The Public Domain Review

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Slavery in North Africa – the Famous Story of Captain James Riley

Monday 3 October 2011 at 22:38

When Captain James Riley published in 1817 the account of his and his crew’s capture and enslavement at the hands of a group of North African tribesmen it became an immediate hit, readers being enthralled by this stark reversal of the usual master-slave narrative they were all so used to. Robert C. Davis, author of Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters, looks at the story in the context of other similar tales of Europeans being taken as slaves on the North African coast.

In 1817, the American sea captain, James Riley, published An Authentic Narrative of the Loss of the American Brig “Commerce,” Wrecked on the Western Coast of Africa , in the Month of August, 1815, with an Account of the Sufferings of the Surviving Officers and Crew, who were Enslaved by the Wandering Arabs of the Great African Desert or Zahahrah. More recently, Captain Riley’s memoire has been reprinted, though with a title that better fits modern sensibilities: Sufferings in Africa: the Incredible True Story of a Shipwreck, Enslavement, and Survival on the Sahara (New York: Skyhorse, 2007). This edition, along with a fictionalized version by Dean King, called Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival (New York: Back Bay Books, 2005) enjoy respectable sales for reprints of a book nearly two centuries old.

Captain Riley’s story is pretty well summed up by the original title of his book. While sailing from Gibraltar to the Cape Verde Islands, Riley’s mid-sized merchant ship got lost in the fog and wrecked on the west Moroccan coast. Trapped on shore and having run out of both food and water, Riley and the surviving crew threw themselves on the mercy of some passing Berber tribesmen, who promptly enslaved and carried them off into the desert. Abused, underfed, and overworked, the captives were nearly dead when their masters sold them to an Arab trader, who bought the Americans on Riley’s promise of ransom if they returned to the coast. The rest of An Authentic Narrative recounts the survivors’ slightly less brutal journey over desert and mountains to the port city of Mogador (modern Essaouira) and their eventual freedom.

Like many another adventure story, Captain Riley’s tale was essentially ghost written. The real author was Riley’s “respectable friend, Anthony Bleecker [or Bleeker], Esquire of New York,” called in as Riley himself put it, “to smooth down the asperities of my unlearned style.” Starting with Riley’s logbook, notes, and recollections, Bleecker applied his own “talents, judgements, and erudition,” and in under a year came up with a narrative rich in emotional, and even spiritual themes. In the process, Bleecker spun what had actually been a fairly short adventure – the whole story, from the shipwreck until the survivors’ return to Mogador, lasted barely two months, of which only the first three weeks were spent as slaves of the Berbers – into an epic tale of survival against both human and natural odds.

An Authentic Narrative was hardly the first Christian enslavement account – though it was nearly the last to be set in North Africa. Other unlucky travellers had also been shipwrecked on the wild Atlantic coast of Africa, south of Agadir, and a few of them survived to produce similar accounts. Paul Baepler, in White Slaves, African Masters (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), offered several tales of brutal treatment by such slaves, made worse, if possible, by the terrifying and bleak Saharan landscapes and by the desperate conditions they were forced to share with the nomadic Berbers, who themselves lived on the margins of survival. One was by Robert Adams, an African-American sailor whose ship ran aground in the fog in 1810, several hundred miles south of where Riley came ashore. Adams was a slave for over three years and with his wandering masters made it as far as Timbuktu. Another castaway, the American woman Eliza Bradley, supposedly spent eight months in Berber hands, though some have questioned her account as “a work of anonymous fiction that also plagiarizes large sections from James Riley’s best-selling account”.

