Friday, November 20, 2015

Packing Away -- November 20, 2015

Black: still on shelves; will likely be packed away when found
Red: packed away
Blue: to remain on shelves
Purple: discarded

BOX 6008
Plath, Kerouac
Railroad Books

Clarissa, The History of a Young Lady, Samuel Richardson, c. 1985
The Norton Anthology: World Masterpieces, Expanded Edition, Volume 2, 1650 to the present, c. 1995
The Portable Jack Kerouac, edited by Ann Charters, c. 1995
American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath, Carl Rollyson, an advance reading copy, c. 2013
Sylvia Plath: A Biography, Linda W. Wagner-Martin, c. 1987
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy, c. 1994
From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East, Bernard Lewis, c. 2004
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, First American Pulbication, edited by Karen V. Kukil, c. 2000
Proust: A Life, Jean-Yves Tadie, c. 1996
The Death and Life of Sylvia Plath, Ronald Hayman, c. 2003
Rough Magic: A Biography of Sylvia Plath, Paul Alexander, c. 1991
The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, Janet Malcolm. c. 1993
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath, c. 1996
Her Husband: Hughes and Plath, A Marriage, Diane Middlebrook, c. 2003
Glacier Express, Paul Caminada, c. 1983
Furka-Oberalp, Hans Schweers, c. 1982
The Jungfrau Region, Railways, Ralf Roman Rossberg, c. 
The Portable Graham Greene, edited by Philip Stratford, c. 1947
Jungfrau Express up to the glaciers, Verena Gurtner, c. 1986 
Lakota Noon: The Indian Narrative of Custer's Defeat, Gregory F. Michno, c. 1997
D-Day: June 6, 2944: The Climactic Battle of World War I, Stephen E. Ambrose, c. 1994
Dachau: 1933 - 44, The Official History, Paul Berben, 1968
Blue Highways: A Journey Into America, William Least Heat-Moon, c. 1983
Eros and Androgyny: The Legacy of Rose Macaulay, Jeanette N. Passty, c. 1988
The Things That Matter: What Seven Classic Novels Have to Say About The Stages of Life, Edward Mendelson, c. 2006
 Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, a Norton Critical Edition, second edition, edited by J Paul Hunter, the best edition ever, c. 1996
Great Plain, Ian Frazier, c. 1989
This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind, Ivan Doig, c. 1978

BOX 6007
Anthologies of Literature

A Treasury of Great Poems, compiled and selected by Loius Untermeyer, c. 1942
The Riverside Anthology of Literature, Douglas Hunt, c. 1988
The Red Ape: Orang-utans & Human Origins, Jeffrey H. Schwartz, c. 1987
Blonde: A Novel, Joyce Carol Oates, c. 2000
No Man's Land:The Place of the Woman Writer in the 20th Century, Volume 2, Sex Changes, Sandra M. Gilbert / Susan Gubar, c. 1989
Kafka's Last Love, The Mystery of Dora Diamant, Kathi Diamant, c. 2003
The Norton Introduction to Literature, Jerome Beaty, et al, c. 1973
The Norton Anthology of Poetry, Fourth Edition, Margaret Ferguson, et al, c. 1970
The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Fourth Edition, Volume 2, c. 1962
The Oxford Companion to English Literature, Fifth Edition, Margaret Drabble, c. 1985
First Class: Legendary Train Journeys Around The World, Patrick Poivre d'Arvor, a gift from Ellen Barry
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, c. 1875
Palimpsest: A Memoir, Gore Vidal, c. 1995
Therese Raquin, Emile Zola, c. 1960
British Literature, The Longman Anthology, Third Edition, Volume 2C, c. 2006    
An Encyclopeia of British Women Writers, Paul Schlueter, June Schlueter, c. 1998


BOX 6005
My Virginia Woolf Library
Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell: A Very Close Conspiracy, Jane Dunn, c. 2000, $6.98
Virginia Woolf: The Major Novels, John Batchelor, c. 1991 
Virginia Woolf, A to Z: Mark Hussey, c. 1995
Charleston: A Bloomsbury House and Garden, Quentin Bell and Virginia Nicholson, c. 1997 
The Diary of VW, Volume Five, 1936 - 1941, c. 1984, softback,
Bloomsbury: A House of Lions, Leon Edel, 1979, hard cover, warehouse sale.

Virginia Woolf, James King, c. 1994 
Virginia Woolf, Hermione Lee, c. 1996  
Mrs Dalloway: Mapping Streams of Consciousness, David Dowling, c. 1991 
Congenial Spirits: The Selected Ltrs of VW, edited by Joanne Trautmann Banks, c. 1989
Mrs Woolf and the Servants, Alison Light, c. 2008, Harvard Bookstore, hard cover, $7.00; 
Passionate Apprentice: Virginia Woolf, The Early Journals, 1897 - 1909, Virginia Woolf, edited by Mitchell A Leaska, c. 1990 
The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to VW and Bloomsbury, Sarah M. Hall, c. 2007
Selected Works of Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf, c. 2005
Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life, Julia Briggs, c. 2005
The Mrs Dalloway Reader, Virginia Woolf et al, edited by Francine Prose, 2003
Virginia Woolf, Nigel Nicolson, c. 2000
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: Manic Depression and the Life of VW, Peter Dally, c. 1999
Who's Afraid of Leonard Woolf, Irene Coates, c. 1998
Art and Affection: A Life of Virginia Woolf, Panthea Reid, c. 1996, $7.98
Virginia Woolf: Interviews and Recollections, edited by J. H. Stape, c. 1995
Leonard and Virginia Woolf as Publishers: The Hogarth Press, 1917 - 1941, J. H. Willis, c. 1992
Virginia Woolf, Modern Fiction, Susan Dick, c. 1989
Virginia Woolf, Modern Critical Reviews, edited by Harold Bloom, c. 1986
The Letters of Vita Sackville-West to VW, edited by L. DeSalvo and M. A. Leaska, c. 1985
Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life, Lyndall Gordon, c. 1984
Virginia Woolf: Revaluation and Continuity, edited by Ralph Freedman, c. 1980
The Unknown Virginia Woolf, Roger Poole, c. 1978
Virginia Woolf, Susan Rubinow Gorsky, c. 1978
Moments of Being, Virginia Woolf, c. 1977
A Moment's Liberty: The Shorter Diary, abridged and edited by Anne Olivier Bell, c. 1977
Virginia Woolf: A Biography, Quentin Bell, c. 1972
Recollections of Virginia Woolf by Her Contemporaries, edited by Joan Russell Noble, c. 1972
Downhill All the Way, 1919 - 1939, Leonard Woolf, c. 1967
A Writer's Diary, Virginia Woolf, edited with an introduction by Leonard Woolf, c. 1953
The Common Reader, Virginia Woolf, c. 1925
The Diary of VW, Volume One, 1915 - 1919, c. 1977, hardback,
The Diary of VW, Volume Two, 1920 - 1924, c. 1978, softback,
Players: The Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare, Bertram Fields, c. 2005

BOX 6004
Anaïs Nin, Thomas Hardy, Sylvia Plath
Linotte: The Early Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1914 – 1920, preface by Joaquin Nin-Culmell,

The Early Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume 4: 1927 – 1931, preface by Joaquin Nin-Culmell
The Diaries, Volume I, 1931 – 1934, Anaïs Nin
The Diaries, Volume II, 1934 – 1939, Anaïs Nin (purchased 2010, completes the series) The Diaries, Volume III, 1939 – 1944, Anaïs Nin, hardcover
The Diaries, Volume IV, 1944 – 1947, Anaïs Nin (purchased 2008)
The Diaries, Volume V, 1947 – 1955, Anaïs Nin, hardcover
Anaîs Nin: A Biography, Deirdre Bair, 1995

