Sunday, December 08, 2013

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 32

Greetings to all you readers, and welcome back for what is the thirty-second issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature, our little window into the surprisingly exciting world of books. This time around, we will start by exploring a digitalization project led jointly by Oxford and the Vatican, followed by thirteen rather unbelievable book titles, and we will finish things off by having a look at Edgar Allan Poe’s relevance in the modern world.

Rejuvenating the Old

The idea of physical books being lost the ravages of time is a very real threat which can very well claim the lives of countless ancient books in the near future. The good news is that such a course of events will be prevented on a larger scale as the Vatican and Oxford libraries join forces to digitize countless ancient books.
Oxford and Vatican libraries join forces to digitise ancient books
The Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (BAV) have digitised and made available online some of the world’s most unique and important bibles and biblical texts from their collections.

The move is the start of a four-year digital collaboration by the two institutions announced last year. The digitised texts can be accessed on a dedicated website which has just been launched.

Portions of the Bodleian and Vatican Libraries’ collections of Hebrew manuscripts, Greek manuscripts and early printed books have been selected for digitisation by a team of scholars and curators from around the world.
The selection process has been informed by a balance of scholarly and practical concerns, with conservation staff at the Bodleian and Vatican libraries having worked with curators to assess not only the significance of the content, but the physical condition of the items.

While the Vatican and the Bodleian have each been creating digital images from their collections for a number of years, this project has provided an opportunity for both libraries to increase the scale and pace with which they can digitise their most significant collections, whilst taking care not to expose books to any damage.
Read full article: Computer World UK - Oxford and Vatican libraries join forces to digitise ancient books

Baffling Book Titles

Though most books out there follow rules set by their genres, there are others who go completely out of the box and touch on subjects nobody even knew existed. And so, I present to you the thirteen most baffling book titles with rather curious themes.
The 13 Most Baffling Book Titles
We've all heard the old adage: never judge a book by its cover. But judging it by its title? Hell yeah.

Can just those few words tell us whether a book is worth reading? Probably not. Can they make us wonder if the author was batshit insane? Definitely. Especially if it has a title like...

#13. "Pornogami" by Master Sugoi

According to, 76% of the people who stumble upon "Pornogami" ultimately buy it. So who knows, maybe there's a marketing genius at work here. One that realizes there is a sexual fetish that requires a basic understanding of geometry and ultimately results in paper cuts in places you'll instantly regret.

#12. "The Cookie Sutra" by Edward Jaye

"The Cookie Sutra?" you're probably saying, "Ha! I bet it's about two cookies f**king in various ways!"

And, you'd be right. So, say what you want about the title, but at least it's accurate.

It's hard to know what the point of this book itself is, unless these pictures are to serve as templates for the amateur bakers out there to create the most awkward conversations in Christmas history. "Look, Grandma! You bit off his little erection!"
Read full article: CRACKED.COM - The 13 Most Baffling Book Titles

Poe’s Modern Hauntings

Back in his heyday, Poe’s writings certainly left a mark on his readers, even if he wasn’t always very well received by the general population. Looking back at it all today, one can’t help but notice that many of his writings are still powerful and relevant to this very day.
Poe at 200 -- Eerie After All These Years
On a snowy night toward the end of his life, Edgar Allan Poe delivered a lecture on the origins of the universe. It was an unusual topic -- Poe was always more interested in death than birth -- and the reviews were mixed. Frustrated by the response, Poe announced that 2,000 years would pass before his work was properly admired.

His remarks were soon published as "Eureka: A Prose Poem." The book sold a few hundred copies and then slipped into obscurity, forgotten except for the fact that its author went on to become a giant of American literature in something less than two millennia.

It remains to be seen whether anyone will read Poe in the distant future. As we approach the bicentennial of his birth on Jan. 19, however, it's obvious that Poe is far from "nameless here for evermore."

Hardly anyone escapes from high-school English without bumping into at least a little Poe. "The Raven" remains one of the world's most popular poems as well as the inspiration for the name of Baltimore's professional football team. "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Black Cat," and a number of other short stories are among the most anthologized tales ever written.

An awful lot of Poe looms on the horizon. On Jan. 16, the Postal Service will issue a stamp in his honor. Historic sites in Baltimore, the Bronx, Philadelphia and Richmond, Va., are kicking off year-long celebrations. Publishers plan to take advantage of the bicentennial, too. In October, Doubleday put out "Poe's Children," a collection of horror stories by the likes of Neil Gaiman and Stephen King.

The Mystery Writers of America has just released two additional volumes: "In the Shadow of the Master" includes 16 of Poe's greatest hits, plus commentaries by best-selling novelists such as Michael Connelly and Joseph Wambaugh; "On a Raven's Wing" features original tales by Mary Higgins Clark and others, each inspired by Poe.

Praise for Poe is by no means universal. The reviews always have been mixed, even on large questions about his legacy. "Enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection," sniffed Henry James.

Yet there can be no doubt that Poe left a deep mark on literature. He invented both the detective story ("The Murders in the Rue Morgue") and the sequel to the detective story ("The Mystery of Marie Roget" and "The Purloined Letter"). An attraction to new technologies and cutting-edge ideas such as hot-air balloons, mesmerism, and cryptography made him a pioneer of science fiction. He could be a savage critic: "I intend to put up with nothing I can put down," he boasted.
Read full article: The Wall Street Journal - Poe at 200 -- Eerie After All These Years

Edgar Allan Poe
Thus comes to an end the thirty-second edition of Gliding Over the World of Literature, though I prefer to think of it as a happy ending, one which either taught you something, or at least gave you a lick of entertainment for the short time you spent here.

Thankfully, there is seldom a dull moment in the grand world of literature, and you can bet the house we will return next week with more news to satiate your hunger for knowledge. Until then, happy readings and happy holidays!

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