The captivity accounts of Riley, Adams, and Bradley (if indeed she existed) were not typical examples of the genre, however. Far more common were the stories of European and American Christians who fell into the hands, not of nomadic Berbers but of Barbary corsairs. Of these we have scores of examples, published and unpublished, in languages ranging from Latin and Spanish to Italian, French, Portuguese, English, Dutch, German, and Icelandic. The earliest date back to Miguel de Cervantes, a slave in Algiers from 1575-80; among the last was the Italian poet Filippo Pananti’s Narrative of a Residence in Algiers, published the same year as Riley’s Authentic Narrative. The corsairs who captured them were professional slavers, ranging the entire length of the Mediterranean and (after 1600) out into the Atlantic, as far afield as the Cape Verde Islands and Iceland. These freebooters took their captives from merchant ships, fishing boats, and any village they could sack, selling them in the slave markets of Salé on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, or in Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, on the Barbary Coast. Some captives – the very wealthy and many women — were bought by dealers who specialized in ransoming and were often well treated, more as hostages than as slaves. The great majority were properly enslaved, though, worked hard by their masters, regularly beaten and sold when they were no longer fit or profitable. At least an eighth of the captives were allocated to the state, its share in recompense for supporting the corsairs. They were set to work on state projects – building the harbor, or fortifications, digging in quarries, serving as longshoremen; or rowing in the galleys. Those sold to private masters were either used as house servants or farm laborers or rented out to potters, tanners, construction bosses, or water sellers. A lucky few managed run shops or taverns, paying their masters a monthly fee for the privilege. Women not suitable for ransoming generally ended up in the harem of wealthy corsairs or the ruling pasha, either as serving maids or concubines.

Illustration from William Okeley's Ebenezer: or, a Small Monument of Great Mercy (London, 1675).

Whereas Captain Riley experienced his captivity within the confines of a small and socially simple nomadic band, those Europeans taken to Barbary were thrown into crowded cities that teemed with myriads of slaves, free Christians, renegade Christians (who had “taken the turban”), Turkish janissaries, Jews, Arabs, Berbers, Greeks, and black Africans. In its heyday Algiers was immensely powerful, one of the richest cities on the Mediterranean, and, like Salé, a kind of merchant republic, run by the same corsairs who had grown rich through slaving. Each of those Barbary slaves who wrote about it portrayed different aspects of captivity – Francis Knight and João Mascarenhas portrayed life as galley slaves; Emanuel d’Aranda and Chastelet des Boys described many other kinds of slave labor, plus the daunting task of arranging their own ransom. Louis Marot and William Okeley, on the other hand, were fairly successful slave entrepreneurs, who also managed to escape from their bondage; the American Joseph Foss and the Italian Filippo Pananti wrote at length about the conditions of slavery during the institution’s last years. Many of these captivity narratives are now being republished. Those that have not are often available on line, for anyone who knows where to look.

Nevertheless, it is James Riley’s spare account of slavery and in its barest and bleakest terms that has consistently outsold all the rest of these narratives combined. Its American debut was soon followed by a British edition and within a year a French translation, titled Naufrage du brigantin américain El commerce, perdu sur la côte occidentale d’Afrique, au mois d’août 1815 (Paris: Le Normant, 1818); the following year saw a German version. Back home, An Authentic Narrative was republished no fewer than eighteen times by 1860. Like any best seller, the book also accrued its share of celebrity blurbs. Henry David Thoreau and James Fenimore Cooper both praised it, and, above all, Abraham Lincoln included it in his 1860 campaign biography – along with Pilgrim’s Progress and The Bible – as one of the books that had shaped his youthful development.

Detail of an illustration of a slave market in Algiers from Pierre Dan's Historie van Barbaryen en des zelfs Zee-Roovers (Amsterdam, 1684)

The modern appeal of An Authentic Narrative certainly stretches beyond its illustrious American readership – there have been two French re-publications in just the last two years. Its popularity says a great deal about the public’s new fascination with the Muslim world and the whole “clash of civilizations” thesis, which has so dominated political discourse since 9/11. Perhaps it is no surprise Riley’s story has taken a greater hold on the modern imagination than those set in the cities of Barbary. His austere and desperate tale revolves around a restricted cast of characters, like a Chekhov play – Riley himself and his few American comrades; their nameless handful of Berber tormenters; the Arab, Sidi Hamet, who effectively rescued them; and the English consul, William Willshire, who redeemed them and set them free. The simplicity and intimacy of Riley’s story – which closely resembles contemporary American captivity accounts, where settlers fell into the hands of American Indians – presents an uncluttered narrative arc, a Dantean tale of the descent of a lost wanderer into the hell of bondage and despair, only to rise again through a redemption earned by steadfastness. It is a tale fit for the movies (Dean King made a documentary), which may explain its enduring popularity in comparison with the more complex and subtle Barbary enslavement narratives, where victims and persecutors, the damned and the saved, the righteous and the foolish are often so much harder to tell apart.



