Posts Tagged ‘nonfiction’

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An Adventure (the Moberly-Jourdain incident)

February 3, 2014

In 1901, Charlotte Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, two British academics, visited Versailles. Ten years later they published An Adventure under the names Elizabeth Morison and Frances Lamont, purporting to be an account of that tour, a few later visits, and their correspondence and research about what took place there. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Snobbery with Violence

October 26, 2010

I ordered Snobbery with Violence, by Colin Watson, on the recommendation of Cristiane, and on the whole I liked it, but I do have some reservations. Well, a  lot.

Snobbery with Violence is a discussion of some of the most popular authors of crime fiction between, approximately, World War I and the 1960s, when the book was written. Watson’s premise is that an era’s most popular fiction tells you the most about its reading public, and obviously that’s a thesis I can get behind. What bothered me was that most of the snobbery involved seemed to come from the author. Colin Watson may think he likes mystery novels, but my impression is that he hates them and the people that read them. Read the rest of this entry ?

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How to Analyze People on Sight

December 10, 2009

For everyone who wishes to judge people by their appearance, here is How to Analyze People on Sight, by Elsie Lincoln Benedict and Ralph Paine Benedict.

The Benedicts divide humanity into five types, all of which are full of the most deliciously blatant stereotypes you have ever seen. Fat people enjoy life! “Cerebral” types have large heads! Muscular people like to work, but don’t like to think too hard. Also, they have square jaws. People with a large lung capacity should marry other people with large lungs.

Can you find your type? Tell me how ridiculously invalid the descriptions are!

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The Art of Confectionary

September 29, 2009

Have you ever wanted to boil sugar “to the Degree called Smooth”? Do you urgently need to draw a jelly from pippins? Have you, like me, always been curious about the preparation of cochineal? Do you wish to know the difference between preserving gooseberries green and preserving them white?

The Art of Confectionary, published 1761, has all the answers and much more. I’m tempted to try some of the recipes, if only I could decipher them. Take the following, for example, a recipe for “The Feathered Sugar”:

The Feathered Sugar,

Is a higher Degree of boiling Sugar, which is to be proved by dipping the Scummer when it hath boiled somewhat longer; shake it first over the Pan, then giving it a sudden Flurt behind you; if it be enough, the Sugar will fly off like Feathers.

What is the Scummer? What does “it” refer to? And, most importantly, what is a Flurt?

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Stammering, Its Cause and Cure

July 29, 2009

I kind of want to quote all of the prefatory material from Stammering, Its Cause and Cure, because it just gets better and better. I mean, the title is pretty great, for starters. Then the author, Benjamin Nathaniel Bogue, is described as “A Chronic Stammerer for Almost Twenty Years; Originator of the Bogue Unit Method of Restoring Perfect Speech; Founder of the Bogue Institute for Stammerers and Editor of the “Emancipator,” a magazine devoted to the Interests of Perfect Speech.” Then there’s a dedication to his mother, “that wonderful woman whose unflagging courage held me to a task that I never could have completed alone and who when all others failed, stood by me, encouraged me and pointed out the heights where lay success.”

Then there’s the table of contents, which starts with “Part I–My Life as a Stammerer,” and contains such sections as “A Stammerer Hunts a Job,” and “Can Stammering be Cured by Mail.”

The book seems to be among other things, an advertisement encouraging parents to send their stammering children to the Bogue Institute, which is presided over by Mr. Bogue and his mother.

No offense to anyone with a speech defect, of course, and I’m sure Mr. Bogue had the best of intentions and possibly even some success, but…”these experiences, however, were valuable to me, even though they were costly, for they taught me a badly-needed lesson, to wit: That drugs and medicines are not a cure for stammering. “

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Home Taxidermy

October 31, 2007

I came across this book once while looking browsing in the library basement a couple of years ago. It still kind of scares me.

Home Taxidermy for Pleasure and Profit;
A Guide for Those Who Wish to Prepare and Mount Animals, Birds, Fish, Reptiles, etc., for Home, Den, or Office Decoration

Home Taxidermy

ETA: I’ve been scrolling through, looking at the illustrations and stopping to read a little here and there, and this thing is hilarious. Check out these pictures:

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