascination with the Wicked Witch of the West.  Margaret Hamilton’s portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, arguably made the villain famous, and the rise of the popular musical Wicked revived a fixation on her in popular culture.  Due to her popularity, it surprises many readers to learn that the role the Wicked Witch of the West plays in Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is small, and she does not appear in subsequent Oz books.  As such, it is appropriate that she not be heavily featured in the artwork for the books of Oz, since her role is less prominent in the Baum books than it is in the cinematic adaptations of the material.

One entry in the bibliography that I found particularly interesting was The Laughing Dragon of Oz by Baum’s oldest son, Frank Joslyn Baum.  Frank Joslyn Baum wanted to continue his father’s work with books about Oz, so much so that he wrote Rosine in Oz which he later retiled Rosine and the Laughing Dragon.  He had little success in getting his book published, but eventually, the Whitman Publishing Company agreed to publish his book under the title The Laughing Dragon of Oz.  Frank Joslyn Baum and Whitman even planned to publish a sequel until Reilly & Lee took legal action against Whitman.  To settle the suit, Whitman agreed that they would not reprint the book and they would not publish a sequel (102).  I imagine the legal history surrounding The Laughing Dragon of Oz makes it a particularly rare book, as there were a limited number of copies printed before Reilly & Lee filed their suit.  For a collector of Oziana, Frank Joslyn Baum’s work must be highly coveted!

It surprised me that the Watkinson has a number of Oz books within the collection, let alone an academic resource for the study of Oz books, so this bibliographic collection of the books of Oz was an unexpected find.  Delving more deeply into the scholarly perspective on books and stories I loved as a child evoked both a sense of nostalgia and a renewed curiosity and amazement.  If you are a fan of Oz, I encourage you to visit the Watkinson to spend some time with Bibliographia Oziana, or any of the other Oz books in the collection.  It will be well worth your time!

30
May

Notes on Bertrand Russell

   Posted by: rring   in College Archives, Visiting researcher

[Posted by Bernard Linsky, Department of Philosophy, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, bernard.linsky@ualberta.ca]

IMG_2856I am a professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Canada, and have been working on the logic and philosophy of Bertrand Russell for some years now. My current project is, with the assistance of James Levine, at that other Trinity College, in Dublin, to edit lecture notes from various courses that Russell taught between 1910 and 1914. Russell became a lecturer at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1910 until he was dismissed over his opposition to World War I in 1916. This was the only period when Russell lived the life of University lecturer, and there are to this date, no notes on his lectures have been published.

Russell was invited to be a visiting professor at Harvard University in the Spring Semester of 1914 when he was giving the Lowell Lectures, later published as Our Knowledge of the External World.  Russell also taught an undergraduate course on Theory of Knowledge, and an upper level course on “Advanced Logic.” Russell had wanted to teach in the Cambridge “Lent” term, and so was only able to arrive in Cambridge, Mass. on March 13th. As the Winter semester began on February 10, 1914, someone was needed to step in to cover the lectures in the course until Russell arrived.

While the famous philosopher Josiah Royce gave the first lectures in the Theory of Knowledge Course, a recent PhD graduate, Harry Todd Costello, was selected to begin the Advanced Logic. Costello gave fourteen lectures before Russell arrived. I was surprised to discover that there were notes from this course, although they had never been published, but remained in the archives of Houghton Library at Harvard. These notes on “Advanced Logic” were by one of Costello’s fellow graduate students, then in his last year, one Thomas Stearns Eliot. Eliot was writing a dissertation on the British Philosopher Francis H. Bradley at the time, and was already a poet, writing the brief “Mr Appolinax” in that year, about Russell’s visit.

To my surprise, no one had bothered to publish Eliot’s notes, as they had his dissertation. Perhaps this was in part because the notes are in the mathematical symbols of Whitehead and Russell’s Principia Mathematica, which was then just published. I have now completed transcribing the notes, and will publish them with some discussion of their significance for understanding Russell’s logic. I don’t think that they help to understand Eliot’s poetry at all, and that may be why English professors haven’t been interested in the notes.

Some time last year one of my very sensible colleagues asked me if I had looked for Costello’s notes from that course. Surely he must have kept them among his papers as a reminder of his famous role as Russell’s Teaching Assistant. I had never thought of this, and immediately started writing to Trinity College to find out about Costello’s papers.

After leaving Harvard Harry Costello became a professor of Philosophy at Trinity College from around 1921 until his retirement in 1957. A bachelor, who lived in housing on campus for years, Costello was a well-known but slightly eccentric character who worked on the faculty Library committee overseeing the operations of the library and even buying books. I would love to know if there are any legends about Harry Costello still circulating at Trinity.  I had found online that the archives in Watkinson library keeps the papers of former faculty members, and so it seemed possible that they would have Costello’s papers.

On May 20th of this year, a little over a week ago, I walked into the archives to be greeted by Henry Arneth, the special collections assistant, who had brought up two boxes of Harry Costello’s papers, and I started to look through them. Within minutes I had found the notes that Costello had lectured from in those first weeks of 1914. They were more detailed than those of T.S. Eliot, who, after all, was just a student in the class. Then I looked through some other material, such as every class list and grade record from every course that Costello ever taught during his career, although he had left the Harvard class list to Russell. If anyone has an ancestor who took a course from Dr Costello at Trinity in those years, you can come to the archives and find it out. (I think that’s public information, but you will have to consult with the Head Librarian Richard Ring.) I also found some philosophical humor in Costello’s notebooks, presumably his own creations:

I am Mr Francis Bradley

When my liver cuts up badly,

I take refuge from the brute

in the blessed Absolute.

