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Posts from the Berg Collection of English and American Literature

Newly Cataloged Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur published his first poem, "Puppies" in 1929 in the children's magazine John Martin’s Book at the age of 8. In the eighty years since, Wilbur, Poet Laureate from 1987-1988, has won the Pulitzer Prize twice and outlived more famous poet contemporaries like John Berryman, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath. These poets' Confessional style caught fire mid-century and signalled a departure from the measured poetry Wilbur was writing. A Wilbur poem foregoes the stormy revelations of the Confessionalists; more often it 

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Burroughs at the Berg

The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection has posted the finding aid for the William S. Burroughs Papers. A guide to the papers can now be accessed here (pdf). 

The archive is a swirl of 1960s political, popular and literary culture, offering a close look at a cross-section of social revolutions that caught fire in the late fifties and sixties, including the rise of drugs, the gay liberation movement, free speech and the 

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Dickens and the Berg Collection

From the collection's very beginnings, Charles Dickens formed a rich part of The New York Public Library's Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, now one of America's most celebrated collections of literary first editions, rare books, autograph letters and manuscripts. The founding collection was presented to the Library in 1940, with an endowment, by Dr. Albert A. Berg in memory of his late brother, Dr. Henry W. Berg. The brothers Berg were both distinguished physicians, as well as passionate bibliophiles and brilliant real estate 

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Jack Kerouac, Fantasy Sportsman

Ever wonder what Jack Kerouac was doing at ages fourteen, fifteen and sixteen? Competing, for one. The author played on a neighborhood baseball team and was skilled enough in high school football that he was offered scholarships to play at both Boston University and at Columbia (he later accepted the New York school’s offer, a choice that ensured his path crossed with William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Neal Cassady, among others here).

As a teenager, Kerouac was also at work inventing his own fantasy field of dreams. In his free time, the young writer founded a 

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Desperately Seeking Alice

The plot of Linda Fairstein’s Lethal Legacy, set in the New York Public Library‘s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, pivots on a copy of a rare 1866 edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 1866 marks the year of the earliest approved edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice, illustrated by Punch cartoonist John Tenniel. Copies of the 1866 edition in the New York Public Library are in the double digits. The Henry 

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The Queen of the Birds

Flannery O'Connor, who would have been 84 today, is best known for her dystopic portrayals of the South and Southerners in her novels Wise Blood, and The Violent Bear it Away, and in short stories like "

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"There was only one catch. . ."

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22”

Books can accumulate a lot of personal baggage. Keep them in your life for long enough, and they’re likely to become encrusted with memories. This dust jacket is from my personal copy of Catch-22 and goes back a long way, as you can tell from the $2.45 price drastically marked down to $2.19. This was the second and more durable copy I owned after I read ragged the more familiar blue paperback with the dancing airman on the cover. The library’s copy in the

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Mixed Feelings About Charles Dickens

I have mixed feelings about Charles Dickens. This is probably an embarrassing admission from someone who’s preparing a public presentation on the works of Dickens for the fall and winter, but the fact remains. I’ve read most of the major novels, some more than once, and while I always start them with lots of gusto and enthusiasm, I’m never sorry to see them end. Many years ago, in an over-flowing of Dickensian high spirits, I bought a set of the Oxford Illustrated Dickens from Scribner’s bookstore on Fifth 

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