Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 35

Good morning, day, afternoon or evening to you all, depending on when you are reading this, and welcome back yet again for what will be the final issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature for the year 2013. You've all contributed to making this year a wonderful one for us, and so we did our best to bring you news that are both entertaining and uplifting at the same time.

We will start by looking at ten famous authors who distinguished themselves also as human beings, followed by an exploration of twelve cases of book thievery, capping things off by looking at thirty rather famous others who saw many of their works rejected in their time.

Restoring Hope in Humanity


When we think of authors, we imagine ourselves people who are only distinguished from others by virtue of the stories they can weave on paper. However, it is good to be reminded from time to time that authors are, for all intents and purposes, regular human beings just like everyone else, and there are times when they can rise above all intents and challenges and leave a mark on this planet through action rather than writing.
10 Famous Authors Who Remind Us That Great Writers Can Also Be Decent Human Beings
Authors, and artists in general, are notoriously difficult to deal with. The list of writers who created masterworks that illuminated truths about the human condition – all while behaving badly toward others in their actual lives -- is a long one.

There are certainly exceptions to this rule, though. Some authors manage to create beauty on the page and also do good in various ways -- whether by donating their time and money to worthy causes, connecting with their fans in meaningful ways, or just being kind to their friends and families.

Here, from a range of genres and time periods, are some notable exceptions to the "all famous authors are jerks" rule:

Mark Twain was an ardent anti-imperialist. Regarding American imperialism in the Philippines, he notes, "I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem."

He was also a firm supporter of abolition, civil rights and women's rights (including suffrage). He didn't believe that non-Caucasians received the justice they deserved: "I have seen Chinamen abused and maltreated in all the mean, cowardly ways possible to the invention of a degraded nature... but I never saw a Chinaman righted in a court of justice for wrongs thus done to him." He also gave financial support to African-Americans and women who needed it (including Helen Keller).
Read full article: Huffington Post - 10 Famous Authors Who Remind Us That Great Writers Can Also Be Decent Human Beings

Mark Twain

A Brief History of Book Thievery


Though this type of crime certainly gets very little media attention, book thievery is actually a rather widespread phenomenon, especially when you consider that countless high-value books are stored in libraries with minimal or virtually non-existent security. To quell your desire for book-related crimes, what follows is a look at twelve stories revolving around book thievery, each of them remarkable in its own right.
12 Tales of Book Thievery
As devoted book lovers and defenders of libraries, there are few things that upset us more than people who steal books. We read about a recent case of book theft in China this week, detailed after the jump, which compelled us to explore a brief history of shocking book thievery.

Greed, desperation, and delusion have compelled ordinary citizens and literary insiders to snatch rare books and manuscripts for dubious purposes. Most of these stories about stolen titles read like a gripping thriller, but the following tales of book theft are sadly all too real.

In humanity’s quest for the ever-elusive meaning of life, people have done some extreme and downright stupid things in search of an answer. Take a man in Nanjing, China, for example. He stole 800 science, history, and poetry books.

“I couldn’t comprehend the meaning of life,” the thief known only as Mr. Lee claimed.

“I was hoping to find the answer by reading those books.”

Lee swiped the texts from his local bookstore over a span of six months, often combing the stacks up to four times a week. He would sell the books after reading them. It’s hard to believe that in those thousands of pages Lee didn’t learn stealing was wrong.

The Romm Gang sound like characters from a Scorsese film, but the criminals were a group of book thieves that operated into the 1930s. The gang lifted collectible titles from library shelves and sold them off to the highest bidder on New York’s Book Row. Respected antiquarian Charles Romm had questionable connections to the bookish thugs. A coveted copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems was one of the rarest snatched by the Romm Gang.

Libraries responded by taking titles off the shelves, hiring security, and adding unique markings to books that would be difficult to remove. Eventually New York Public Library special investigator G. William Bergquist took over the case, bringing the thieves to justice. You can read more about the Romm Gang in Travis McDade’s Thieves of Book Row: New York’s Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Stopped It.
Read full article: Flavorwire - 12 Tales of Book Thievery

Edgar Allan Poe’s
Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems

Building Success from Failure


In our eyes, the greatest authors are often perceived as geniuses with no blemishes on their record, capable of spewing out one immortal masterpiece after the next in the bat of an eye.
However, the truth is that many of these so-called geniuses and visionaries faced the same starts and struggles as most other people out there, being visited by failure many times before finally achieving the success they are renowned for today.
30 famous authors whose works were rejected (repeatedly, and sometimes rudely) by publishers
The revered sage Frank Sinatra once said, "The best revenge is massive success."

He never spoke a truer word, particularly when it comes to aspiring authors who, after suffering severe smackdowns from publishers, went on to become renowned writers.

Think this has happened to only a select few? Guess again. Cast your eye upon this list of Cinderella authors (and the nasty little notes publishers sent them) and savor the taste of their sweet, sweet revenge.

1. Stephen King

Mr. King received dozens of rejections for his first novel, Carrie; he kept them tidily nailed to a spike under a timber in his bedroom.

One of the publishers sent Mr. King's rejection with these words:

We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.

2. William Golding

Mr. Golding's Lord of the Flies was rejected by 20 publishers. One denounced the future classic with these words (which should be inscribed on the hapless publisher's tomb):

an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.

3. John le Carré

After Mr. le Carré submitted his first novel, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, one of the publishers sent it along to a colleague, with this message:

You’re welcome to le Carré – he hasn’t got any future.

4. Anne Frank

According to one publisher, The Diary of Anne Frank was scarcely worth reading:

The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the 'curiosity' level.

15 publishers (other than this dope) also rejected The Diary of Anne Frank.

5. Joseph Heller

In an act of almost unparalled stupidity, one publisher wrote of Mr. Heller's Catch-22:

I haven’t the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say…Apparently the author intends it to be funny – possibly even satire – but it is really not funny on any intellectual level.

6. J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (later Sorceror’s) Stone was rejected by a dozen publishers, including biggies like Penguin and HarperCollins.

Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, only took it on at the behest of the CEO’s eight-year old daughter, who begged her father to print the book. God bless you, sweetheart.
Read full article: Examiner.com - 30 famous authors whose works were rejected (repeatedly, and sometimes rudely) by publishers

J.K. Rowling

And so comes to a close a wonderful year of book news that yielded us thirty-five Gliding Over the World of Literature issues. We would just like to take this opportunity and thank once again all those of you who came to read our website, whether you spent two seconds or two hours on it.

It is truly becoming a special haven for book lovers, and come next year we plan on pursuing that goal with perseverance and determination. Happy holidays to you all, and see you next year!

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