In Favor of the Sensitive Man and Other Essays, Anaïs Nin, c. 1976, earliest essay c. 1966,
Incest: The Unexpurgated Diary, 1932 – 1934, Anaïs Nin
Fire: The Unexpurgated Diary, 1934 – 1937, Anaïs Nin 
Anaïs: The Erotic Life of Anaïs Nin, Noël Riley Fitch, c. 1993 
A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin & Henry Miller, 1932 – 1952,
Henry and June: The Unexpurgated Diary, from “A Journal of Love,” Anaïs Nin  Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller, 1961, hard cover
Henry Miller: The Happiest Man Alive, Mary Dearborn, c.1991
D.H. Lawrence: The Story of a Marriage, Brenda Maddox, c. 1994
The Bronte Myth, Lucasta Miller, c. 2001
The Art of Emily Bronte, edited by Anne Smith, c. 1976
James Joyce, Bernard Benstock, 1985
James Joyce: A Literary Life, Morris Beja, c. 1992
Sydney and Violet: Their Life with TS Eliot, Proust, Joyce, and the Excruciatingly Irascible Wyndham Lewis, Stephen Klaidman, c. 2013
Hardy, Martin Seymour-Smith, c. 1994, Bloomsbury Press
Thomas Hardy: Modern Critical Views, edited by Harold Bloom, c. 1987
Oxford Reader's Companion to Hardy, c. 2000
Far From The Madding Crowd: A Norton Critical Edition, Thomas Hardy, edited by Robert C. Schweik, c. 1986
Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy, Penguin Classics, c. 1996
Tess of the D'Urbervilles: A Norton Critical Edition, Thomas Hardy, edited by Scott Elledge c. 1965
A Laodicean: A History of Today, Thomas Hardy, Everyman softcover, c. 1997 
Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath In New York, Summer, 1953, Elizabeth Winder, uncorrected proof, c. 2013 
A Backward Glance, An Autobiography, Edith Wharton, c. 1933
Zelda Fitzgerald: Her Voice In Paradise, Sally Cline, c. 2002
Zelda: A Biography, Nancy Milford, c. 1970 
In Search of Paul: How Jesus's Apostle Opposed Rome's Empire with God's Kingdom, A New Vision of Pal's Words and World, John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed, c. 2004
BOX 6001
Hitchcock, Bergman, Du Maurier

Unknown Quantity: A Real and Imagined History of Algebra, John Derbyshire, c. 2006, 
The Pleasures of Finding Things Out, The Best Short Stories of Richard P. Feynman, c. 1999
Pi in the Sky: Counting, Thinking, and Being, John D. Barrow, c. 1992
The History of the Calculus and its Conceptual Development, Carl B. Boyer, c. 1949
Calculus Made East, Sylvanus P. Thompson and Martin Gardner, c. 1998
e: The Story of a Number i, Eli Maor, c. 1994
The Cult of iPod, Leander Kahney, c. 2005
The Constants of Nature: The Numbers that Encode the Deepest Secrets of the Universe, John D. Barrow, c. 2002
Deciphering The Cosmic Number: The Strange Friendship of Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung, Arthur I Miller, c. 2009
Makers of Mathematics, Stuart Hollingdale, c. 1989
Prime Obsession, Bernhard Riemann adn the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics, John Derbyshire, c. 2003
The Story of Numbers: How Mathematics Has Shaped Civilization, John McLeish, c. 1991
The Honors Class: Hilbert's Problems and Their Solvers, Benjamin H. Yandell, c. 2002  
Mathematics With Love: The Courtship, Correspondence of Barnes Wallis, Inventor of the Bouncing Bomb, Mary Stopes-Roe, c. 2005
Perfect Rigor: A Genius + The Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century (Poincare Conjecture), Masha Gessen, c. 2009
Einstein's Daughter: The Search For Lieserl, Michele Zackheim, c. 1999
The Music of the Primes: Searching to Solve the Greatest Mystery in Mathematics, Marcus du Sautoy, c. 2003
The Story of i: The Imaginary Tale, Paul J. Nahin, c. 1998
50 Mathematical Ideas You Really Need To Knnow, Tony Crilly, c. 2007
The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, Paul Hoffman, c. 1998
One to Nine: The Inner LIfe of Numbers, ANdrew Hodges, c. 2007
Why Not Catch-21? The Story Behind The Titles, Gary Dexter, c. 2007
The Kingdom of Infinite Number: A Field Guide, Bryan Bunch, c. 2000
The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, The World's Most Astonishing Number, Mario LIvio, c. 2002
Notorious: The Life of Ingrid Bergman, Donald Spoto, c. 197
The Winding Stair, Daphne du Maurier, c. 1976
Daphne du Maurier, Twayne's English Authors Series, Richard Kelly, c. 1987
Daphne du Maurier, The Secret Life of the Renowned Storyteller, Margaret Forster, c. 1993
Complete Stories, Dorothy Parker, Penguin Classics, introduction by Regina Barreca, c. 1995
Ingrid Bergman: My Story, Ingrid Bergman and Alan Burgess, c. 1980 
Hitch: The Life and Times of Alfred Hitchcock, John Russell Taylor, c. 1978
Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe, George Dyson, c. 2012
Heretics, GK Chesterton, c. 2001 edition
"What Do You Care What Other People Think?" Further Adventures of a Curious Character, Richard P. Feynman, c. 1988
Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, Stephen M. Barr, c. 2003 
Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, edited by J. A. Leo LeMay and P. M. Zall, a Norton Critical Edition, c. 1986.
Proust, William Sansom, c. 1973 (a small monograph) 
Survival in Auschwitz, Primo Levi, c. 1958
The Map That Changed The World, Simon Winchester, c. 2001

BOX 6003
Austen, Bronte

Latin for People: Latina pro Populo, Alexander Humez, c. 1976
Latin Stories, Designed to Accompnay Wheelock's Latin, Anne H. Groton, c. 1995
Veni, Vidi, Vici: Conquer Your Enemies, Impress Your Friends With Everyday Latin, Eugene Ehrlich, c. 1995
Amo, Amas, Amat, and More: How to Use Latin to Your Own Advantage and to the Astonishment of Others, Eugene Ehrlich, c. 1985
Latin Can Be Fun: A Modern Conversational Guide, Georg Capellanus, c. 1970
Latin For Even More Occasions, Henry Beard, c. 1991
Learning To Read Latin, Workbook, Andrew Keller, c. 2004
Learn to Read Latin, Andrew Keller, 2004 
In Flanders Fields: The 1917 Campaign, Leon Wolff, 1958
In Trace of TR: A Montana Hunter's Journey, Dan Aadland, c. 2010
The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and The Battle of the Little Bighorn, Nathaniel Philbrick, c. 2010
Memoirs of Hadrian, Marguerite Yourcenar, The Modern Library, c. 1995 
Marguerite Yourcenar: Inventing a Life, Josyane Savigneu, c. 1993
Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy: Jim Marrs, c. 2013 
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte, Oxford World's Classics, c. 1992
Villette, Charlotte Bronte, Oxford World's Classics, c. 2000
The Talmud and the Internet: A Journey Between Worlds, Jonathan Rosen, c. 1996
The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, Thomas Jefferson, c. 1989, a gift from Laura, 2002, just before I departed for Menwith Hill Station, the book published at 25 Beacon Street Boston
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte, edited by Mark Schorer, c. 1959, a really, really good edition
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, Wordsworth Classics, c. 1993
Emma, Jane Austen, A Norton Critical Edition, edited by Stephen M. Parrish, c. 1972, a really, really good edition with lots of personal annotations
Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen, A Norton Critical Edition, c. 2004
A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving, Modern Library, c. 2002
Ginsberg: A Biography, Barry Miles, c. 2001
Anne Sexton: A Biography, Diane Wood Middlebrook, c. 1991
Emily Dickinson, Cynthia Griffin Wolff, c. 1986
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St Vincent Millay, Nancy Milford, c. 2002
The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage, Clifford Stoll, c. 1989
Willa Cather: The Emerging Voice, Sharon O'Brien, c. 1987
Crazy Horse: A Lakota Life, Kingsley M. Bray, c. 2006
Forged In Faith: How Fatih Shaped The Birth of the Nation, 1607 - 1776, Rod Gragg, c. 2010
I Am Hutterite, Mary-Ann Kirkby, c. 2010
Ring Lardner: Stories & Other Writings, 2013 -- really, really a keeper 
Italian Journey, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Penguin Classics, c. 1962
Walking the Bible: A Journey By Land Through The Five Books of Moses, Bruce Feller, c. 2001
Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved The Greatest Scientific Problem Of His Time, Dava Sobel, c. 1995 
The Master of Mary of Burgundy: A Book of Hours 
The Life & Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Laurence Sterne, c. 1967
The Man Who Found Time: James Hutton and the Discovery of The Earth's Anatomy, Jack Repcheck, c. 2003 

