October 27, 2010

Arts + Letters

+ The New Yorker cartoonist Leo Collum (above) passed away on Saturday.  He was a master at non-sequitors and sticky situations, and capturing the ridiculousness of the office.

+ What did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sound like?  Terry Teachout finds out.

+ "It is a truth universally acknowledged that every man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."  One of the best opening lines--perfect in every particular--and you want to tell me Jane Austen didn't really coin such beautiful prose?  Or is this just an inflammatory headline egging you on to read the rather interesting but less revealing article? (Telegraph)

+ Marilyn Monroe's diaries: with handwriting analysis (VF)

+ Tina at The English Muse rounds up all The Paris Review's author profiles, here.  I am saving the Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh ones for my weekend reading.

+ Speaking of Waugh and Greene: check out this remarkable story of his editor at Penguin, a Eunice Frost.  She was responsible for bringing their works (and Sayers, and others) to the masses through Penguin's paperback books:
In the bowels of the Arts and Social Sciences Library at Bristol University is a set of 73 archival boxes. Part of the vast archive of Penguin Books, which covers the publishing house's 75-year history, these are the personal papers of one of the industry's most significant, yet forgotten, forces. The archive contains letters from almost every significant writer of the 20th century, so the last person I expected to meet, rising from these miscellaneous documents and asserting her complicated character, was a charismatic and invisible lady of letters.

Eunice Frost became an editor at Penguin in the late 1930s and went on to be its first female director. Along with the firm's founder, Allen Lane, she revolutionised the way we read by making good writing accessible to anyone for the price of a packet of cigarettes. So much was she the guiding spirit of the historic house that its penguin mascot and logo is named 'Frostie' after her. In 1958 she became the first woman in publishing to be awarded an OBE for services to literature.

Yet her name never appeared on any book, and even those who knew her well are still in the dark about the specifics of her life and the causes of her chronic regret. She died alone in 1998 at the age of 82, surrounded by piles of paper 5ft high. All this was scooped up one day by the Penguin archivists and brought to the Bristol basement in a van. Much of it could not be saved, and that which could has barely been looked at since.

+ My high school literature professor told us constantly that Shakespeare didn't speak like the British today, but more like a high-class Boston accent.  Turns out it is quite a trend for philologists and literature people to try and recreate the actual Shakespearean accent.  A new attempt sounds like a an Irishman who has lived in New York for 20 years: hard American "R"s with lilting accents and "me" for "my".  Charming:

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