 

There is also a dig at a timorous administrator:

I am, that is, I mean,

I think that I am called

the junior Dean.

The boxes also contained endless lists of books that Costello had bought, presumably for the Trinity College Library, and a list of movies he had seen, including the leading cast. I saw on campus that students at Trinity College still like to go to the movies.

I had showed up at the archives at 10:00, which is the opening time for the public, found Costello’s notes for his own lectures by 10:30 and then looked through the other fascinating things in the boxes for another hour. Then, in among pocket diaries with the movies and book lists, I found a little notebook that contained Costello’s own notes from courses at Harvard. In the last part of the notebook I recognized his notes on Russell’s lectures from 1914! After standing at the front of the classroom for the first fourteen classes, Costello then took his place with the other students, and started taking notes as well. Not only do we have T.S. Eliot’s notes on Russell’s lectures, but we have the even better source of information, Harry Todd Costello’s notes on Russell’s lectures!

Henry Arneth dropped what he was doing and went to the basement and carefully scanned the notes I wanted, and sent me off with a key full of jpg images. Sally Dickinson, the associate curator, helped to find the one book of Costello’s notes, on Josiah Royce’s seminar, that had been published in 1962, and asked me to explain what I had found. I was too excited to think clearly, and it helped to start to tell this story in what I hope is a more coherent fashion. Peter Knapp, the College Archivist, was sadly unwell and away from work, and so completely missed the excitement. My thanks to him for protecting the Costello papers all these years.

Faculty and students at Trinity College should be proud of the history of their college, and of the work that has been done to preserve it in their college archives. I would encourage students to look in books in the College Library, to see if they were donated from Costello’s personal collection, and, by chance, whether he might have written something in a copy of Russell’s works that I should know about.

I’ll be back in Hartford. As I have learned, it is essential to revisit archives before publishing material from them. There is always something in the images that is a bit unclear, and as I can attest, you never know what you will find in boxes in an archive.

25
Apr

Hatha Yoga

   Posted by: rring   in Americana, Classes, Students

[Posted by Allexandra Beatty for AMST 838/438, "America Collects Itself"]

Hatha Yoga: The Yogi Philosophy of Physical Well-Being with Numerous Exercises by Yogi Ramacharaka (Chicago, Ill.: Yogi Publication Society, 1904)

imageMost medical treatises written in 1904 would rarely seem relevant in any contemporary discussion of health and wellness.  After all, is it not the case that the most popular explorations into the secret to wellbeing and happiness depend precariously on some sort of scientific discovery?  Surprisingly, and out of the pages of history, Hatha Yoga by Yogi Ramacharaka offers a scientific and spiritual answer to many current health and wellness questions.  Within the pages of this 110-year-old text are explorations of the correlation between the mind and body—analyses of the synchronic relationship between energies, thoughts, and mental attitudes and their physical manifestations.

Rather than delving into a list of common ailments and their scientific root cause, this book reshapes the perception of health and wellness from a focus on disease, to a focus on maintaining balance and order in the natural state of existence.  Here, the body serves as a vehicle, as a Temple of the Spirit, to be used as an instrument of soul growth.  Yogi Ramacharaka points to two Principles of the Vital Force that guide one’s state of health.  The first is Self-Preservation, which “moves us along in the direction of health, as surely as does the influence within the magnetic needle make it point due north.” (26).  The second is Accommodation, meaning our constant navigation through the ever-increasing technological and industrial complications that distract the body and mind from its natural state.  We are living in a time where natural living becomes disturbed.  Sleep, stress, eating, and health are all out of balance and prioritized improperly.  Instead, we must allow the Vital Force to flow freely through the body, in the most natural of ways, returning to the most basic, simple, and undisturbed way of nature, in order to decrease the gap between the mind and body.  Eliminating the dichotomy between mind and body, or spirit and form, will allow for a more synchronous life.  As the mind and body become one—adopting the natural order of things whereby the body acts as a conduit for the spirit—the Vital Force igniting one’s existence will blossom.

The chapter titled, “The Laboratory of the Body” deals with the most fundamental physical elements of the human form—teeth, salivary glands, tongue, stomach, blood, skeletal system, and so on.  Yogi Ramacharaka points to the importance of understanding the functionality of the body, as one needs to maintain the machine in order to attain a higher spiritual state of mind.  As such, several chapters are dedicated to the structure and functions of the body, paying particular attention to the intended functions of the digestive, circulatory, and breathing systems.  All three are explained pseudo-scientifically, bearing both diagrammatic and spiritual descriptions.  As such, these sections connote the proper and improper uses of the body, highlighting the negative effects of improper digestion, circulation, and breathing.  Most poignantly, Yogi Ramacharaka describes the fermentation and putrefaction of unmasticated food particles left to rot in the stomach—the consequence of hasty eating and gluttonous consumption habits.  Furthermore, this submission to appetite rather than true hunger leads to the transmission of said rotten particles into the circulatory system—permeating negative energy throughout the body.  In order to combat the circulation of putrefied elements and negative energy, Yogi Ramacharaka points to an essential principle of Hatha Yoga used to harness positivity and channel the abundant Life Forces—Prana.

“Prana is the name by which we designate a universal principle, which principle is the essence of all motion, force or energy, whether manifested in gravitation, electricity, the revolution of the planets, and all forms of life, from the highest to the lowest.  It may be called the soul of Force and Energy in all their forms, and that principle which, operating in a certain way, causes that form of activity which accompanies Life” (158).