BOX 6002
Hemingway, Hunter S Thompson, Joseph Conrad

Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters, 1917 - 1961, edited by Carlos Baker, c. 1981
Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story, Carlos Baker, c. 1969
Islands in the Stream, Ernest Hemingway, c. 1970
A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway, c. 1996
The Apprenticeship of Ernest Heminway, The Early Years, Charles A Fenton, c. 1954
How It Was, Mary Welsh Hemingway, c. 1951
Hemingway: The Final Years, Michael Reynolds, c. 1999
Papa Hemingway, A. E. Hotchner, c. 1955
Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934 - 1961, Paul Hendrickson, c. 2011 
The Rum Diary: A Novel, Hunter S. Thompson, c. 1998
The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales From a Strange Time, Hunter S. Thompson, c. 1979
The Secret Agent, Joseph Conrad, Modern Library, 100 Best Novels, c. 1998 
Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad, Wordsworth Classics, c. 1993
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, c. 1995
Joseph Conrad, Adam Gillon, Twayne's English Authors Series, c. 1982
Lucia Joyce: To Dance In The Wake, Carol Loeb Shloss, c. 2003 
On The Move: A Life, Oliver Sacks, c. 2015
Salinger, David Shields/Shane Salerno, c. 2013
Idiot's Guide to Submarines, c. 2003 
Cape Cod, Henry David Thoreau, Penguin Nature Classics, c. 1987 
The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Family Letters, 1905 - 1931, edited by Walter Hopper, c. 2004 
My Antonia, Willa Cather, c. 1994
Daniel Defoe, Modern Critical Views, edited by Harold Bloom, c. 1987
Sky, Chet Raymo, c. 2001
Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stroies, Simon Winchester, c. 2010 
Heretics / Orthodoxy, Gilbert K. Chesterton, c. 2000 
Debt: The First 5,000 Years, David Graeber, c. 2001
I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, Sylvie Simmons, c. 2012
Apollodorus The Library of Greek Mythology, translation by Robin Hard, Oxford World's Classics, c. 1997
Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, James Gleick, c. 1992 
Finding Oz: How L. Frank Baum Discovered the Great American Story, Evan I. Schwartz, c. 2009
Critics on Jane Austen (Henry James, GK Chesterton, GH Lewes, Malcolm Bradbury, Leonard Woolf, WH Auden, Virginia Woolf, Charlotte Bronte), edited by Judity O'Neill, c. 1970 

BOX 6006
British History, Gertrude Stein

The Early Stuarts, 1603 - 1660, Godfrey Davies, c. 1959
Charles I: The Personal Monarch, Charles Carlton, c. 1983
The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, Penguin Classics, translated, edited by Betty Radice, c. 1974 
Heloise & Abelard: A New Biography, James Burge, 2003
The Age of the Picts, W. A. Cummins, 1995
King Charles II, Antonia Fraser, c. 1979
British Kings and Queens, Mike Ashley, c. 1998
Henry VIII: The King and His Court, Alison Weir, c. 2001
1066: The Hidden History of the Bayeux Tapestry, Andrew Bridgeford, c. 2005
Eleanor of Aquitaine, Alison Weir, c. 1999
The Wars of the Roses: Peace and Conflict in 15th Century England, John Gillingham, c. 1981
Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice, Janet Malcolm, c. 2007
Dear Sammy: Letters from Gertrude Stein & Alice B. Toklas, edited by Samuel M. Steward
The Letters of Gertrude Stein & thornton Wilder, edited by Edward M. Burns, c. 1996
Letters from Africa, 1914 - 1931, Isak Dinesen, c. 1978
Alice B. Toklas: The Biography, Linda Simon, c. 1977 
Rowing in Eden: Rereading Emily Dickinson, Martha Nell Smith, c. 1992
Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller, Judith Thurman, c. 1982
The Secret Life of Lobsters, Trevor Corson, c. 2005
Lutefisk: The Last Word, Gary Legwold, c. 1996
Ovid: The Erotic Poems, Penguin Classics, c. 1982
Who Got Einstein's Office?, Ed Regis, c. 1987
The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins, Oxford World's Classics, c. 1992
Casablanca: Behind the Scenes, Harlan Lebo, 1992
Paul the Apostle: His Life and Legacy in Their Roman Context, J. Albert Harrill, c. 2012
The Lakota and the Black Hills: The Struggle for Sacred Ground, Jeffrey Ostler, c. 2010
Stealing the Mona Lisa: What Art Stops Us From Seeing, Darian Leader, c. 2002
The Making of Gray's Anatomy: Bodies, Books, Fortune, Fame, Ruth Richardson, c. 2008
Jacobson's Organ and the Remarkable Nature of Smell, Lyall Watson, c. 2000
The Year of Reading Proust: A Memoir in Real Time, Phyllis Rose, c. 1997
Going After Cacciato: A Novel, Tim O'Brien, c. 1978
The Collected Works of C. S. Lewis, The Pilgram's Progress, Christian Reflections, God in the Dock, c. 1933
Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship, Colin Duriez, c. 2003
Grant: As Military Commander, James Marshall-Cornwall, c. 1970
T. rex and The Crater of Doom, Walter Alvarez, c. 1997
Pages Left Unfinished At The Time of Creation, John Phillip Santos, c. 1999
Scotch and Holy Water, John D. Tumpane, c. 1981, with inscription to Laura from Dad

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Cape Cod, Henry David Thoreau

Cape Cod, Henry David Thoreau, first published in 1865; $16, full price from Yellow Umbrella bookstore in Chatham, Cape Cod.

This book is the kick-off point for a several page article on Henry David Thoreau: "Pond Scum: Henry David Thoreau's moral myopia" by Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, October 19, 2015. Other than being a new staff writer for The New Yorker, nothing else is said about her. But she got Thoreau exactly right: a hypocrite.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Notes On Catcher In The Rye, JD Salinger, c. 1945, 1946, 1951, 1970

First thought as I was nearing the end of the book:
— huge difference from the Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway
— was this the 1950 version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid


Chiffonier, 15: tall chest of drawers, often with a mirror on top

Hound’s tooth jacket, 33: two-tone, checkered jacket; think Sherlock Holmes’ deerstalker hat; 1930’s, adopted by the wealthy; back in style in the 1950’s;

Pinball machine, 48:

Gladstones, 67: small, portmanteau suitcases

Skaes, hockey vs speed skates, 67:

“lousy with rocks”, 72: son goes to Pencey, so she must be rich; taking off her gloves, “lousy with rocks,” so these would have been rings with large gems (diamonds, others).

“drink up the minimum too fast”, p. 111: many of these clubs required one to buy at least one drink (“the minimum”) if they were going to be allowed to stay in the club; those with little money seldom could afford more than “the minimum.”

Tatersall vests: a check or plaid pattern woven into cloth.

Catcher In The Rye, J. D. Salinger, c. 1945, 1946, 1951, 1970

Chapter 1:

We learn his name is Holden.

He came up (?) from New York City to say “good-bye” to his prep school, specifically to say good-bye to his history teacher, Mr Spencer, who recently had the flu.

He was overlooking the football game between his previous prep school, Pencey Prep, Agerstown, PA, and Saxon Hall. (He was just down to NYC with the fencing team, and now they came back to Pencey Prep — was his new school also in/near Agerstown? Was his new school Saxon Hall?)

