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Month: February 2017

Anna D. Jaroszyńska-Kirchmann. The Polish Hearst: Ameryka-Echo and the Public Role of the Immigrant Press

Anna D. Jaroszyńska-Kirchmann. The Polish Hearst: Ameryka-Echo and the Public Role of the Immigrant Press. University of Illinois Press, 2015. 304 p. ISBN 9780252039096. US $60.

In 1936, Pawel Maloposki published a letter in the “Corner for Everybody” section of his local Polish-language newspaper, writing: “if you once drop by this ‘Corner,’ it is not easy to leave it—so it is not surprising that I too made my home here, and since I did, I want to contribute to its benefit” (151). These lines illustrate Maloposki’s sense of loyalty to a discourse community located within the pages of the newspaper Ameryka-Echo, which is the primary focus of Anna D. Jaroszyńska-Kirchmann’s groundbreaking book, The Polish Hearst: Ameryka-Echo and the Public Role of the Immigrant Press.

Sasha Abramsky. The House of Twenty Thousand Books

Sasha Abramsky. The House of Twenty Thousand Books. New York: New York Review of Books, 2014. 359 p. ill. ISBN 9781590178881. US $27.95

This wondrously absorbing, eloquently written, well-researched memoir testifies to the remarkable life of Chimen Abramsky, an autodidact and bibliophile, left-wing intellectual, teacher, and polymath. Chimen ran a bookshop in London’s East End and lived in a castle of books consisting largely of Marxist / socialist literature and Jewish history.

Tara Andrews and Caroline Macé, eds. Analysis of Ancient and Medieval Texts and Manuscripts: Digital Approaches

Tara Andrews and Caroline Macé, eds. Analysis of Ancient and Medieval Texts and Manuscripts: Digital Approaches. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2014. 346 p., 27 b/w and 51 col. ill. ISBN: 9782503552682. €97.00 (hardcover).

For many, the detailed study of ancient and medieval manuscripts may evoke images of a sort of textual archeologist working alone in a painstaking effort to unearth and dust-off forgotten texts. During the earliest days of formalized modern manuscript studies in the nineteenth century, this picture might have been apt as collectors, enthusiasts, and scholars mined caches of manuscripts across Europe and the Near East in a race to discover and recover ancient and medieval texts. As the field evolved in the twentieth century, scholars shifted their focus to the application of a range of critical theoretical approaches to the countless texts their predecessors had made available.

Jesse Zuba. The First Book: Twentieth Century Poetic Careers in America

Jesse Zuba. The First Book: Twentieth Century Poetic Careers in America. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016. xiii, 213p. ISBN 9780691164472. US $39.50.

On the face of it, the notion of a “poetic career” seems contradictory. As Jesse Zuba acknowledges, the benefits can be obscure, retirement plans nonexistent. But the strength of The First Book is its articulation of contradictions at the heart of this idea, and how twentieth-century American poets from Wallace Stevens to Louise Glück work them out.

G. Thomas Tanselle. Portraits & Reviews

G. Thomas Tanselle. Portraits & Reviews. Charlottesville: The Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, 2015. 485p. ISBN 9781883631161. $55.00.

Many years ago, as I sat in my first bibliography class taught by Donald Krummel at the University of Illinois, I skimmed the semester’s assigned reading and a few familiar names caught my eye: Fredson Bowers, Philip Gaskell, D. F. McKenzie. However, another name really grabbed hold of my curiosity: G. Thomas Tanselle. Not from recognizing his name, but because of the sheer volume of articles listed on the syllabus.

Vanessa Meikle Schulman. Work Sights: The Visual Culture of Industry in Nineteenth-Century America

Vanessa Meikle Schulman. Work Sights: The Visual Culture of Industry in Nineteenth-Century America. Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2015. xi, 278p., ill. ISBN 9781625341952. US $29.95 (paperback).

With strong opinions of belonging and citizenship motivating current debates on immigration reform and global economics, Vanessa Schulman’s Work Sights: The Visual Culture of Industry in Nineteenth-Century America proves timely, providing useful historical context through which we can understand the ways that these concepts were shaped and circulated in nineteenth-century America.

Susan M. Ryan. The Moral Economies of American Authorship: Reputation, Scandal, and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Marketplace

Susan M. Ryan. The Moral Economies of American Authorship: Reputation, Scandal, and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Marketplace. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. x, 217p. ISBN 9780190274023. US $65.00.

Deluxe limited editions with an author’s inscription were common at the end of the nineteenth century, but it is surprising to find a 1900 Haworth Edition of the novels of Charlotte Brontë signed, “Sincerely yours, C. Brontë,” as she had died a half-century earlier. While Susan Ryan only references the practice of facsimile signatures in passing, her discussion of what she calls the “moral economy” of authorship makes sense of this practice as a marketing ploy.

Barbara Ryan and Milette Shamir, eds. Bigger than Ben-Hur: The Book, Its Adaptations, and Their Audiences

Barbara Ryan and Milette Shamir, eds. Bigger than Ben-Hur: The Book, Its Adaptations, and Their Audiences. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2016. xviii, 269p., ill. ISBN 978815634034. US $34.95.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, had sold more copies than any other novel. There were over 6,000 performances of the stage play adaptation between its debut in 1899 and 1920. Both the 1925 and 1959 films were blockbusters; the 1959 film won 11 Oscars (xi). Ben-Hur is an immensely important and largely neglected cultural text, and this is the first essay collection to address it from many perspectives, with particular emphasis on reception.

Pamela Spence Richards, Wayne A. Wiegand, and Marija Dalbella, eds. A History of Modern Librarianship: Constructing the Heritage of Western Culture

Pamela Spence Richards, Wayne A. Wiegand, and Marija Dalbella, eds. A History of Modern Librarianship: Constructing the Heritage of Western Culture. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2015. 248p., notes, bibliographies, index. ISBN 9781610690997. US $60.00.

This broad study focuses on the history and development of librarianship and libraries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Five scholars contribute a chapter each: about Europe; the United States and Canada; Africa; Australasia; and digital convergence. Originally conceived by Pamela Spence Richards, the project was revitalized by Wayne Wiegand. The primary audience is library and information science students and beginning historians of libraries across the globe.

Robert J. Norrell. Alex Haley and the Books That Changed a Nation

Robert J. Norrell. Alex Haley and the Books That Changed a Nation. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2015. x, 251p., ill. ISBN 9781137279606. US $27.00 (hardback).

It is difficult to believe that this is the first biography of Alex Haley, the author who wrote perhaps the two most influential books on African-American history in the twentieth century. Robert Norrell skillfully examines the extraordinary achievements of the enigmatic man behind Roots (1976) and The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965), books that transformed Americans’ understanding of race.