Chapter X is entirely devoted to the absorption of Prana, specifically through food.  The body is a storehouse of energy, drawn from the environment—plants, animals, sun energy, and air.  The consumption of food, therefore, is a primary means of absorbing Prana, as it touches most all of these areas.  The most moving phrase throughout the entire treatise on physical nourishment and care of the body deals with that intangible sense of vitality one may witness in oneself, or others, who seem to be vibrating with positive energy, or Prana.  Yogi Ramacharaka writes:

“You know the sensation which one sometimes feels when in the presence of a highly ‘magnetic’ person—that indescribable feeling of the absorption of strength or ‘vitality.’  Some people have so much Prana in their system that they are continually ‘running over’ and giving it out to others, the result being that other persons like to be in their company, and dislike to leave it, being almost unable to tear themselves away” (68).

This sensation of abundance in both body and spirit is the goal of Hatha Yoga.  Moreover, is it not the goal of every human being to feel fulfilled?  To be abundant in one’s own sense of calm, strength, vitality, and life—so much so that we may share this gift of wholeness with others?

The next portion of this treatise deals with the physical exercises involved in maintaining the physical body, not just for nourishment.  Yogi Ramacharaka first describes the nature of correct and incorrect breathing—the former: using the entirety of one’s lungs (high, middle, and low), the latter: breathing against the chest and collar causing tension and straining the delicate lungs.  After the correct method is established, relaxation breathing is described as a form of generating, maintaining, and recharging pranic energy.  Once one has mastered breathing exercises, one must turn to the physical poses most commonly associated with yoga practices.  Not only do they involve stretching, but they also deal with strength and muscular stimulation—though, as Yogi Ramacharaka wisely points out, strength is not an attribute of the vain and narcissistic, but an essential quality of every healthy, centered being.

The last portion of this book deals with rest, rejuvenation, as well as mental and spiritual freedoms.  It moves beyond the descriptions of the body’s natural state and step-by-step instructions on how to maintain it.  Rather, it moves into the realm of the spiritual, whereby one’s energy manifests itself positively or negatively in the body.  “The material body is but temporary, and the body itself nothing more than a suit of clothes to be put on, worn, and then discarded, yet it is always the intent of the Spirit to provide and maintain as perfect an instrument as possible.” (250).

Ultimately this book will leave you with a sense of wholeness, realizing how easy it is to “return to Nature”, as Hatha Yoga commands.  Beyond the many physical benefits to this practice, the emotional and spiritual growth that accompanies this simplistic return to stasis and inner peace seems like a retreat in a fast-paced, competitive contemporary world.  Yogi Ramacharaka concludes with the plea:

“Let us return to nature, dear students, and allow this great life to flow through us freely, and all will be well with us.  Let us stop trying to do the whole thing ourselves—let us just LET the thing do its own work for us.  It only asks confidence and non-resistance—let us give it a chance.” (255).

I invite you to experience this book on your own, as an exploration into your unique inner-self.  See what a few mere adjustments to your diet, breath, exercise, or even emotional elasticity will do for your health and wellbeing.  Give it a chance.

25
Apr

The Children’s Almanac 1879-83

   Posted by: rring   in Americana, Classes, Students

[Posted by Mollie Scheerer '14 for AMST 838/438 "America Collects Itself"]

IMG_7725Ella Farman’s The Children’s Almanac for the years 1879-1883 is a beautiful, small book with a green cloth cover, embossed illustration, and gilt lettering on the cover. American almanacs are annual publications containing information such as weather forecasts, tide tables, planting and harvesting dates for farmers, astronomical information, and religious holidays. This almanac, however, is slightly different. It contains only eighty pages as opposed to most almanacs of the same time that could have many more. Farman’s almanac is also more of an anthology of poetry to interest the children reading it.