He had recently been kicked out of Pencey Prep for failing, not applying himself.

He had been a smoker, but quit.

We also learn he has an older brother writing scripts in Hollywood.

The chapter ends with Holden arriving at the Spencer house and Mrs Spencer invites him in; she knows him well, apparently.

Chapter 2: — extremely humorous chapter.

We learn his last name is Caulden. Mr Spencer had written Holden a note asking him to visit him before vacation began. But Holden said he would have come anyway.

Apparently these are boarding schools; apparently he was just expelled since his parents do not know yet. Holden will tell his parents in a couple of days when he sees them.

He says he was 16 when this occurred; he says he is now 17.

Continues discussion with Mr Spencer, easily 70 years old.

His fourth school was Pencey Prep. A previous school was Whooton School. Another Elkton Hills.

Chapter ends with him leaving Mr Spencer.

Chapter 3: — another humorous chapter

We learn that while at Pencey, he was a junior living in the dorms. Roommate was a senior.

Answer to question in Chapter 1: he was not yet in a new school. He was returning to his old dorm room at Pencey after taking the fencing team to NYC. He wouldn’t know about a new school until he saw his parents who still did not know that he had been expelled.

Reading Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, which he checked out by mistake; turns out  he liked it.

He says his favorite author is D. B., his brother; then Ring Lardner.

We meet Holden’s roommate at the end of the chapter; most of the chapter is dialogue with a senior who lives in room next door.

His roommate wants him (Holden) to write an English essay due Monday.

Chapter 4: — another humorous chapter — especially about checkers

His roommate is getting ready for a date with Jane Gallagher, a girl Holden used to play checkers with. He still liked her.

Chapter 5: — turns serious — with story of the death of his brother

We learn this was a Saturday (although that might have been mentioned earlier; or it could have been figured out by the fact they were playing football on an afternoon).

Holden and two friends plan to go to the movies; but don’t; they had already seen that movie.

Back in the room, Holden begins writing the English essay for his roommate.

We learn that Holden has a brother, Allie; he had died in 1946, of leukemia.

The chapter is a sad, sad chapter — the way Holden (Salinger) describes his older brother who had died of leukemia.

Chapter 6: — the fight.

Roommate gets home late with his date, Jane Gallagher; worries Holden.

Roommate and Holden get in a fight. Holden bloodied.

Holden goes to next room to see what Ackley is up to.

Chapter 7: — leaves Pencey to go to NYC

Holden decides to leave Pencey; go to NYC and stay in a hotel until after his parents get the letter that he’s been expelled.

We learn that the hat he bought in one of the earlier chapters is red.

Chapter 8:  — train to NYC; meets mother of a Pencey student

On the train to NYC. Says a lady gets on at Trenton; could be Trenton, PA, or Trenton, NJ, but the latter is better known. An internet source says Salinger went to military prep school in Wayne, PA, southwest of NYC. Interestingly, Trenton, NJ, is midway between Wayne, PA, and NYC. By train, maybe two hours from Wayne, PA (Pencey, PA) to NYC.

“lousy with rocks”, 72: son goes to Pencey, so she must be rich; taking off her gloves, “lousy with rocks,” so these would have been rings with large gems (diamonds, others). She also had orchids, very expensive flowers.

Holden offers her a cigarette and they both smoke, in a non-smoking car.

We learn that the reason Holden would have been going home Wednesday: that was when Christmas vacation started.

The lady got off at Newark, so yes, it was Trenton, NJ.

Mentions summer home in Gloucester, MA.

Chapter 9: Saturday night, late; at hotel; calls girl up — too late to go out.

Gets off at Penn Station.

We learn that Holden has a “kid sister” called Phoebe, who is younger than he is, possibly middle school.

So: Allie (died of leukemia); D.B. (older brother in Hollywood); Holden; Phoebe (younger sister in NYC)

Mentions hotels: Taft, New Yorker, Edmont. From internet: .. The Taft Hotel is on Seventh Avenue between West 50th and 51th streets. The New Yorker Hotel is close to Penn Station, at Eighth Avenue and 34th Street. the Edmont“‘

Faith Cavendish, Stanford Arms Hotel, 65th and Broadway.

Chapter 10: nightclub at the hotel he’s staying at; meets three dumb girls from Seattle

We learn that Phoebe is 10 years old. Fourth grade.

Three girls. He danced with Bernice Krebs; the other two Marty, Laverne.

Chapter 11:  while in hotel nightclub, reminisces about Jane Gallagher.

Remembers Jane (Gallagher) again; he and she had played golf; Holden taught her golf.

Mentions that Jane never met Allie. The opportunity to meet Allie passed because that was the first summery she went to Maine. Usually they went to Cape Cod — a reminder that these were all rich kids.

Holden mentions that everyone saw each other often in “the village.”

Mentions that Jane started crying one day when a male friend of her mother’s was visiting; never find out what made Jane cry. Maybe it reminded her of her dad who was no longer there for some reason.

Takes cab to Ernie’s in Greenwich Village.

Chapter 12: — at Ernie’s.

At Ernies. Served a drink; too dark for anyone to see; no one cared.

Lillian Simmons comes up to him, while sitting alone; used to date Holden’s brother, D. B.

Told Lillian he was going to leave, which he regretted, because he now had to leave.

Chapter 13: — nothing but small conversation with a prostitute

Walked all the way back to the hotel; 41 blocks. Late, late Saturday night, probably early Sunday morning now.

In short time at Ernie’s, had had 3 drinks. Hard to believe, in such a short time. Didn’t finish the last one.

Ten minutes talking to a prostitute. Too depressed to do anything, he said. Probably scared, nervous. A virgin.

Chapter 14: The pimp and the girl return for another $5.

We learn that years earlier when Allie was alive, they lived in Maine.

It’s early Sunday morning (middle of the night).

The pimp and the girl come back asking for another $5. The pimp punches Holden; falls to the ground.

Chapter 15:  breakfast with two nuns at Grand Central Station.

Early Sunday morning; wakes at 10:00 a.m. Gives old girlfriend, Sally Hayes, a call.

Planned to meet at the Biltmore at 2:00 p.m.

Cab to Grand Central Station.

Has breakfast with two nuns who happen to stop at cafe in Grand Central Station.

Chapter 16: If a body catch body coming through the rye.

“If a body catch a body coming through the rye.” — p. 150

Buys a record for his sister Phoebe.

Goes to Central Park and then the Museum of Natural History, looking for her.

Doesn’t find her; gets depressed.

Heads back to the Biltmore for his date with Sally. Not interested now.

Chapter 17: date with Sally.

Begins okay; then goes very, very badly. Obviously a “coming-of-age” story.

Chapter 18: spends Sunday at Radio City Hall after terrible date; waits to see male friend later that evening.

 An incredibly funny book, another example: his address book had only three names in it, including a teacher’s name, and his father’s office number.

Calls up an old friend, three years his senior, who is now at Columbia.

Agree to meet at Wicker Bar at 10:00 p.m. He spends the day at Radio City Hall, live show / movies.

For first time, mentions war movies. First part of book was written before he was in the US Army. Took book with him to Europe and worked on it during the war.

Says his brother D. B. landed on D-Day.

Says Farewell to Arms is a phony. Says D.B. loves The Great Gatsby.

Holden says he is crazy about The Great Gatsby.

Old Gatsby. Old sport.

Chapter 19
: lots of sex talk with “Old Luce” at the Wicker Bar

Meets up with “Old Luce” at the Wicker bar; lots of sex talk. Interesting juxtaposition of “old sport” and “Old Luce.” It’s late at night; 10:00 p.m. Sunday night; Old Luce is down from Connecticut; Yale.

Flits and lesbians, p. 186.

Chapter 20
: decides to head home to see his younger sister.

Old Luce leaves the Wicker. Holden sticks around til 1:00 a.m. (early Monday morning). Gets drunk. Calls Sally. Wanders around Central Park. Sobers up. Decides to go home. Surprise his sister Phoebe.

