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charlottebronte2charlottebronteCelebrating the two-hundredth anniversary of Charlotte Bronte’s birth, The Morgan has assembled an exhibition of material related to her life (1816-1855) from its own archives and those in England. The centerpiece of the show, which runs through January 2, 2017, is a portion of the original Jane Eyre manuscript.


KeysOfTheKingdom“As you know from the congressional inquiry, two years before the attack, bin Laden threatened the kingdom with revolution unless al-Qaeda’s operatives were given access to and support from the Saudi’s agents in the U.S. The old king capitulated.” Senator Bob Graham, Keys to the Kingdom, (Vanguard Press, 2011)

The ‘principles’ underlying the U.S./Saudi relationship are not only unsound but evil, with decades of slaughter to show for it. The latest being the destruction of Yemen and Syria. Those who have sought for Assad to “go” have brought hell to Syria and likely to themselves.

On a day that saw President Obama received coldly in Saudi Arabia and 500 refugees drown while fleeing murderous wars initiated by Saudi Arabia and supported by the U.S., one can only hope that the next U.S. president will freeze Saudi assets, halt weapon sales, and establish a no-fly zone over that country. But that would be unlikely if Hillary Clinton is the next president, given the enormous sums gifted to the Clinton Foundation by the House of Saud.

BookFair2016BookFair2016aThe 2016 New York Antiquarian Book Fair is at the Park Avenue Armory through April 10.

“In nature’s infinite book of secrecy
A little I can read.”
Shakespeare, Anthony & Cleopatra

LeftBankBooks1LeftBankBooks3LeftBankBooks2Last day for Left Bank Books.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

AliceInWonderlandAliceInWinderland2“Dear dear! How queer everything is today! And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I’ve changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same person when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is, ‘Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle!” Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Alice 150 Years in Wonderland is at the Morgan Library & Museum (June 26-October 26, 2015).

The show includes: the original manuscript of Alice on loan from the British Library, drawings, proofs, rare editions and correspondences.

Artwork: John Tenniel

BEA2015aBEA2015bThis year’s BEA, May 27-29 at the Javits Center, welcomes China as the “global market forum guest of honor.” BookCon follows on May 30-31.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

Books-Gorbachev (2)Books-BushClinton (2)With book culture in America disappearing, a recent book sale in NYC featured an interesting juxtaposition.

One vendor had signed first edition copies of memoirs by George H.W. Bush and “Hillary” for $175 each. Across the aisle a vendor was selling a first edition signed Mikhail Gorbachev volume for $900.

Faulkner-Hamlet (2)The United States continues to be a place where new things need to look old, and old things (and people) need to look new.

For example, this 2003 copy of Thomas Jefferson—Basic Writings has a dust jacket made to look old (see brown spots). It sits next to a 1940 first edition copy of William Faulkner’s The Hamlet, considered by many to be an important work in American literature—but with a dust jacket that one ABAA book dealer recently wrote was “too ruff…to be able to resell.”

What would Faulkner say about that? Perhaps: “I told you so; blame the Snopeses, with their snap-on bow ties, acting like Sartorises!”

One shouldn’t disregard shabby volumes. In his introduction to “Nostromo” (Doubleday, 1924), Joseph Conrad writes that his inspiration for the work came from “a shabby volume picked up outside a second hand bookshop.”

HavelALifeRemnickZantovskyTwenty-five years ago (Nov. 17)  the peaceful Velvet Revolution brought an end to Communist rule in the former Czechoslovakia, and led to play right and dissident leader Vaclav Havel (1936-2011) becoming President.

Mr. Havel’s former Press Secretary, Michael Zantovsky, is out with a book that some are calling the definitive biography of Havel. He was interviewed about the book by David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, before an audience last evening at Bohemian Hall in NYC.

Mr. Zantovsky described Vaclav Havel, as “a hero for what he has done,” but also as a flawed man filled with “guilt and doubt,” who made mistakes but was committed to telling the truth.

When asked why Havel supported the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq? Zantovsky said “because Havel trusted the American President.”

The American people and the world are learning there is no future in trusting American Presidents—who are guided more by Bolshevik values than the truth. Ironically, it’s the American leadership that has become Bolshevik (collapsing societies) in recent years, with the Russians (and Czechs) more Jeffersonian.

In his conversation with Mr. Zantovsky, Mr. Remnick suggested that the Czech Republic’s post-revolution success was an “outlier”, and that other countries in the region, especially Russia (and Putin) have disappointed. Later LE asked Mr. Remnick why he was down on Putin? He responded with a question: “I should be high on him?” LE then suggested that the U.S. government has done more harm in the world than Putin and Russia in the last 25 years. Remnick closed with: “It’s a longer conversation,” and left.

“I favor ‘antipolitical politics.’ that is, politics not as the technology of power and manipulation, of cybernetic rule over humans or as the art of the utilitarian, but politics as one of the ways of seeking and achieving meaningful lives, of protecting them and serving them. I favor politics as practical morality, as service to the truth, as essentially human and humanly measured care for our fellow humans. It is, I presume, an approach which, in this world, is extremely impractical and difficult to apply in daily life. Still, I know no better alternative.” Vaclav Havel, Open Letters (Random House, 1991)

Photographs: Stephen Wise

NYNOW2014-BooksClassic. A book which people praise but don’t read.” Mark Twain

Photograph: Stephen Wise