The Romans sometimes get grief for "copying" everything from other cultures. The Romans were masters at taking what worked from different cultures they encountered, adopting it, and adapting it to Roman use. The Latin epic, The Aeneid, though a masterpiece, would not be possible without Homer's Iliad, Odyssey, and the works of other Greek authors. Latin lyric poetry, such as Catullus and Horace produced, was very much modeled on Greek originals. Though in one literary area, the Romans claim inventor status—satire. We have the output of three great satirists, all of whom lived and wrote in the 1st c. CE: Horace (Q. Horatius Flaccus), Persius (A. Persius Flaccus) and Juvenal (D. Junius Juvenalis). We will not discuss Persius—his six satires are tough going even for committed classicists, and are really more Stoic screeds posing as satire.
The origins of satire are unclear. It is thought that the term may very well have come from the phrase "lanx satura" ("full platter"), which suggests a "miscellany," or "assortment." And the earliest satires were likely not the harsh works we now think of as satire. The two books of satires of Horace are very much a smorgasbord of humorous observations—think of some humorous columnist from the newspaper like Erma Bombeck—rather than any sort of critical slam on politics and morality. You can check them out for yourself in Sidney Alexander's translation of The Odes and Satires of Horace. If you're expecting biting commentary on his world by Horace, you will be disappointed. Horace was the son of a freedman (an ex-slave) who had managed to attain the equivalent of middle class respectability with the assistance of the Emperor Augustus and his friend, Maecenas. There was no chance of Horace biting the hand that fed him so well. But if you want some pretty funny and very clever observations on the human condition by one of the greatest of Latin poets, take some time to read Horace's Satires.
The library has two poetic translations available: The Satires of Horace, trans. A.M. Juster is available in an electronic format, while The Complete Odes and Satires of Horace by Sidney Alexander is available in book form. A prose translation, Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica, translated by H. Rushton Fairclough, is available with Latin text on facing page.
If you want something a lot harder-hitting, with an edge, check out the Satires of Juvenal. Juvenal grew up in a much harder age. Unlike the emperor Augustus, who was good to his friends and was stable and sane, and whose praises were sung by Horace and Virgil, the emperor Domitian, under whom Juvenal lived and suffered exile, was paranoid and who could be quite harsh—some think the poet Statius, for instance, did not die a natural death, but may have been helped on his way because he failed to please the emperor. Though Juvenal wrote his satires under one of the great emperors, Trajan, his sufferings under Domitian, and the laxer morals of the late 1st and early 2nd c. CE, resulted in a harsher tone and much more biting humor in his work. Think Lewis Black in a toga. It is Juvenal's prominence as a writer of satire that changed the face of satire from that point on. Gone was the gentle ribbing of human foibles we saw in Horace. In its place, we have the harsh railings of Juvenal at the moral cesspool where he finds himself. There are 16 satires surviving, though there may have been others. "Satire 16" breaks off, which suggests that Juvenal may have died (let me be emphatic -- he was NOT killed by Trajan) without completing the work.
Samuel Johnson, the great English scholar and dictionary author, wrote a couple of versions of Juvenal—"London," based on Juvenal's "Satire 3" which attacked Rome, and "The Vanity of Human Wishes," which is a version of Juvenal's "Satire 10." The English poet, John Dryden, did a translation of Juvenal in rhymed couplets. You can find nice modern translations in our catalog—that of Rolfe Humphries, who is one of my favorite translators, and a newer prose translation by Susanna Morton Braund with Latin on the facing page. Braund's translation also includes the six satires of Persius, a Stoic who used satire to advance his philosophic position.
Klickitat by Peter Rock
publication date: 2016
In Klickitat, Rock explored the subtle danger and loneliness that exists in contemporary suburban America.
The setting for Klickitat was a dreamy Portland, Oregon, full of tucked-away forests and hidden tunnels in the ground. The book focused on Vivian and her older sister Audra. Vivian was a young girl with a vague health issue that gave her “agitations” and led her parents to force her to take medications. Audra saw their parents' reaction to Vivian's agitations as just another example of the unnaturalness and captivity of modern life. Vivian didn’t think much beyond her life and what it is now, that is, until Audra met someone named Henry and ran away from the constraints of her childhood home.
Rock's writing style infused the book with otherworldliness and a low-level dread throughout. Here was Rock's description of a domestic argument between Audra and her mother, from Vivian’s perspective:
Now I could see the bird, small and gray, hopping in a kind of circle, it tipped over and flapped its wings against the ground until it could get itself standing up again.
When I turned around, Mom was peeling potatoes, hard, into the sink. She was shorter than Audra, who stood in the middle of the kitchen with her eyes closed and her hands held out in front of her, like she was holding some invisible thing. . . .
