Saturday, September 03, 2011

The joys of truffle-hunting

Phone calling zones as alternate states (via Bookforum).

"The e-book is yesterday's mass-market."

Great piece on Fiona McCarthy at the Guardian (link courtesy of my father) - I have Amazoned a copy of Last Curtsey...

I do not usually have cause to say this, but there is an absolutely delightful essay in the current issue of Eighteenth-Century Studies! (Also a very good review by Suzanne Keen of two particularly interesting recent books in eighteenth-century studies, Blakey Vermeule's Why Do We Care about Literary Characters? and Alan Richardson's The Neural Sublime.) This link will only work for Columbia affiliates, but hie thee to thine own local library website to read Patrick Spedding's really indispensable essay "'The New Machine': Discovering the Limits of ECCO." The abstract doesn't really do justice to the essay's delightfulness:
This essay explores some of the difficulties faced by eighteenth-century scholars when conducting research using scanned text-bases, particularly Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO). It begins with an explanation of some of the general problems that face the users of all scanned text-bases. These problems are illustrated in an account of research undertaken into the history of the condom and its representation in eighteenth-century texts. The failure of ECCO searches to produce meaningful results brings these problems into sharp focus, but also suggests novel ways in which they may be overcome.
I am fascinated by these questions about ECCO, and anyone who regularly relies on searching OCR-produced databases has to read the whole essay; but it also has an excellent appendix of eighteenth-century references to condoms, of which I single out this one for your delectation:
White Kennett's Condom, a Poem (London, 1723) and "Armour: A Poem" (London, 1723) do not survive. The poem was reprinted in Cupid's Metamorphoses or, Love in All Shapes. Being the Second and Last Volume of the Poetical Works of Mr. William Pattison (London, 1728), 306–7: "Hear, and attend: In Armour's mighty Praise / I sing, for sure 'tis worthy of a Song. / … / Happy the Man, who in his Pocket keeps, / Whether with Green or Scarlet Ribband bound, / A well made C—— He, nor dreads the Ills / Of Shankers or Cordee, or Buboes Dire!"
Light reading catch-up to follow later in the day once I have done more unpacking - I got home late Wednesday night, but things were in relative disarray here and I had to wait till subletters finished getting stuff out Thursday evening before I could really think about putting anything away or getting things set up for my own purposes again. Had a great trip to the library on Thursday, though - got all sorts of good things (highlights include this and this and a whole host of other things to read to get ready to talk about Helen Hill's last film at the end of the month). Have also been luxuriating in the amazing lavishness of the Chelsea Piers Sports Center - it is not really the salient thing to single out, but the showers there are completely unbelievable (it seems unlikely that I will ever live in an apartment with this sort of style, but it is my fantasy one day to have a commodious shower room with a slate floor!)...

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