Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Best... Script Ever

First page of the Reel 5 transcript for the Las Vegas Superman meeting
In the summer of 1975, four men met in a room in Las Vegas to hash out the details of how to bring their version of Superman to the big screen. Mario Puzo, the Oscar-winning author of both the novel and screenplay The Godfather, had been hired by movie producer Ilya Salkind and his partner Pierre Spengler, who were in the room. The fourth member of the think tank was Carmine Infantino, who had illustrated and edited numerous titles for DC Comics and was the company's publisher at the time. Ultimately, the story would undergo numerous revisions and rewrites until it was released to commercial and critical acclaim in 1978. However, the initial vision for the movie, as conceived by Salkind, was that it would be a movie rooted firmly in a camp sensibility, akin to the very successful 1966 Batman movie. The plan was also for the script to span two movies: Superman and Superman II.

Fourth page of the Reel 5 transcript for the Las Vegas Superman meetingHere at Special Collections in the Puzo Papers, we have a transcript of that Las Vegas meeting. The emphasis on camp is evident from the very first page, as the men debate how to switch the focus from a detonated atom bomb to the Pope, and what to do about the relationship between Lois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman. Then one of the men mentions the need to have an "underwater thing," because, by the time the movie will be made, "Jaws will be played out" and so they "can have some sharks." There is also a great discussion about how long the movie can be, with the general consensus being that it can't be longer than two hours and fifteen minutes if they're going to hold the interest of seven-year-olds and eight-year-olds. At one point, someone jubilantly exclaims, "I feel terrific, I think we got the best fuckin' script, I mean really the best fuckin' script ever written of this kind of film ever."

To read more of the discussion, come to Rauner Library and ask for MS-1371, Box 20.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Edwin Drood through the Spirit-Pen

Six original parts of Teh Mystery of Edwin DroodCharles Dickens was in the midst of writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood when he died suddenly on June 9th, 1870. The first three installments had already been published, the fourth and fifth were complete, and the sixth was partially finished. The problem was that it was to be a novel in 12 parts, so the book was only half finished... and it was a mystery!

Of course Dickens was writing the novel as he went and he didn't even leave notes behind for the rest of the story. The publishers decided to just cut it off and call it a fragment, leaving a public wondering "who done it?" Luckily for the world, Brattleboro, Vermont, publisher T. P. James heard a voice from beyond. About a year after his death, Dickens began to dictate the conclusion to The Mystery of Edwin Drood to James. Why Dickens chose a small publisher in Brattleboro is anyone's guess, but James followed Dickens's instructions and published The Mystery of Edwin Drood Complete in 1873. The completed novel advertised itself as:
Part Second of the Mystery of Edwin Drood by the spirit-pen of Charles Dickens, through a medium. Embracing, also, that part of the Work which was published prior to the termination of the Author's Earth-Life.
Attribution page for Edwin Drood Complete
There is a preface by the medium (none other than the publisher) with a strong defense of the second half of the work as well as an author's preface by Dickens. Both the author and the medium chide critics who doubted the veracity of authorship. Dickens also provides a glimpse of the afterlife, assuring the public that Hell does not exist and that the spirits of those we have lost are still among us, just occupying a different plane of existence. But, far more important than solving the mystery of the afterlife, The Mystery of Edwin Drood is also solved. We won't give that away--to find out come in and ask for Val 826 D55 T411. You can also see the original six parts by asking for Val 826 D55 T413.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Race for the Pole!

Box cover for The Race for the Pole
Throughout the 19th century and into the 20th, the North Pole was a place of imagination and fantasy. Who knew what would be there? An open polar sea? A huge magnetic mountain? An endless wasteland? A place of banishment (remember Frankenstein)? Lots of people wanted to find out, and the race was on. Even when it was "discovered" in 1909, nothing was really settled. The ensuing arguments between Frederick Cook and Robert Peary went on for decades.

Game board
We recently purchased a huge collection of Arctic ephemera that shows the incredible popularity of the North. Among the playbills, advertising trade cards, sheet music, photographs, and puzzles, there was a simple game called The Race for the Pole from 1905. Three colored balls had to weave up an obstacle laden hill to reach the North Pole--each ball represented a different country. Which would win? Little nails representing ice pack blocked the way, but eventually, with enough tilting and twirling, an intrepid explorer might make it.

