The Public Domain Review

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The Curious World of Isaac D’Israeli

Wednesday 6 February 2013 at 18:25

Marvin Spevack introduces the Curiosities of Literature, the epic cornucopia of essays on all things literary by Isaac D’Israeli: a scholar, man of letters and father of British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. What may be most curious about Isaac D’Israeli’s Curiosities of Literature is the title itself. For D’Israeli curiosity was a blend of the original denotation, “investigation … characterized by special care,” and that of his own day, “inquisitive, desirous of information,” as in his reference to the grammar in Johnson’s Dictionary as being “curiously illustrated by the notes and researches of modern editors” and his regarding his friend Francis Douce’s library as being “curious”. Suitably for D’Israeli, the man of letters, literature meant even more than just “literature generally, the humanities”; it meant knowledge in the widest sense, without formality and restriction. A collection of essays, Curiosities of Literature – as the full title of the first edition of 1791 makes explicit, Consisting of Anecdotes, Characters, Sketches, and Observations, Literary, Critical, and Historical – has been rightly called “that library in miniature”. It is a library which evolved through a vigorously evolutionary process – a veritable sea change of selection, addition, omission, and revision – its fourteenth and [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/02/06/the-curious-world-of-isaac-disraeli/


Skeleton Leaves (1873)

Tuesday 5 February 2013 at 12:07

A series of elaborate “skeleton leaf” arrangements, from the photographic studios of John P. Soule which stood on Washington Street in Boston from 1861 to 1882. As well as producing many pictures of Boston’s buildings, notable events (such as the 1869 National Peace Jubilee and the great fire of 1872), carte-de-visite portraits etc., Soule also produced these so called “Skeleton Leaves”. As well as comprising wreath shapes and crosses the leaves also served as elaborate frames for the portraits of individuals which were sometimes embedded within them. The process of drying out leaves in such a way was very popular at the time, with whole books being published that were devoted to the subject such as Phantom Flowers, a treatise on the art of producing skeleton leaves (1864). (All images from the Library of Congress). SIGN UP TO THE NEWSLETTER Sign up to get our free fortnightly newsletter which shall deliver direct to your inbox the latest brand new article and a digest of the most recent collection items. Simply add your details to the form below and click the link you receive via email to confirm your subscription! Name: E-mail:

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/02/05/skeleton-leaves-1873/


A Dictionary of Victorian Slang (1909)

Tuesday 29 January 2013 at 17:38

Passing English of the Victorian era, a dictionary of heterodox English, slang and phrase, by J. Redding Ware; 1909; Routledge, London. Passing English of the Victorian era, a dictionary of heterodox English, slang and phrase is complied and written by James Redding Ware, the pseudonym of Andrew Forrester the British writer who created one of the first female detectives in literary history in his book The Female Detective (1863). In this posthumously published volume Forrester turns his attention to the world of Victorian slang, in particular that found in the city of London. From the Preface: HERE is a numerically weak collection of instances of ‘Passing English’. It may be hoped that there are errors on every page, and also that no entry is ‘quite too dull’. Thousands of words and phrases in existence in 1870 have drifted away, or changed their forms, or been absorbed, while as many have been added or are being added. ‘Passing English’ ripples from countless sources, forming a river of new language which has its tide and its ebb, while its current brings down new ideas and carries away those that have dribbled out of fashion. Not only is ‘Passing English’ general ; it [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/29/a-dictionary-of-victorian-slang-1909/


Adelina Patti singing “The Last Rose of Summer” (1905)