Robert C. Davis is a professor of Italian Renaissance and pre-modern Mediterranean history at Ohio State University. He has appeared in a number of television documentaries, on shipbuilding, Carnival, and the Mediterranean slave trade, in addition to authoring numerous books including Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500-1800 in 2004.


Links to Works


Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/10/03/slavery-in-north-africa-%e2%80%93-the-famous-story-of-captain-james-riley/


Thief of Bagdad (1924)

Sunday 2 October 2011 at 14:32



This swashbuckler film, directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Douglas Fairbanks, tells the story of a thief who falls in love with the daughter of the Caliph. The film, strong on special effects of the period (flying carpet, magic urn and fearsome monsters) and featuring massive Arabian-style sets, also proved a stepping stone for a scantily-clad Anna May Wong, who portrayed a Mongol slave. Fairbanks considered this to be his personal favorite of all of his films, according to his son.

Download from Internet Archive

Note this film is in the public domain in the US, but may not be in other jurisdictions. Please check its status in your jurisdiction before re-using.



CLIPSSHORTFULL LENGTH SILENTFULL LENGTH TALKIE
Princess Nicotine (1909) 6min

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) 12min

Last of the Mohicans (1920) 1hr11min

Meet John Doe (1941) 2hr3min

The Unappreciated Joke (1903) 1min

Frankenstein (1910) 13min

The General (1926) 1hr19min

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) 1hr19mins


The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1895) 21sec

The Great Train Robbery (1903) 10min

Wolf Blood (1925) 1hr7min

Reefer Madness (1938) 1hr8min

The Kiss (1896) 25secs

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (1940) 20min

Battleship Potemkin (1925) 1hr13min

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) 1hr57min

Trapeze Disrobing Act (1901) 2min

Are You Popular (1947) 10min

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) 1hr11min

Scarlet Street (1945) 1hr43min

Annie Oakley Fires Her Gun (1894) 20secs

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) 13min

Faust (1926) 1hr55min

The Last Man on Earth (1964) 1hr27min

Operation Cue (1955) 52sec

Never Weaken (1921) 28min

Intolerance (1916) 2hr57min

Quicksand (1950) 1hr18min

Dutch Fashion Reel (1969) 1min50sec

Betty Boop: Minnie The Moocher (1932) 7min46sec

The Phantom of the Opera (1925) 1hr46min

Suddenly (1954) 1hr16mins


Buffalo Dance (1894) 14sec

The Cook (1918) 18min

The Thief of Bagdad (1924) 2hr20min

Five Minutes to Live (1961) 1hr14min

VD is for Everybody (1969) 1min

For The Term of His Natural Life (1927) 1hr33min

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/10/02/thief-of-bagdad-1924/


Five Minutes To Live (1961)

Sunday 2 October 2011 at 14:22



Bank heist movie starring Johnny Cash as a guitar playing, sadistic psycho-killer, as well as Vic Tayback, a young Ron Howard, and country music great, Merle Travis.

Download from Internet Archive

Note this film is in the public domain in the US, but may not be in other jurisdictions. Please check its status in your jurisdiction before re-using.



CLIPSSHORTFULL LENGTH SILENTFULL LENGTH TALKIE
Princess Nicotine (1909) 6min

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) 12min

Last of the Mohicans (1920) 1hr11min

Meet John Doe (1941) 2hr3min

The Unappreciated Joke (1903) 1min

Frankenstein (1910) 13min

The General (1926) 1hr19min

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) 1hr19mins


The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1895) 21sec

The Great Train Robbery (1903) 10min

Wolf Blood (1925) 1hr7min

Reefer Madness (1938) 1hr8min

The Kiss (1896) 25secs

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (1940) 20min

Battleship Potemkin (1925) 1hr13min

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) 1hr57min

Trapeze Disrobing Act (1901) 2min

Are You Popular (1947) 10min

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) 1hr11min

Scarlet Street (1945) 1hr43min

Annie Oakley Fires Her Gun (1894) 20secs

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) 13min

Faust (1926) 1hr55min

The Last Man on Earth (1964) 1hr27min

Operation Cue (1955) 52sec

Never Weaken (1921) 28min

Intolerance (1916) 2hr57min

Quicksand (1950) 1hr18min

Dutch Fashion Reel (1969) 1min50sec

Betty Boop: Minnie The Moocher (1932) 7min46sec

The Phantom of the Opera (1925) 1hr46min

Suddenly (1954) 1hr16mins


Buffalo Dance (1894) 14sec

The Cook (1918) 18min

The Thief of Bagdad (1924) 2hr20min

Five Minutes to Live (1961) 1hr14min

VD is for Everybody (1969) 1min

For The Term of His Natural Life (1927) 1hr33min

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/10/02/five-minutes-to-live-1961/


