What we can learn from reading Sylvia Plath’s copy of ‘The Great Gatsby’



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Sylvia Plath stuck this bookplate into the front cover of her copy of ‘The Great Gatsby.’
Source, Author provided

Jeanne Britton, University of South Carolina

As a rare books curator, I get to interact with first editions of novels I love, illustrated versions of my favorite poets’ works, and lavish editions of historical engravings.

In 2015, I started using the University of South Carolina’s first edition of “Lyrical Ballads” in my survey of British literature courses. Written by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, this collection of poems is commonly thought to have launched British Romanticism.

I would bring the volume to class to discuss its visual appearance as a printed text. But each time I shared the volume with a new group of students, we found ourselves drawn to the comments written in the book’s margins by its early owner, John Peace.

Peace was, I learned, an acquaintance of Wordsworth. And some of his comments in the margins of one of the volume’s most well-known poems, “Tintern Abbey,” explore the poem’s themes of memory, place and return.

‘So thought I… and so have I found,’ John Peace writes, reacting to ‘Tintern Abbey.’
Source, Author provided

In this poem, Wordsworth describes his return to the Wye River valley after an absence of five years. He also recalls his memories of his first visit to the valley and looks forward to the memories this second visit will create.

“In this moment,” he writes, “there is life and food / For future years.”

When Peace responds to these lines, he describes a different kind of experience – visiting the poet in his home – in a similar way: “So thought I when my foot first step’t upon his threshold, and so have I found.”

It is a singular piece of literary history, and it’s one example of how the study of words written in the margins of historic texts – called “marginalia” – can illuminate the history of reading in new ways.

As prominent book historian Roger Chartier has noted, marginalia can reconstruct past reading experiences through the “sparse and multiple traces” ordinary readers left behind.

One particularly vivid example that is far from ordinary is Sylvia Plath’s copy of “The Great Gatsby.”

Reading ‘Gatsby’ with Sylvia Plath

Acquired by the University of South Carolina in 1994 from a former professor, the Matthew J. & Arlyn Bruccoli Collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald includes Fitzgerald’s personal ledger, a flask from his wife Zelda, and early drafts of his works.

It also includes an inexpensive 1949 edition of “The Great Gatsby.” Compared to other items in this collection, it might not seem like anything special.

But the book’s owner – and the words she wrote in its margins – are quite noteworthy.

The bookplate identifies Sylvia Plath as the owner of this copy, which she most likely read as an undergraduate at Smith College. Some marginal comments were probably notes she took during lectures about the novel. But others show the way Fitzgerald’s novel sparked her imagination and inspired her own work.

She wrote on almost every page, underlining passages in black and blue ink, drawing stars beside her favorites and occasionally writing notes – some quite arresting – in the margins.

Plath wrote “L’Ennui” – a French word that describes a feeling of listlessness and boredom – next to a description of the character Daisy’s world-weary view of life: “I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything.” “L’Ennui” would become the title of a poem Plath is thought to have written shortly after reading this novel.

Sylvia Plath wrote ‘L’Ennui’ – the title of a future poem of hers – in the margins of ‘The Great Gatsby.’
Source, Author provided

Other notes are, in the context of Plath’s painful life and tragic suicide, haunting.

She writes that Daisy shows a “desire for a secure future” – a longing that seems to have struck a chord for Plath.

On another page, she hints at masculine aggression when she comments, as Gatsby watches the Buchanans from outside their home, “knight waiting outside – dragon goes to bed with the princess.” This was a motif that would reappear in her own life: In her recently published letters, Plath details the physical and emotional abuse her husband, the poet Ted Hughes, inflicted upon her in the months before her death.

Some of Plath’s notes are poignant, given what would transpire over the course of her life.
Source, Author provided

Sylvia Plath’s copy of “The Great Gatsby” speaks to the value of marginalia. As Makenzie Logue, a student of mine who is currently studying the volume, put it, preserving these notes means that you can “read The Great Gatsby with Sylvia Plath.”

Making marginalia accessible

In recent years, marginalia left by ordinary readers has become a subject of large-scale data collection efforts.

At the University of Virginia, English professor Andrew Stauffer leads a team that has made a book’s annotations, inscriptions and insertions discoverable as part of UVA’s online library catalog. Any user will be able to find such markings through a simple online search.

At the University of California, Los Angeles, librarians are developing ways to discover marginalia digitally – and quickly – across large digital collections.

Using the methods developed at the University of Virginia, my colleague Michael Weisenburg and I have organized searches for historical markings in library books at the University of South Carolina. Student workers and library staff have enhanced records for annotated volumes in the school’s online catalog.

While digital technology has made marginalia more accessible, digital reading has made the actual habit of writing in books much less common.

What would Sylvia Plath and John Peace have done if they had a Kindle? Would they have still left traces of their reactions to the texts – so valuable to scholars today – behind?The Conversation

Jeanne Britton, Curator, Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of South Carolina

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Explainer: what is ‘fair dealing’ and when can you copy without permission?