Rules for game
To see it, ask for the Arctic Ephemera collection, MSS-288, Box 8.

Friday, May 10, 2019

APB: Who Needs a Photograph?

Full Procalmation from State of New HampshireWe just picked up a new bit of ephemera from the 1891 Christie Warden murder case. Since we have blogged the case before, we won't recount it again. The item we just bought is a proclamation from the state declaring a $4,000 reward for the convict's capture. It is one of the most bizarrely thorough descriptions of a convict we have ever seen. It starts out normal enough, listing the suspect's age, weight, and height, complexion and eye color, but then it gets a bit weird:
...brown hair, but not shading on the red, thin on top, high forehead, hair growing down to point in centre, usually wore coarse stubby mustache; sometimes uses black cosmetic to make mustache and eye-brows match hair; often speaks of his classical nose.
Cosmetics? Speaks of his classical nose?  It goes on...
Fine set teeth, even and white; slight crow-foot marks about eyes. Large hands and wrists thickly covered with hair from which extends over his arms and body. Hands stubby in shape and course, though he takes excellent care of them. Has scar on left fore-arm made with corn cutter, which runs diagonally across. Small scar on right fore-arm made, he says, by bullet passing through.
 The little "he says" set off in commas is telling. In the next paragraph they doubt his bravado again: "Had, when he left Hanover, a russet leather valise of good size, nickeled trimmings with top end fastenings for which he claimed to have given fifteen dollars."

Detail of "Description of the Murder"
Then they give a description of his clothes down to the underwear, the serial number of his watch, and warn that he also carries a "44 revolver, perhaps two." It would have been good to know that at the start.

Then there is his past:
Said he was born in Maine and had attended school near Portland; claimed to have lived in the South and frequently spoke of himself as a Southerner; said he worked on a milk route in and about Lynn, at time of big fire there; but was very reticent concerning earlier years. Has spoken, in confidential way, admitting that his past life had been very wicked and dissipated, though not known to have drank liquor while in this state. Well educated and writes readily and well.
Okay, if I get in a conversation with this guy, I'll know who he is--if his classical nose, cosmetics, hairy arms, valise and watch, and tales of the South don't give him away, the two revolvers might.

We will get this cataloged soon and give you call number to request it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

"Recreation (Compulsory)"

Photograph of the entire Dartmouth newspaper card catalog in Rauner Library's reading room.
Every year, Rauner Special Collections Library's reference staff receive over a thousand research questions via e-mail or phone from scholars, amateur genealogists, and curious individuals. We love helping people find answers to their inquiries, and we always learn a little bit more about our own collections in the process. Although the core staff consists of one full-time employee, one part-time employee, and a student worker, the entire library participates in the fun by fielding questions related to their own areas of expertise or interest. For example, one of our processing specialists has become our de facto expert on the Dartmouth Cemetery and even leads annual walking tours there. One librarian is known for his interest in answering questions related to our 20th-century printing and typography collections. Everyone here at Special Collections understands the value and thrill that can come from helping people, which is why the library is such a great place to work.

First index card of the "Recreation (Compulsory)" topic from the D Card Catalog.Believe it or not, one of our best tools for answering the many questions we receive every week about Dartmouth life is a card catalog. We have an index of the Dartmouth student newspaper that goes all the way back to the early 1800s and was initially begun as a Works Progress Administration project during the Great Depression. Dartmouth students workers are continually updating an electronic index of the newspaper that begins in the 1980s and continues to the current day, but there is no other way to access pre-1980s D articles except the old fashioned way. Recently, we were trying to figure out the origins of the notorious Dartmouth swim test, which has been a tribulation for the student body for at least almost a century. In hunting through the card catalog, we stumbled upon our new favorite subject heading: "Recreation (Compulsory)." Beginning in the 1919-1920 academic year, freshmen at Dartmouth were required to participate in at least one form of athletic activity for no credit. As per a D article from September 29, 1919, "the system will eventually put the entire college undergraduate body on a schedule of three hours per week compulsory recreation."