The Cook (1918)

Saturday 1 October 2011 at 13:09



Starring Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Buster Keaton, a slapstick comedy focusing on goings-on at a high-end restaurant with Arbuckle as the Cook and Keaton as the Waiter. The film is notable for a scene spoofing the 1918 Theda Bara film Salomé, with Arbuckle dancing around in drag. Three years later “Fatty” would be mired in scandal, being accused of raping and accidentally killing Virginia Rappe, enduring three widely publicized trials for manslaughter. His films were subsequently banned and he was publicly ostracized. He was eventually acquitted by a jury, received a written apology, and the ban on his films was lifted, however the scandal overshadowed his career and he only worked sparingly through the 1920s. In 1932 he began a successful comeback, which he briefly enjoyed before his death in 1933.

Download from Internet Archive

Note this film is in the public domain in the US, but may not be in other jurisdictions. Please check its status in your jurisdiction before re-using.



CLIPSSHORTFULL LENGTH SILENTFULL LENGTH TALKIE
Princess Nicotine (1909) 6min

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) 12min

Last of the Mohicans (1920) 1hr11min

Meet John Doe (1941) 2hr3min

The Unappreciated Joke (1903) 1min

Frankenstein (1910) 13min

The General (1926) 1hr19min

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) 1hr19mins


The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1895) 21sec

The Great Train Robbery (1903) 10min

Wolf Blood (1925) 1hr7min

Reefer Madness (1938) 1hr8min

The Kiss (1896) 25secs

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (1940) 20min

Battleship Potemkin (1925) 1hr13min

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) 1hr57min

Trapeze Disrobing Act (1901) 2min

Are You Popular (1947) 10min

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) 1hr11min

Scarlet Street (1945) 1hr43min

Annie Oakley Fires Her Gun (1894) 20secs

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) 13min

Faust (1926) 1hr55min

The Last Man on Earth (1964) 1hr27min

Operation Cue (1955) 52sec

Never Weaken (1921) 28min

Intolerance (1916) 2hr57min

Quicksand (1950) 1hr18min

Dutch Fashion Reel (1969) 1min50sec

Betty Boop: Minnie The Moocher (1932) 7min46sec

The Phantom of the Opera (1925) 1hr46min

Suddenly (1954) 1hr16mins


Buffalo Dance (1894) 14sec

The Cook (1918) 18min

The Thief of Bagdad (1924) 2hr20min

Five Minutes to Live (1961) 1hr14min

VD is for Everybody (1969) 1min

For The Term of His Natural Life (1927) 1hr33min

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/10/01/the-cook-1918/


Buffalo Dance (1894)

Saturday 1 October 2011 at 11:38



Short Edison film featuring Native American Indian dancers from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. The first appearance of Native Americans on film.

Download from Internet Archive



CLIPSSHORTFULL LENGTH SILENTFULL LENGTH TALKIE
Princess Nicotine (1909) 6min

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) 12min

Last of the Mohicans (1920) 1hr11min

Meet John Doe (1941) 2hr3min

The Unappreciated Joke (1903) 1min

Frankenstein (1910) 13min

The General (1926) 1hr19min

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) 1hr19mins


The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1895) 21sec

The Great Train Robbery (1903) 10min

Wolf Blood (1925) 1hr7min

Reefer Madness (1938) 1hr8min

The Kiss (1896) 25secs

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms (1940) 20min

Battleship Potemkin (1925) 1hr13min

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) 1hr57min

Trapeze Disrobing Act (1901) 2min

Are You Popular (1947) 10min

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) 1hr11min

Scarlet Street (1945) 1hr43min

Annie Oakley Fires Her Gun (1894) 20secs

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) 13min

Faust (1926) 1hr55min

The Last Man on Earth (1964) 1hr27min

Operation Cue (1955) 52sec

Never Weaken (1921) 28min

Intolerance (1916) 2hr57min

Quicksand (1950) 1hr18min

Dutch Fashion Reel (1969) 1min50sec

Betty Boop: Minnie The Moocher (1932) 7min46sec

The Phantom of the Opera (1925) 1hr46min

Suddenly (1954) 1hr16mins


Buffalo Dance (1894) 14sec

The Cook (1918) 18min

The Thief of Bagdad (1924) 2hr20min

Five Minutes to Live (1961) 1hr14min

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/10/01/buffalo-dance-1894/


Across the Zodiac: the Story of a Wrecked Record (1880)