Chapter 21
: first of three chapters with his sister Phoebe

Chapter 22
: second of three chapters with his sister Phoebe

p. 224 — “if a body meet a body coming through the rye” — again, p. 224.

It seems Salinger made Phoebe sound a bit older than she really was; but perhaps it’s possible; some fourth graders — going on fifth grade — I suppose, especially in NYC, can be quite street-smart.

Chapter 23
: third of three chapters with his sister Phoebe

Makes phone call to Mr Antolini, his history teacher — at 2:00 a.m.!

Then back to Phoebe’s room to dance with her.

He gets out of the house. Describe’s their mother coming into Phoebe’s room. The book seems to have been written from 1st person perspective but with dialogue between Phoebe and their mother suggests omniscient narrator — is there a problem here?

Chapter 24
: visits Mr Antolini; homosexual advance?

At the Antolini’s house; he is married to a much older woman. Antolini is a heavy drinker.

Notes that Holden has grown “another 20 inches.” Salinger was noted for his height.

The Antolinis were still up because they had just thrown a huge party (on a Sunday night?).

p. 224, Mr Antolini writes this down for Holden (Antolini feels Holden will soon destroy himself): “The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”

Good paragraph on Antolini’s philosophy/advice on page 246.

Asks about Holden’s two girlfriends: Sally Hayes, and Jane Gallagher.

Again mentions his height; the couch that he will sleep on overnight at Antolini’s was too short for him.

Holden falls asleep, exhausted. Abruptly awokened by Mr Antolini sitting at couchside, stroking Holden’s head. Holden couldn’t get out of their fast enough.

May explain why Antolini married such an older woman.

Chapter 25: perhaps the climax of the book when he meets up with Phoebe; says he’s going to leave; she won’t leave him; wants to go with him; he decides to go home with Phoebe; he is very, very happy

Early Monday morning; light just coming up.


Hallucinating? Thinking of his dead brother Allie, talking to him.

Walks to Phoebe’s school (where he also attended elementary school) to give her a note, telling her to meet him at the museum at noon (it was near the school); he was going to leave town; head West.

In the elementary school that someone had written “fuck you” on the wall, and he knew the kids would see it and some pervert would explain to kids what it meant.  Recurring concern about innocence of kids.

Saw another “fuck you” on the wall while leaving the school. Tried to scratch it out with his pen knife.

In the museum; sees another “fuck you.”

Phoebe shows up at the museum; late. She had gone home to pack her clothes; big suitcase; dragging it with her to meet Holden at the museum.

Phoebe refused to leave Holden; refused to go back to school. They went to the zoo.

Then to the carousel.

Grabs his red hunting hat and puts it on her head. Extremely, extremely emotional scene for me. Is this the climax of the book?

He had told he wasn’t going to leave her and he would go home with her and she was so very happy.  Perhaps the climax of the book.

Chapter 26: very, very short epilogue

Page and a half epilogue. Going to a new school next September. Already misses his old “friends” at Pencey.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Moby Dick -- In Progress

Very easy to read; short chapters; a lot of allusions that may not always be understood; some are explained. These allusions make the book interesting to read, something like a puzzle.

Published 1851.

Background, the Essex at wiki. I read this while looking up "stove boat" in Chapter VII.

Chapter I

Starts out, November, depressed and depressing

NYC landmarks
  • the Battery, southern tip of Manhattan, has been there "forever"
  • Corlears Hook, the Lower East Side
  • Coenties Slip, now the heart of the Financial District 
  • along Whitehall: a street in south Manhattan about four blocks long
Explains why he wants to go as a "simple" sailor; among several reasons, he wants to get paid, not have to pay for the journey.

Sounds like he may have taken other sailing trips; this time he wants to go on a whaling expedition.

Chapter II


NYC to New Bedford (Massachusetts) where he hoped to catch a packet ship to Nantucket, original home of the whalers, though New Bedford now the home of American whaling. A great simile: Nantucket is to New Bedford is as Tyre was to Carthage.

He would have to spend two nights in New Bedford before catching the next packet ship. 

A lot of references to the Bible. Spends some time on Euroclydon, the Mediterranean east wind that blew Paul off course, mentioned in Acts. Paul ends up on island of Malta on way to Rome.

Looking for a place to stay overnight; not much money. Stumbles into a black church. Finally ends up at the "Old Spouter" near the waterfront.

Melville notes that the first whale beached in America was on Nantucket. See notes in Chapter III.

Chapter III: The Spouter Inn

Nathan Swain is mentioned. See this website.  From that site, in case the site is lost:
The Swain Family has had an adventurous life in America. Our branch of the family arrived in Massachusetts in the early 1600s and then moved on to Nantucket in 1659 with the purchase of the island from Thomas Mayhew. They lived there as sea-faring whalers until the mid-1700s when a large group from the island sailed to North Carolina.
My direct line to the Swains comes from my mother, Darlene Artman Hagen, for whom I must credit the knowledge provided in these pages. Her mother, Ethel Swain Artman, was the last in our line to carry the Swain name.
In 1634, Richard Swain arrived from England on the ship True Love. He later had his wife, Elizabeth, and children, including his son John, sent over on another ship. He settles in the New England area, namely New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He was a planter and bought and sold land around the area of Salisbury, Massachusetts. He was a freeman, meaning that he could vote and he was a leader in the community.
In 1659, he sold everything and moved to Nantucket island with his son John. He and eight other men bought the island from a man named Mayhew. The ten moved to Nantucket because they were tired of Puritan rule.
Richard, so the story goes, gave shelter during a rainstorm to some Quakers and was punished by the Puritans. The island became mostly Quaker. The ten men brought ten more men over (caftsmen) and gave them half shares of the island. After a short time, the poor soil was not god for farming so they looked elsewhere to support their families.
After a whale had beached itself on Nantucket, they took up whaling. At one time Nantuket was the whaling capitol of the world, providing most of the whale oil to London and elsewhere. Only after the discovery of kerosene did Nantucket quickly die. But during the high time of whale oil, Nantucket grew with big houses and big ships. In the south seas where the sea captains went looking for whales, north of Samoa is an island named Swain. There is also a reef north of the coast of Australia named Swain's reef. Ships would leave for three to four years filling their barrels with whale oil before returning and many lost their lives on the sea.
Around 1760, Nathaniel Swain and his wife Bethiah Macy (a descendent of the Macy's Department Store Macy) left Nantucket and moved to Guilford county, North Carolina to escape the problems of the Revolutionary war.
Note the name Macy. Elsewhere, a whaler named Macy (who had a tattoo on his wrist) founded the department store with that name, and the Macy star was based on Macy's tattoo.

Meets the 6-foot black New Zealander harpooner; shares a bed/room with him: Queequeg. [It's interesting to learn that a New Zealander is a Muslim.]

Chapter IV

The next morning; detailed discussion of Queequeg getting up in the morning and going through his routine.

Chapter V

Breakast; Melville describes the scene. Queequeg most comfortable. Monkey-jackets mentioned.

Chapter VI: The Street

A nice description of the New Bedford waterfront. Many black sailors; many sailors from other countries. It would be interesting to see a demographic study of New Bedford today, the descendants -- their backgrounds.

Opulent houses due to all the whale oil wealth. But very limited in its wealth. Hints that this wealth is due to one commodity -- whale oil -- which could change at any time.

Chapter VII: The Chapel

Oh, that's right. Ishmael arrived in New Bedford on Saturday, so he will go to church on Sunday. We visited that church when we visited New Bedford.

Chapter VIII: The Pulpit

Describes the pulpit and Father Mapple.

Chapter IX: The Sermon

The sermon; Jonah and the whale; a great chapter.

Chapter X: A Bosom Friend

Ishmael reads/explains a book (and pictures) to Queequog.

Chapter XI: Nightgown

In bed together.

Chapter XII: Biographical

Sunday night in bed with Queequog; Queequog tells Ishmael his story. Queequog, from the south Pacific, stole aboard an American whaling ship. Trained as a harpooner. Wants to join Ishmael on his adventure out of Nantucket. Ishmael agrees.

