Did 12th-century chaplain Andreas Capellanus have a time machine? His treatise The Art of Courtly Love sounds surprisingly familiar:
Throughout all the ages, there have been only four degrees in love:
The first consists in arousing hope;
The second in offering kisses;
The third in the enjoyment of intimate embraces;
The fourth in the abandonment of the entire person.
Mail addressed to Dr. Seuss was frequently misdirected to Dr. Hans Suess, a nuclear physicist who lived in the same town, La Jolla, Calif.
The scientist bore this patiently, but he was overshadowed even in death. His personal papers are housed in a San Diego library named after … Dr. Seuss.
In 2004, when vanity press PublishAmerica disdained science fiction and claimed to be a “traditional publisher,” the SF community decided to teach it a lesson. Dozens of authors collaborated on Atlanta Nights, a deliberate attempt to create the worst novel possible:
She went to the door, her hips swaying like palm trees in a Hawaiian hurricane.
Bruce lied there in the bed, trying to recover his memory. All he could remember was the screeching of tires’, like a steam engine gone crazy, and then there was just all that pain. Hell on wheels, that’s what it was, yeses.
PublishAmerica took the bait, accepting the manuscript that December. When the authors revealed the hoax, the company retracted its acceptance, but the point was made. “The world is full of bad books written by amateurs,” wrote reviewer Teresa Nielsen Hayden. “Atlanta Nights is a bad book written by experts.”
New York’s Library Hotel has 10 floors, each decorated according to a major category in the Dewey Decimal System. Each room has its own subcategory or genre, including appropriate books and art. Rooms:
- Third Floor: Social Sciences. 300.006 Law, 300.005 Money, 300.004 World Culture, 300.003 Economics, 300.002 Political Science, 300.001 Communication
- Fourth Floor: Language. 400.006 Ancient Language, 400.005 Middle Eastern Language, 400.004 Asian Language, 400.003 Germanic Language, 400.002 Romance Language, 400.001 Slavic Language
- Fifth Floor: Math and Science. 500.006 Astronomy, 500.005 Dinosaurs, 500.004 Botany, 500.003 Zoology, 500.002 Geology, 500.001 Mathematics
- Sixth Floor: Technology. 600.006 Health & Beauty, 600.005 Computers, 600.004 Medicine, 600.003 Management, 600.002 Manufacturing, 600.001 Advertising
- Seventh Floor: The Arts. 700.006 Fashion Design, 700.005 Music, 700.004 Photography, 700.003 Performing Arts, 700.002 Paintings, 700.001 Architecture
- Eighth Floor: Literature. 800.006 Mystery, 800.005 Fairy Tales, 800.004 Dramatic Literature, 800.003 Poetry, 800.002 Classic Fiction, 800.001 Erotic Literature
- Ninth Floor: History. 900.006 Biography, 900.005 Geography & Travel, 900.004 Asian History, 900.003 Oceanography, 900.002 Ancient History, 900.001 20th Century History
- Tenth Floor: General Knowledge. 1000.006 New Media, 1000.005 Journalism, 1000.004 Museums, 1000.003 Encyclopedic Works, 1000.002 Almanacs, 1000.001 Libraries
- Eleventh Floor: Philosophy. 1100.006 Love, 1100.005 Paranormal, 1100.004 Psychology, 1100.003 Philosophy, 1100.002 Ethics, 1100.001 Logic
- Twelfth Floor: Religion. 1200.006 Ancient Religion (Mythology), 1200.005 Native American Religion, 1200.004 Germanic Religion, 1200.003 New Age, 1200.002 African Religion, 1200.001 Eastern Religion
“She is now in the vile embrace of the Apollo of the evening. Her head rests upon his shoulder, her face is upturned to his, her bare arm is almost around his neck, her partly nude swelling breast heaves tumultuously against his, face to face they whirl on, his limbs interwoven with hers, his strong right arm around her yielding form, he presses her to him until every curve in the contour of her body thrills with the amorous contact. Her eyes look into his, but she sees nothing; the soft music fills the room, but she hears it not; he bends her body to and fro, but she knows it not; his hot breath, tainted with strong drink, is on her hair and cheek, his lips almost touch her forehead, yet she does not shrink; his eyes, gleaming with a fierce, intolerable lust, gloat over her, yet she does not quail. She is filled with the rapture of sin in its intensity; her spirit is[Pg 16] inflamed with passion and lust is gratified in thought. With a last low wail the music ceases, and the dance for the night is ended, but not the evil work of the night.”
