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Posts Tagged ‘Sherlock Holmes’

The Hattifatteners at Bedtime, and Other News

December 19, 2014 | by

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Tove Jansson‘s Hattifatteners.

  • On a new biography of Tove Jansson: “She discovered lesbian love … Biographies invariably contain a section on her sexuality and this one is no exception. Its insight that the creatures in Moominland called the Hattifatteners ‘resemble a wandering flock of penises or condoms’ is a point to ponder when reading aloud at bedtime.”
  • What are the most important questions to ask ourselves when we read? “What is the emotional atmosphere behind this narrative? That’s the question I suppose I’m asking—and what is the consequent debate arising from that atmosphere?”
  • The Chinese term for “effortless action” is wu wei. You’ll soon see it in self-help texts—and why not? Striving to try less hard may, in fact, be very self-helpful. “Wu wei is integral to romance, religion, politics and commerce. It’s why some leaders have charisma and why business executives insist on a drunken dinner before sealing a deal.”
  • “A raucous, Sherlock Holmes–themed pantomime called ‘Mrs. Hudson’s Christmas Corker’ might not sound like the most highbrow play that London has to offer. But if you sample enough of the mulled wine being served in the foyer beforehand, you begin to see it differently.”
  • Matisse’s cutouts are now—and not for the first time—the toast of the art world. But when he made them, he wasn’t so sure: “Matisse worried that working with cut paper was cheating—a shortcut to painting—and he kept it a secret. ‘It is necessary not to say anything about this,’ he wrote to his son Pierre, in 1931.”

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The Oldest Book in English, and Other News

July 18, 2014 | by

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The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye, the oldest printed book in English.

  • Javier Marías can think of seven reasons not to write novels, and only one reason to write them. (Fortunately, the one is pretty good.)
  • A 540-year-old book—the first to be printed in English—has sold at auction for more than a million pounds. “The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye is a version of a French book written around 1463 … The story is an epic romance which portrays the heroes of Greek mythology as chivalric figures.”
  • “I do own a pair of unusual books that I treasure … they are collections of poems, written by Howard Moss, poetry editor of The New Yorker from 1948 to 1987. They originally belonged to the poet May Swenson (1913–1989), who has been a favorite of mine since I stumbled on her “Half Sun, Half Sleep” in high school … Each is heavily underlined, in both pencil and ink—an emphatic, and ugly, green ink, seemingly more suited for some censorious schoolmistress than for Swenson, a nicely calibrated nature poet. Still, I take great pleasure in her scarring underscorings and in her occasional approving check mark or cryptic annotation.”
  • The Supreme Court has refused to hear an “emergency petition” from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s heirs, who are seeking “indefinite copyright protection” for Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
  • In which the novelist Scott Cheshire, an ex–Jehovah’s Witness, visits the Watchtower headquarters in Brooklyn: “I felt like throwing up, so I headed for the men’s room to pull myself together, pressed my face against the cold metal towel dispenser, and fainted.”

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Early Adaptors

November 27, 2012 | by

Sherlock Holmes Baffled, which Arthur Marvin made in 1900 (and released three years later), is acknowledged to be the sleuth’s first onscreen appearance. However, it would seem that the thirty-second film may also be the very first cinematic literary adaptation. (Although in fairness, it would be hard to say which case the film portrays. One in which Holmes is baffled, presumably.)

 

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A Doyle Man

September 21, 2011 | by

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Arthur Conan Doyle, was the first grown-up book I ever read—and it changed my life. Back in the late 1950s, my fifth-grade class belonged to an elementary school book club. Each month our teacher would pass out a four-page newsletter describing several dozen paperbacks available for purchase. I remember buying Jim Kjelgaard’s Big Red and a thriller called Treasure at First Base, as well as Geoffrey Household’s Mystery of the Spanish Cave. Lying on my bed at home, I lingered for hours over these newsprint catalogues, carefully making my final selections.

I had to. Each month my mother would allow me to purchase no more than four of the twenty-five- and thirty-five-cent paperbacks. Not even constant wheedling and abject supplication could shake her resolve. “What do you think we are, made of money? What’s wrong with the library?” Read More »

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A Week in Culture: Tom Nissley, Writer and Game-Show Contestant

May 18, 2011 | by

DAY ONE

I am, in theory, living the dream: I made a lot of money on a game show and quit my job to write. In December1, I won eight times on Jeopardy! and suddenly found myself the third-leading money winner in the history of the show (aside from tournaments and John Henry–style man-versus-machine battles). I left my job (as an editor on the Amazon.com Books store) in March, and ever since I’ve been trying to sort out how to get all the things done for which there still aren’t enough hours in the day: reading, working on a novel every day instead of once a week, blogging, umpiring Little League, writing another book that the world might want more than a weird novel about silent movies, saying hi to my wife more than I used to, and, crucially, preparing for the next Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions, which hasn’t been announced yet and which I haven’t yet been invited to, though it seems like a safe bet. For better or worse (better!), being a game-show contestant is now one of my jobs.

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Annotations

  1. Well, actually in September, but I had to keep quiet about it for three months until it aired.

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