Among today's readers, this would be a "creepy" chapter, the two men in bed together.

Chapter XIII: Wheelbarrow

Great, great chapter. I could see this in a movie. Queequog saves the packet boat, the Moss, with a ripped sail; and then saves a man thrown overboard. A great, great chapter.

Chapter XIV: Nantucket

A great description of Nantucket; how important it is to whaling. He sounds genuinely thrilled to have gotten to Nantucket. [A great description of Nantucket and yet Nathanield Philbrick says Herman Melville did not visit Nantucket until a year after the publication of Moby-Dick, published in 1851: "
Herman Melville chose Nantucket to be the port of the Pequod in Moby-Dick, but it would not be until the summer of 1852—almost a year after publication of his whaling epic—that he visited the island for the first time. -- link. ]
Mentions quahogs (a type of clam).

Chapter XV: Chowder

Pot-luck (dinner) at the Try Pots inn on Nantucket. Recommended by proprietor at the Spouter's Inn in New Bedford where they stayed over the weekend. The little packet ship, the Moss, landed quite late in the evening. [Trypots were the pots in which the whalers boiled the blubber to capture the oil.]

Chapter XVI: The Ship

A long chapter. Ishmael selects a ship from three, each of which are planning 3-year voyages. Selects the Pequod. Meets with the two owners, retired whalers: Peleg and Bildad. Ishmael will be paid in "lays." He was hoping to get 275th or even perhaps a 200th piece of the profits. Bildad said 777 but Peleg wrote down 300. The larger the number, the smaller the piece of the profit.

Does not meet Captain Ahab, but learns that he has one leg, and is peculiar. Moody but a good sailor.

On his way back to see Queequeg. 

Chapter XVII: Ramadan

Queequeg, a Muslim, observing Ramadan, "Fasting and Humiliation."

Ismael is a Presbyterian. Very tolerant. Mentions Yojo -- a small idol used by Queequeg.

"Plum-pudding voyage: a short whaling voyage in a schooner or brig, confined to the north of theline, in the Atlantic Ocean only.

Full 24 hours of prayer it seems. Finally, the chapter concludes with Ishmael and Queezog sailing to board the Pequod.

Chapter XVIII: His Mark

Upon walking unto the wharf, toward the whaling boat, Captains Peleg and Bidad yelled to Ishamel and Queequeg. Once their religion was established, allowed to join the crew on board ship.

The Vital Question:

Vital Question:

Friday, September 4, 2015

In Search Of Deep Time, Henry Gee, c. 1999

An easy-to-read book on early cladistics. Maybe something for the beach for light reading but lots of cocktail trivia. Fun to read in light of where we are in 2015.

Full title: In Search of Deep Time: Beyond the Fossil Record to a New History of Life.

This small book could have been subtitled with "cladistics."

The "new history of life" appears to be a book about emergency of cladistics.

1. Nothing Beside Remains
2. Hunting Unicorns
3. There Are More Things
4. Darwin and His Precursors
5. The Gang of Four
6. The Being and Becoming of Birds
7. Are We Not Men?
The chapter titles could have been greatly improved.

Chapter 1: Nothing Beside Remains

Introduction of cladistics. Starts with his time in Kenya looking for hominioid fossils. A nice overview of the Leakeys.

Chapter 2: Hunting Unicorns

The fishes. Today there are more fishes than amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds put together.

Among the panoply of fishes, which are the ancestors of the tetrapods?

Tetrapods sprang from the greater subgroup of bony fished called the Sarcopterygii -- the so-called "lobe-finned" fished. Only four (from the original thousands) remain. Three of the four are the so-called lungfishes, one each from Africa, Australia, and South America. The fourth is the coelacanth. Thought to be dead, one was recovered off South Africa in 1938, after a gap of 70 million years. A second coelacanth turned up in the Comoro Islands in the Indian Ocean in 1952. Since then, more than 200 have been caught in that area, though many others have been spotted off Madagascar.

A coelacanth discovery in 1998 off Sulawesi in Indonesia was "the zoological surprise of the year."

Discussion of the extinct "osteolepiform" fishes as the missing link in this chapter.

Acanthostega -- a tetrapod missing link. Discussion of the hyomandibula, the equivalent of the tiny stapes ('stirrup') bone in our middle ear -- in fishes, the hyomandibula forms a substantial structural element that holds the back of the skull together. 

Modern tetrapods, the hyoid anchors muscles that work the tongue. The hyoid is a vestige of an elaborate basketlike structure that supports the internal gills of fishes. The tetrapod Acanthostega was an obligate aquatic animal.

Discussion of pteraspids, a jawless fish of the Devonian period.

Chapter 3: There Are More Things

Back to Darwin. Evolution.


Discussion of sex: the origin of sex remains an important problem for evolutionary biologists. Sex explains how variation is maintained; it does not tell us why. Important concept: discussed also by Nick Lane in recent book (2015) the Vital Question.

Chapter 4: Darwin and His Precursors

Those before Darwin.

Chapter 5: The Gang of Four

Don Rosen, Peter Forey, Colin Patterson, Brian Gardiner; 1981; article in Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History: argues that lungfishes (discussed earlier) were closest living relatives of the tetrapods.

Argued that cladistics was the way to do this -- not the classical way used for decades. Not welcomed by paleontologists.

Chapter 6: The Being and Becoming of Birds

Important link: Dromaeosaurs. Mentioned in passing in Dingus and Rowe The Mistaken Extinction, but an important link.

Chapter 7: Are We Not Men?

The cladistics of humans.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Book Of J, Translation By David Rosenberg, Commentary By Harold Bloom

I took these notes years ago; I don't know how much is direct quotes from the book and how much is paraphrasing, my own notes. It was brought over from a Word document and formatting is yet to be done.

Commentary by Harold Bloom
Translation of the “Book of J” by David Rosenberg

Four sources of the Torah: J (the Yahwist), the Deuteronomist (D), the Elohist (E), and the Priestly source. There is a fifth, the Redactor (R) but he redacted / revised -- is not considered a source.

From wiki: The Elohist (or simply E) is identified through textual criticism as one of four sources of the Torah, together with the Yahwist, the Deuteronomist and the Priestly source. Its name comes from Elohim, the term used in the Hebrew and Canaanite languages for the Gods.

From the introduction:

    “‘The Book of J’” is used here [in this book] as the title for what scholars agree is the oldest strand in the Pentateuch, probably composed at Jerusalem in the tenth century BCE [let us say, 900 BCE].

    “J stands for the author, the Yahwist, named for Yahweh (Jahweh, in the German spelling; Jehovah, in a misspelling), God of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

    The later strands in Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers are all revisions or censoring of J, and their authors are known as E, the Elohist, for ‘Elohim,’ the plural name used for Yahweh in that version (J always used ‘Elohim’ as a name for divine beings in general, and never as the name of God); P, for the Priestly Author or School that wrote nearly all of Leviticus; D, for the author or authors of Deuteronomy; and R, for the Redactor, who performed the final revision after the Return from Babylonian Exile.

    [Harold Bloom states that ‘Elohim’ are angels.]

    [If J considers ‘Elohim’ as divine beings, one could argue that she had not given up idea of more than one god; Harold Bloom, I believe, argues that J wrote of only one god, Yahweh.]

    The name ‘Abram’ in J means ‘exalted father’; the now more familiar ‘Abraham,’ which means ‘father of a host of nations,’ was introduced by P.”


    Harold Bloom imagines two writers working closely together in the royal court.  One writer was the royal scribe, responsible for court history, and the writer of 2 Samuel. [Samuel was one of the last Israelite judges before the kings of Israel; Samuel had been trained by Eli.]  The royal scribe was undoubtedly a male.

