#bannedbooksweek 2017: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Banned Books Week, spanning September 24th to the 30th in 2017, is a time when libraries around the country celebrate the freedom to read and raise awareness of censorship. Since 1982 more than 11,300 books have been challenged, with this novel included in that number.

Cover of the Limited Editions Club The Great Gatsby
Cover of the Limited Editions Club publication of The Great Gatsby

     

Frontispiece and title page from the Limited Editions Club The Great Gatsby
Frontispiece and title page from the Limited Editions Club publication of The Great Gatsby

 

Published in 1925, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald depicted the society result from the end of the Great War in the 20s. Fitzgerald uses the main character, Jay Gatsby, to take the reader through the roller coaster that was life in the 20s, and still today, consisting of poverty, wealth, love, pain, and death. Nick Carraway, the narrator from the midwest and Daisy Buchanan’s cousin, makes his way to New York where he becomes the neighbor of the mysterious Gatsby. With Nick’s help, Gatsby is reunited with the love of his life, Daisy, after five years apart. Gatsby and Daisy maintain an affair until her self-righteous husband, Tom, finds out. Gatsby tries with everything he’s got to win Daisy over, but she refuses to say that she never loved Tom. Turns out Tom is also in an affair, but this discovery has an entirely different outcome. Daisy, blinded with rage, runs Tom’s mistress, Myrtle, over with her car. When Tom tells Myrtle’s husband, George, that Gatsby was the one who did the job, he shoots Gatsby in his pool before killing himself as well. Daisy moves on with her “perfect “ life, pretending as though Gatsby never even existed, and Nick journeys back to the midwest in search for genuine people.

Cover of The Great Gatsby Russian translation
Cover of The Great Gatsby Russian translation

 In 1987, the Baptist College in Charleston, SC challenged The Great Gatsby, arguing that Fitzgerald’s novel contains immoral “language and sex references” (Penn State). Although this was a heavy-handed opinion, there are many other interpretations of The Great Gatsby that provide reasons for why the novel should be made available and be taught in schools. Some even believe it is entirely necessary because of the way it can be used to teach valuable, historical lessons about the jazz age, mainly concerning prohibition. People were gluttonous, money was thrown around like candy, providing people with empty and temporary happiness in the form of superficial parties and booze. By Gatsby’s first-hand experience as a man who was only adored for his outrageous parties, his character along with the reader learne that money cannot buy you true friends that will be by your side to the end. None of Gatsby’s so-called friends even showed up to his funeral. The only people that attended were his father, the man with the owl eyes, and Nick. Despite the occasional inappropriate “language and sex references” (Penn State), this novel can be used to better understand the cultural context of the 1920s, rather than mundanely reading about it in a textbook. Such literary experiences can provide deeper meaning and understanding. A 1980 Limited Editions Club printing of this novel, featuring an introduction by Charles Scribner III and illustrations by Fred Meyer, can be found in Special Collections.  Several other editions can be found on the 3rd floor of Linderman Library, including the Russian translation pictured here.

 

Title page of The Great Gatsby Russian translation
Title page of The Great Gatsby Russian translation

References

  • https://sites.psu.edu/bannedbookscmlit130/2016/04/15/when-books-are-at-war-ft-the-great-gatsby/
  • http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2015/09/047.html

Happy 139th Birthday Upton Sinclair

Today marks the 139th birthday of Upton Sinclair, who gained fame for his “muckraking” work The Jungle. Born in 1878, Sinclair wrote during the Progressive Era, successfully revealing the horrific conditions of various American industries. He went on to write many more notable books including Dragon’s Teeth, for which he won the 1943 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Upton Sinclair early in his career. Image from Library of Congress (LC-B2- 132-11 [P&P])
Sinclair grew up in New York City in extreme poverty with his mother and alcoholic father. He would sometimes visit his wealthy grandparents, which gave him an idea of what it was like to live in both poverty and wealth. This comparison of lifestyles, he claimed, was what created his socialist ideals. Sinclair only went further into poverty once he married and had a child. However, instead of factory work, he chose to pursue his passion for writing.

In 1906, Sinclair’s career was launched with the publishing of The Jungle. The book revealed the terrible conditions of the meat-packing industry and how the laborers were treated. It ultimately led to the passing of certain acts like the “Meat Inspection Act” that helped regulate the food industries.

Special Collections owns a first edition of The Jungle. Notice the note on the inside cover page stating “Sustainers’ Edition. An appeal was published in the Socialist press for advance orders to make possible the publication of this book. About five thousand copies were ordered, of which this is one.”