Friday 30 September 2011 at 14:42


Across the Zodiac: the Story of a Wrecked Record, deciphered, translated and edited by Percy Greg; 1880; Trübner, London

Centering around the creation of a substance called “apergy”, a form of anti-gravitational energy, Percy Gregg’s novel details a flight to Mars taken in 1830. They discover the planet to be inhabited by diminutive beings who, convinced that life couldn’t exist any where else apart from on their world, refuse to believe that the unnamed narrator is actually from Earth – deciding instead he is an unusually tall Martian from some remote corner of their planet. The book is notable as containing what is probably the first alien language in any work of fiction to be described with linguistic and grammatical terminology. It also contains what is possibly the first instance in the English language of the word “Astronaut”, which features as the name of the narrator’s spacecraft. In 2010 a crater on Mars was named Greg in recognition of his contribution to the lore of Mars.

Open Library link



Letters From a Cat (1879)

Castaway on the Auckland Isles: A Narrative of the Wreck of the "Grafton," (1865)


Infant's Cabinet of Birds and Beasts (1820)

Old French Fairytales (1920)

Armata: a fragment (1817)

An Account of the Late Improvements in Galvanism (1803)

The Medical Aspects of Death, and the Medical Aspects of the Human Mind (1852)

Quarles' Emblems (1886)

Cat and bird stories from the "Spectator" (1896)

Wonderful Balloon Ascents (1870)

The Book of Topiary (1904)

The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (1899)

English as She is Spoke (1884)

The Danger of Premature Interment (1816)

The Last American (1889)

Pirates (1922)

Napoleon's Oraculum (1839)

Horse Laughs (1891)

Hydriotaphia/Urn-Burial and The Garden of Cyrus (1658)

Across the Zodiac: the Story of a Wrecked Record (1880)

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/09/30/across-the-zodiac-the-story-of-a-wrecked-record-1880/


Arnoldus Montanus’ New and Unknown World (1671)

Thursday 29 September 2011 at 14:23

Images from De Nieuwe en Onbekende Weereld (1671), a book by the Dutch explorer, missionary and theologian Arnoldus Montanus (1625–1683). The full title of the work in English is “The New and Unknown World: or Description of America and the Southland, Containing the Origin of the Americans and South-landers, remarkable voyages thither, Quality of the Shores, Islands, Cities, Fortresses, Towns, Temples, Mountains, Sources, Rivers, Houses, the nature of Beasts, Trees, Plants and foreign Crops, Religion and Manners, Miraculous Occurrences, Old and New Wars: Adorned with Illustrations drawn from the life in America, and described by Arnoldus Montanus”.

Images via the excellent and highly recommended Bibliodyssey. The full 800 plus pages of the book in high-res scans are housed here on the website of the Library of Congress project The Atlantic World: America and the Netherlands.















Operation Doorstep

The Spirit Photographs of William Hope

The Maps of Piri Reis

Dr Julius Neubronner's Miniature Pigeon Camera

Art in Art

Huexotzinco Codex


Sessions for the Blind at Sunderland Museum

Eugène von Guérard's Australian Landscapes

Landscape and Marine Views of Norway

The Mechanism of Human Physiognomy

Space Colony Art from the 1970s

Men in Wigs


De humana physiognomonia libri IIII (1586)

Field Columbian Museum

Maps from Geographicus

Arnoldus Montanus' New and Unknown World (1671)

World War II from the Air

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/09/29/arnoldus-montanus-new-and-unknown-world-1671/


A Few Words about F. Scott Fitzgerald

Monday 26 September 2011 at 16:05

In most countries around the world, 2011 saw the writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald enter the public domain. Scott Donaldson, author of the biography Fool For Love: F. Scott Fitzgerald, explores the obscuring nature of his legend and the role that women played in his life and work.