– From the Ball-Room to Hell by T.A. Faulkner, Ex-Dancing Master, Formerly Proprietor of the Los Angeles Dancing Academy and Ex-President of Dancing Masters’ Association of the Pacific Coast, 1892
“Writer’s block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol.” — Steve Martin
George Bernard Shaw is the only person who has won both a Nobel Prize and an Academy Award.
He won the Nobel in 1925 and an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1938 (for Pygmalion).
“I can forgive Alfred Nobel for having invented dynamite,” he once said, “but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize.”
“Dryden and Otway lived opposite to each other in Queen-street. Otway coming one night from the tavern, chalked upon Dryden’s door, Here lives John Dryden, he is a wit. Dryden knew his hand writing, and next day chalked on Otway’s door, Here lives Tom Otway, he is oppo-site.”
– Essex Register, 1802, quoted in The Olden Time Series, Vol. 6: Literary Curiosities: Gleanings Chiefly from Old Newspapers of Boston and Salem, Massachusetts, 1886
“A Bawd is the Refuse of an Old Whore, who having been burnt herself, does like Charcoal help to set greener Wood on Fire; She is one of Natures Errata’s, and a true Daughter of Eve, who having first undone herself, tempts others to the same Destruction. She has formerly been one of Sampson’s Foxes, and has carried so much fire in her Tail, as has burnt all those that have had to do with her: But the mark being out of her Mouth, and she grown past her own Labour, yet being a well-wisher to the Mathematicks, she sets up for a Procurer of fresh Goods for her old Customers. And so careful she is to help Men to good Ware, that she seldom puts a Comodity into their hands, but what has been try’d before; and having always prov’d well, thinks she can Warrant ‘em the better. She’s a great Preserver of Maiden-heads; for tho’ she Exposes ‘em to every new Comer, she takes care that they shall never be lost: And tho’ never so many get it, yet none carries it away, but she still has it ready for the next Customers.”
– The London-Bawd: With Her Character and Life: Discovering the Various and Subtle Intrigues of Lewd Women, 1705
There are two similar chapters in the King James Bible.
They are 2 Kings chapter 19 and Isaiah chapter 37.
The first 14 verses of each chapter are identical, word for word.
Writers who committed suicide:
- John Berryman
- Hart Crane
- Will Cuppy
- William Inge
- Arthur Koestler
- Jerzy Kosinski
- Primo Levi
- Vachel Lindsay
- Sylvia Plath
- Anne Sexton
- Hunter S. Thompson
- John Kennedy Toole
- Virginia Woolf
“The real reason for not committing suicide,” wrote Hemingway, “is because you always know how swell life gets again after the hell is over.” He killed himself in 1961.
Who says Americans are uncultured? Every year on the last Sunday in April, Dedham, Mass., sponsors the James Joyce Ramble, a 10K road race in which each mile is dedicated to a different work by Joyce.
Professional actors dress up in period costume and read from the books as the athletes run by, making this the only theatrical performance where the performers stand still and the audience moves.
Both Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince set records as the fastest-selling books in history.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth used to roam the hills and coast of southwest England on long night walks; eventually the local villagers began to whisper that they were spies for the French.
The government sent an agent to investigate; he reported that they were “mere poets.”
When the Eiffel Tower was first built, it was regarded as an eyesore.
Guy de Maupassant ate regularly at a restaurant in the tower — he said it was the one place in Paris he could be sure he wouldn’t see it.
Michael Crichton, the author of Jurassic Park, is 6 foot 10.
A is an Abolitionist –
A man who wants to free
The wretched slave — and give to all
An equal liberty.
B is a Brother with a skin
Of somewhat darker hue,
But in our Heavenly Father’s sight,
He is as dear as you.
C is the Cotton-field, to which
This injured brother’s driven,
When, as the white-man’s slave, he toils,
From early morn till even.
– From The Anti-Slavery Alphabet, a children’s book printed for an anti-slavery fair, 1847
Every year since 1949, a mysterious figure has visited the grave of Edgar Allan Poe on the author’s birthday, Jan. 19.