“Robots – I'm tired of hearing that word from you.” Mom turned with the peeler in hand, which was not a knife but seemed like a knife.
The ever-present dread often occurred when Rock explored power dynamics – between older and younger siblings, and between teenage girls and seemingly everyone else. Here was an interaction between Vivian and Audra that symbolized much of their relationship:
Next [Audra] took out a brush and brushed my hair, hard and straight, a sound that made Henry turn to look at us. She pulled back my hair in a ponytail and held it tight at the back of my head, her fingers circled there. It hurt a little, the pull on my scalp, and when she moved her arm, my head turned whichever way she wanted.
There was also the question of Henry. What was Henry, an older man who “found” Audra, doing? This was how Audra described him:
“Because he's your boyfriend?” [Vivian] said. “Is that why?”
Audra laughed. “That's such a high school word! We're together, but I wouldn't call it that. He came to find me, because I was the one, and now we're together.”
Rock's vague and pensive writing often created mysterious and suspenseful passages. However, it also sometimes made the book slow, plodding, or confusing. Additionally, there seemed to be some sort of message about modernity and teenage sexuality that Rock tried to examine, but I didn't get.
4/6: worth reading
After a too-short, 23-day stay in Kansas City, a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio is moving on for display elsewhere. Since its arrival in our city on June 6, it has drawn crowds daily, filling the Library with people eager to catch a glimpse of history through this rare book as it makes its way from state to state.
Although each state gets its turn with a Folio, one thing that will not be found outside Kansas City are the University of Missouri-Kansas City-trained docents that have accompanied the book during its stay here. It has been our job as docents to share the story of the Folio with visitors, to share lesser known facts and fascinating information about the book, about print culture, and about Shakespeare. While it was our goal to give patrons the best experience possible during their visit, it truly has been special to be a part of this exhibit and all of us have gained much from the experience ourselves.
As the exhibit, First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, wraps up Tuesday, June 28, I would like to join two other docents in sharing what we've drawn from this unique experience.
Amy Strassner, a senior at UMKC, focuses on the printing process of 1623. "The materials we have for use in our presentations—such as samples of the cotton-based rag paper used in the First Folio, reproductions of movable type pieces, examples of folio and quarto publications, and depictions of a 1623 print shop—have enhanced the experience," she says. "These materials have helped to put the laborious printing process of the First Folio into perspective for myself, as a student, and for library patrons who are interested in how the Folio remains in existence today."
For Danica Otten, a UMKC junior, the greatest joy of being a docent has been seeing others interact with Shakespeare. She highlights an introductory letter found in the Folio that reads "to the great variety of readers."
Danica has seen this "great variety" firsthand. "From the young, aspiring actor to the retired Shakespeare film aficionado, I have loved hearing of others' love for the Bard and have so enjoyed celebrating, with each visitor, the book that preserved his works," she says. Seeing others interact with Shakespeare "has strengthened my admiration for Shakespeare and ... encouraged me to continue in exploring the vast world of his plays and times."
As for myself, the best part about being a docent for this exhibit has been watching people connect with Shakespeare in ways that they never have before. Almost everyone knows at least a bit about Shakespeare, yet few are familiar with the First Folio or the impact it has had on the modern image of the Bard.
It has been a joy to see the amazement of patrons when they find out that their favorite play would have been lost without the Folio or that a phrase they use every day was coined by Shakespeare. I have loved seeing children who are just as excited to see the book as AP literature teachers and actors and the enthusiasm of security guards who use spare minutes to steal a glance. Everyone has been able to pull some new bit of information from this exhibit, even the Shakespearean experts. Helping them discover how Shakespeare and the Folio impact their lives has been the best experience I could have imagined.
I believe I speak for all the docents when I say that I will always be grateful to the UMKC English Department and the Kansas City Public Library for providing me and my fellow students with such an amazing and unique experience. We never would have had access to such a great opportunity without the hard work of multiple people in these institutions. It will be with a heavy heart that we say good bye to the First Folio, but the impact it has had on the people of Kansas City during its stay should be a great comfort to us all.
Big thanks are due to the Folger Shakespeare Library for providing us with this exhibit for the month of June. You can always check out information about the Folio and photos of copies owned by the Folger at its website (www.folger.edu).
By Rebecca Adams, Library intern
When I am acting as a docent for the Library's First Folio exhibit, I often find myself emphasizing one fact: The Folio marked the first time that 18 of Shakespeare's plays appeared in print, thus preserving half of his complete collection. When I talk with visitors, we celebrate the Folio for giving us the gifts of All's Well that Ends Well, The Winter's Tale, Macbeth, and numerous other plays that we have come to know as our own.