With Fitzgerald as with no one else in American literature save Poe, the biography gets in the way. Never mind that F. Scott Fitzgerald is the author of one exquisite short novel as perfect as anything in our literature and of another longer, more chaotic novel of tremendous emotional power. Never mind that he has written a couple of dozen stories that by any standard deserve the designation of “masterful.” Ignoring those legacies, much of the general public still tends to think of him in connection with the legends of his disordered and difficult life, and to classify him under one convenient stereotype or another. So diminished in stature, Fitzgerald becomes the Chronicler of the Jazz Age, or the Artist in Spite of Himself, or – most prevalent stereotype of all – the Writer as Burnt-Out Case: a man whose tragic course functions as a cautionary tale for more commonsensical aftercomers. His saga offers an almost irresistible temptation to sermonizers, overt or concealed. It is not right to ride on top of taxicabs or disport oneself in the Plaza hotel’s fountain, not right to drink to excess or abuse a “lovely golden wasted talent.” Go thou and do otherwise.

This warning usually remains implicit, of course. It is not the homily but the tale of star-crossed lovers that commands attention – handsome brilliant erratic Scott married for good or ill to beautiful willful unstable Zelda. There is an arresting poignancy in the way the two of them – Scott more than Zelda, perhaps – considered the alternatives and chose the sweet poison. Somehow, in the repeated retellings of this tale, the Fitzgeralds have come to stand for a kind of generic nonspecific glamour, now sadly departed. In 1980 the opening party for an exhibit of Fitzgeraldiana at the National Portrait Gallery drew an enormous crowd determined to celebrate a vanished past. The band played Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman numbers from the 1940s, the decade following Fitzgerald’s death. A few women attempted flapper costumes, but for the most part the clothes were as anachronistic as the music. One chap, aiming for colonial elegance, danced in a pith helmet. The details that mattered so much to Fitzgerald, a man precisely in tune with his times, mattered very little to those come to the party to memorialize his legend. Zelda and Scott, Scott and Zelda – they are fixed so securely in the collective mind as lovable reckless youths for whom it all went disastrously wrong that it has been difficult to set that image aside and concentrate on the work that established him as one of the major literary artists of the twentieth century.

Henry James, himself a biographer as well as a novelist, understood that the entire truth about anyone could never be told. “We can only take what groups together,” he said. What most grouped together in Fitzgerald’s work and life, I came to realize over several decades in the classroom and five years of intensive research, was an overweening compulsion to please. He wanted to please other men, but did a poor job of it. His Princeton classmates considered him over-inquisitive and frivolous. Zelda’s father thought him unreliable. Ernest Hemingway, the closest of friends in the mid-1920s, eventually came to regard him with something like scorn. Fitzgerald was far more successful in pleasing women. Readers of his fiction might expect as much, for he is one of our more androgynous writers, with a rare capacity to put himself in the place of characters of either sex. “All my characters are Scott Fitzgeralds,” he acknowledged. “Even my female characters are feminine Scott Fitzgeralds.” The set of instructions Fitzgerald drew up, at 18, for his younger sister Annabel provides convincing evidence along these lines. In this remarkable document he coached his sister in the finer points of attracting boys: how to groom herself, how to dance, what to talk about, how to flatter. And the androgyny is everywhere evident in the stories and novels, too, which is probably why most female college students are attracted to his fiction.

Left: Image of Zelda published in Metropolitan Magazine in June 1922, accompanying her piece "Eulogy of a Flapper". Right: A study of F. Scott Fitzgerald by Gordon Bryant, published in Shadowland magazine in 1921.

Equipped with this sensitivity, Fitzgerald played the game of courtship well. As a youth he was a notoriously successful flirt. “I’ve got an adjective that just fits you,” he would tell a dancing partner early in the evening, and then withhold the laudatory word to build up her expectations. He was good-looking, and at ease in the company of girls. He listened to them as few other boys did, and made it clear that he cared tremendously what they thought of him. Later, as a married man, he continued to woo women. He couldn’t help it. He needed their approval, which is to say their love and adoration. Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald may have been the most important woman in his life, but she was not and could not be the only one.

