The American Writers Museum, 180 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, is a new entry in the local museum scene. A current exhibit celebrates the work of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Upcoming events include a discussion of the life and work of Lorraine Hansberry (Feb. 9) and Madeleine L’Engle (Feb. 11). Eve Ewing will discuss her book Electric Arches with poet José Olivarez on Feb. 13. See the website for more information about the museum and events.
“In the first place, we don’t like to be called ‘refugees.’ We ourselves call each other ‘newcomers’ or ‘immigrants’…A refugee used to be a person driven to seek refuge because of some act committed or political opinion held. Well, it is true we have had to seek refuge; but we committed no acts and most of us never dreamt of having any radical opinion…”
These words, which are quite relevant to us today, were written in 1943 by political philosopher Hannah Arendt in her essay “We Refugees.”
Arendt is a leading 20th century philosopher who explored political thought in an era of authoritarianism and fascism before and after World War II. She has much to offer us today.
You can learn more through our library’s collection:
—Hannah Arendt: A Life in Dark Times by Anne C. Heller
—Hannah Arendt (DVD)
—Hannah Arendt: A Critical Introduction
—Rightlessness in an Age of Rights: Hannah Arend and the Contemporary Struggles of Migrants by Ayten Gundogdu
—The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt
—The Life of the Mind by Hannah Arendt
You also may want to check out the BBC’s In our Time Podcast: Hannah Arendt.
If “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary…” sounds very familiar to you, it should! It’s probably one of the most recognized lines from one of the most famous poems ever written by Edgar Allan Poe. The Raven was first published under his name on January 29, 1845, in the New York Evening Mirror. While it made Poe a household name, it didn’t bring him overwhelming financial success.
Our library has access to the free eBook provided by Project Gutenberg. This particular copy is illustrated by Gustave Doré. His illustrations were woodcuts, “A method of printing from an inked block of medium-soft wood (usually pear or cherry) from which an artist has excised all but an illustration…in a woodcut, the finished print is conceived as dark lines on a light ground.”[i]
While the poem is hauntingly beautiful and melodic in its own right, Doré’s illustrations are even more so. Check out The Raven in our catalog.
Edgar Allan Poe Museum. Poes-Biography. n.d. Website. 26 January 2017. <https://www.poemuseum.org/poes-biography>.
Reitz, Joan M. “Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science.” 2004-2014. ABC-CLIO.com. Online Document. 26 January 2017. <http://www.abc-clio.com/ODLIS/odlis_w.aspx>.
It’s that time of year again, when the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful…and you might want to watch the Nutcracker ballet! Two new versions have been added to our library collection. The first is The Nutcracker featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov and the American Ballet Theatre. It premiered in 1976 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and was recorded for television in 1977. It remains one of the most popular televised productions even until today and earned Baryshnikov an Emmy nomination. Our copy is the Blu-ray version which was released in 2012.
The second version is the Nutcracker choreographed by Helgi Tomasson for the San Francisco Ballet. This was a new version of the ballet, which premiered in 2004 at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. The story is set during the time of the Panama–Pacific International Exposition, a 1915 world’s fair held in San Francisco celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal and the city’s recovery from the 1906 earthquake. Another difference from Baryshnikov’s version is that the main female character of Clara is played by a young girl instead of an adult female dancer. One of the extra features of our copy is a documentary on the 1915 World’s Fair.
Both versions of the Nutcracker can be located in the library’s main floor lounge for a limited time. In the meantime, here’s some fun Nutcracker facts!
May 31, 1819 marked the arrival on this earth of a spectacular soul – a poet, a lover, a humanist, an American. Walt Whitman may have been writing nearly a hundred years ago, but his life and his words are as truly radical now as they were then.
We have lots of Walt’s titles, poetry and verse, in our collection. Find the list here.
Learn about his life in this DVD, which was an episode of American Experience on PBS.
Walt and his squad were “America’s First Bohemians.” Read all about them in Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America’s First Bohemians.
Finally, my favorite. Hear Walt read one of his poems on the CD Poetry Speaks.
Back in 1977, ABC-TV aired the Roots miniseries. “With 100 million viewers, the finale still ranks as the third-highest-rated U.S. entertainment program ever measured by Nielsen…” “…the series engendered a national conversation about the legacy of slavery. [Mark] Wolper, whose father, David, was Roots’ executive producer and owned the rights, thanks his teenage son for motivating him to reinvent [Alex] Haley’s story. ‘After he watched the miniseries, my son said, Dad, I understand it’s important, but like your music, it doesn’t speak to me’” (Rudolph 25-26).