On the first page inside is an inscription reading “Willie R. Witherle, Dec 25th, 1878,” either a dedication or the signature of the owner. Opposite the title page is a beautiful lithograph of a young girl seated by a window reading to her dolls with a short phrase below: “Good little heart maketh gay the dark and stormy winter day.” The almanac is filled with phrases such as this in order to instill good morals in children. The book was published by D. Lothrop and Company in Boston and very much embodies the New England values of the late nineteenth century for the middle and upper classes. In Farman’s author’s note, she discloses the purpose of the almanac: a “little everyday book designed for a handy pocket reference and school-desk companion.” She intended for it to be a way children could learn and be reminded of the morals with which they were brought up.
IMG_7727Just like an “adult” almanac, Farman divides hers into months for the years 1879 through 1883 almost as chapters, although she makes it a more appealing and interesting almanac as her audience is children. After the author’s note is a list of the original poets whose work Farman includes in the order in which they appear. Each month has its short own poem written by well-known literary figures such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Celia Thaxter, and J. T. Trowbridge. A unique component to these poems is that their signatures are included at the end. The colorful lithographs that separate each season are beautifully detailed and Farman also includes intricate steel plate etchings for every month done by the engraver W.J. Dana in Boston. All illustrations depict happy children in various seasonal situations to engage children reading the almanac.
Beginning January is a poem by Longfellow opposite a detailed engraving of a young boy and girl happily sledding down a snowy hill on a toboggan. On the next page are simplistic calendars for each year between 1879 and 1883 as references for the young minds for whom she wrote the almanac. Opposite the calendars are the “Daily Conduct-Mottoes” to which she referenced in her author’s note. For every day of January Farman includes a short phrase by important literary figures, some of whom also wrote the poems in the almanac. Farman wrote that she hopes the children will take heed of their Birthday-Motto but also pay attention to their Daily Conduct-Motto as an everyday reminder of how they should live their lives. She hopes they will keep these mottoes in mind each day in order to become as strong and true as the grandest men and women they can think of. She says, “Read it, hold it up high in your thoughts, and honor it in your deeds.”   After the Conduct-Mottoes there is a blank page entitled Memorandia: Studies for the School Year for the children to keep their own thoughts and notes. With this, they can contribute to the almanac and perhaps be inspired by the poems or mottoes and write their own.
My favorite monthly poem in the almanac is by Celia Thaxter for the month of August. Opposite a tranquil etching of a young girl washing her feet in a pool of water surrounded by cattails, Thaxter writes,
“Buttercup nodded and said, “good-bye!”
Clover and daisy went off together,
But the fragrant water-lilies lie
Yet moored in the golden August weather.
The swallows chatter about their flight,
The cricket chirps like a rare good fellow,
The asters twinkle in clusters bright,
While the corn grows ripe and the apples mellow.”
The poem perfectly embodies the month of August and the gentle language is appealing to children of every age.
Each month is unique and the different messages and etchings are interesting. February’s poem is by Mrs. A.D.T. Whitney with a magnificent engraving of a little girl curled up by a window surrounded by icicles with five birds on a branch below. Every engraving, poem, and lithograph relate to the month or season they are in. On the next pages are the calendars and mottoes, as with every month. Since my birthday is in February I paid special attention to the mottoes. As an example of one of the mottoes, my birthdate, February 17th, has a Longfellow quote: “Here’s a fellow who can both write and fight!” (I’d like to think so, Longfellow.)
The lithographs after March, June, and September also contain phrases to instill children with the values they need to grow into strong and true men and women, of course reflecting the transition between seasons. The lithograph between June and July reads, “Never be idle, never be sad / Go in the sunshine and grow glad!” and depicts a small girl having a tea party with dolls, embodying the ideal summer afternoon for the target audience. The detailing of the lithographs is exquisite; they seem to glow as the carefully placed ink radiates the light off the page. Although the etchings are equally as detailed, the lithographs stand out in this almanac and would have certainly captured the children’s eyes.
This almanac truly embodies the Victorian Era in America as it teaches children (of the middle and upper classes, of course) to uphold the moralities of the period. The advice, poems, and drawings are quite darling and the almanac, as Farman so intended, would have been the perfect book to store in a pocket or desk for daily reminders of these values. The children in possession of this almanac could certainly relate to the children depicted in the etchings and lithographs, as well as take pleasure in finding their birthday and the associated motto which they would hopefully, as intended, adhere to for all their lives.
25
Apr

Fanny Elssler

   Posted by: rring   in Americana, Classes, Students

[Posted by Susan Hood for "America Collects Itself: From Colony to Empire"]

The Letters and Journal of Fanny Ellsler, Written Before and After Her Operatic Campaign in the United States, Including Her Letters from New York, London, Paris, Havana, &c. &c, [sic]. Published by H.G. Daggers, New York, 1845.
Purportedly by Fanny Elssler (1810-1884), a celebrated artiste of the Romantic ballet, this 65-page pamphlet was actually written by Henry Wikoff (c. 1813-1884), an American diplomat, adventurer, and occasional reporter. His reputation waxed and waned due to professional and personal triumphs and intrigues in Europe and his native United States. (For instance, Wikoff befriended Mary Todd Lincoln while acting as an undercover spy in the White House for the New York Herald, but that’s another story.)
Wikoff turned impresario by accident when the New York theater manager who had engaged Elssler for an unprecedented American debut died. Wikoff arranged for the ballerina’s debut on May 17, 1840 at the Park Theatre in New York City. From the next two years, over her repeatedly extended tour of the United States, he handled the bookings and contract negotiations, and served as publicist and company manager. She gave 208 performances, and received a then-astonishing fee of $500 for each.
Scholar and collector Allison Delarue reveals the history and authorship of the Letters and Journal in his book, Fanny Elssler in America (Dance Horizons, New York, 1976). He states that the articles first appeared in London in the December 1843, and January and February 1844 issues of Fraser’s Magazine, whose editor “made it clear that the work was not from the pen of Fanny Elssler, but it did contain her impressions….” Delarue notes that the New York Herald reprinted the articles (without giving dates, however), and that the newspaper’s editor credits Wikoff. In conclusion, he writes: “Fanny Elssler’s travels were of sufficient interest to be published anonymously as a pamphlet.”
In this pamphlet, however, the ballerina’s surname name is misspelled, possibly due to a typesetting error (her surname was occasionally misspelled in Europe).
In the Letters and Journal, Wikoff reminds readers that the majority of sophisticated Europeans view America as a “barbarous” place, and many warned Elssler that it was “a country hardly yet cut out of its primeval forests, where life is spent in unremitting toil for its necessaries, where few enjoy its comforts, and where none care for its luxuries.” The pamphlet also contains telling details and charming anecdotes that could only have been learned from Elssler. Here are a few examples:
“…how should a poor dancer, whose travels have been chiefly confined to the Opera-house, who has crossed rivers with the aid of a mechanist, and scaled mountains by running up some hidden stairs, be expected to know anything of a half-savage land, thousands of miles away? [Letter II]
“Then think of the consumption in satin shoes; I seldom use less than three pairs each night, and the slightest soil condemns them, and that upon the dirtiest stage in the world, purposely kept so to avoid slipping. These opera-shoes are of such peculiar make, uniting a certain stiffness with the most perfect pliancy that only one man in Europe has been found with genius adequate to the work—Jansin de Paris. [Letter III. The cobbler was Janssen.]
“The curtain fell amid a roar that sounded like the fall of mighty waters, and that soon brought me before them. Their applause was perfectly frantic, cheers and bravos saluted me, and flowers and wreaths fell like rain upon me. You cannot suppose that I stood unmoved amid such sights and scenes. My heart beat till I thought it would leap from its socket, and my eyes overran in grateful testimony of their fervent goodness. I essayed to speak, and stammered forth a few simple words of thanks, and withdrew. [Letter XVII, on her New York debut.]
The Watkinson’s copy of The Letters and Journal of Fanny Ellsler [sic] was purchased for 75 cents (slightly less than $19 in contemporary currency) at Anderson Auction Galleries in February 1909. A librarian noted on the title page “not in Sabin or Lowe,” indicating that this 1845 publication was omitted from standard American bibliographies a century ago.
Possibly bibliographers of Americana had their sights set only on materials pertaining to colonial and revolutionary times. Most had no interest in the performing arts. Furthermore, ballerinas were widely considered but a rung above prostitutes, and their performances were considered entertainment for men.
Delarue’s Fanny Elssler in America should be of interest to many bibliophiles of Americana, for it contains facsimiles of period publications and lithographs, including an early–and lengthy–comic strip. This and Ivor Guest’s definitive life of the ballerina (Wesleyan University Press, 1970) are invaluable in understanding the social, cultural, and historical forces at play in America during 1840-42. Although Elssler was admired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and President Martin Van Buren, in 1841 she was subject to a series of attacks from the press (notably Horace Greeley in the Tribune) and from the pulpit (Reverend Henry Ward Beecher). Her artistry, combined with Wikoff’s press support, squelched the anti-Elssler campaign.
31
Mar

Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter

   Posted by: rring   in Americana, Classes

[Posted by Rene Dion for "America Collects Itself: From Colony to Empire (AMST 838/438)]

Scarlet pageIn 1848 the Seneca Falls Convention was held in New York State.  This gathering was unlike any other, as people came to discuss the social, civil, and religious rights of women. For the first time in history the well-established patriarchy of America was being publicly challenged. Two years later, the first in an annual series of National Women’s Rights Conventions took place in Worchester, Massachusetts.  At the same time, not too far from there, Nathaniel Hawthorne was giving life to one of literature’s most famous feminist characters, Hester Prynne of The Scarlet Letter. Set in the harsh Puritan community of seventeenth-century Boston, this tale of an adulterous affair that results in an illegitimate birth reveals themes of legalism, sin and guilt. Although publicly shamed and ostracized, Hester Prynne gains self-knowledge, and her ultimate restoration to emerge as the” first true heroine of American fiction.”

Hawthorne spent his college years building friendships with the likes of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, future naval commander Horatio Bridge and future president Franklin Pierce. After graduating he began to spend much of his time reading, writing and researching his family’s Puritan past. He published his first novel Fanshawe anonymously but did not receive much attention. Eventually, his school mate Bridge convinced him to publish under his own name and without Hawthorne’s knowledge put up money to guarantee any losses with the publisher, Samuel G. Goodrich. Twice-Told Tales, a short story collection published in 1837, was a success and received a few favorable reviews including one from his friend Longfellow.

scarlet letter booksHawthorne continued to write short stories for publication but the income left much to be desired. He and his wife Sophia moved to Salem, Massachusetts to live with Hawthorne’s mother in 1845. He began working at the Salem Custom House but this career was short lived as Hawthorne was let go from the job just three years later. Financially unfortunate but it left the window open for him to take the time to write again. By 1850 he had completed The Scarlet Letter which included a preface that refers to his three-year tenure in the Custom House and makes several allusions to local politicians, who did not find appreciation in the acknowledgement. When he delivered the manuscript in February 1850, Hawthorne said “some portions of the book are powerfully written”, but also added that it would probably not prove to be popular, although he did hope for such. When he read the final part of the novel to his wife, he told a friend that “it broke her heart … which I look upon as a triumphant success.”

Despite complaints from certain people of Salem of being slandered in the introduction and some critics’ objections to the novel’s shocking subject, it was immediately hailed as a work of genius and became known as “America’s first major novel” (American National Biography). A 2,500-copy second edition of The Scarlet Letter included a preface by Hawthorne dated March 30, 1850, that stated he had decided to reprint his introduction “without the change of a word… The only remarkable features of the sketch are its frank and genuine good-humor.”

The Watkinson Library currently houses three 1850 editions of The Scarlet Letter, two American publications and one from England. To assist in distinguishing them from each other, I was referred to Jacob Blanck’s Bibliography of American Literature (v.4), also a part of the Watkinson’s collection. Overall it provides more than 37,000 records of literary works from American writers from the American Revolution to 1930. James L. Harner, who wrote the resource book Literary Research Guide, refers to it as “one of the monumental bibliographies of the twentieth century.” In it I found a flawless description of the first edition with basic information including the publishers (Boston: Ticknor, Fields and Reed) and  further specifics including the type of cloth the cover was made from as well as the kind of paper used (“yellow end papers, cream end papers”). The publisher’s list on page 4 is dated March 1, 1850.

The second edition by the Boston publishers was “extended by the addition of a ‘Preface to the Second Edition’ dated March 30, 1850.” where Hawthorne stated he wouldn’t change a word regarding the Custom House chapter, the semi-autobiographical introduction.

The last version of The Scarlet Letter that the Watkinson holds is a second edition printed in London 1850 by William Paterson. It was not listed in Blanck’s bibliography. Slightly smaller in height and owning a black rather than brown cover it was easily discernible from the American versions.  But once it is opened, exactly the same classic novel sits inside.

The Scarlet Letter received instant and enduring success because it addressed spiritual and moral issues from a uniquely American perspective. In 1850, adultery was a scandalous subject, but because Hawthorne had the support of the New England literary community, it became accepted as suitable for the masses. The Scarlet Letter is widely considered to be Hawthorne’s magnum opus.  This psychological tale of passion, revenge and redemption still resonates with readers today.