Early in the morning, a black-clad figure with a silver-tipped cane enters the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in Baltimore, goes to Poe’s grave, raises a toast of cognac, and leaves behind three red roses.
He wears a black coat and hat and obscures his face, so his identity is unknown, but in 1993 he left a note saying “The torch will be passed.” In 1999, a second note said that the toaster had died … but since then a younger person has apparently taken his place.
“All that we see or seem,” Poe wrote, “is but a dream within a dream.”
“At length, the moon arose in great splendour, and little Henry saw at a distance an old abbey, all covered with ivy, and looking so dark and dismal, it would frighten any one from going in. But Henry’s little heart, occupied by the idea of his mamma, and with grief that he could not find her, felt no fear; but walking in, he saw a cell in the corner that looked like a baby-house, and, with Fidelle by his side, he bent his little steps towards it, and seating himself on a stone, he leaned his pretty head against the old wall, and fell fast asleep.”
– From The Extraordinary Adventures of Poor Little Bewildered Henry, Who Was Shut Up In An Old Abbey For Three Weeks, A Story Founded on Fact, 1850
Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem “Kubla Khan” (“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan/A stately pleasure-dome decree”) is considered a high point of Romanticism, but it’s incomplete. Coleridge said he had seen the entire course of the poem in a dream, but was interrupted while writing it down:
On awakening he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved. At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock, and detained by him above an hour, and on his return to his room, found, to his no small surprise and mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purport of the vision, yet, with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone has been cast, but, alas! without the after restoration of the latter!
To this day no one knows the identity of the “person from Porlock” or what his business was, but he left Coleridge with only 54 lines.
What do these writers have in common?
- Ernest Hemingway
- John Dos Passos
- e.e. cummings
- Somerset Maugham
- John Masefield
- Malcolm Cowley
- Sidney Howard
- Robert Service
- Louis Bromfield
- Harry Crosby
- Julian Green
- Dashiell Hammett
- William Seabrook
- Robert Hillyer
- John Howard Lawson
- William Slater Brown
- Charles Nordhoff
- Sir Hugh Walpole
- Desmond MacCarthy
- Russell Davenport
- Edward Weeks
- C. Leroy Baldridge
- Samuel Chamberlain
All drove ambulances during World War I.
There are only two books in the Bible that do not contain the word God.
They are Esther and Song of Solomon.
Robinson Crusoe isn’t entirely fiction — it’s based on the story of a real Scottish sailor, Alexander Selkirk, who spent four years marooned on an uninhabited island.
Selkirk was sailing with privateer William Dampier in 1703 when he began to doubt the seaworthiness of their galleon, the Cinque Ports. Finally he decided to stay ashore voluntarily on the Juan Fernández islands in the South Pacific with only a musket, gunpowder, carpenter’s tools, a knife, a Bible, and his clothing.
At first Selkirk was wracked with loneliness and regret, but he soon acclimated to island life. He domesticated wild cats to keep rats at bay, grew turnips, cabbage and pepper berries, and built two huts of pimento trees. He hunted wild goats and made clothing of their skins and forged a knife from cast-off barrel rings.
There’s a telling postscript to the story. After four years and four months, Selkirk was rescued by William Dampier, the same man who had left him ashore — but Selkirk was surprised to see he was sailing a different ship. The Cinque Ports had sunk, losing most hands. Selkirk, it seems, had been right to stay on the island.
In 1913, Chicago housewife Pearl Curran was messing around with a Ouija board when she claimed to receive the message “Many moons ago I lived. Again I come. Patience Worth my name. If thou shalt live, so shall I.”
On investigating the name, she claimed to find that a Patience Worth had lived in Dorsetshire, England, in either 1649 or 1694. Through the Ouija board Patience told Curran that she had moved to the United States and been murdered by Indians. “From England across the sea. Could I but hold your ear for the lessons I could teach!”
So Pearl/Patience began to publish novels, stories and poetry. Critics pointed out that a 17th-century spirit shouldn’t be able to produce a Victorian novel, as Patience did, but supporters argued that the language she used was beyond Pearl’s normal abilities.
That may have spelled the end of their partnership, actually. Apparently frustrated with the intelligence of her host, Patience clammed up, except for the occasional sarcastic comment. She’d gone silent by the time Pearl died in 1937 … and, presumably, joined her.