However, there is more to be said of Shakespeare's First Folio beyond that gift of preservation. Not only does the Folio contain an impressive number of plays, it also has amassed quite a collection of interesting facts regarding its production, history, and existence.
• John Heminge and Henry Condell, the persons responsible for the compilation and construction of the First Folio, were named as beneficiaries in Shakespeare's will. Shakespeare afforded 26 shillings and eight denarii to each to "buy them ringes" to wear in his remembrance. Heminge and Condell, however, conceived of an additional way to remember and memorialize their colleague. In publishing the complete collection of Shakespeare's dramatic works, they ensured that his legacy would endure for hundreds of years – "a live-long monument" as John Milton wrote in "An Epitaph on the Admirable Dramatic Poet, W. Shakespeare."
• Heminge and Condell likely gathered the text of the Folio from myriad sources. They possibly used handwritten manuscripts from Shakespeare himself, known as the "foul papers" because they were typically full of corrections, marginalia, and amendments. It is possible that the "fair copy," the cleaned-up, handwritten copy of the manuscript that was sold by the playwright to the theatrical troop, was part of their source material. The prompt book, small sheets of paper with an individual character's lines, could have informed the process, or Heminge and Condell might have drawn upon their own personal memories of the productions. None of that material remains available today.
• The first recorded purchase of Shakespeare's First Folio was by Edward Dering. He bought two First Folios. Dering's personal records and accounts show a vested interest in the theater, and he had also amassed an impressive literary collection. Dering's accounts demonstrate the Folio's cultural value, as his records show his propensity to purchase "social assets."
• Despite its social status, pages of the Folio have been used in interesting and shocking ways over the course of time. Loose pages were once used to wrap fish!
• Publishing in a folio format spoke to the status of the content of the publication. For poets and playwrights, folios were unheard of – with the exception of Ben Johnson. Johnson, while still alive, published his collection of writings in his own Folio, Workes of Benjamin Jonson. Critics joked at his inclusion of a play, writing "Pray tell me Ben, where doth the mystery lurke / What others call a play you call a worke."
• The First Folio is called the "First" because second, third, and fourth printings followed. The Second Folio was printed in 1632, the Third in 1663 or 1664, and the Fourth in 1685. Each subsequent publication was presented as more valuable, adding plays that are not credibly attributed to Shakespeare. First Folios were, at times, discarded and replaced by the Second. Notably, the Folger Library's first purchase of a Folio was a Fourth Folio.
• William Jaggard, owner of the shop where Shakespeare's First Folio was printed, had previously attempted to produce a complete collected works of Shakespeare on his own. It came to be known as the "False Folio" even though it is not printed in folio format. Heminge, Condell, and others successfully stopped the project and began a complete collection of their own, involving Jaggard in the printing.
Shakespeare's First Folio is a wonderful book in for preservation purposes alone. However, looking beyond the plays, one finds a book that is magnificent for many more reasons. The Folio contains 36 treasured plays, and its history is indelible.
By Danica Otten, Library intern
Thousands of visitors have made their way to the Kansas City Public Library to revel in a rare copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, which is on display in the downtown Central Library through June 28.
Shakespeare scholars, students, and everyday library patrons have enjoyed seeing this 393-year-old piece of history in the Library's Missouri Valley Room, some traveling across the state and country and even from Canada. One family has driven three times from Topeka, Kansas, to Kansas City to attend events in conjunction with the Folio, and wrote in the guest book that all "plan to come again" for programming that extends into July.
Another visitor from Leawood, Kansas, expressed thanks to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., for making the Folio available through the special traveling exhibit, writing, "I may not get to the Folger so this was a treat."
The exhibit has been a wonderful opportunity for many teachers from the Kansas City area and beyond. "Fabulous!! An English teacher's dream!" wrote one from Florida. Another from Kansas City shared that sentiment. "As an English teacher, I was so excited and impressed to see this gem in my city," she said.
A teacher from St. Louis traveled with her husband and son for Family Day activities on June 12. They made it a day of Shakespeare fun, stopping along the way at Shakespeare's Pizza in Columbia before seeing the First Folio. They also paused for a photo (Twitter).
Tina Packer, the author of Women of Will: Following the Feminine in Shakespeare's Plays, talked about her book on June 13, and made sure before her presentation to see the First Folio. She had great things to say about the exhibit. "I've been in several of the towns/cities where you [The Folger Shakespeare Library] have sent the First Folio," she wrote. "I loved all the sites, but I think this is my favorite surrounded by (the Missouri Valley Room's extensive collection of books about) Civil Rights, local history, and Civil War."