Fitzgerald suffered a tremendous setback when Ginevra King of Lake Forest, north of Chicago – one of the wealthiest and most beautiful debutantes of her day – spurned him in order to marry a young man of her own class. The rejection devastated Fitzgerald, even as it supplied him with the basic subject matter of much of his fiction. There are probably more characters in his stories and novels modeled on Ginevra than on Zelda Sayre, who caught him on the rebound. By altering the circumstances of the plot, Fitzgerald played variations on the age-old theme of the battle of the sexes.

Left: Fitzgerald reading alone in 1920. Right: Fitzgerald reading aloud to his friends in 1917, left to right, Helen Floan, Sidney Strong, Grace Warner, and Lucius P. Ordway, Jr. (Source: Minnesota Historical Society)

What is unusual about Fitzgerald’s treatment of this theme is its escalation – in the work as in the life — from the courting game of his adolescence to the fierce battle of his young manhood to the outright war of his maturity. Perhaps, we are inclined to think, Amory Blaine will not suffer unduly from his jilting by Rosalind Connage in This Side of Paradise (1920), Fitzgerald’s first novel. But Gatsby dies for Daisy in his 1925 masterpiece, and Dick Diver is stripped of his vitality and tossed aside by Nicole and her family in 1934’s Tender is the Night. In Fitzgerald’s fictional treatment of the war between the sexes, it is almost always the man who ends up defeated. By repeatedly depicting the downfall of his male figures, Fitzgerald was imagining what might well have happened (had not Zelda been afflicted with schizophrenia) and also – it seems to me – excoriating himself for his weaknesses. Tender, in particular, is a novel about the enervating effects of charm. Compelled to please everyone around him (and particularly women), Diver dissipates away his life’s work and his usefulness as a human being. The real Fitzgerald, like his invented protagonist, came to despise himself for this “fatal pleasingness,” a self-disgust that characteristically emerged under the influence of alcohol. Drinking runs like an inner malaise through Fitzgerald’s life and that of many of his male characters. His triumph came in the last years of his life, when – supposedly down and out in Hollywood – he cast aside this obsession, quit drinking, and went back to being what he called “a writer only.”



One of America’s leading literary biographers, Scott Donaldson has written eight books about 20th century American authors. These include Poet in America: Winfield Townley Scott (1972), By Force of Will: The Life and Art of Ernest Hemingway (1977), Fool for Love, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1983), John Cheever: A Biography (1988), Archibald MacLeish: An American Life (1992), winner of the 1993 Ambassador Book Award for biography, Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald: The Rise and Fall of a Literary Friendship (1999), Edwin Arlington Robinson: A Poet’s Life (2007), named the best biography of the year by Contemporary Poetry Forum, and Fitzgerald and Hemingway: Works and Days (2009). This present article is excerpted from the preface to a new paperback edition of his Fool for Love: F. Scott Fitzgerald from the University of Minnesota Press.


Links to Works


Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/09/26/a-few-words-about-f-scott-fitzgerald/


Gurdjieff’s Harmonium Improvisations (1949)

Saturday 24 September 2011 at 14:04



Recordings from the mystic and spiritual teacher G.I. Gurdjieff’s “last musical period”; improvised harmonium music which often followed the dinners he held in his Paris apartment during the Occupation and immediate post-war years, to his death in 1949.

(A total of 47 tracks are in the player above, use the next track button to navigate between them).

Internet Archive Link, including MP3 downloads

Note this audio is in the public domain in the European Union, but may not be in other jurisdictions (e.g. the US). Please check its status in your jurisdiction before re-using.



Beela Boola by the Electric City 4 (1920)

Hungarian Rag - Pietro Deiro (1913)

As a Porcupine Pines for its Pork - Billy Jones & Ernest Hare
(1925)

Popeye, the Sailor Man - Al Dollar & His Ten Cent Band with Billy Murray (1931)

Chopins Funeral March - The Edison Concert Band (1906)

Houdini on his Water Torture Cell (1914)

Lomax Collection Recording of English, Sample 8

Enrico Caruso - A Dream (1920)

La Paloma (1903)

Orson Welles Show (1941)

Tokyo Rose (1944)

Fats Waller and His Orchestra live at The Yacht Club (1938)

Very early recording of George Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue (1924)

Rudolph Valentino singing (1923)

Aiaihea - The Hawaiian Quintette (1913)

Antony's Address Over The Body of Caesar (1914)

Charlie and His Orchestra

Excerpt from Handel's Israel in Egypt (1888)