31
Mar

Playing Cards and Gaming

   Posted by: rring   in Americana, Classes

[Posted by Jacob Miller for "America Collects Itself: From Colony to Empire" (AMST 838/438)]

A Bibliography of Works in English on Playing Cards and Gaming, compiled by Frederic Jessel, is a chronicle of all written works that reference or discuss subjects surrounding and including playing cards and gaming. Jessel was the dean of the Bodleian Library at Oxford University and one of the foremost collectors of books about playing cards and gaming. His bibliography is still considered the standard authority on the subject and serves as the foundation for the continued collection of works about gaming in all of its forms. The fact that this book still holds weight amongst historians studying this subsection of history speaks to its niche nature, but also substantiates the longstanding historic curiosity and intrigue that surround the often-typecast world of gambling, gaming and cards. There are 1700+ unique bibliographic entries in the text, covering a massive variety of different games. The subject matter includes everything from illustrated informative rulebooks like Winterblossom’s 1875 text, “The Game of Draw-Poker Mathematically Illustrated,” to more psychologically minded texts that explore the compulsions and dark side of the gambling culture.

I discovered a catalogue for a collection by a rare book collector and trader, Natalie Galustian, titled All In: A unique collection of first and rare editions, photographs and prints on poker and gambling. When cross-checking this catalogue’s contents with Jessel’s bibliography, almost all of the works that bore the indexed label of poker and fit the time frame were a part of this catalogued collection. Since “All In” allegedly sold to an unnamed buyer for a sum of over $200,000, it is clear that Jessel’s work served as a foundation for a collection that holds the interest of modern collectors. Galustian was quoted as saying “The collection traces the development of the game through the 19th and 20th centuries, and shows how the wealth, quality and scholarly nature of the writing on poker proves it is a game of skill, not chance.” While I cannot speak for Jessel, the fact that he took on the challenge of chronicling the literary history of gaming in English suggests that he shared in Galustian’s sentiment for gaming as a whole. The existence of the resource he created allows someone to reference all of the scholarly writings along side everything else and draw their own informed conclusions about where gaming fits into the world.

While the impact of this book is specific to the subject matter it addresses, I think that the most important lesson I learned from my experience with this book is the role that a bibliography plays in collecting as a hobby. I would imagine that the bibliography is the foundation for many collections as it allows for a collector to serve their subject matter with the due diligence and background that will allow for fulfillment of the collection’s true purpose. If a collection seeks to preserve a time period, or concept in history through its presence, it must offer an unbiased and complete documentation of all the relevant books and texts associated. The work of a bibliographer and a collector are inherently linked, as their respective work can often serve a common goal. Just as a bibliographer may peruse pre-existing collections to confirm the meticulous reliability of their own work, many of these very same collections and the collectors who created them probably began their journey utilizing the works of famous bibliographers who came before them. Jessel’s work has maintained integrity, as his work seems to be one of the cornerstones for the historical literary contextualization of this subject mater.     

For me, Jessel’s text helps to confirm the validity and importance that the bibliographic medium provided to the intellectual and literary world. Without a collection of all these relevant texts, there is truly no way of substantiating or contextualizing modern day arguments or histories of any game or the culture that surrounds it. This book served its purpose in a multifaceted way as it not only got me thinking about the chronicled history of the world of gambling, but it also led me to make my first acquisition of a collectible book. After recognizing the intricate and diverse subject matter associated with the history of gaming, I purchased a first edition copy of a history of gambling referenced by Galustian’s All In catalogue. David G Schwartz’s Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling will be the newest addition to an ever growing collection of Poker instructional books and historical narratives surrounding the world of gambling. Utilizing the modern day manifestation of the legacy created by Jessel’s text, All In, I have begun the long process of building a collection that attempts to achieve the context and consistency achieved by Jessel and all those the implore the bibliographic medium.

31
Mar

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

   Posted by: rring   in Americana, Classes

[Posted by Allexandra Beatty for AMST 838/438, "America Collects Itself"]

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow illustrated by Felix O.C. Darley (The American Art-Union, 1850).

Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a well-known and beloved tale throughout the northeast.  The ghoulish story, set in Tarrytown, New York (or rather, Sleepy Hollow), narrates the encounter between Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman.  This edition is set in large format (32 x 29 cm), containing 16 pages of text and 6 black and white plates featuring recognizable scenes from the story.  Interestingly, these illustrations were not published interspersed between relevant passages, but appended to the complete narrative.

Subscribers to the American Art-Union would have been familiar with this tale, as it was originally published in 1820.  This edition, released in 1850 and illustrated by Felix O.C. Darley, provided a different experience for readers who were well acquainted with the twists and turns of the Legend’s plot.  Rather, this publication offers a unique synthesis of illustration and text.  Through the lens of another artist (fine, not literary), the overall experience is altered dramatically.  The accompanying images are finely tuned amalgamations of facial expressions, body language, and sparse scenery giving structure to the composition, and grounding the figures within the narrative arc.  Unfortunately, the plates are untitled and, as noted, separated from the original text.  As such, they act as their own narrative, beginning first with Figure 1—a scene within Ichabod Crane’s classroom.

sleepy hollow0001Here, the knobby-kneed schoolteacher is surrounded by a group of disinterested, shy, and mischievous young boys.   Ichabod stares half-heartedly at a quill held in one hand while he pares away the tip with a tool in his other.  sleepy hollow0002

In Figure 2, his expression is starkly the opposite.  Ichabod winches his head in earnest, gesturing a word of caution to the surrounded group of listeners.  One cowers in fear, another stares wide-eyed, and another has drifted to sleep in his arms.  Surrounded by the accouterments of a humble home, this image offers a vision of Ichabod retelling the folklore of Sleepy Hollow, and the legend of the Headless Horseman.

