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text 2019-12-05 22:50
24 Festive Tasks: Door 19 - Festivus: Task 2
The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking - Astrid Lindgren,Michael Chesworth,Florence Lamborn,Gerry Bothmer
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy,John Bayley,Larissa Volokhonsky,Richard Pevear

Admittedly I wrote this quite a while a go, but since anything involving Pippi Longstocking will almost automatically be a match for a holiday featuring "feats of strength" ... here is, rather unapologetically, my Goodreads Celebrity Death Match Review Elimination Tournament entry of long ago featuring the match-up of Pippi Longstocking vs. Anna Karenina (spoiler: Pippi wins hands down):


Girl Power, or:

Celebrity Death Match Review Elimination Tournament Review:
Anna Karenina (12) vs. Pippi Långstrump (21)


A countryside railway station in indistinctly northern surroundings. Count Vronsky and Anna Karenina are standing together, both looking into the distance but in opposite directions.


VRONSKY (contemplative): Now, look at that … a girl carrying a horse …

ANNA (turning): What’s that you said – a girl?

VRONSKY: … carrying a horse.

ANNA (talking over him): Of course, I should have known – you’re looking at another woman. Again. So what’s so special about this one, huh? (She takes a closer look at the figure in the distance and curls her lips in contempt.)

Her freckles? Those ridiculous reddish braids of hers? Or – or – her shoes? Oh my God, they must be at least two sizes too large!

VRONSKY (to himself): Here we go again. – (Soberly, to Karenina): Anna, please …

ANNA (still not listening): I bet you can’t wait to take those shoes off her and clothe her feet in some sort of delicate slippers. Silk, or damast, or something. Or velvet. Or nothing – and then just kiss them. And go on kissing her all the way up her legs, and then … and then … (She breathes heavily, unable to continue.)

VRONSKY: Anna, for God’s sake, she’s just a girl! She can’t be more than, what, nine or ten … or, well, at least she doesn’t look … (He casts a doubtful glance at the horse, which is now standing on solid ground again.)

ANNA: Ah, but you don’t know, do you? And I am sure you would love to find out …

VRONSKY (exasperated): Anna, please! Do you seriously think I’d be interested in a woman who can carry a horse?!

ANNA (pouting): Oh, so she’s a woman now to you already, is she? A few seconds ago she was still merely a girl … I should have known I would never be able to trust you! You’ll always find a way to betray me! I should never have followed you! Why, oh why did I ever abandon my beloved son for your sake? Oh, Seryozha … (She bursts into tears.)

VRONSKY (after contemplating her for a long moment): Look, Anna, I don’t think this is going anywhere. I …

ANNA (howling): You’re leaving me! (After a pause, with a baleful look at the figure in the distance): For HER!

VRONSKY (through his teeth, struggling for composure): I am going to my club.

(He turns on his heels and leaves.)

ANNA (sobbing uncontrollably): I’ve lost him. And after I gave up everything for his sake. I am nothing without him! Oh, what shall I do??


A humming from the tracks, first gentle but with a steadily increasing volume, announces the arrival of a train. With a desperate sob, Anna Karenina throws herself onto the tracks. The sudden, harsh squeal of the train’s breaks alerts Pippi Longstocking, who up to now had been blissfully unaware of the scene at the station. She comes rushing over, placing herself in front of the train, and tries to stop it with her bare hands. All she manages, alas, is to slow it down; but not before it has severed Anna’s head, which rolls sideways and comes to a stop at Pippi’s feet. Pippi contemplates it with a half-sad, half puzzled expression.


PIPPI (bemused): It’s a pity she never knew my Pappa. He would’ve told her just to sing to herself. Whatever it is, there’s nothing so bad that it can’t be made right again by singing a song, he always said …


(Alerted by a monkey’s chatter, she looks to the roof of the station house.)


PIPPI: Mr. Nilsson! What are you doing up there? Come down at once!


Laughing, Pippi climbs onto the roof herself to retrieve her monkey, leaving Anna’s severed head and body behind on the tracks.