    Near him, perhaps in the royal court, but possibly elsewhere, was a woman, a writer, and friendly rival of the court historian.  Harold Bloom argues that it was she who wrote the Book of J.  I believe he would consider what she wrote to be prose poetry, not religious in nature, and every bit as good as Shakespeare.  Indeed, Bloom states, just as Shakespeare’s Hamlet was a literary figure, for J, Yahweh was also a literary figure.

     For brevity, we will call her ‘J’ for now.
    Bloom suggests that Genesis, written by J, was a companion piece to 2 Samuel, written by the court historian. [Was the court historian tasked with writing on contemporary – or near contemporary – events, and J was commissioned to write the older history?]
    J was an author at or near the court of King Rehoboam of Judah, who reigned in the early 900’s.  [Conflicting dates:  922 – 915 BC or 931 – 913 BC]  King Rehoboam was the son of Solomon, and was the first king of Judah.  Solomon’s Kingdom fell apart under his less-than-adequate son Rehoboam after Solomon died in 922 BE.  [Bloom is going to argue later on that J was protecting Solomon’s and David’s good names after Rehoboam’s disastrous rule.]

    J’s original works have been lost.  Scholars believe that fragments of her work exist in Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers – just three of the five Pentateuch books.  These books are often referred to as the “Five Books of Moses” but Harold Bloom states unequivocally it is a fiction that Moses as the author. 

    Harold Bloom states that 2 Samuel and Genesis are companion books.  

    Among many themes, Bloom makes three points early on:  1)  J was a female; 2) there are astonishing differences between J and all other Biblical writers; and 3)  the concept of irony in the Bible is the concept that is most often and most weakly misread concept in the Bible.


    Bloom provides background on the authors of the Torah. 

    One train of thought:

            The Deuteronomist text (D) (centuries later than J)
            The Priestly text (P)           
            The Redactor: Single Work
            Jahwist text  JE text
            Elohist text

    After the Babylonian Exile
        P    rival histories, rival religious views
                All had to be kept but differences had to be minimized
        D    rival law codes

    Many think that the Torah Redactor was Ezra – a priestly scribe who is thought to have led 5,000 Israelite exiles in Babylon to their home in Jerusalem (459 BCE).  History is found in Ezra and 1 Chronicles.

Yahweh as a literary figure for J:  For Jews, Muslims, and Christians, Yahweh is the God of Abraham’s children, BUT in the Book of J, Yahweh is a literary figure – just as Hamlet is a literary figure.

Bloom:  religion is the way people choose to worship based on poetic tales, yet we do NOT worship Hamlet, and yet we do worship Yahweh.

[As I write this, I wonder if there is an irony in this.  For J, Yahweh is a literary figures – which people don’t worship – and yet people worship Yahweh.  J created a literary figure we worship; Shakespeare created a literary figure (Hamlet) whom we study.]

Bloom’s anxiety is that J’s Yahweh is “human-way-too-human” and yet we worship him.

Bloom states that J is not of the same genre as Wordsworth, George Eliot, or Tolstoy, but rather of Kafka!

Only two (2) ways to get back to J:
                The Israeli scholar of Kabbalah, Moshe Idel, or,
                Only those areas of J that normative authors could accept

“What are we to do about J’s Yahweh, the uncanniest of all Western metaphors?" – p. 15
    For believers, Yahweh is NOT personal like Christ for Christians, Muhammed for Muslims, Moser for Jews, or objectivity for secularists.  But for J, Yahweh is very personal – “human-all-too-human.”

    Harold Bloom unequivocally states that he has a myth of J – his myth – just as we all, including himself, have a myth of Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Freud.  For Bloom, J is Gevurah (“great lady”).

    The “great lady” wrote alongside her good friend, the court historian, for the post-Solomic court circles.  She wrote “J”; he wrote 2 Samuel.

    Deuteronomy was composed centuries later.  “D” said Moses “wrote down a Torah” – a teaching, p. 20.  [Did “D” not know about “J” or did the Redactor decide that it was better to have Moses write the JE text rather than a non-religious female author, who may not even have had formal education.]

    Bloom is not the first to question Moses as the author of the Torah; there is a history of such questioning:
        Thomas Hobbes was first
        W.M. L. DeWette
        Trio of 19th-century German Hegelians (anti-Semite):
            Karl Heinrich Graf
            Wilhelm Vatke
            Wellhausen (d. 1918)

Another timeline:

    J:  finished writing about 915 BCE

    E:  did not exist as an individual; there was no author E; rather E was a revised or censored J with all consequential implications; and E doubtlessly added additional information

        Therefore, by 850 BCE, about two generations later, J was reduced to a more normative writing (“normative”: prescribed rules of writing)

    D:  the Deuteronomists – focused on violent moment of King Josiah’s puritan reform, 621 BCE

    P:  a generation later.  An alternative text:  all of what is now Leviticus, and a larger store of what is now Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers; written after the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon, 587 BCE; continued deep into the Exile

    R:  the Redactor, about 458 BCE; of undoubted genius; thought by some to be Ezra the Scribe.  Produced the Torah probably pretty much as we have it now.

    For Bloom, the Redactor is a villain (smile) because he prevented us from seeing the fuller Book of J.  It would be like a John Updike re-doing all of Shakespeare – p. 22.

Imaging the Author J – who was she; what was she; what was she trying to write?

    J is Kafka’s direct predecessor, p. 25
    J invented irony

    Several meanings of irony; first three are given in the dictionary; a fourth will be added by Bloom.

    First (not J):  Socratic irony.   Irony as first used by Socrates.  “A feigned ignorance and humility designed to expose the inadequate assumptions of others, by way of skilled dialectical questioning”

    Second:  “Use of language to express something other than supposedly literal meaning, particularly the opposite of such meaning, and also the contrast or gap between expectation and fulfillment” [I think this could be consistent with J]

    Third, closer to J:  Dramatic irony and Tragic irony.  “The incongruity between what develops on adjacent words and actions that are more fully apprehended by the audience or readers than by the characters.”  J is a master of such irony.

    Fourth, for J, her form of irony:  This form was invented by her.  Her irony was “the representation of what happens when altogether incommensurate realities juxtapose and clash?”  For example, what happens when a god wrestles with a mortal (gross incommensurate beings).  How can Abram haggle with Yahweh?  How can Jacob wrestle with a nameless one among the Elohim (angels)?  Also, p. 26, how can we find it persuasive that a manly rough hunter Esau would barter his birthright for that celebrated mess of pottage?

    [An aside.  In the movie, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico,” the events between Johnny Depp and an unnamed boy may be examples of both the third and the fourth types of irony.  As an example of the third definition of irony:  when Johnny Depp said he didn’t want to see the boy again, and later in the movie when they cross paths, Depp has been blinded and cannot see the boy.  The same event can represent the fourth definition of irony:  an unnamed, untrained boy saves the life of a trained killer.]

    Of the three (actually four) definitions of irony above, Bloom says J has her own form – invented by her and unique to her.

    J is economical:  she leaves things out; the reader needs to pay attention,
    J is elliptical:  she is aware of the reader’s preconceived notions and she evades them (one technique:  wordplay, puns)

    J:  “If one could imagine a Jewish Chaucer writing with uncanny ironies of Kafka, Isaak Babel, and Nathaniel West, but also with the high naturalistic wisdom of Tolstoy and Wordsworth, then one would approach the high humor of J, ultimate ancestor of The Canterbury Tales, as well as of Tolstoy’s fictions and Kafka’s parables.

27:  “Monism is one of J’s inventions.”

p. 33:  J:  another literary originality – fusing history and myth, now a Western tradition.  Her result:   a new kind of narrative, closer to Tolstoy than to Homer

p. 33:  where did J’s Yahweh come from?  For Bloom, probably a combination of all three:
        a) her people’s past
        b) contemporary beliefs of these people
        c) from her own humorous and subtle imagination

For Bloom, p. 34, why did Yahweh
             almost kill Moses?
             prevent Moses from entering Canaan?
             bury him in a secret location

These all suggest a possessiveness of a young child – think of a child that almost kills a pet goldfish, and then when it does die, buries it in a hidden location.

p. 37, for Bloom:
    J – a member of the royal family
    Court historian:  a scribe, but not of the royal family

p. 41, David, NOT Moses, is the HERO of the Hebrew Bible – so, think about this – the Redactor wanted MOSES, not David to be the hero of the Hebrew Bible.  Why?
    “Yahweh is in love with David (a king) and not with Moses (a prophet)

    This says volumes about J – especially if J was a royal!  And especially if David was her grandfather!