 

One of Sinclair’s following works, Oil!, depicts the destructive nature of the oil rig. Although it did not have the same effect as The Jungle, it still did bring some attention to the impacts of the oil industry. In fact, it inspired Paul Anderson’s movie There Will Be Blood which also exemplified the dangers of oil.

Linderman Library houses an early edition of Oil!.

Later in his life, Upton Sinclair wrote the book Little Steel to bring focus to the disorganization of the steel industry. It continues Sinclair’s theme of showing the rejection of the workers and the terrible conditions of the factories. 

Special Collections owns an early edition of Little Steel.

Because of his works, Sinclair was labeled a “muckraker,” a term used to describe people who sought to expose the truth about corruption in politics and business.  These authors and journalists were crucial in the implementation of government regulation and labor unions. Upton Sinclair is partly responsible for many of the basic safety regulations we have today.

 

References:

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Upton-Sinclair

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/24/books/review/Essay-t.html?mcubz=3

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/upton-sinclair/little-steel/

 

Happy Anniversary to Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning!

Today, September 12, 2017, marks the 171st wedding anniversary of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning. Since their marriage in 1846, Elizabeth and Robert have became some of the most well-known poets and writers in history. Born on March 6th, 1806 in Durham, England, Elizabeth Barrett Browning began writing novels at the age of six. She went on to produce one of the largest bodies of juvenilia left by an English writer. Some of her works include Sonnets from the Portuguese, published in 1847, and An Essay on Mind: With Other Poems published in 1826, both of which can be found in Linderman Library’s Jane Austen Exhibit. It is interesting to note that one of Elizabeth Browning’s works held by Special Collections, a supposed 1847 printing of Sonnets, has since been confirmed as a forgery. You can read more about this forgery at the University of Chicago’s library website. The title page of this forged work and its books plates are pictured below:

On the other hand, Robert Browning, born May 7th, 1812 in Camberwell, London, claimed that he learned more over weekends than during his time at school. His father introduced him to Greek literature and drawing, while his mother taught him how to play the piano and appreciate classical music. After being sent home from school on many occasions for making his peers feel inferior due to his exceptional intelligence, Browning’s parents decided to home-school him, which is where his talents flourished. Many of his works are also present in Lehigh’s Special Collections, including an 1855 edition of  Men and Women and The Ring and The Book (1868-69).  

As for Elizabeth and Robert’s love story, they came to each other’s attention when Elizabeth publicly praised Robert’s poetry in an 1842 journal and a personal poem in 1844. Robert responded to these acknowledgments by posting a letter to her on January 10th, 1845, telling her that “I love your verse with all my heart… and I love you too.” The two continued to exchange letters every few days, and they finally decided to meet in person on May 20th, 1845 at 50 Wimpole Street. Although Elizabeth was very ill and six years his senior, Robert claims that it was love at first sight. The couple ended up eloping on September 12th, 1846 at St. Marylebone Church with only two guests: Robert’s cousin and Elizabeth’s maid. For their honeymoon, they decided to travel for several months to places such as Paris, Avignon, Marseilles, Leghorn and Pisa. After 171 years, the Brownings are still a significant part of literature and deserve to be celebrated in both their love and their work.

Marjorie Stone, ‘Browning , Elizabeth Barrett (1806–1861)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/3711, accessed 12 Sept 2017]

 

Governor of Massachusetts John Winthrop: May 17, 1631

In 1629, John Winthrop joined the Massachusetts Bay Company, after gaining a royal charter to start a colony in New England. Under the condition that the Company and charter be moved to America, Winthrop agreed to sell his estate in England and move to the new colony along with his family. The other members of the Massachusetts Bay Company agreed to these terms and then elected him the first Governor of the New England colony. He was a prominent Puritan and a well liked leader,  who was chosen to be Governor on twelve occasions during his time in New England.

In Winthrop’s A Journal of the Transactions and Occurrences in the Settlement of Massachusetts and the Other New-England Colonies,  From the Year 1630 to 1644, the May 17, 1631 entry states “A general Court at Boston, the former governor was chosen again and all the freemen of the commons were sworn to the government.” Wikipedia has May 18, 1631 listed as the date that John Winthrop took his oath of office, but we were unable to find any references to this date or event. The only other event listed on that date in Winthrop’s journal is a house burning down, with the next entry dated May 27.