She added that "the young docents were terrific!"
While the Folger Shakespeare Library is placing copies of the Folio on display around the country—choosing a single site in each state to serve as host—Kansas City's docent program is believed to be unique. More than a dozen University of Missouri-Kansas City students prepared for their duties by taking a semester-long, for-credit class arranged by Joan FitzPatrick Dean, UMKC's Curators' Professor of English.
By Amy Strassner, Library intern
You are not alone. Libraries are a resource, and it is in our mission to help. In fact, the American Library Association’s Division for Teens, YALSA, includes in its mission statement that our primary goal should be “alleviating the challenges teens face, and (in) putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives.”
To that end, we have a list of resources for the LBGTQIA community. With what the Washington Post calls ”the deadliest mass shooting on American soil” happening on June 12th at an LGBTQIA nightclub in Orlando, FL, this community is especially in need right now. As a Teen Vogue tweet pointed out “Pulse is an LGBTQ nightclub, and this terror attack took place during Pride Month.”
We can’t do everything, but we can point you in the right direction. Also, we can provide accurate information. When someone searches the Kansas City Public Library’s Explora for Middle and High School Students database with the search term “LGBT,” limiting only for items published since 2014, 4,439 articles come up, including 81 videos. These have all been vetted which means that they aren’t just what somebody (anybody) decided to throw up online. Experts trust them.
So, your business is your business. If you want to share your struggles, we will listen. We will help, even if that only means connecting you with someone who can. However, if you want to keep your challenges private, you can do that, too. Please, do so safely. Use the resources that we have included here.
The Haters by Jesse Andrews
publication date: 2016
This book, written by the author of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, followed bandmates Wes, Corey, and Ash as they drove around the eastern US begging anyone to let them play.
Wes, a circumspect young man; Corey, Wes’s wildcard best friend; and Ash, their lonely and enigmatic bankroller, were not prepared – emotionally or musically – to drive, live, and play as a group. But they decided to ditch their parents and attempt a tour together.
Much of the depiction of these teens’ ill-fated tour was hilarious. The author permeated every scene and character description with humor. This is how Wes, a bassist, described how he felt when someone requested a bass solo:
As for me, I hate soloing. It just never feels like something the bass is designed to do. Basically every bass solo that I have ever taken is the soundtrack to an overweight cartoon bear putting on women’s clothing and then trying to dance.
And here’s a description of another teenager attempting to hit on Ash, the guitarist:
“Ash. My goodness gracious. That’s quite a name.”
“No. It’s dumb. It’s just less dumb than ‘Ashley.’” [she said.]
“Ash, it honors me to share with you this humble chair,” he said, giving off the vibe of a forty-year-old man who has been divorced at least three times.
In fact, the writing was so whimsical and funny that it was hard to take seriously at times, even when the situation called for it. Therefore, the plot was not very compelling and it seemed like the main purpose of the book was to be amusing. The story could have been engaging because weighty themes and stories were in the book: things like lousy parents and excessive drinking. But the stakes just never seemed that high because the tone was usually light-hearted.
Additionally, the book was very “music-y.” There were entire passages where the characters were describing musicians or genres, usually jokingly. For example:
Bon Iver: Way too emotionally high stakes for casual listening in the sense that it makes every single part of your life feel like the part of a TV show where you are in a hospital saying goodbye for the very last time
If music isn’t your thing or you don’t like the exclusionary nature of the jokes, you will probably be annoyed by large swathes of the book.
That said, this book was generally hilarious. Andrews’s stylized writing was sharp and witty. I laughed a lot, even if the book felt a bit hollow after reading.
4/6: worth reading
Hundreds of visitors daily are making their way to the fifth floor of the Central Library to view a rare and valuable copy of Shakespeare's First Folio on display in the Missouri Valley Room.
Scholar Eric Rasmussen set the stage for the special, 23-day exhibit on Tuesday, June 7.
In an event marking the exhibit's opening a day earlier, the University of Nevada at Reno professor gave a delightful presentation that included a brief history of the First Folio and some of his personal experiences in working closely with more than 200 surviving copies of the 393-year-old book. As someone who has taken on the task of meticulously cataloging each copy, there is no one more qualified to speak about the Folio's impact.
He began by talking his audience through a range of subjects, speaking a bit about the print shop in which the First Folio likely was produced and describing the uniqueness of the text in the Folios as compared with earlier publications of his plays in smaller, quarto format. More notably, Rasmussen pointed out the differences among individual Folios. Each one contained 36 plays at the time that it was sold, but the evidence of what happened to the book from that point on is what makes the individual copies so special.