David:  a literary figure – we know little of the historical figure, p. 42

Too much to write on David, but important to read!! – p. 42 and following

p. 44, for J, David is precisely what Abram, Jacob, Tamar and others strive toward becoming.  David is Shakespearean for J, p. 46 – 47.

Wow!  You can almost hear Bloom shouting, “I want the varnish off [I want to discover the real] J because [she] is a writer of the eminence of Shakespeare or Dante, and such a writer is worth more than many creeds, many churches, many scholarly certainties.”  Wow, p. 48.

Translating J: The Book of J as translated by Rosenberg

Commentary on the translation

p. 176:  Monism was J’s invention; the creation story was not her invention.  Many creation stories by this time

J never mentions David – but probably saw David as “god-like” – and the real “first” man, and Adam as a secondary man.

    p. 177, Bloom is unaware of any precedent for an Eve.
    p. 177, for Bloom, for J, Eden is an “era” – not a locale.  Eden:  a “time” – never to return

p. 178:  the Tree of Knowing Good and Bad is J’s invention; other myths included a Tree of Life.

p. 179:  issue of “help met”

p. 179:
    God made man out of inanimate object – clay (mud); and had to breathe life into “it”

    However, God made woman out of living flesh, and thus did not need to breathe life into her – in other words, he got it (life) right the second time around [Bloom is suggesting that God could have made man from pre-existing life forms – but wow – that would have been interesting.  [Others could argue, however, that God’s breath of life was what made man’s life different from other life forms] [It begs the question, from what did God make the other life forms and how did they take their first breath?  Or is that too literal?]

    Also J devotes six (6) times as much space to woman’s creation as to man’s creation! p. 180

p. 181:      Homeric culture:  culture of shame
        Christian culture:  culture of guilt
        Solomonic culture (J’s culture):  neither shame nor guilt

p. 182:  again, the irony for G is the clash between incommensurates

p. 187:  J argues that there is very little difference between man and angels – only difference is immortality (Adam and Eve had eaten of the Tree of Knowledge [good and bad], but not of the Tree of Life [immortality])

p. 195, “Moses, despite Freud’s assertions, did not invent monotheism, Abraham did, and the promise of Canaan.  Therefore the promise was made to Abraham, and only secondarily to Moses, who in any case was banned from going there.”

Abraham:  abrupt disaffection with idolatry – we don’t know why – but J noted it, and it is the norm for all prophets since

Too much to write on Abraham, p. 197 and following.

p. 198, Bloom would say this:  “In a way, J was the father of Yahweh (God).”  J is substituted for Abraham by Bloom, just as Moses was substituted for J by the Redactor.”

J did not invent Yahweh, just as Shakespeare did not invent Hamlet.

p. 199, J’s attitude toward the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) and towards Yahweh.  Abram first calls upon Yahweh by name (Gen. 12:8)

p. 199, the great cycle of J – to Egypt and back to Canaan.  Abraham went to Egypt, as did his son Isaac and grandson Jacob.  Jacob and Rachel  Joseph  Egypt.

J is NOT judgmental, even less so than Shakespeare.

Why does J tell such unfavorable stories of these patriarchs – [even more interesting, why did the Redactor and other revisionists NOT edit those unfavorable stories?]

p. 204:  sin is NOT one of J’s concepts, contempt is.  Sodom is not destroyed because of its sin but because of its contempt; for Yahweh, for strangers, for women, for Lot, for all who are not Sodomites.

p-. 206: Bloom’s thought on Abraham test to sacrifice his son Isaac – Bloom feels J did not write this story.


p. 209.  Initially Bloom thought J was Jacob, until he “realized” J was a woman.

In this chapter, Bloom discusses the Blessing – to extend one’s name; Jacob becomes Israel.

Too much to write, p. 209 and following.


Earlier, Bloom lists the heroines, p. 216, “commencing with Sarai and Rebecca, to culminate in Tamar.”

p. 220:  Bloom considers Tamar the most memorable character in the Book of J – despite her brief appearance in Genesis 38.

    Tamar:  lineage of Jesus.  P. 220

J makes clear that her centering on Tamar means her allusions to David – her real hero.

  • Tamar (Tamara) and Judah
  • Zerah and Peretz. Peretz, "grandfather" [actually great-great-etc-grandfather] of David. [David's father was Jess, son Obed, son of Obaz and the tribe of Judah and Ruth the Moabite -- website; "Pharez" heads the line -- is Judah's son. This makes Peretz a great-great-etc-grandfather of David.
  • Peretz
  • Hezron
  • Aram
  • Amminadab
  • Nahshon
  • Salmon
  • Boaz
  • Obed
  • Jesse 
  • David

For J, Tamar ensured the Blessing continued to David.

p. 223:  Tamar does NOT give up.  Her will does NOT give up.  Her will becomes the will of Yahweh, and ten (10) generations later leads to David, of all humans the most favored by Yahweh.


    Why did J write so much about Joseph, when Abraham, Jacob and Moses so much more important to the traditions of the Hebrews?  P. 224

    Again, too much to write, p. 224 and following.

    With Joseph, J’s principal contribution is what we now call the art of prose fiction.

    Family diagram:  Jacob and Rachel had 12 children.  The first three, Reuben, Simeon, and Levi did not get the Blessing.  The Blessing went to the fourth son, Judah.  The 11th child was Joseph (the coat of many colors) and the youngest son was Benjamin. 

p. 227.  J’s personages much like Shakespeare’s because Shakespeare drew from J.  “The perpetually changing consciousness of J’s beings is very different from the Homeric state of mind, and…”
    In Shakespeare, “characters change by brooding.”

p. 233.  Re:  Joseph, “J’s greatest literary gift, like Shakespeare’s or Montaigne’s, or Freud’s, may be an original master of moral and visionary psychology.

p. 234 – particularly interesting

    Joseph is for J, as David is for the author of 2 Samuel. [need to think about that; for J, Joseph was a secondary character, not as important as David; David was her hero;  For 2 Samuel’s author, if David was a secondary character, who was the primary?  Solomon and the Royal House of Solomon?]

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime, Harold Bloom, c. 2015

The twelve pairings:
  • Walt Whitman and Herman Melville
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emily Dickinson
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry James
  • Mark Twain and Robert Frost
  • Wallace Stevens and TS Eliot
  • William Faulkner and Hart Crane
From the book:
Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emily Dickinson met when he lectured in Amherst and stayed for dinner and overnight at her brother's home next door. Her references to him in her letters are wistful and humorous, while her poems offer a sly critique of him.
The relationship of Nathaniel Hawthorne to Henry James is one of direct influence and I bring them close together, in a way James would have disliked.... The ghostly Henry James, as in "The Jolly Corner," also emanates from Hawthorne.
Mark Twain and Robert Frost have little in common despite their mutually concealed savagery, but they are our only great masters with popular audiences. Both dissemble and move on two levels, implying deeper meanings to only an elite.
Long, long paragraph on Stevens and TS Eliot, p. 5.
William Faulkner and my lifetime favorite, Hart Crane, are placed here side by side since each forces the American language to its limits. I contrast these titans implicitly, and I hope subtly, in their authentic shared tradition of American precursors. The only begetters they have in common are Melville and Eliot.  Additional Faulkner begetters include Hawthorne and Mark Twain. Crane's formidable lineage inludes Whitman and Moby-Dick, Emerson and Dickinson, Stevens and Eliot, and a panoply of other American poets from William Culley Bryant and Edgar Allan Poe through William Carlos Williams. 
A long, long paragraph on Whitman and Melville, starting at bottom of page 5.