To read more about this topic or other Dartmouth-related compulsions, come to Special Collections and thumb through an index that has itself become a living artifact of sorts. Anyone at the desk can help you get started.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Printer's Delight

Page opening showing an engraved page opposite a page of typeWe generally try to stay away from the obsessive intricacies of the rare book world in this blog--preferring to regale you with charming vignettes or shock you with sordid tales from our collections. But today, while looking at the silliest of books, we fell into a bibliographic curiosity that we will now bore you with. Wait, how can a post about book with the title Recreation for Ingenious Head-peeces, Or, a Pleasant Grove for the Wits to Walk in be boring?! This is a book filled with shape poems, witty epigrams, and "numerous Fantasticks!"

It was those shape poems that aroused our curiosity; not so much their shapes, but how they were printed. Each one is an engraving that has been printed using an intaglio process, a completely different process from the accompanying text, which was printed in relief with raised metal type. This means that the printer could not have printed the images at the same time as the text. That is not a big deal--it happens all of the time in the 17th century. Usually the engraved pages are special plates printed out of sequence with the text block signatures and then bound in separately. We are starting to bore you, aren't we?

Page opening showing an engraved page next to a page of type with woodcuts
Not to worry, here is where it gets exciting! All of the engraved pages appear in the same signature (Q) between signatures P and R. Most of the pages in the signature are type, but four pages are engraved. Not only that, but the entire book is an octavo in 8s except for this signature which is an octavo in 12s. "Wow!" you say, "this is exciting!" You're right. That signature, with its 12 leaves, has four engraved pages. In each case, they are on the same leaf with text on the other side. So, it looks like the printer took a half sheet, printed one side using using an intaglio process and the other side with a relief process. At least that's what we think--it is really hard to tell for sure without disbinding the thing. Also, he seems to have folded it incorrectly so the pages are out of order. It is a mess, bibliographically. This took some planning by a printer who wanted to make his "Fantasticks" fantastic. He was smart enough to place all of the fancy work in this one signature so he could print the rest more easily, but why he didn't go with plates is anyone's guess.

To try to puzzle it out, ask for Rare PR2308 .W58 1654.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Killing Quakers

Broadside detailing the arrest and execution of Quakers in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1660.
This week we're on a colonial America kick. On Tuesday, we posted about the wild life of Captain John Smith before his Virginia days. Today, we're obsessing about a broadside that we found in the collections. Printed in London in 1660, the poster caught our eye immediately because it calls Quakers "pernicious." As if that weren't enough to rouse one's interest, the proclamation goes on to state that the government in Boston, Massachusetts, had actually executed some of them. "Why are Puritans in Massachusetts hanging Quakers?!?" we wondered to ourselves. And, with that question, we began our dive into the murky world of New England colonial politics, the insidious intertwining of church and state in the "New World," and the eventual dissolution of the Massachusetts Bay Colony's charter by King Charles II. What follows are the briefest of talking points about this strange time in the history of colonial North America and the Quaker faith.

At the risk of oversimplifying everything to do with English conflicts over belief systems, the English Civil War in the 1600s gave rise to the Puritans but also saw the emergence of numerous other dissenting Christian groups including the Quakers. In brief, the Quakers were seen as a problem theologically and politically. They refused to swear fealty to the Crown because of religious beliefs and they also threatened to undermine the power of the clergy through their insistence that God spoke directly to all people and not just through ministers and appointed ecclesiastical officials. Not surprisingly, persecution towards Quakers spiked in England in the 1650s and many of them fled the country for other lands. Some even came to Boston, Massachusetts, and began proselytizing, which promptly resulted in banishment from the Colony.

However, the number of Quakers in the colonies continued to grow. In 1659, a group that came to be known as the Boston Martyrs returned to Massachusetts in defiance of the law of banishment that promised death as punishment. You can see where this is headed. All three martyrs were quickly arrested, and two of them, Marmaduke Stephenson and William Robinson, were hanged the same year in Boston. Mary Dyer, the third, was spared at the last minute and deported, but eventually returned and was also hanged a year later, in 1660. A fourth Quaker from Barbados, William Leddra, was hanged in 1661. By then, however, Charles II had regained the throne and was eager to establish a policy of religious tolerance. He forbade the Massachusetts Bay Colony to continue killing Quakers. They grudgingly agreed, but still found other ways to make Quakers miserable until 1684, when the king revoked their charter and installed a royally-appointed governor to administrate the territory.

To see this broadside, which provides a fascinating window into Puritan intolerance and Quaker martyrdom in colonial New England, come to Rauner and ask to see Broadside 660940.