(Task: Battle of the Books:  pick two books off your shelf (randomly or with purpose); in a fair fight, which book would come out on top?  The fight can be based on the merits of the book itself, its writing, or full-on mano a mano between two characters.  Which would win the feat of strength?)


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review 2016-03-13 06:58
Battle of the Books
The Battle of the Books and other short pieces - Jonathan Swift,Henry Morley

I'm going to claim "read" on this one even though I haven't strictly read everything inside the covers.  I got through most of it, but after a rather arduous 30+ page rhyming poem, I couldn't make it much further though the rest (which was largely more poetry).


The book is cute, if anything over 140 years old can be said to be cute.  I bought it because I was charmed by the cover and the title and the old advertisements in the front and back cover ("To Mothers! Woodward's "Gripe Water' or Infants Preservative...") and really no bibliophile worth their salt could pass a story called "Battle of the Books".


Battle of the Books was, once I got past the archaic writing, clever and pretty epic for a short story.  It was written to be satiric, as a representation of the critical movement against the "Ancient Books" by literary critics of the age.  The battle is pitched at St. James' Library (I'm assuming once the library has closed for a good long weekend), with various deities finding it too irresistible not to choose sides, get involved, and make a mess.  


I won't tell you who won; that would be a spoiler.  I'd imagine that had I been a contemporary of Swift's (or just much better educated in literary criticism) the ending would have a deeper meaning that as it is, I can only guess at.  Still I enjoyed it - it was epic and fun even without all the insider's knowledge.


The next couple of stories are aimed squarely at almanac editors.  These were so acidly satiric they ceased to be 'funny' although the audacious claims remained amusing.  From there on, it's almost all poetry and most of it written as odes to the love of Swift's life, Stella.  Of them, the poem Baucis and Philemon firmly my favourite.

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text 2015-07-02 04:09
Back home, or, TBR Thursday: the mega edition
Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime - Val McDermid
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar... Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes - Thomas Cathcart
The Fine Art of Fucking Up - Cate Dicharry
Battle of the Books - Henry Morley,Jonathan Swift

I got home last night, leaving behind sunny, 31C weather to return home to rain and 8C.  Ah well, at least the cats still recognised me and my husband was very happy to have me home.


Along with an astounding amount of new clothes (mid-season sales!!) I brought back a pile of books (of course) and returned home to find another pile waiting for me as my internet buys continued to pile up in my absence.  The tally:


New books in June:  19

Books read in June: 1


One book read this month.  I don't think I have ever before only read one book in a month so that probably says more about how much fun I had than all of the pictures I took (and there were many!).


The books in the bar above are the purchases I made in Amsterdam at the American Book Center (Highly recommend!) and at the used/antiquarian book fair taking place in the street out front.  The covers below represent my normal haul of internet buys.



The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho was recommended to me by my best friend and he also found The Fine Art of Fucking Up - Cate Dicharry  and I read the summary over his shoulder and thought it sounded good.  Battle of the Books - Jonathan Swift  was a find at the book market and how could I not pick up a gem with that title?


The other 3 at the top are recommendations from my fellow BookLikers, so I know they're going to be good!


The American Book Center... I could have spent days and days here....


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review 2013-02-03 00:00
The Battle of the Books and Other Short Pieces - Jonathan Swift Gutenberg version here.First use in print of phrase "sweetness and light."
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review 2013-01-01 00:00
The Battle for the Books Inside Google's... The Battle for the Books Inside Google's Gambit to Create the World's Biggest Library - Jeff John Roberts Short but enlightening summary of the events and issues surrounding the infamous Google book digitization project.

First, let's get my biases out of the way. I'm a retired academic library director who also happened to be the IT Director at my college, and as such I drool over the idea of having all of the books in the world available on line and fully searchable. I also believe the publishers and especially the Author's Guild are making a huge mistake by fighting Google on digitization. Rather than seeing this as a way to make money, they remain mired in the 19th century, seeing it only as a threat.