On the pages of many of these priceless books—alongside Shakespeare's words—are doodles made by children, the scribbles of mathematics, and even the paw prints of cats. Numerous Folios have signs of heavy use, with annotations jotted in the margins of every page. There are food stains on some and marks on others that call special attention to certain plays.
Given these details, it is hard not to be struck by the history that each book holds. From the moment each copy left the print shop, it began its own journey through the world, collecting evidence of owners and the others who interacted with it—people who evidently read Shakespeare in much the same way as we do today. In the marks and stains, we see what their favorite plays were, how they read them, and how they interpreted them. The texts, themselves, are incredibly important, and the First Folio has been essential to the preservation of Shakespeare's works. But these little bits of personality contribute to the book's value, providing an invaluable glance at society over time.
Rasmussen's choice to highlight these aspects of the First Folio lends emphasis to the book's importance and to how fortunate we are to have one in Kansas City. The Folio currently housed at the Library is one of 235 known to remain in existence, but it is as unique as you and I. You will not find, in any other copy, the same cover bound to the pages or the same notes on the pages of Hamlet. Each has its own story.
The First Folio remains on display at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., until June 28. More information on Rasmussen and his work with Shakespeare, check out his book The Shakespeare Thefts: In Search of the First Folios.
By Rebecca Adams, Library intern
Have you ever testified to a restless night by saying, "I have not slept one wink?" Or claimed, "All’s well that ends well?"
When is the last time you found yourself befuddled and commented, "It’s all Greek to me?" Do certain tasks leave you believing they will take "forever and a day?"
These phrases and many others in our common vernacular are credited to William Shakespeare and would arguably be lost to our phraseology if not for the First Folio, the first printed collection of his plays. A rare copy is on display at the Library through June 28.
A sampling of other phrases credited to Shakespeare, all preserved within the Folio:
- "In a pickle." From The Tempest.
- "Be-all and the end-all." From Macbeth
- "A dish fit for the gods." From Julius Caesar
- "Break the ice." From The Taming of the Shrew
- "For goodness sake." From Henry VIII.
- "My mind’s eye." From Hamlet.
- "With bated breath." From The Merchant of Venice.
- "The laughing stock." From The Merry Wives of Windsor
The First Folio contains 36 plays written by Shakespeare. Half of them, including The Tempest, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, The Taming of the Shrew, and Henry VIII, had not been previously published. So without the Folio, many expressions coined by Shakespeare would arguably be lost and our language would lack numerous popular and pithy phrases.
Prior to the printing of the Folio in 1623, the acting company in which Shakespeare was a shareholder withheld the printing rights of numerous plays, hoping to prevent competing theater companies from producing them and stealing patrons. Seven years after he died, with a number of his plays having fallen out of theatrical circulation, fellow actors John Heminge and Henry Condell set out to catalog his works.
Without that, mixed martial arts champion Ronda Rousey would not have had the words to reflect upon the first loss of her professional career in January. After months out of the public spotlight, she posted a quote from A Twelfth Night on her Instagram.
Beyoncé, in her performance at the Billboard Music Awards show in 2011, also looked to Shakespeare for inspiration. Drawing from As You Like It, she introduced her song "Run the World," an anthem of female empowerment, with the line, "I am women, I must speak."
Supermodel Cindy Crawford received a birthday wish via Twitter from Piers Morgan, British journalist and television personality, that might lack poetic charm if not for Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. The opening line of the February tweet quotes from the play—and adorns many birthday cards today.
And so, may all of us—including Beyoncé—salute Heminge, Condell and of course the Bard the next time we "play fast and lose," lament "too much of a good thing," or "kill with kindness." We owe it to Shakespeare (and those respective phrases to King John, As You Like It, and The Taming of the Shrew).
We owe it to the First Folio.
By Danica Otten, Library intern
This is, of course, for people who "get" it. Since the gap between when he wrote the plays and now is over four-hundered years, it makes sense that there are going to be some differences. No one in Shakespeare's time had ever seen a motor vehicle, a cell phone, or Takis. They didn't bat an eye at the idea of Juliet's betrothal and marriage, even though she would be like an eighth grader today. They all "follow'd" his train of thought. We would buy him a vowel.
Luckily, somebody recognized how cinematic Shakespeare's stories are. There are several life-or-death situations, literally. The Kansas City Public Library carries eight of these books that Richard
Appignane has made. These cartoons make Shakespeare's characters accessible to people who aren't geeking out over "All Things Shakespeare." You don't have to be Bard-crazy to want to read these.