sleepy hollow0003Figure 3 jumps to a scene between Ichabod and the woman of his affection, 18-year-old Katrina Van Tassel.  Perhaps the most evocative of Darley’s illustrations, this piece uses the languid tree limbs mirror Ichabod’s limp body posture as he croons over his beloved.  Katrina sits firm and stoic, looking away from how downward longing.

sleepy hollow0004Figure 4 represents the climax of his relationship with Katrina, as they dance in the center of this composition, Katrina nearly meeting the viewer’s eye and Ichabod looking back at her, again, lovingly.  Among the crowd are a myriad of characters—some drunk, some sleeping, some foolish, and some simply enjoying themselves.  This densely populated scene speaks to the generalized nature of the overall narrative, whereby Washington Irving’s tale typifies a sense of regionalism.  His writing seems to apply to the cultural tendencies of northeastern Americans from the early to mid 19th century.  As such, the illustration of such figures could prove to be a useful tool in connecting American Art-Union subscribers to the narrative, though published 30 years after its intended audience.

sleepy hollow0005sleepy hollow0006Figures 5 and 6 finally reveal the Headless Horseman.  The first shows the character disguised as a traveler, his face turned away from the viewer.  In his lap, an indiscriminate round object sits perfectly out of sight.  Notably, the rider’s horse seems to be gesturing in a similarly disguised manner.  His head is reared down, as if bowing to the oncoming Ichabod Crane, though wide-eyed and seemingly fear-stricken.  The facial expressions of Ichabod and his horse are perfectly mirrored—both caught at the brink of a sharp inhale upon the sight of the cloaked traveler and his horse.  The horse’s legs are taught and spread, in a stopped and abrupt motion.  Ichabod too seems caught off-guard, as his cloak is still billowing behind him.  At their feet, a small puff of dust has been disturbed, signaling unrest and disruption.  The last plate features the exciting chase between the Headless Horseman and Ichabod Crane.  Again, the horses and their respective riders appear with mirrored expressions.  The cloaked rider is finally revealed to be “headless”, while the flank of Ichabod’s panicked plow horse hides the other animal’s face.   Ichabod and his horse are both painfully wide-eyed in sheer dread.  Darley most successfully conveys the stress and tension of the scene within the body of Ichabod’s horse—the visible rib cage, reaching muscles, and taught neck of the animal bespeak terror and desperation as the two clamor toward safety.

As successful as these images may be in visually conveying key points in the written narrative, they seem to lack conclusiveness and fluid linear progression.  These six plates offer only a few glimpses into the characters of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  Furthermore, they offer no sort of finality—though the story ends is a rather poignant paradox.  True to the story, however, there is no neat conclusion to be backed in a nice bow and handed to consumers of said piece.  Rather, the lack of finality in the visual storyboard reflects the integrity of the original narrative, whereby readers are left stunned, reaching back to page one to begin again.

31
Mar

A Little Known Byrd of America

   Posted by: rring   in Americana, Classes

[Posted by Susan Hood for "America Collects Itself: From Colony to Empire"]

A reasonable assumption could be made that books by pre-revolutionary Americans were published before 1776. That is not the case with the scant milestone works by Colonel William Byrd of Westover, Esquire (1674-1744), an aristocratic Virginian known to contemporary scholars of American history, literature, and book collecting as William Byrd II.

Byrd’s manuscript of  “A History of the Dividing Line in the Year 1728”–the subject being the disputed border “betwixt the colonial governments of Virginia and North Carolina”–was evidently favorably known among a coterie of early American historians and literati, but his first-hand account of exploration was not published until 1841 by a small firm in Petersburg, Virginia. This report, with other short works by Byrd, was re-printed in a two-volume set in 1866 in Richmond, Virginia, and another iteration, edited by the scholar John Spencer Bassett, ensued in 1901 from the major New York publishing house of Doubleday, Page.

The Watkinson Library holds the 1841 and 1901 editions, and the differences are striking. The 1841 copy is exceedingly slim, printed on what appears to be thin wood-pulp paper, now dark brown and brittle, the acidic content corroding the white thread binding. The type is small and antiquated to contemporary eyes, and the page margins are exceedingly narrow. In contrast, the 1901 volume, of which only 500 were printed, is lavish: the font size is large, the margins unusually wide, even more so at the page bottom (approximately four inches), the creamy-hued paper is intended to look like laid, and is obviously low-acid or perhaps acid-free, for there is no discoloration.

Was the 1841 publication intended for wide distribution? Who was the audience? What explains the reverential and luxurious 1901 edition? I found a hint in a book in my possession, printed circa 1925: “American Literature” by John Calvin Metcalf. In his thumbnail biography of Byrd, Metcalf states “he was only incidentally a writer; perhaps no one would be more surprised than he, could he return and look into a history of American literature, to find his name high among the authors of the colonial period.” Metcalf briefly discusses the “Dividing Line,” and cites the following passage (comments in brackets are mine):

Since the surveyors [charting the latitude] had enter’d the Dismal [Swamp] they had laid eyes on no living creature; neither bird nor beast, insect nor reptile came into view. Doubtless the eternal shade that broods over this mighty bog, and hinders the sunbeams from blessing the ground, makes it an uncomfortable habitation for anything that has life. Not so much as a Zealand frog could endure so anguish a situation. It had one beauty, however, that delight’d the eye, though at the expense of the other senses: the moisture of the soil preserves a continual verdure, and makes every plant an evergreen, but at the same time the foul damps ascend without ceasing, corrupt the air and render it unfit for respiration. Not even a turkey buzzard will venture to fly over it, no more than the Italian vultures will over the filthy lake Avernus or the birds in the Holy Land over the salt sea where Sodom and Gomorrah formerly stood.