Gurdjieff's Harmonium Improvisations (1949)

General Pershing March - Imperial Marimba Band (1918)

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/09/24/gurdjieffs-harmonium-improvisations-1949/


Maps from Geographicus

Thursday 22 September 2011 at 15:31

In March this year, Geographicus Rare Antique Maps, a specialist dealer in fine and rare antiquarian cartography and historic maps, donated their collection of over 2000 digital images to Wikimedia Commons. Here is just a small selection of a really great collection. Explore more, and help Wikimedia to categorise them, here. Each map shown below is linkable to the Wikimedia Commons page with more info about the map and higher resolution images. Huge thank you to Geographicus for sharing these amazing images!

Tabula Anemographica seu Pyxis Nautica Ventorum Nomina Sex Linguis Repraesentans (1650) by Jan Jansson or Johannes Janssonius (1588–1664)



Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula (1684) by A. J. Bormeester



Perigrinatie ofte Veertich-Iarige Reyse der Kinderen Israels (1702) by N. Visscher and D. Stoopendaal



Plan de Paris, the c. 1900 Taride edition of Louis Bretez and Michel-Etienne Turgot's monumental 1739 map of Paris.



Principaute de Catalogne et Partie du Rous sillon Echelle de Lieux, a stunning map of Catalonia, Spain first drawn by Daniel de la Feuille in 1706



Eiland Ormus, of Jerun, engraved by Jacob Van der Schley under the supervision of J. Bellin for the c. 1750 edition of Provost's L`Histoire Generale des Voyages



Plan de la Forteresse de Coylan, a rare 1756 map of the fort of Kollam, Kerala, on India’s Malabar Coast by French cartographer N. Bellin



Plan of the New Streets and Squares intended for the city of Edinburgh, drafted for the city planning committee in 1768 by James Craig



Sphere de Ptolomee, a beautiful example of Rigobert Bonne's curious decorative chart of the Spheres (1775)



Essay on the Battle of Plataea for the Travels of Anacharsis, 1784 color map showing the Battle of Plataea by Barbie du Bocage



A General Map of the World, or Terraqueouis Globe with all the New Discoveries and Marginal Delineations, Containing the Most Interesting Particulars in the Solar, Starry and Mundane System; an absolutely stunning and monumental double hemisphere wall map of the world by Samuel Dunn dating to 1794



New and Improved View of the Comparative Heights, of the Principal Mountains and Lengths of the Principal Rivers in the World. A groundbreaking convention establishing map of extreme scarcity, this is William Darton and W. R. Gardner’s 1823 comparative mountains and rivers of the world chart.



Table of the Comparative Heights of the Principal Mountains in the World; Finley’s attractive c. 1826 map of the comparative heights of the principal mountains of the world.



Physical Geography. Humboldt’s Distribution of Plants in Equinoctial America, According to Elevation Above the Level of the Sea (1839)



Mitchell’s National Map of the American Republic or The United States of North America. Together with Maps of the Vicinities of Thirty-Two Principal Cities and Towns in the Union (1845)



Map Of The Country Thirty Three Miles Around The City Of New York (1879), by Joseph Hutchins Colton



Afrique; a stunning c. 1847 map of Africa by French cartographer Victor Levasseur



Shintei - Chikyu Bankoku Hozu (Square Map of all the Countries on the Globe); a very interesting 1853 (Kaei 6) Japanese world map by Suido Nakajima.



Colton's Railroad & Township Map of the Western States compiled from the United States Surveys (1854)



The Constellations (December November October); this rare hand coloured map of the stars was engraved by W. G. Evans of New York for Burritt’s 1856 edition of the Atlas to Illustrate the Geography of the Heavens.





Operation Doorstep

The Spirit Photographs of William Hope

The Maps of Piri Reis

Dr Julius Neubronner's Miniature Pigeon Camera

Art in Art

Huexotzinco Codex


Sessions for the Blind at Sunderland Museum

Eugène von Guérard's Australian Landscapes

Landscape and Marine Views of Norway

The Mechanism of Human Physiognomy

Space Colony Art from the 1970s

Men in Wigs


De humana physiognomonia libri IIII (1586)

Field Columbian Museum

Maps from Geographicus

Arnoldus Montanus' New and Unknown World (1671)

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/09/22/maps-from-geographicus/