John Winthrop was born on January 22, 1588 in Edwardstone, England. He died in office on April 5, 1649 at the age of 61. Winthrop attended Trinity College, Cambridge studying law, after which he served as a Justice of Peace and held a government office and was a country squire at Groton. He had four wives and sixteen children. Winthrop was a highly religious man who devoted himself to scripture and prayer, becoming a devout puritan. By 1640 he became the “custodian of Massachusetts’ orthodoxy”. In 1641 he helped write the Massachusetts Body of Liberties, the first legal sanctioning of slavery in North America.

His push for group discipline and individual responsibility was key to the colony’s success. When Winthrop was not in office as Governor he sat on the Colony Council or the Court of Assistants.

Information for this post was gathered from Lehigh Special Collections’ 1790 edition of Winthrop’s Journal of the Transactions and The Encyclopedia Britannica.

 

Death of John Herschel, May 11th, 1871

1867 Photograph of Sir John Herschel by Julia Margaret Cameron
From the Metropolitan Museum of Art

On this day, May 11th, in 1871, John Herschel died at age 79. Herschel was a knowledgeable Englishman, known for his studies in astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, and various other areas. Herschel was educated in scientific practices at a young age, growing up under the influence of his father, astronomer William Herschel, and his aunt, astronomer Caroline Herschel.

John Herschel studied a variety of subjects, but his most prevalent work was in the field of astronomy. His first major astronomical publication was a continuation of his father’s studies on determining the parallax of a star. This work, published in Transactions of the Royal Society, cataloged systems of double stars and was recognized by the Paris Academy and the Astronomical Society. Today, Herschel is commemorated by a crater on Earth’s moon, named the J. Herschel Crater. See the crater via the following image/link:

J. Herschel Crater, from Google Moon

 

Another significant contribution by John Herschel were his experiments and developments in photography. He was able to produce photographs based on his knowledge and studies of chemical processes, and his studies led to multiple related publications. The term “photography” was coined and popularized by Herschel and he developed the first photographic fixer to preserve photographs.

One of John Herschel’s important publications was his Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy, an edition of which can be found in Lehigh University’s Special Collections. Published in 1931, this book explores the philosophy of scientific research and discovery. Herschel describes abstract science as being “independent of nature,” with artificial systems of creation, deemed to be language, notation, and rational. These systems were designed by humans to analyze and understand our world, and Herschel explains each one with examples in education. Early in the book, Herschel defines science as, “the knowledge of many, orderly and methodically digested and arranged, so as to become attainable by one.”
Lehigh University Special Collections also holds a number of letters and other publications written by John Herschel, mostly related to his astronomical research.

 

Trial and Execution of Antoine Lavoisier, May 8, 1794

Image from the Metropolitan Museum of Art http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436106

Today is the anniversary of French scientist Antoine Lavoisier’s trial and execution by guillotine on May 8, 1794. Lavoisier is famous for his contributions to chemistry. He made many invaluable accomplishments: the naming of oxygen; analysis of the role of this element in combustion and respiration (instead of “phlogiston”); discovery of the conservation of matter in chemical reactions; and quantitative treatment of organic substances. He even worked on solar energy.

Special Collections at Lehigh University has a first edition of his of “Elementary Treatise on Chemistry” ¹, published in 1789, the year used when the French Revolution when described as the “Revolution of 1789”.   In his study of Lavoisier, Jean-Pierre Poirier², describes the book as “the crowning achievement of his undertaking” (192). Included in this wide-ranging work are “essential points of the new chemistry”; “the first modern list of the chemical elements”; and ”instruments and experimental methods of new chemistry”.  The work contains thirteen plates engraved by Madame Lavoisier. Some of these plates are depicted here.(193-195)

As Poirier notes, Lavoisier was only one of several scientists executed in the French Revolution (385-86).  Eventually, the political revolution ate its own; two of its major figures, Danton and Robespierre, were buried in the same area of mass graves as Lavoisier (382). On one account, “During the Reign of Terror, at least 300,000 suspects were arrested; 17,000 were officially executed, and perhaps 10,000 died in prison or without trial.”3

Lavoisier’s greatest contribution was to a different sort of revolution, one of the mind. Poirier quotes I. Bernard Cohen: “the chemical revolution has a primary place among revolutions in science in that it is the first generally recognized major one to have been called a revolution by its chief author” (197).

The Linderman Library exhibit “Daring Knowledge: Diderot’s Encyclopédie“, features more illustrations and information about 18th century chemistry. While the science of the Encyclopédie predates Lavoisier’s mature findings, it provides a snapshot of how chemistry and scientific study were understood in his era.

