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The Sweet Old Professor Who Saved Iceland’s Ancient Literary Heritage From Danish Fire

Árni Magnússon, who undertook Iceland's first-ever census and land survey, was a near-obsessive manuscript collector; he gathered many thousands of medieval documents, sagas, and other materials and sent them back to his house in Copenhagen. And in 1728, when the worst fire in the city's history and destroyed more than a quarter of the buildings and nearly every book in town, Magnússon managed to get most of the manuscripts (though none of his own books) out of his house before it collapsed in flames, rescuing a huge portion of what we have of old Icelandic literature today. - Literary Hub

Fear My Book? Ban My Book?

"Those who seek to ban my book and others like it are trying to exploit fear — fear about the realities that books like mine expose, fear about desire and sex and love — and distort it into something ugly, in an attempt to wish away queer experiences." - The New York Times

Powell’s Books Union Protests Store’s Rehiring Practices

Under dispute is whether or not Powell's is obliged to honor employees' prior seniority, salaries, and benefits. The union says that the store, in a string of emails last year, had agreed to honor the employees' work history upon rehiring. The store, on the other hand, asserts that, since more than 12 months have passed, they are under no such obligation, and has insisted that former employees reapply for their old jobs. - Publishers Weekly

The Point Of The Point Magazine

"As we see it, one of the goals of the magazine is to help our readers remain open to the possibility that facets of everyday life and culture they might be inclined to trivialize or look down upon may have something to teach us. This doesn’t mean we don’t allow criticism, of course; criticism is part of taking something seriously." - LitHub

Setting Of James Joyce’s ‘The Dead’ Is Being Turned Into A Hostel, Sending Literary Folk Into A Tizzy

The unassuming 18th-century townhouse at 15 Usher's Island is where Joyce's great-aunts ran a music school, and their annual Epiphany dinner was the model for the gathering in the final story of Dubliners. Two Irish investors who bought the house for €650,000 (cheap by current Dublin standards) have gotten permits to convert the four-story building into a 56-bed tourist hostel — and outraged writers from Edna O'Brien and John Banville in Ireland to Rachel Kushner and Salman Rushdie abroad have signed an angry petition put together by Colm Tóibín. - The New York Times

The Culture Of Citations That Props Up Writing

"Like many systems that appear meticulous, the writing of citations is a subjective art. Never more so than in fiction, where citation is an entirely other kind of animal, not required or even expected, except in the “acknowledgments” page, which is often a who’s who of the publishing world. (Also a good way to find out who is married to whom.) But in the last two decades, bibliographies and sources cited pages have increasingly cropped up in the backs of novels." - The Drift

A Wild Spoof Sends Up The Absurdity Of Academic Science Publishing

"Take a bunch of clever, ambitious people and tell them to get as many papers published as possible while still technically passing muster through peer review … and what do you think is going to happen? Of course the system gets gamed: The results from one experiment get sliced up into a dozen papers, statistics are massaged to produce more interesting results, and conclusions become exaggerated. The most prolific authors have found a way to publish more than one scientific paper a week. Those who can’t keep up might hire a paper mill to do (or fake) the work on their behalf." - The Atlantic

Charles Dickens Hid A Lifelong Grief In A Locket

Dickens' 17-year-old sister-in-law collapsed one night as she returned from the theatre, and died in the arms of the writer. "A failure of Hogarth’s heart was blamed, but today an aneurism, or stroke, is suspected as the more likely cause of death. It was a shock that altered Dickens for ever, throwing a shadow over his imaginative life." - The Observer (UK)

Writing, It Turns Out, Can Be Rather Difficult

Masterful essay writer Elissa Mashuta: "This is the dilemma at the heart of the process: writing would be easier if I had an assured end point to aim for, but the essay only works if I begin without knowing what I’ll find as I advance through the paragraphs. I want to control everything, but the essay won’t let me." - LitHub

Emma Donoghue ‘Toned Down The Horror’ In Room

Those who read the book or saw the movie may not quite believe it, but the real-life case from which the author drew her inspiration was far worse. Then there were her own kids. "I had three and a half years’ worth of things to say. About what a huge gap separates an adult and a small child, with only curiosity, humour and love to bridge it. About how a mother is her baby’s captor and prisoner, sometimes both at the same time. About how you long to give your growing kid freedom while somehow, impossibly, keeping them perfectly safe." - The Guardian (UK)

The Birth Of Newsletters, 600 Years Before Substack

"Newsletters began in mid-fifteenth-century Venice. Subscribers would receive handwritten letters twice a week rounding up interesting events. Sixteenth-century merchants used similar news sources to keep track of exchange rates, taxes, and other business news. The form's popularity expanded in England after the country's first postal service took off around 1660. This opened the door to news writers, who could use the mail to gather information from distant correspondents and then send the information to readers on a predictable schedule." - JSTOR Daily

Power Of The Press? From Op-Ed To Federal Writers Project Bill In Congress

Like his forebears under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, David Kipen rolled up his sleeves and went to work. He started writing letters to lawmakers calling for a revamped program for the COVID-19 era, and last May he wrote a piece for The Times examining that possibility. The article, headlined “85 years ago, FDR saved American writers. Could it ever happen again?,” piqued the attention of Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance). Last summer, the congressman’s office began drafting a 21st century FWP — a grant program that would provide jobs for writers and other “cultural workers.” - Los Angeles Times

The Heated Battle Over ‘Hooked On Phonics’ (Yes, There Was One)

"As strangely ho-hum as Hooked on Phonics feels now, it was once a juggernaut in the educational space, selling hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of units each year. It promised something that seemed a little stunning to parents — the idea that, with a home program, students could learn how to read basically on their own by following a simple program. … Hooked on Phonics seemed like it had the golden seal of educational approval. There was just one problem. It didn't, really. Much the opposite, in fact — educators couldn't stop complaining about it." - Tedium

Book Of Antoine De Saint-Exupéry’s Love Letters Marks End Of 18-Year Legal Battle Between His Heirs

The letters were between the French author of The Little Prince and his wife, a Salvadoran artist of whom his family sternly disapproved. The lengthy lawsuits were between his relatives and her heirs over rights to previous books about the couple's courtship and marriage. - The Guardian

Great Writers On Their Best- And Least-Loved Punctuation Marks

F. Scott Fitzgerald and Tom Wolfe on exclamation points, Garielle Lutz and Toni Morrison on commas, Norman Mailer on hyphens, Cormac McCarthy on periods, and Gertrude Stein on periods, commas, and semicolons: "They are more powerful more imposing more pretentious than a comma but they are a comma all the same. They really have within them deeply within them fundamentally within them the comma nature." - Literary Hub

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