The project is the brainchild of the two Google founders and clearly it's a labor of love for them. They often cite the example of the Library of Alexandria which had made an effort to accumulate universal knowledge but was burned in 48 B.C.E. by Julius Caesar, a calamity. Brin and Page simply want all the world's information to be retrievable. "As for Page and Brin themselves, they don’t seem to have cared whether the world thought they were visionaries or villains. They had a task to accomplish. As Winograd [a former teacher at Stanford] said, 'I think if you ask them, [they’d say] this is going to get done, even in five years. This is the technological imperative — information must be searchable. They’re often more in tune to the technological imperative than to social barriers.' " It's ironic that publishers and authors can now been seen as "social barriers" by some.

After initial praise, including participation from Harvard, reaction built to apocalyptic proportions, adversaries (now joined by Robert Darnton at Harvard, and, ironically, Lawrence Lessig) claiming that the project represents the end of the world in a conflagration of multiple bibliographic dystopias. " The company’s legal boldness has ruffled authors and publishers, but also made plain just how ill-suited many copyright rules are to an era in which anyone can copy entire books with the click of a mouse."

The linkage between the library community and the engineering mindset of Google is fascinating. Librarians generally adopt a philosophy that promotes sharing (although as a board member of a multi-type system in Illinois, it became obvious to me that librarians, public, in particular, really like borrowing, but abhor sharing: God forbid another public library might get first crack at *their* patrons' new books first, something that digital union catalogs has fostered.)

Personally, I think Google's reliance on pushing the envelope of what constitutes "fair use" and relying on that to push the frontier, is misplaced. Google should have publicly proposed (they secretly did, and that was a problem, the company's excessive desire for keeping everything secret) a royalty to the author for each access to one of the scanned books. The original settlement between the Author's Guild and Google has been thrown out so what will happen remains to be seen. The Author's Guild original settlement was for a lump sum, which, as far as I can determine, benefited no one except the AG lawyers and staff. All that being said [spoiler alert] the author believes that the battle has petered out and it will be a while before the huge file of books Google has (note that Robert Darnton, who shoved Google's initiative under the bus, has started his own competing initiative, but then he really wants to be Librarian of Congress) ever becomes available.

*One fascinating detail is that the University of Michigan under Wilkin (bless him) proceeded to digitize books still under copyright reckoning that since the University was a state agency he could not be sued since copyright law is federal and the 11th amendment prohibited another state or person outside the state from suing a state. (The story of why we have an 11th amendment is fascinating in itself - go look it up, it was a major set back for a new Supreme Court in 1795, Georgia leading the charge against what it perceived as an attack on its sovereignty. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleventh_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution) However--- " in Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123(1908), the Supreme Court ruled that federal courts may enjoin state officials from violating federal law."

**For anyone who cares, I've embarked on my own little project. A company in CA will scan books for $1.00 per 100 pages and then send me the digital file as a pdf. (They use the guillotine method that destroys the original so there is no hint of copyright problem since they are merely replacing the format.) I then run the pdf against a really good OCR program which then creates an html file which I then convert to an epub and mobi file in Caliber. Outstanding. I'm doing this for all the big tomes I own which take up so much frigging room and are hard to physically read. Other books I own for which there are digital files, I purchase and then sell the physical copies on Amazon. There are tons of OP books that I wish would get scanned and made available. I'd gladly pay something for them on Google Books, but until they sort out the mess...

*** Another interesting tidbit: "To track and record what it was scanning, Google relied on bar codes and bibliographic data from its library partners. But not all the time. Upon visiting its first U.K. partner, Oxford University, Google executives were astonished to discover that large portions of the medieval school’s collections are organized by size rather than U.S.-style subject headings. “You get real efficiencies if you lump all small books together, big books together, and thick books together,” Oxford librarian Michael Popham explained to me." Just think if they had shelved them by color, then the next time someone came in looking for a book of which he could only remember the color...
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