References

1: https://asa.lib.lehigh.edu/Record/258721

2: https://asa.lib.lehigh.edu/Record/493513

3: https://www.britannica.com/event/Reign-of-Terror

John James Audubon

Today, April 26th, is the birthday of ornithologist, artist and naturalist John James Audubon. Born an illegitimate child to his French plantation owning Father and Creole mother on the island of what is now considered Haiti, John James Audubon was an unlikely candidate to become one of the most prominent naturalists of his era.

“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” Self-portrait. From “Audubon’s America” by Donald Culross Peattie.

For the first half of his life there was arguably nothing to keep him grounded, quite literally. Upon the untimely death of his servant mother in Saint-Dominigue, he was shipped back to France and adopted by the wife of his father. Quickly, he developed a fascination with the natural world that followed him for the rest of his life. It was in France that he was versed in the knowledge and privileges of a good merchant’s son: art, music, science, history. He was also given ample time to explore the untamed green around him, a separate world that became his source of solitude, healing, wonder, awe and inspiration.

He once said, “In my deepest troubles, I frequently would wrench myself from the persons around me and retire to some secluded part of our noble forests.”

Plate 347: The Smew. Courtesy of audubon.org

During the surge of the Napoleonic Wars in 1803, Audubon, then 18 years old, was relocated again to one of his father’s estates in Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. In time he honed his artistic talents and continued to observe nature, particularly birds. In 1824 he published one of the most influential bird books in history titled “Birds of America.” Subscribers to Audubon’s publications included the likes of King George IV and 7th U.S. President, Andrew Jackson.

 

Turning the pages of Lehigh’s “Birds of America.”

The book itself is a 39.5″ x 29.5″ cover to cover collection of life-size and incredibly detailed paintings of various bird species. The birds are depicted in their natural environment as Audubon might have observed them. Lehigh University is in possession of one of only 120 believed complete collections still in existence. It is on display year-round in the reading room of Linderman Library. View a complete digital exhibit about ornithology and Audubon through Lehigh Special Collections’ Omeka page: Home to Roost: Ornithological Collections at Lehigh University.

The book on display in Linderman Library.

Aptly, today is also National Audubon Day, a day sponsored by the National Audubon Society to commemorate his contributions to the field of ornithology. Use #NationalAudubonDay or #AudubonDay to tag your best bird photos on social media.

 

Play Ball!: Henry Chadwick’s 1866 Base Ball Player’s Book of Reference

Cabinet card portrait of Henry Chadwick seated with a book in his hands. / G. Frank E. Pearsall, 289 Fulton St. [Brooklyn, N.Y.], [1874].
Cabinet card portrait of Henry Chadwick seated with a book in his hands. / G. Frank E. Pearsall, 289 Fulton St. [Brooklyn, N.Y.], [1874]. (BL-13-58a National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
base ball title page
Title Page

To celebrate the beginning of the 2017 Major League Baseball season, Special Collections has digitized and made available The Base Ball Player’s Book of Reference, an exceedingly rare book of baseball rules and statistics written by Henry Chadwick. Only one other institution, the American Antiquarian Society, reports holding the 1866 edition of this work. The copy held by Lehigh is a unique presentation copy signed by the author, containing the note “Compliments of H Chadwick.”

 

An early spokesperson for the sport of baseball, Henry Chadwick gained renown as a pioneering sports journalist. Seeking to describe the events of games in greater detail and make it easier to follow by a wider fan base, Chadwick invented many basic terms and statistics, including:

  • The batting average (BA), used to analyze the skill of a batter
  • The earned run average (ERA), used to measure runs scored as a result of a pitcher
  • The letter K to denote a strike
  • The box-score, used to record the runs, hits, put-outs, assists and errors that occurred during a game
  • Numbering defensive positions and abbreviating plays to aid in score-keeping

Henry Chadwick Baseball Hall of Fame Plaque
Henry Chadwick Baseball Hall of Fame Plaque (http://baseballhall.org/hof/chadwick-henry)

All of these innovations are still commonly used to describe and analyze the game of baseball. Since Chadwick’s initial use of statistics, a plethora of new and increasingly complex statistics have been created to better analyze players and their abilities, the practice now described as Sabermetrics. For his significant contributions to the national game of baseball, Chadwick was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1938, just the third year of its existence. Lehigh’s holding is not the first baseball rule book, written by Chadwick in 1858 as recognized by the Hall of Fame, but it still provides a fascinating glimpse into the early days of baseball.