Beginning on Memorial Day (Monday, May 30) and continuing over four consecutive nights, the History Channel, A&E, and Lifetime will be airing the retelling of Alex Haley’s television adaptation of Roots. One of the main characters, Kunta Kinte, (Haley claimed was one of his ancestors) was taken from Africa, transported to America, and sold into slavery. He is being played by an unknown actor (Malachi Kirby) as was done in the 1977 version when LeVar Burton was chosen. “History [Channel’s] remake has a similarly recognizable cast [as did the original]. Matthew Goode, Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Tudors) and James Purefoy play slave owners, and Forest Whitaker is Fiddler, the enslaved musician who helps Kinte survive (a role that earned Louis Gossett Jr. an Emmy in the original). Anna Paquin and Mekhi Phifer (ER) play new characters, a Southern belle and her coachman, who share a big secret. Laurence Fishburne shows up in the final episode as Haley” (Rudolph 26).
In our MVCC Library catalog, we have Alex Haley’s 30th anniversary edition of the Pulitzer Prize winning book Roots: the Saga of an American Family and the DVD movie adaptation Roots, both currently available for checkout.
Continuing the Roots theme, we have another book by Haley titled Alex Haley’s Queen: the Story of an American Family. Haley was the grandson of Queen, and his book tells the story about the children of black slave women and their white masters. We also have the first biography on Haley, written by Robert J. Norrell, titled Alex Haley and the Books that Changed a Nation.
“The time [for the retelling of Roots] also seems right with a renewed interest in America’s difficult racial history because of films like 12 Years a Slave… ‘That focus doesn’t happen accidentally,’ Wolper believes. ‘It’s a result of the reaction we have to things that are happening in the world” (Rudolph 26).
Come check out the original version of Roots (in both print and DVD), any other works by Alex Haley, and 12 Years a Slave (in both print and DVD) for the Memorial Day weekend in preparation for the new remake. Also, check out the trailer for the new Roots remake.
Rudolph, Ileane. “Roots Revisited.” TV Guide Magazine May 23 – June 5 2016: 25-27. Print.
Calling all Hobbit and Tolkien fans (young and not so young)! New to our library’s collection is the beautifully illustrated, and bound, 2013 edition of The Hobbit. Jemima Catlin won the distinct pleasure of creating this children’s illustrated edition by way of a university final art project. She decided to create an illustrated edition of another Tolkien short story, titled Roverandom, for her university final. In doing so, she contacted HarperCollins Publishers asking if they could send her the Roverandom text so she could bind it together with her illustrations, into a book, for her project. As a result, the publisher contact asked her to send him a sample of her project. After an in-person meeting, the publisher sent her project on to the Tolkien estate. While Christopher Tolkien (Tolkien’s youngest son) and his wife didn’t feel her illustrations were representative of Tolkien’s Roverandom tale, she was contacted one year later for a meeting with the Tolkien’s to discuss her illustrating a children’s version of The Hobbit. The result is located here in our collection.
Taken from an interview on the Tolkien Library website, she discusses where her idea for the illustrated cover came from. “TL. I’d wish to add one final question to the interview. Looking at the hobbit sitting against the tree on the cover, is this referring to the famous picture of Tolkien? Showing him as a hobbit? Guess he must have like that!
There is a long story behind the cover! I’ll try to keep it shortish though:
The cover illustration for The Hobbit is inspired by the cover for ‘The Red Fairy Book’ by Andrew Lang. I came across this book while searching ‘red book’ on google images for inspiration for the cover. The image on the front of the Red Fairy Book shows a lady leaning against a tree, and this reminded me of the famous photo of Tolkien sitting at the foot of a tree. I thought it would be nice to draw Bilbo in the same position as Tolkien from that famous photo, a way of including him in my drawing somehow. A month later, before drawing the cover illustration, I found out that The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang was one of Tolkien’s favourite books as a child and a big influence on him! This spooky coincidence lead me to drawing Bilbo at the foot of a tree in the same position as Tolkien, and with trailing vines opposite – similar to The Red Fairy Book. Bilbo had to be facing the other way though so that the tree trunk could wrap around the spine – so this slightly disguised the fact that he was sitting in a similar position to Tolkien” (Collier).
To read more of Jemima Catlin’s interview on the Tolkien Library’s website click here.
To visit her webpage click here.
Catlin, Jemima. The Hobbit. n.d. Website. 22 March 2016. <http://www.jemimacatlin.com/thehobbit.html>.
Collier, Pieter . “Interview with Jemima Catlin about the new illustrated edition of The Hobbit.” 10 June 2013. Tolkien Library. Electronic resource. 22 March 2016. <http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/press/1109-interview-jemima-catlin-illustrated-the-hobbit.php>.