In these sad circumstances the kindest thing we cou’d do for our suffering friends was to give them a place in the Litany. Our chaplain for his part did his office, and rubb’d us up with a seasonable sermon. This was quite a new thing for our brethren of North Carolina, who live in a climate where no clergyman can breathe, any more than spiders of Ireland.

The passage demonstrates Byrd’s erudition, his powers of observation, and gives a taste of his keen and occasionally sardonic wit.

Yet reading only a portion of the “Dividing Line” is revelatory, for Byrd could be classified as an early American “nature writer.” To think the “Dividing Line” was penned eight years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, and more than two centuries before Henry David Thoreau went to live at Walden Pond! Byrd tells of parakeets flying into apple orchards in the fall, “apt to be loud and mischevious”; of conch shells found on beaches; of wolves, foxes, and bears; and of a polecat (a relation of the ferret), which despite issuing a noxious odor to repel enemies, was killed, cooked, and eaten by members of his company.

Byrd explains that the surveying commission took 16 weeks and covered 600 miles. They began surveying at the Atlantic coast, sailing among the coastal islands and inlets, and forging rivers. The expedition was conducted in two parts, in the spring and the fall, to avoid rattlesnakes, which are most active and menacing during the heat of the summer. Rattlesnakes obviously posed dangers to his party (on foot most of the time) and their horses (laden with provisions, muskets, gunpowder, tomahawks, and presumably surveying equipment, tents, and scant changes of clothing). He lists a number of venom antidotes that could be concocted from a number of flowering plants categorized as rattlesnake root and a variety of fern.

Byrd also recounts encounters with settlers, and describes how their “homely log-houses” were built. This, from a wealthy patrician who lived in an enormous mansion made of brick! On the trek, his company baptized children of white residents. The party was also regally entertained by what may have been the last remaining Indian village in those parts. He mentions that the natives groomed their hair with bear grease, and that the women were offered as night companions. He appears to have regarded the native people with favor, whereas he deems white North Carolinians as having a “thorough aversion to labor,” and remarks upon the “Slothfulness of the People,” by which he must mean the men, for he mentions that the women begin their work at dawn. He attributes the men’s laziness to the climate.

For those who thought early American writing was nothing but reiterations of hellfire and damnation, turn to the stylish, informative, and humorous Byrd.

24
Feb

Mourt’s Relation

   Posted by: rring   in Americana, Classes

[Posted by Rene Dion for AMST 838/438 "America Collects Itself"]

Mourt’s Relation is the earliest known eyewitness account of the Pilgrims’ first several months after landing at Cape Cod. Although no official author is listed it is known to have been primarily written by Edward Winslow, a senior leader on the Mayflower and future governor of Plymouth. The account details the day to day diary of the settler’s explorations of their new land, relations with the surrounding Indians, and up to the first Thanksgiving.

Mourts Relation

Mourt’s Relation was first published in London in 1622 by George Morton. The original booklet was mostly lost and forgotten over time and possibly overshadowed by William Bradford’s retrospective account Of Plimoth Plantation written several years later. With this in mind I knew my chances of the Watkinson housing an original copy were fairly slim. What I did find was a copy from 1865. At the beginning is the publisher’s preface which states that this copy is just that, a copy, a facsimile, a “page by page and line by line edition.”  For some reason this encouraged me to continue on. Sure, it wasn’t a 400-year-old book but as I kept reading I could imagine that it was. All I needed were the words on the page for me to travel back to the first days at Plymouth Rock.

As I leafed through I found the Chronological Table of Events listed towards the back. This was a very short daily synopsis of the day’s events starting in July 1620. An example would be “Saturday, November 11. Saw Cape Cod.” I found myself really enjoying reading through each day and envisioning what it must have been like to record a diary of such importance. Events such as on “November 30, 1620:  Wigwams and graves were found as well as the very first baby, Peregrine White was born.” Although I must admit my favorite entry is this: “December 5. Francis Billington nearly blows up the Mayflower.” Who is Frances Billington? I must know more. I had never considered seeing the Pilgrims as individuals rather than a group. Apparently Francis was making explosives and shot a musket in the Mayflower while it was anchored at Cape Cod. As I read on it came to light that these Billingtons were known as troublemakers in the colony. Young John Billington, brother of Francis, got himself lost in the woods in late August. Apparently, this caused enough trouble to earn an entry in the book. John Billington, father of both boys, was hanged for the murder of fellow settler John Newcomen in 1630.

More significant entries included the meeting on February 17, 1621 where Myles Standish was elected as Plymouth Colony’s first commander, a position he would hold until his death in 1656.  Recorded on August 13, 1621 was Standish leading a ten-man search party to find Squanto, the Indian liaison to the Pilgrims, who was captured by the Wampanoag Indians.

The event that Mourt’s Relation is perhaps most associated with among historians is the first Thanksgiving. It appears in a brief paragraph stating, “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after have a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the company almost a week, at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain, and others.” In my research I found it to be believed by historians that Edward Winslow wanted to stress harmony with the tribes and abundance of harvest so as to attract more English settlers to the New World. It is often stated that the hardships of the first year were downplayed by its authors.

As I searched through Mourt’s Relation and found great little facts and stories, I realized how glad I was to have stayed with my initial choice. It had made me want to find out more about the goings on of these transplanted people. When my interest is piqued I have to know much more about a subject. I believe the Watkinson will be seeing much more of me perusing its collection for more fascinating stories of America’s history.

mourts-relation-title-page[Curator's note: here is an image of the title-page of the original 1622 publication]