Monday 28 January 2013 at 17:24

A recording from 1905 of one of the 19th century’s most famous opera singers Adelina Patti singing “The Last Rose of Summer“, a song based on the poem by Irish poet Thomas Moore. Although the sound quality isn’t great and her voice is past its prime (she was 62 yrs old), through the dust and scratches we can hear glimpses of why Giuseppe Verdi, writing in 1877, described her as being perhaps the finest singer who had ever lived. Patti’s piano accompanist for this recording and others she made at the time, Landon Ronald, recalls his experience working with her: “When the little (gramophone) trumpet gave forth the beautiful tones, she went into ecstasies! She threw kisses into the trumpet and kept on saying, ‘Ah! Mon Dieu! Maintenant je comprends pourquoi je suis Patti! Oh oui! Quelle voix! Quelle artiste! Je comprends tout!’ [Ah! My Lord! Now I understand why I am Patti! Oh yes! What a voice! What an artist! I understand everything!] Her enthusiasm was so naïve and genuine that the fact that she was praising her own voice seemed to us all to be right and proper.” (Wikipedia) MP3 Download Internet Archive Link SIGN UP TO THE [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/28/adelina-patti-singing-the-last-rose-of-summer-1905/


The Erotic Dreams of Emanuel Swedenborg

Thursday 24 January 2013 at 16:26

During the time of his ‘spiritual awakening’ in 1744 the scientist and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg kept a dream diary. Richard Lines looks at how, among the heavenly visions, there were also erotic dreams, the significance of which has been long overlooked. Among the many works of the eighteenth-century Swedish scientist, philosopher, religious teacher and visionary Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) his private Drömbok (variously translated into English as Journal of Dreams or Dream Diary) has attracted and continues to attract special attention. Unlike the works he published in his lifetime, or intended to publish, which were all written in Latin, the Journal of Dreams was, in the words of a present-day Swedish Swedenborg scholar, written in ‘rather crude but expressive Swedish’ (Jonsson, 16). It has been described as a ‘difficult and obscure notebook’ (Jonsson, 130) which ‘reflects a profound psychical crisis’ (Jonsson, 150). The Journal covers a period from July 1743 until October 1744, a time when Swedenborg was going through a transition from life as a scientist and mining engineer to one as a ‘revelator’ and seer. As he was to put it himself: I for my part… had never expected to come into that state in which I am now; [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/24/the-erotic-dreams-of-emanuel-swedenborg/


A Fashionable Melange of English Words (1887)

Wednesday 23 January 2013 at 16:54

A Japanese woodcut by Kamekichi Tsunajima titled “Ryūkō eigo zukushi”, or “A Fashionable Melange of English Words”. The print shows images of animals, activities and objects each with their Japanese and English names. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) some spelling mistakes have given rise to some interesting new activities such as “Refreshiug” and “Cuting Rice”, and the “Gaot”, “Hoise” and “Tea Po”. The introduction of activities (including the very Zen-like “Looking Moon”) give an interesting take on the often more object-orientated Western equivalents. Also worth noting the interesting additions of “Cross Child” rather than simply “Child” , and “Blank Book” rather than “Book”. (This image has been “restored” by Wikimedia user trialanderrors and is housed at Wikimedia Commons. The original can be found at the Library of Congress). SIGN UP TO THE NEWSLETTER Sign up to get our free fortnightly newsletter which shall deliver direct to your inbox the latest brand new article and a digest of the most recent collection items. Simply add your details to the form below and click the link you receive via email to confirm your subscription! Name: E-mail:

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/23/a-fashionable-melange-of-english-words-1887/


Pictorial Atlas to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey (1892)

Tuesday 22 January 2013 at 17:22

Pictorial Atlas to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Thirty-six plates, containing 225 illustrations from works of ancient art, with descriptive text, and an epitome of the contents of each book, for the use of schools and students of literature and art, by R. Engelmann and W.C.F. Anderson; 1892; H. Grevel, London. This Pictorial Atlas is a collection of over 225 illustrations depicting all the major representations of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey as can be found in classical antiquity. They are arranged in order of each of the stories, which are in turn told in summary chapter by chapter, with accompanying description and commentary on each of the illustrations. The book is housed at the Internet Archive, contributed by the Ontario College of Art And Design. SIGN UP TO THE NEWSLETTER Sign up to get our free fortnightly newsletter which shall deliver direct to your inbox the latest brand new article and a digest of the most recent collection items. Simply add your details to the form below and click the link you receive via email to confirm your subscription! Name: E-mail:

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/22/pictorial-atlas-to-homers-iliad-and-odyssey-1892/


Design for Dreaming (1956)

Monday 21 January 2013 at 15:57

Over the top 1950s “Populuxe” advertisement for General Motors, set at their 1956 Motors Motorama. A woman falls asleep and dreams of a glorious future of perfect products, including a variety of shiny futuristic dream cars and Frigidaire’s fully automated “Kitchen of the Future.” The star of the story is played by dancer and choreographer Tad Tadlock. The film has over the years become a popular symbol of 50s consumerist culture and was featured extensively in the BBC documentary series Pandora’s Box by Adam Curtis. It also appears in its entirety with an amusing “commentary” as a short feature in a fifth-season episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Some footage was also used in the music video for Peter Gabriel’s 1987 single “In Your Eyes”, Rush’s 1989 music video for “Superconductor”, a 1989 commercial for the Nintendo Game Boy game Super Mario Land, and a 1994 commercial for Power Macintosh. Part of the film, with dialogue, is played during the opening titles for The Hills Have Eyes. Some snippets (without dialogue) are played in the video watched by Michael Douglas during his physical in The Game and in the opening titles for The Stepford Wives. (Wikipedia) The film is downloadable [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/21/design-for-dreaming-1956/


Illustrations from The Six Voyages of John Baptista Tavernier (1678)

Friday 18 January 2013 at 17:35

Illustrations from (to give its full title) The six voyages of John Baptista Tavernier, a noble man of France now living, through Turky into Persia and the East-Indies, finished in the year 1670 giving an account of the state of those countries : illustrated with divers sculptures ; together with a new relation of the present Grand Seignor’s seraglio, by the same author / made English by J.P. – a remarkable account of travel through 17th century Asia. Tavernier (1605-1689) was a French diamond merchant, traveller and pioneer of diamond trade with India, who covered by his own account, 180,000 miles (290,000 km) over the course of forty years and six voyages. Though he is best known for the discovery and sale of the 118-carat (24 g) blue diamond that he subsequently sold to Louis XIV of France in 1668, (it was stolen in 1792 and re-emerged in London as The Hope Diamond), his writings show that he was a keen observer of his time as well as a remarkable cultural anthropologist. (Wikipedia) See the English translation of Tavernier’s book, from which these images comes, in our Text collection post. You can also read a nice post on Tavernier’s book [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/18/illustrations-from-the-six-voyages-of-john-baptista-tavernier-1678/


The Six Voyages of John Baptista Tavernier (1678)

Friday 18 January 2013 at 17:35

The six voyages of John Baptista Tavernier, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, translated by John Phillips; R.L. and M.P., London. To give it its full title – The six voyages of John Baptista Tavernier, a noble man of France now living, through Turky into Persia and the East-Indies, finished in the year 1670 giving an account of the state of those countries : illustrated with divers sculptures ; together with a new relation of the present Grand Seignor’s seraglio, by the same author / made English by J.P. – is a remarkable account of travel through 17th century Asia. Tavernier (1605-1689) was a French diamond merchant, traveller and pioneer of diamond trade with India, who covered by his own account, 180,000 miles (290,000 km) over the course of forty years and six voyages. Though he is best known for the discovery and sale of the 118-carat (24 g) blue diamond that he subsequently sold to Louis XIV of France in 1668, (it was stolen in 1792 and re-emerged in London as The Hope Diamond), his writings show that he was a keen observer of his time as well as a remarkable cultural anthropologist. (Wikipedia) The exquisite illustrations from Tavernier’s book can be seen [...]

Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/01/18/the-six-voyages-of-john-baptista-tavernier-1678/