Friday, March 6, 2020

Lousy with Literary Distinction & Poetry

Marked up title page and flyleaf
Oh goodness, we have once before blogged an instance of author Kenneth Roberts expressing his disdain for a bit of literature in his epic take down of one of Mark Twain's essays, but this week we learned of another moment of vitriol in the margins. This time it is directed at the best seller by Walter Edmonds, Drums Along the Mohawk. To say Roberts hated it is being too gentle.

Marked up Author's Statement
He had been asked by the Atlantic Monthly to review the book, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. Instead, he kept his comments private, within his copy of the book. To start, he re-titled his copy "Bums along the Mohawk," then he offered up a fake blurb by the popular critic and selector for the Book-of-the-Month Club,  Dorothy Canfield Fisher: "Lousy with literary distinction & poetry." As evidence he cites the sentence, "Large squashy flakes of snow, falling steadily, made it hard for him to see what the soldiers were hauling west from the fort into the woods."

Snide comment on misspelling of "rely"
But his dark sarcasm is best expressed in a note pointing out a small typo. In the "Author's Statement." After boasting of his deep research, Edmonds states "Naturally, for spaces of time, no data were available, and there I had to relie on my own knowledge of our climate." Roberts circled the misspelled "relie" then caustically added, "Not a bad way to spell it, under the circumstances."

To take a look come in and ask for Roberts Library PZ3 E242 Dr copy 3.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Hiding in Plain Sight

Anitphonal open to folio 29 verso, 30 recto
We have blogged a couple of times in the past about the giant Antiphonal we keep out in the reading room. It is one of those very impressive, and very sturdy, manuscripts that are perfect for people stopping by who just want to see something old and cool.

Close up from folio 29 verso showing Dartmouth motto
But last week a student who is working on a transcription project pointed out something we had never seen. In the upper right corner of the verso of folio 29 is a little box (for a solo, we think?) containing the famous Biblical reference to Isaiah that Eleazer Wheelock adopted as Dartmouth's motto: Vox clamantis in deserto.

We have always been partial to the pages of the Antiphonal with decorative initials, but now folio 29 might be our new favorite.  Come in and take a look!