Posts tagged ‘United State’

January 29, 2013

Kurt Vonnegut on Twerps

by Biblioklept

From Kurt Vonnegut’s 1977 interview with The Paris Review:

INTERVIEWER

What is a twerp in the strictest sense, in the original sense?

VONNEGUT

It’s a person who inserts a set of false teeth between the cheeks of his ass.

INTERVIEWER

I see.

VONNEGUT

I beg your pardon; between the cheeks of his or her ass. I’m always offending feminists that way.

INTERVIEWER

I don’t quite understand why someone would do that with false teeth.

VONNEGUT

In order to bite the buttons off the backseats of taxicabs. That’s the only reason twerps do it. It’s all that turns them on.

INTERVIEWER

You went to Cornell University after Shortridge?

VONNEGUT

I imagine.

INTERVIEWER

You imagine?

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January 26, 2013

James Madison and the Making of America (Book Acquired, 1.15.2013)

by Biblioklept

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James Madison and the Making of America, by historian Kevin R. C. Gutzman, is new in trade paperback. A blurb from the author’s website:

Instead of an idealized portrait of Madison, Gutzman treats readers to the flesh-and-blood story of a man who often performed his founding deeds in spite of himself: Madison’s fame rests on his participation in the writing ofThe Federalist Papers and his role in drafting the Bill of Rights and Constitution.

Today, his contribution to those documents is largely misunderstood.  He thought that the Bill of Rights was unnecessary and insisted that it not be included in the Constitution, a document he found entirely inadequate and predicted would soon fail.

Madison helped to create the first American political party, the first party to call itself “Republican”, but only after he had argued that political parties, in general, were harmful.

Madison served as Secretary of State and then as President during the early years of the United States and the War of 1812; however, the American foreign policy he implemented in 1801-1817 ultimately resulted in the British burning down the Capitol and the White House.

In so many ways, the contradictions both in Madison’s thinking and in the way he governed foreshadowed the conflicted state of our Union now.  His greatest legacy—the disestablishment of Virginia’s state church and adoption of the libertarian Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom—is often omitted from discussion of his career.

Yet, understanding the way in which Madison saw the relationship between the church and state is key to understanding the real man.  Kevin Gutzman’s James Madison and the Making of America promises to become the standard biography of our fourth President.

 

 

May 17, 2012

Ralph Ellison: “I recognize no dichotomy between art and protest”

by Biblioklept

INTERVIEWER

Then you consider your novel a purely literary work as opposed to one in the tradition of social protest.

ELLISON

Now, mind, I recognize no dichotomy between art and protest. Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground is, among other things, a protest against the limitations of nineteenth-century rationalism; Don Quixote, Man’s Fate, Oedipus Rex, The Trial—all these embody protest, even against the limitation of human life itself. If social protest is antithetical to art, what then shall we make of Goya, Dickens, and Twain?

From his 1955 Paris Review interview.

February 20, 2012

George Washington Was A Biblioklept

by Biblioklept

George Washington was a biblioklept. MobyLives hipped us to Ed Pilkington’s Guardian article. From the article:

Founder of a nation, trouncer of the English, God-fearing family man: all in all, George Washington has enjoyed a pretty decent reputation. Until now, that is.

The hero who crossed the Delaware river may not have been quite so squeaky clean when it came to borrowing library books.

The New York Society Library, the city’s only lender of books at the time of Washington’s presidency, has revealed that the first American president took out two volumes and pointedly failed to return them.

At today’s prices, adjusted for inflation, he would face a late fine of $300,000.

The library’s ledgers show that Washington took out the books on 5 October 1789, some five months into his presidency at a time when New York was still the capital. They were an essay on international affairs called Law of Nations and the twelfth volume of a 14-volume collection of debates from the English House of Commons.

The ledger simply referred to the borrower as “President” in quill pen, and had no return date.

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