Bookish Links for 26 January 2009

I’ve been trying to listen to the still, small voice over the last week or so, thinking about new projects and kick-starting the overdue.

Last week was a week of anniversaries. Edgar Allan Poe turned 200 on Monday and Nick Mamatas argues in The Smart Set that the way his works are taught leaves much to be desired:

Poe’s stories won’t lead to ersatz history lessons about the Puritans or any of the moral instruction that too often accompanies the reading of literature in schools. They don’t exist here, or anywhere else we could identify on a map as part of a dual language arts/social studies curriculum. Poe’s fictions exist in a no-place, in the interior of his own mind. And what’s in Poe’s mind isn’t pretty. [Link]

Meanwhile in the week of his 250th anniversary Robert Burns became a blogger via David Hope, curator of the Burns Cottage Museum and Robert Burns’ Letters.

It was also a week of Inauguration fever and amongst all the noise this nerdy little gem appeared in the New York Times blog, asking whether Abraham Lincoln could possibly have used an emoticon. [Via Readerville]

And finally, the always excellent Bookride has been ridiculing over-inflated online rare book prices for a while now. Here’s an extract from last week, which focuses on a 20-page pamphlet called Fundamentals of Fiddle Teaching by Barbara Chipper, apparently on sale at £1247.90 and described as ‘not falling apart’:

Not falling apart! –at this price one would expect Nigel Kennedy’s own pristine copy with two 500 Euro notes laid in and a long letter to him from Yehudi Menuhin loosely inserted! It is hard to imagine a circumstance in which someone might pay this price–possibly if If Barbara Chipper was a preudonym used by Sylvia Plath when she wrote violin teaching manuals or possibly Jean Rhys (aka Barbara Chipper) taught the violin in old age … [Bookride rant du jour]