Sunday, January 30, 2011

A "Catcher in the Rye" Picture Album

The cover of an early edition illustrates one of Holden's happy moments.

9/15/1961 "For of all the characters set to paper by American authors since the war, only Holden Caulfield, the gallant scatologer of The Catcher in the Rye, has taken flesh permanently, as George F. Babbitt, Jay Gatsby, Lieut. Henry and Eugene Gant took flesh in the '20s and '30s."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Neglected Gems from The Time Reading Program

Can a Classic be forgotten? If it is forgotten, is it still a Classic?

Maybe so, if it's still available for rediscovery and appreciation.  Case in point: the titles chosen, back in the 60s, by the editors of Time magazine for their Reading Program. Here is what Wikipedia tells us about it:

The Time Reading Program...was a book club by Time from 1961 through 1966....TRP books followed no specific theme but covered literature both classic and contemporary, as well as nonfiction works and historic topics. The books themselves were chosen by National Book Award judge Max Gissen, perhaps best remembered as the chief book reviewer for Time from 1947 until the TRP began in 1961.

The books themselves were published by Time Inc. and followed a specific format despite their widely varying subject matter....Each book had a wraparound cover with a continuous piece of artwork across both covers and the spine, generally a painting by a contemporary artist commissioned specifically for the TRP edition. The TRP covers attracted a measure of acclaim at the time--according to Time, 19 TRP covers were cited in 1964 for awards from The American Institute of Graphic Arts, Commercial Art Magazine and the Society of Illustrators guild.

Perhaps most importantly for scholars and collectors, most of the TRP books had unique introductions written by various scholars specifically for the TRP edition. In a few cases, the texts have also been revised by the authors to create a definitive edition, although this should not be confused with abridgement, as the goal is not to make the book shorter....
Time once again attempted the reading program in the early 80s, with many of the same titles. Today, as with most book club editions, TRP books are generally not of particular value to collectors, with most titles being worth less than five dollars even in excellent condition.
Some of my copies were acquired when I belonged to the club in the 80s; the rest I've collected for considerably less than five dollars at second-hand books stores. They're easy to spot, being all the same size, having beautiful covers of stiff cardboard (now tending to break with age) and bearing the words "Time Inc" on their spines. When I see one, I buy it. 

So now are you wishing for a look at the list of titles? It so happens I've created one just for you. You will find it here, at "Lists of Bests." You can even check off the ones you've read and see what percentage of the total you've "consumed." And while poking around there, you might find, on other lists, other neglected classics to discover again.

And if you're really into forgotten classics, try perusing this website, The Neglected Books Page. Heaven forbid a website about neglected reading should itself be at all neglected!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Huckleberry Hacked part 2

This week on Studio360 Kurt Anderson interviews Dr.  Alan  Gribben, the publisher of the new version of Huckleberry Finn.  You can find the interview here and listen to the interview only under the picture of Huck on the right side of the page.

Not surprisingly, the situation has inspired our nation's political cartoonists:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Huckleberry Hacked

Just in time for our January discussion, Huckleberry Finn is making headlines. A new edition of Twain's book has just been published, in which all instances of the word "nigger" have been replaced with "slave," and "Injun" with "Indian."   

You'll find details in the New York Times article here, unless as sometimes happens the link is not permanent. In that case, to paraphrase the Three Stooges, "Google anything--you'll get it."

Wonder what Mr. Twain would think of to say about this... Let's hope he doesn't get airbrushed out of the photo.