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Posts from the General Research Division

Haiku Redux

Fang and I were very, very lucky during the hurricane. We were out of power for only 24 hours, during which I wrote the three haiku below: "On the Advantages of the Absence of Electricity."

Haiku is one of the more accessible poetic forms (have you ever tried writing a sestina?), at least for the likes of me. There are, of course, books galore of and about them, but a short and sweet

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Arnold Schoenberg and Haiku

I play the piano a little bit and am working on AS's Six Little Pieces, op. 19. Little they are — all six take less than five minutes to play. Easy they are not — the slightest error in nuance ruins them. Written in 1911, they are among his 'atonal' works, a vague term but basically describing those works in which the usual major/minor tonalities were avoided. I don't quite know why so many people have an aversion to this music, and its successor, serial 

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Books I Read in 2012

It's amusing to keep track of the critters, and helps me read more non-fiction, novel-hound that I am. The Library has most of these books, but I've only linked a few, as not to clutter and overburden the post. At the end of the list I award prizes, or "the Barkies," for various categories. But just two things first: Re-reads (always a good idea) are in bold, and if you have a taste for rhetorical but highly passionate drama, do read some Thomas Otway (1652-85).

I'm lucky enough 

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Thinking about Grad School? NYPL Can Help!

As the year is coming to an end, many of us are already planning for new and exciting changes in the upcoming year. Some people may consider different vacation spots, career changes or even returning to school. If you are part of the group interested in going to graduate school, we can help!

So first you should ask yourself why you are going back to school and whether it is something worth your investment in time and money. Additionally, you may want to ask yourself:

Can I afford to go to graduate school on a full-time basis? Should I go to graduate ... Read More ›

Chinese American Food: Stories of Odds and Ends

Did you know that some of your favorite dishes from a Chinese take out restaurant have interesting stories behind them? The origin of their names, the ingredients used and how they were conceived and transformed in America all make fascinating tales in food history.

Since the 19th century, Chinese immigrants opened restaurants throughout the American frontier. These dishes preserved and reflected the different Chinese cultural and regional identities. Initially they were not accepted or liked by Americans because they were perceived as foreign. However, many dishes 

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George Romney Republican: The Rise and Fall of Mitt's Political Mentor

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, or does it? If you come to the South Court Auditorium of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at 42nd Street this Thursday at 1:15 p.m. (whew!) you might find a clue. The first lecture of the year by the writers of the Wertheim Study and Allen Room will be given by John R. Bohrer, a cool guy and journalist often writing 

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The Summer Olympics: History and Resources

The 2012 Summer Olympics, officially called The Games of the XXX Olympiad kicks off on July 27th in London, United Kingdom!

For about two weeks, the world will be watching their top athletes compete for medals of honor in a multi-sport event.  These sports range from

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Summer Reading When It's Too Darn Hot To Do Anything Else

According to the Kinsey Report Ev'ry average man you know Read More ›

The Passionate Brontës

What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. (The Catcher in the Rye)

Over the last few months, I have read all seven novels, many of the poems, and selected bits of juvenilia by the three Brontë sisters — as well as several biographies, odds and ends of literary criticism, and a

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Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month: History and Resources

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. This month celebrates the contributions of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

In 1978, Congress passed a joint congressional resolution to observe and honor Asian American Heritage week during the first week of May. Historically, Asians have played an important role in American history. The week celebrates two anniversaries: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7th, 

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Words or Music, Part 4: Macbeth and Manon

I have spent a lifetime reading books and perhaps half a lifetime going to the opera. Each is a very real pleasure — neither can be done without — yet both offer different kinds of satisfaction. Words? Music? Which is more important? Fortunately, I am not in the position of having to choose. Books can sometimes lead to opera; opera can sometimes find its way back into books. Since the library specializes in both these worlds of artistic expression, it might be intriguing to look briefly at some of the places they intersect.

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and The Merchant of Venice, Updated

E M DelafieldSt. John Ervine was an English theatre critic in 1920s, '30s, writing often for Time and Tide, that remarkably sensible middle-class magazine which first featured the dry and sly E. M. Delafield's Diary of a Provincial Lady (reserve this book right away!). But I digress.

He also wrote a play, The Lady of Belmont, which takes the Merchant of Venice 10 years later.  Below is a sample of the dialogue, which is dated, though perhaps it 

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and that of 2011

The late, and very great, Bernice W. KlimanThinking a great deal just now about the Great One, I thought of last years venture, April 11-15 2011.  It was a great deal of fun, and inspiration, and I felt great admiration for the Allen Room and Wertheim Study scholars who presented such fine work.  The week was audio-taped 

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and Romeo and Juliet

Since in less than a week you will have heard a terrific lecture incorporating and marmorializing [sic] Romeo and Juliet, I thought to prime the pump with a reprint of an earlier post: The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper.  It is still one of my favorite, for joyous, books.


Enough of the oceanic understanding of Dickens, the truth and tragedy of Balzac, the flawless technique of Sylvia 

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and Poems about Shakespeare

Its'a comin'.  Five presentations on Him.  At 1:15 in the South Court Auditorium at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. 

In the meantime, last night at the Columbia Shakespeare Seminar, a friend and I began to explore the 

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Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism Celebrates 25 Years

For 25 years the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism has highlighted in-depth, investigative reporting. It was established in 1987, through a gift from Joseph Bernstein to the NYPL, in honor of journalist Helen Bernstein (now Helen Bernstein Fealy). The award plays an important role in safeguarding the first amendment and raising public awareness about significant world events and important issues. The 2012 finalists have all garnered acclaim this past year for stories that criss cross 

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and How to Boil an Egg

It's coming up, 5 lectures from really smart people on the one and only Mr. William "Bard" Shakespeare.

Hamlet, Hamlet (redux) Taming of the 

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Shakespeare Week at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building - April 23 to 27

It's here again, featuring the one and only Robert Armitage, Humanities Bibliographer and Blogger Extraordinaire, and 4 cracker-jack scholars from the Wertheim Study.

Full disclosure is here, but in short - (each at 1:15 

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Happy 100th, May Sarton!

May 3rd marks the centenary of the birth of poet and novelist May Sarton. Sarton’s most important novel, Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing, tells the story of septuagenarian Hilary Stevens, a poet whose life is retold episodically during an interview with two writers from a literary magazine.

In notes for the draft of Mrs. Stevens, now in the Henry W. and Alfred A. Berg Collection, Sarton cautions 

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The Pompadour's Book: A Mystery Manuscript Owned by Madame de Pompadour

It's a small volume, neatly but unostentatiously bound in mottled calf. The gilt ornamentation is discreet, except for an impressive coat of arms on both boards. That becomes even more impressive when we identify it as the blazon of one of the standout personalities of 18th-century France, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, marquise de Pompadour — elevated from her haute-bourgeois background and a boring union with a certain M. Lenormand d'Étioles (nephew of her mother's lover) to become the official maîtresse-en-titre to 

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