Friday, April 24, 2009

In print....

Mary Beard examines the ancient Roman book trade and finds some surpising parallels in an essay entitled "Scrolling Down the Ages" in the New York Times Sunday Book Review:

"We usually assume that there is not much in common between the ancient Roman book trade and our own. Roman books, after all, were produced in a world that was not just pre-Internet but pre-Gutenberg. All reading material was laboriously copied out by hand. The ancient equivalent of the printing press was a battalion of slaves, whose job it was to transcribe one by one as many copies of Virgil, Horace or Ovid as the Roman market would buy."

In The Guardian, Iain Sinclair looks at the way different films have worked to construct a mythical East End in "Tales From Mean Streets":

"London cinema is a force that defies its apparent boundaries, leaking from screen into street and back again. A pre-forgotten literature of urban working lives, by such as James Curtis, Robert Westerby and Gerald Kersh, slips unmolested into cinematic adaptations. The faces of certain performers - Jack Warner, Jimmy Hanley, Alfie Bass, Sydney Tafler - are ever present, sometimes villains, sometimes regular family men."

Meanwhile, writer Ken Worpole reviews The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard as his "Book of a Lifetime" in The Independent:

"Bachelard was a phenomenologist, holding the view that there was a dynamic interplay between an active mind and its surroundings. The house was a theatre, something most people realise when travelling by train through the city at night, seeing lighted interiors. A candlelight in a window was enough to bring a street to life, he wrote."

Also in The Independent Natural History writer, Peter Marren, reviews two new books about summer migrants - the swallow and the cuckoo:

"If migrant birds could talk, what tales they could tell - though the late Miriam Rothschild insisted they would only complain about their parasites. Cuckoos and swallows are the true heralds of summer. The swallow arrives, scything through the air, belly-dipping over the grass, often during the first truly warm days of the year. The cuckoo is more of a "wandering voice", often heard, less often seen; its appearance used to be announced on The Times letters page. Both birds excite and uplift us with their promise of easy-living summer days."