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Fair dealing allows Australians to use copyrighted content for news and reporting.
antb/Shutterstock

Nicolas Suzor, Queensland University of Technology

Copyright law sometimes allows you to use someone else’s work – as long as it’s fair. In Australia this is called “fair dealing”, and it’s different to the law in the US, which is called “fair use”.

These exceptions are safety valves in copyright law – they allow lots of beneficial uses that society has agreed copyright owners should not be able to charge for, or worse, prevent.

There’s a serious ongoing debate about whether Australia should update its copyright laws and introduce fair use. The current law is not easy to understand – our research shows that Australian creators are often confused about their rights – and many think we already have fair use.

Fair dealing: What can you do in Australia?

The key difference between “fair use” and “fair dealing” is that Australia’s “fair dealing” laws set out defined categories of acceptable uses. As we will see, “fair use” in the US is much more flexible.

Australian copyright law sets out five situations where use of copyrighted material without permission may be allowed:

  • research or study
  • criticism or review
  • parody or satire
  • reporting the news
  • provision of legal advice.

We’ll explain the first four, as they’re most useful to the average Australian.

Research or study

You do not need permission to copy a reasonable portion of copyrighted material if you are studying it or using it for research. You do not have to be enrolled in school or a university course to rely on the research or study exception.

For example:

  • you can make a copy of a chapter of a book to study it
  • you can print or take screenshots of content you find on the web for your research
  • you can include quotes or extracts of other work when you publish your research.

The main thing to watch out for is how much you copy. It’s fair to photocopy a book chapter but not the whole book.

Criticism or review

It is lawful to use a work without permission in order to critique or review it.

Criticism or review involves making an analysis or judgement of the material or its underlying ideas. It may be expressed in an entertaining way, or with strong opinion, and does not need to be a balanced expression to be fair.

For example, a film critic does not need permission to play a short clip from a film they are reviewing. They may also use film clips from other movies to compare or contrast.

Ozzy Man Reviews runs a popular channel that reviews existing material, relying on the fair dealing exceptions.

It’s also legal to quote an excerpt of a book or song lyrics, or to reference a photograph in another publication as part of a review or critique of the work.

You need to be really critiquing your source material. So, for example, a review video that is really just the highlights of a film or show probably won’t be fair.

This is something that tripped up Channel 10 in its clip show, The Panel. When the panellists discussed and critiqued the clips they showed, it was generally fair dealing. But when they just showed clips that were funny, a court found them liable for copyright infringement.

Reporting the news

You don’t need permission to use existing copyrighted material while reporting on current or historic events. The law is designed to ensure that people can’t use copyright to stifle the flow of information on matters of public interest.

The key issue to check here is whether a work has been used in a way that is necessary to report the news. If the material is just used incidentally, to illustrate a story or provide entertainment, it won’t count as fair dealing.

Parody or satire

It is legal to use another person’s copyrighted material without their permission to make fun of them, or to make fun of another person or issue.

Making something funny is not sufficient to rely on this exception. The use must be part of some commentary (express or implied) on the material or some broader aspect of society.

FriendlyJordies is known for his satirical videos that comment on and criticise politics and everyday life in Australia.

When is a use ‘fair’?

Fair dealing only applies when the use is “fair”.

When assessing fairness in Australia, there are a number of relevant considerations, including:

  • how important copying is to your work (“nature and purpose of the use”)
  • the type of work being copied (less original works may not be protected as strongly as more creative works)
  • whether it is easily possible to get a licence within a reasonable time at an ordinary commercial price
  • the effect of your copying on the potential market for the original
  • the amount taken from the original work
  • whether attribution has been given to the original author.

Generally, a use will be fair if you are copying for a valid reason, you don’t copy more than you need, you give attribution where possible, and your work is not directly competing in the market against the original.

Things to remember:

  • Is copying necessary? Copying has to be necessary for one of the purposes above. This means that it might be fair to copy part of a song to review it, but it won’t be fair if you’re just using the song as background music.
  • Copy no more than you need. Sometimes you need to copy the entirety of an existing work – if you’re critiquing a photograph, for example. Usually, though, you should only copy the parts that are necessary. You can’t get away with showing a whole TV episode in order to critique one scene.
  • It’s usually not fair if you’re competing with the original. This is often the most important factor. When you copy existing material for your own study, to report on the news, or to create a parody, you usually won’t be undercutting the market for the original. But if you’re just repackaging the original material in a way that might substitute for it – a consumer might be satisfied with your work instead of the original – then your use probably won’t be fair.

How is ‘fair use’ different – what can’t you do with fair dealing?

In the United States, the law is more flexible, because it can adapt to allow fair use for purposes that lawmakers hadn’t thought of in advance.

Some of the things that are legal without getting permission in the US but not in Australia include:

Adapting to new technologies: Fair use is flexible enough to adapt to change, but fair dealing is not. For example, in the US, fair use made it legal to use a VCR to record television at home in 1984. In Australia, this wasn’t legal until parliament created a specific exception in 2006 – just about the time VCRs became obsolete.