The books in the Manga Shakespeare series by Richard Appignane create an illustrated storytelling landscape. Even without seeing a play on stage, readers can use visual cues in these cartoonized books to understand them. Just like it can be easier to comprehend writing in a foreign language if there are pictures, the same goes for tricky Shakespearan language, which is definitely different from what we use in modern conversations.
So, order one of these books today! You won't regret it, forsooth.
People build collections of items every day. Some become absorbed and go to great lengths to acquire a particular object. In the early twentieth century, Henry Clay Folger is one of those collectors who had a love for all things Shakespeare.
Andrea Mays in The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger's Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare's First Folio examines Folger and his mania. William Shakespeare celebrated today for his plays and poetry throughout the world, died in relative obscurity in 1616. While his plays had been performed on the London stage, some had never been published.
Several years after Shakespeare's death, two friends, John Heminges and Henry Condell decided to publish a complete set of his plays. They wanted to remember their friend and fellow actor and to keep his words alive. Shakespeare following the custom of his day would not and could not publish his work. No original copies of his plays exist. No one is sure how or what sources Heminges and Condell used to compile what became the First Folio with thirty-six plays published in one volume. Some of the plays had never appeared in print. 750 copies of the Fist Folio were published in 1623 with the first recorded sales in December of that year. With the publication of the First Folio, Shakespeare's reputation as a playwright began and has only intensified in the centuries since.
Henry Folger became an executive with Standard Oil. He also had a lifelong interest in Shakespeare which he shared with his wife Emily, even keeping a copy of his plays with him to read as he had time. One day, he went into an auction house and bought a copy of the inferior Fourth Folio of Shakespeare's plays. His obsession had begun.
Folger continued to build his business career and began to collect rare books. He also purchased his initial First Folio one with many flaws. Over the centuries, many copies of Shakespeare's First Folio have disappeared and others have missing pages. Folger then began the quest to buy other copies of the First Folio for his own enjoyment and to fill some inner need. He also bought other items related to Shakespeare storing everything in warehouses throughout New York City never in his own home.
Sometimes Folger encountered controversy when buying a First Folio. He would go the extra mile to secure a particular copy even if he was told it could not be purchased. English critics complained that wealthy American collectors were taking away the English cultural heritage. One copy of the First Folio that Folger pursued slipped through his fingers when the Bodleian Library at Oxford University managed to re-acquire the copy that had sold years before. The English press helped to outbid Folger for that copy—something he never forgot or forgave. In all, Folger collected eighty-two copies of the First Folio.
Towards the end of his life, Folger decided what to do with his vast collection. He decided to build a library for scholars to have access to the material. After looking at several sites, he selected land in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill near the Library of Congress. After buying up the property, he oversaw the design of the building. While the outside of the library has a marble facade in keeping with other Washington structure, areas inside transport the visitor to Elizabethan England. Folger died before construction finished, but his widow carried on his plans. The Folger Shakespeare Library opened in 1932 honoring the man who persisted in mania for Shakespeare and still serves scholars today. The 82 copies of the First Folio remain safe within the library walls and it is unlikely that so many copies will ever be collected together again. With the recent discovery of an unknown First Folio in Scotland, I imagine Folger would like to try to add it to his collection as one can never have too many copies of the First Folio.
To see all of the books, audiobooks, DVDs, and e-resources that the library has for teens about time travel click here
There was the vampire craze post Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. On its heels, came the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Its popularity gave rise to dystopian proliferation. Then, people revisited more realistic and slice-of-life books, thanks in no small part to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
So, now what? The next big thing hasn’t really shown itself to us just yet. There are some ideas, though. Lisa Parkin, a blogger and YA book enthusiast wrote “5 Exciting YA Book Trends to Look for in 2016.” The first one that she sited is time-travel. I don’t know if she’s right, but it seems worth a try.
If you could visit any other time, when would you choose and why? If you would go to the past, would you just observe or try to change history? If you are undecided or want to see how someone else interprets a time shift, enjoy one or more of our books. You don’t need a portal for your imagination to shift the space-time continuum.
Front Lines by Michael Grant
publication date: 2016
In this alternate history, Michael Grant asked: how different would World War II have been if women were allowed, and even drafted, on the front lines? The answer, at least according to Grant, was not very different at all.
Front Lines followed Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman as they joined the fight against the Axis powers in 1943. Grant crafted these three characters to show the different experiences those serving in the armed forces would have encountered.
Rio was a young woman from an idyllic small town in California who signed up in response to the death of her sister. She underwent basic training and was sent to the front lines because of her proficiency in shooting.
Frangie was a young black woman from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who joined the Army because of her family’s dire poverty. After a segregated basic training, she became a medic and soon discovered that even injured people might refuse her help because of her color.
