Browsing the archives for the archives category.

Nabokov’s papers to be unsealed June 23

archives, canon, writers' lives


UPDATE [6/25/09]: The Library of Congress has posted a press release. [via Maud Newton]


The Library of Congress Manuscripts Division has two 20+ containers of Vladimir Nabokov’s papers under seal. Tomorrow, June 23, 2009, the restrictions set by his son are scheduled to expire, meaning that this set of papers will be completely available to the public.

To see the papers, you must go to the Library’s Manuscript Reading Room. I can give more details to anyone interested. If you peruse these papers and post something about them, please let me know.

A list of restricted collections at the Library is available at my other site, The Memory Hole.

{Thanks to Mike Ravnitzky for the heads-up.}

“Madame Bovary” drafts online

archives, blogs & sites, canon, fiction

From Reuters:

Drafts of “Madame Bovary,” Gustave Flaubert’s classic tale of adultery and thwarted dreams, are being shown online for the first time thanks to a mass effort to transcribe the originals.

Some 650 volunteers from all over the world, including teenagers, an oil worker and a cleaning lady, have transcribed thousands of often hardly legible hand-written manuscripts in a project overseen by a museum in Rouen in northwestern France. …

The decade-long project to prepare the writings for publication on the Internet cost 120,000 euros and was supported by the work of literature fans from 12 countries.

The result can be seen at and is meant to appeal to specialists as well as amateurs.

The 10,000 inscriptions of Alhambra

archives, art/graphics, history, religion

Wall Inscriptions at the Alhambra (Granada)

Researchers are cataloging and translating the 10,000 Arabic inscriptions coating the walls and ceilings of Spain’s Alhambra palace.

Many inscriptions consist of aphorisms, terse sayings embodying a general truth, such as “Be sparse in words and you will go in peace” and “Rejoice in good fortune, because Allah helps you.”

What the researchers have found so far is that, contrary to popular belief, verses from the Koran and poetry represent only a tiny minority of the messages in classical Arabic that cover the Alhambra, Europe’s finest example of Muslim architecture.

“They do not make up not even 10 percent of what has been studied so far,” explained Mr Castilla. Instead the elegant Arabic script contains a large amount of sloganeering, predominantly praise for the Nasrid dynasty who ruled Granada for two and half centuries.

The Nasrid motto - “There is no victor but Allah” - is the most common inscription found so far.

The next most common messages are isolated words like “happiness” and “blessing” that are thought to be expressions of divine wishes for the Muslim rulers of Granada.

Until now there have only been partial studies of what the inscriptions meant, including one ordered by the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella who sought to purge Spain of Muslims after the reconquest of Granada in 1492.

“It seems incredible that there is no exhaustive catalogue (of the inscriptions) in the 21st century,” said Mr Castilla.

Many of the inscriptions are wrapped around arches and pillars, making them hard to read with the naked eye from ground level.

Further complicating the task is the fact that artisans who did the engraving used an elaborately cursive script, which can be difficult to read. Calligraphy was a major art form in a culture that banned human images.

The researchers hope to have 65 percent of the inscriptions catalogued and translated into Spanish by the end of the year and the entire project finished in 2011.

The inscriptions will be later translated into English and French.

A DVD and book have been published containing the findings in the Alhambra’s 14th-century Comares Palace.

Wall Inscriptions at the Alhambra (Granada)

{via the Daily Grail}

{images by cconaty}

War of the Worlds images motherlode

archives, art/graphics, canon, science fiction

war-of-the-worlds-coverThis site displays the covers of 355 editions of Wells’ War of the Worlds, from 1898 to 2008, in English, German, Hebrew, Catalan, Chinese, Turkish, etc.


Another page on the same site has dozens of images from illustrated editions, graphic novels, and comic adaptaions through the decades.

And don’t miss the third page, showing miscellaneous imagery related to audio, video, models, fan art, etc.

From Leary’s archives

archives, drugs, subversive lit

Daniel Terdiman from CNet News got to rummage through the 400 boxes in Timothy Leary’s archives. He sends back this report and photo gallery, which includes images of one of Leary’s letters to Allen Ginsberg (below). (For those interested, RE/Search’s latest book, Leary on Drugs, includes previously unpublished material from Uncle Tim’s archives.)



More on Hemingway’s Cuba papers

archives, canon

Yesterday I posted about the copies of 3,000+ previously unseen documents from Hemingway’s estate that are now at the JFK Library. I emailed the library, and they sent me their press release, which doesn’t appear to be online. The crux is this:

Examples of the type of documents that will be available to researchers in Boston include:

Letters to Hemingway from his family including his mother Grace Hall and his sons John and Patrick;
Over a dozen letters from Adriana Ivanich, the possible muse for his novel Across the River and Into the Trees.  Adriana also designed the dust jackets for Across the River and Into the Trees and The Old Man and the Sea;
A group of letters to Mary Welsh Hemingway [his fourth wife] written when they first met and were both serving as war correspondents in Europe during World War II;
Letters or cables from such luminaries as Robert Capa, Pablo Casals, Marlene Dietrich, Sinclair Lewis, Lillian Ross and Ingrid Bergman;
Mail from friends and fans particularly after Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature and published Old Man and the Sea.

The press release also clears up the question of whether the screenplay for The Old Man and the Sea is an unused one written by Hemingway. Nope. Oh well, there’s still that alternate ending to For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Here’s the full press release:

Continue Reading »

Hemingway wrote alternative ending to For Whom the Bell Tolls

archives, canon

hemingway_typingHemingway wrote a second ending to For Whom the Bell Tolls. As it stands, the novel has a beautifully, maddeningly ambiguous “ending.” Does this new version answer any of the questions we’ve been left with for 69 years? It looks like we’ll find out in late spring, when the JFK Library makes available copies of 3,000+ previously unseen documents from Papa’s Cuban estate. The Associated Press reports:

Now, thanks to an agreement between U.S. Rep James McGovern, D-Mass., and the Cuban government, copies of those writings are at the John F. Kennedy Library.

The archival replicas include corrected proofs of “The Old Man and the Sea,” a movie script based on the novel, an alternate ending to “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and thousands of letters, with correspondence from authors Sinclair Lewis and John Dos Passos and actress Ingrid Bergman. The documents were previewed Thursday and will likely be available to researchers in late spring.

That mention of a screenplay for The Old Man and the Sea is also intriguing. Hemingway wasn’t known to have written screenplays for his works. (The screenplay for the 1959 movie, starring Spencer Tracy, was written by Peter Viertel.) Is this a reference to something he wrote, or is it just a copy of Viertel’s screenplay?

When the documents are opened to the public, I’d be glad to hear from anybody who gives them a look.

All 30,000 of Ben Franklin’s papers online

archives, bio, history

ben_franklinThe Papers of Benjamin Franklin website contains digitized, searchable versions of all of Franklin’s 30,000 extant papers - books, pamphlets, scientific papers, Poor Richard’s Almanacks, correspondence, etc.  This collection will occupy 47 printed volumes when Yale’s book series is completed. (Via Boing Boing, where the website was briefly mentioned in this post by guest-blogger Steven Johnson, author of The Invention of Air.)

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