Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This Week in Reading December 7 - 13

Today presents a paradox for many librarians. It is the birthday of Melvil Dewey, who was both loved and hated for his Dewey Decimal System because it is both inclusive and exclusive. While there’s supposed to be room for everything, and that makes it findable on the shelf using the number system, anything not Anglocentric gets shoved into the nines at the end. Digital access will eventually change this when text is delivered online but as long as books stand on shelves to be found by library users the Dewey classification system will stay in use as the address of the book on the shelf. (Image from Wikipedia.)

This week also gives us some other American classics. There is novelist Willa Cather, humorists Joel Chandler Harris and James Thurber, poet Emily Dickinson, and classic mystery writer Ross McDonald. From Europe there’s Roman poet Horace, French novelist Gustave Flaubert, and from England, poet John Milton and playwright John Osborne. There are three Nobel prizewinners this week, German poet Nelly Sachs, (1966), Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz, (1988), and Russian novelist Alexandr Solzhenitysn, (1970). And that’s only scratching the surface. Check out more on the weekly list.

This Week’s Question: It’s too easy to quote Thurber again and again so here are two views of literary style from this week’s authors. Who said each?

“Every fine story must leave in the mind of the sensitive reader an intangible residuum of pleasure, a cadence, a quality of voice that is exclusively the writer’s own, individual, unique.”

“You don’t know what it is to stay the whole day with your head in your hands trying to squeeze your unfortunate brain so as to find a word … Ah! I certainly know the agonies of style.”

Answer to Last Week’s Question: Mark Twain said, “Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.”
Jonathan Swift said, “Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own.”

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