The third main character was Rainy, a Jewish woman from New York City, who used her smarts to move up the ranks in Army Intelligence. She wanted to take down any Nazis she could.
The book accompanied these three young women as they fought with their parents to sign up, fought with their commanders and peers to be respected as women and soldiers, and fought with the enemy. Grant focused his plot on one epic and historically-accurate battle in Tunisia.
Grant obviously spent a lot of time researching this book, from how young people spoke in the 1940s to how to load a bazooka. Grant’s research led to thoroughly detailed and compelling passages about war and the Army.
Beyond Grant’s obvious research, the tone of the book wasn’t necessarily consistent. Sometimes his language was affected and melodramatic (he twice used “literally” in a sentence, as in “Rio literally twirls in the front door”). However, he often crafted bleak and effective passages about the realities of war. For example, this inner monologue of a soldier who just saw someone die:
What else should I tell them? The way his last breath made a sound like a straw at the bottom of a milk shake? The way he emptied his bowels so that he stank? The slickness of his blood? The way it looked like chocolate syrup in the dark?
Grant used this concept to present a nuanced and complete picture of war for those who fight it, even if the book was a bit uneven.
5/6: seek this book out
This is an edited version of a story by Library writer and editor Steve Wieberg that appeared in The Kansas City Star.
Kansas City is all too familiar with "the plague"—the preponderance of murders of black men and boys by other black men and boys—that Jill Leovy details in her book Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America.
The pace of homicides in the city thus far in 2016 is running slightly ahead of the rate a year ago, when Kansas City's final count spiked to a seven-year high of 110. In nearly two-thirds of those cases, last year's and this year's, the victims were male and black, police records show. More than 60% of the suspects identified and tied to homicides in that time have been black males.
And yet, black males make up just 13% of the city's overall population.
"It's sort of what we find around the country," says Leovy, a longtime reporter and editor for The Los Angeles Times. "You're part of the fabric of this problem."
Ghettoside presents Los Angeles as a microcosm, portraying the personal suffering and societal cost of a numbing roll of black-on-black murders in the city's South Central neighborhoods. The problem is compounded by the multitude of homicides that go unsolved—Leovy and a Times colleague calculated a staggering average of more than 40 per square mile between the late 1980s and early 2000s—suggesting to prospective killers and the wider community that blacks are expendable.
Leovy makes it very personal, weaving in the back stories of both victims and their families and the cops called in to investigate. And she offers an antidote to the scourge: careful, conscientious investigative work by police, embodied by a veteran Los Angeles homicide detective named John Skaggs.
A tall, blond surfer type, the son of a Long Beach homicide detective and nephew of an L.A. Police Department deputy chief, Skaggs isn't necessarily smarter than everybody else. He simply works very, very hard, knocking on doors, returning time and again to reluctant witnesses, intent on tying up every conceivable loose end. Lost lives matters to him.
He is handed the case at the center of Ghettoside, the fatal shooting in May 2007 of 18-year-old Bryant Tennelle. Tennelle was by all accounts a sweet kid with a promising future, the son of a respected LAPD detective who had refused to move his family from troubled South Los Angeles because he felt people deserved cops committed to living there. The motive for the murder is uncertain to this day.
Skaggs leads a no-stone-unturned investigation that results in the arrest of two young men, ages 25 and 16 and both black. Both eventually were convicted of first-degree murder and now are serving sentences of life in prison without parole.
The case is instructive, or should be, Leovy says. It's "impossible to imagine that the thousands of young men who died … during Skaggs' career would have done so had their killers anticipated a ‘John Skaggs Special' in every case," she writes.
By 2010, when Bryant Tennelle's killers went to trial, the homicide rate for black males age 20-24 had fallen dramatically in Los Angeles County, though it still was 20-30 times the national rate and blacks still were disproportionately victimized. Now, Leovy says, they're rising again—not just in L.A. but also in a number of other cities across the nation.
Among them is Kansas City. Its overall homicide count declined to a more than four-decade low in 2014, when the total was 81, and turned back upward in 2015. Black males bore the brunt of the increase, accounting for 70 of last year's 110 victims. Their murder rate—111 per 100,000 people, using the latest U.S. census estimates—was a daunting 11 times higher than the rate for everybody else in the city (just under 10 per 100,000).
As of the first week of April, 15 of the city's 23 homicide victims in 2016 were black males.
Kansas City police haven't broken down the number of such cases in which suspects also have been identified as male and black. But the department's chief spokesman, Capt. Tye Grant, says, "It's safe to say most of them fall into that category. A high percentage of them."