While many of the rules in the book will be familiar to modern baseball fans, there are several differences. What we now refer to as balls, Chadwick describes as “Delivering Unfair Balls,” for which an umpire should warn the pitcher before keeping count of unfair balls and allowing the batter to take a base after three such calls, not the modern four. It is difficult to imagine baseball without the iconic home run, but according to Chadwick,

Home runs are not recognized by the rules. Custom considers a home run as being made, if the home base is reached before the ball passes the line of the home base from the outer field, provided the batsman has not been obliged to stop on any base for fear of being put out. A “ clean home run” — and none other should be counted in the score— is a run made from home to home, from a hit made to long field beyond the reach of the out-fielders.

Chadwick also allows for foul balls to be caught for outs after a single bounce, a rule that would later be eliminated. Before Chadwick’s rules, it was commonly accepted that fair one bounce balls could be caught by fielders for outs. However, Chadwick preferred fielders to get outs by catching balls directly hit from the bat, which is how the game is played today.

As the new baseball season begins, it is interesting to take a retrospective look at how America’s pastime has developed since its creation and popularization in the 19th century. Lehigh’s digitized copy of Chadwick’s 1866 The Base Ball Player’s Book of Reference can be read or downloaded in its entirety on the Internet Archive. For more information about this book, visit Lehigh’s library catalog. You can read more about Henry Chadwick on his Baseball Hall of Fame page.

 

 

The 150th Anniversary of America’s purchase of Alaska

On March 30, 1867, the United States bought the territory of Russian America which was renamed Alaska and Yukon Territories. The name Alaska was derived from the original name for the archipelago and peninsula of the territory, Aliaska. With the addition of territory, expeditions went out to explore the newly purchased land. In Lehigh’s Special Collections is a book reminiscing on one such expedition.  Travel and Adventure in the Territory of Alaska is an account by Frederick Whymper, an experienced explorer of Alaska, who would be there to see the raising of the first American Flag in the territory. Whymper was known as a talented  engraver and artist before his exploration days. His father was a renowned artist, and his brother, Edward Whymper, became the first person to climb the Matterhorn. Whymper’s book displays the vast knowledge he had gained in his expeditions along with his sense of humor. In the preface he describes the purchase of the territory by the United States and ends with “I glean that the United States Government, so far from regretting the purchase of Alaska, are almost ready to bid for Iceland and Greenland! Mr. Seward’s mania for icebergs and snow-fields seems insatiable.”

Whymper’s book covers his own expeditions as well as many of the cultural impacts on the United States. He details the hundreds of people who traveled through Alaska looking for the “Northern El Dorado” during the Alaskan Gold Rush. He chronicles the confrontations with the natives and, when relations were better, their culture and communities. He continues to observe the development of Alaska through visits to Sitka, the capital at the time, traveling with an expedition to create telegraph communications, and following the businesses and trades going in and out. Later in the book, he details much about the development of California at the time.

With 2017 marking the 150th anniversary of the United States’ purchase of Alaska, we at Special Collections encourage you to explore this expansive land and others through the eyes of those who first trekked into the unknown and wild. To view this book you can request to view it here. To see other great books exploring our past, visit us online.

Schreiber Maps circa 1750: Atlas Selectus

Lehigh Special Collections has recently digitized a series of maps collectively known as the Atlas Selectus.

(Globus Terrestris, Atlas Selectus)

The maps were jointly created by Johann Georg Schreiber (1676-1750) and his father, Johann Christof Schreiber, cartographers and engravers based in Leipzig, Germany. They prepared the Atlas Selectus, a detailed compilation of world maps with a special emphasis on Germany, though most regions of the world that were known at the time are depicted. The atlas was posthumously published circa 1750.

(Above: Europa [Europe])

(Above: Nord America [North America])

There are a total of more than thirty copper-engraved maps in the Atlas Selectus, including 26 of Europe, as well as maps of every known continent, three maps of Asia, maps of Russia and the Balkans, and a world map.

(Deutschland [Germany])

Johann Georg Schreiber was born in Spremberg, the sixth of seven children. When he was growing up, his family lived modestly but relatively well-to-do. His other works include a plan of the city of Bautzen–a copper engraving completed in 1700–an atlas of Saxony, the Atlas Geographicus, and numerous others. A number of his works were published posthumously.

(Schweden und Norwegen [Sweden and Norway])

Lehigh’s set of Schreiber maps is now available to view and download. For more information about Lehigh’s holdings, see our finding aid.