In Ghettoside—its title drawn from a gang member's nickname for his neighborhood in Watts—those kinds of statistics are telling but secondary. There is a very human toll that Leovy chronicles from accompanying police to crime scenes, talking to people on the street, and sitting in on court proceedings. She interviewed anguished family members. She attended funerals. For awhile, she attempted to cover every murder in Los Angeles County in a Times blog, The Homicide Report. She wanted to communicate the horror, she says.
"I'm very, very sad about certain things that I saw," Leovy says. "There are a lot of things that aren't in Ghettoside that are so much worse than what I put in and remain in my mind. I had a father tell me that it was his fault his son had died because he a poor man. He was down low or something, is how he put it, and hadn't been able to move out of the neighborhood. If he been more of a man, he told me, a better man, he thought maybe his son wouldn't have been shot. Stuff like that.
"It can be very depressing."
Kaite Mediatore Stover, the Library's director of reader's services, will lead a discussion of Ghettoside by Jill Leovy at 6:30 p.m. on May 5 at the Kansas City Police Department's East Patrol Division Station, 2640 Prospect. If you would like to attend, email Stover at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reading Shakespeare can be difficult for people who have little background in reading early modern English verse. So it pays to turn to authorities. When I'm looking at authorities to help me through something difficult, I'm looking for two things:
- the authority truly is an authority;
- the authority is capable of producing a compelling and readable presentation for the general reader.
Mark van Doren's Shakespeare, a collection of short essays on Shakespeare's plays and his poetry first published in 1939, meets both criteria.
Van Doren was a professor of English at Columbia University in New York from 1920-1959, a recognized scholar in the field of Shakespeare and other English poets, and a published poet of some reputation himself. He was a much beloved teacher and was able to make his subject clear even to large audiences of students and non-students. It could be said of van Doren what Chaucer says of the young clerk, one of his Canterbury pilgrims: "gladly would he learn, and gladly teach."
The book is a collection of short essays on Shakespeare's poetry (a discussion of "The Rape of Lucrece," "Venus and Adonis," and the sonnets makes up the first chapter), and on the plays attributed to Shakespeare in van Doren's day, such as Edward III and The Two Noble Kinsmen are not addressed.
For any who might read this volume expecting nothing but gushing praise for the "Bard," let me make it clear that van Doren's praise, though high — this is Shakespeare we're talking about, after all — is not fawning. Van Doren was a poet himself and he trains his poetic eye on Shakespeare, noting flaws in the poems—he describes "Sonnet 71" as flawless, but admits that Shakespeare's verse is, at times, uneven, and that the form sometimes gets in the way of the message. The couplets of Venus are singled out for klutziness, but even in some sonnets, the closing couplet seems clumsy to van Doren. As he puts it, "The poems of Shakespeare are seldom perfect. The songs that shoot like stars across his plays are brightest at the beginning, and often burn out before the end."
The two long narrative poems ("The Rape of Lucrece" and "Venus and Adonis"), he notes, have Shakespeare trying, but not always succeeding, in copying Ovid's fluid grace, or in van Doren's words: "To say, justly enough, that Shakespeare's narrative poems are Ovidian exercises is to say that at their worst they are coldly clever." And he faults the slavish adherence to the rhyme scheme Shakespeare uses in those poems. For my part, I found "Lucrece" a better poem than "Venus," but that may be because the subject matter of "Lucrece" is more serious and because I found Venus a trifle too precious with an overly eager love goddess and her unmoved swain.
Like any reader of Shakespeare, van Doren has his favorite plays—he is especially fond of the Henriad (the tetralogy consisting of Richard II, Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V), saying of Henry IV: "No play of Shakespeare's is better than "Henry IV." Certain subsequent ones may show him more settled in the maturity which he here attains almost at a single bound, but nothing he wrote is more crowded with life or happier in its imitation of human talk." He gives the great plays their due, but finds something worthwhile even in those plays which only the most committed Shakespearean ever tackles—e.g. King John and the three Henry VI plays among the histories, and Timon of Athens among the tragedies. Though admitting the faults in such plays, he takes pains to note elements where the poet soars. He notes of King John: "once more Shakespeare is greatly interested in the language he uses, and uses this time to the limit."
Van Doren's Shakespeare is not a scholarly tome on the Bard of Avon, though van Doren was a scholar. If you want great scholarship discussing the use of color in MacBeth or Freudian overtones in Hamlet, there are places where you can find such discussions (the best place to find scholarly or esoteric discussions of Shakespeare would be databases of scholarly journals, like Academic Search Elite that you can find on the KC Public Library site). But if you want to get something closer to detailed and loving reviews by a sensitive, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable reader of the poetry and plays of Shakespeare, take an hour or two, sit yourself down, and pick up kindly old Uncle Mark van Doren's Shakespeare.