Artistic use: In Australia, it’s legal to create a parody or a critique, but not to use existing works for purely artistic purposes. For example, Australian law makes it largely unlawful for a collage artist to reuse existing copyright material to create something new.

Machinima uses game environments to create new stories – but is not legal in Australia without permission from the game’s publisher.

Uses that document our experiences: Media forms a big part of our lives, and when we share our daily experiences, we will often include copyright material in some way. Without fair use, even capturing a poster on a wall behind you when you take a selfie could infringe copyright.

In a famous example, Stephanie Lenz originally had an adorable 29-second clip of her baby dancing to a Prince song removed from YouTube, due to her use of the song. She was able to get it put back up under US fair use law – but an Australian wouldn’t have that right.

Stephanie Lenz’s “dancing baby” video is legal under US “fair use”, but would likely infringe copyright in Australia.

Technical and non-consumptive uses: The internet we love today is built on fair use. When search engines crawl the web, making a copy of every page they can in order to help us find relevant information, they’re relying on fair use.

Under Australian law, even forwarding an email without permission could be an infringement of copyright.

The copyright reform debate

Two recent government reports, from the Australian Law Reform Commission and the Productivity Commission, have recommended that Australia simplify its copyright law by introducing fair use.

Many of us copyright academics have written here extensively in support of fair use over the past few years, but there are still many myths about what the law would do.

It’s been suggested that introducing fair use here would provoke a “free for all” use of copyrighted work, but that hasn’t happened in the US. In fact, some of the same major studios that oppose fair use in Australia are at pains to point out that they support fair use in the US because it is vital to commercial production that happens there.

The Motion Picture Association of America, for example, says that “Our members rely on the fair use doctrine every day when producing their movies and television shows”.

To put it simply: we don’t think that fair use will harm creators.

The “fair” in fair use means that it’s not about ripping off creators – it mainly allows uses that are not harmful. But we do think that fair use would provide an important benefit for ordinary Australians – both creators and users.

The ConversationKatherine Gough, a musician and law student at Queensland University of Technology, co-authored this article.

Nicolas Suzor, Associate professor, Queensland University of Technology

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Article: Oldest Torah Scroll Discovered


The link below is to an article reporting on the discovery of the oldest known copy of the Torah.

For more visit:
http://ehrmanblog.org/exciting-discovery-of-a-hebrew-bible-scroll/

Book Review: Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson


Treasure Island was the first major novel of Robert Louis Stevenson. It was first published in 1883 and has remained a much-loved book. First penned as a story for boys, it was as a young boy that I first came across Treasure Island. It was the first real book that I ever read – certainly of my own choice. If I remember correctly, the copy I had was a small book, not much bigger than my hand and illustrated throughout. The illustrations weren’t coloured as such, but I think I may have started to ‘colour them in’ as I read the story several times. The name of the ship, ‘Hispaniola,’ came back to me in one of my first compositions at school. In that early attempt at writing I wrote a story about piracy and a ship called the Hispaniola. I believe I was written into the story, along with several of my classmates, though the original composition has long since been lost and the
plot a thing of the past.

Treasure IslandNot until the last couple of days however, did I take up the novel once again and begin to read the story of Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins, and the journey to Treasure Island. It has been a long time now, since that first book I read and my taking it up again. It must be at the very least thirty years and then some by my reckoning. Remembering this book as the first I had really read, was the reasoning behind my picking it up again for another read.It is an easy read. It is not a long read. But it is an enjoyable read. If it is that then the author has achieved his goal in fiction I believe. To be sure there are many things that can be learned in reading a novel and many lessons that can be taught through a novel, but without enjoyment all else is lost. This is a short novel that can be enjoyed greatly.

I read this book by way of a Kindle, which shows that the future of Treasure Island lies assured into the digital future and beyond. I also own Treasure Island in traditional form and as part of a set of works, being the entire works of Robert Louis Stevenson. One day I hope to read more, if not all of this man’s printed contrinution to English literature and I look forward to doing so.

Treasure Island is the classic pirate story, coming fully equiped with the pirate talk which is so popular even to this day and the vivid description of a pirate adventure. The story is a great one that may well bring younger generations to read and pull them away from the Xbox and other gaming devices. It is a short read, with short chapters, which may be a useful tool in getting a young one to start reading – but it is the adventure of a life time for Jim Hawkins that will really draw them in and the promise of buried treasure.

If you have not read Treasure Island, pick up a copy and have a read. It is free in the Kindle Shop at the time of posting this review and well worth spending a couple of hours a day reading this classic – by the end of the week the story of Treasure Island will be completed and you will be the richer for having read it.

Buy this book at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Treasure-Island-ebook/dp/B0084AZXKK/

Free Book: A God Entranced Vision of All Things – The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards


The link below is to a Blog where you can get a free ebook copy of this book, which is edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. This book examines the character and teaching of Jonathan Edwards, a pastor from the era of the Great Awakening in the USA.

How do you get a copy? Simply leave a request in the comments section of the post linked to below.

If you would like other books visit the Blog, subscribe to it to keep up to date on what books are available and tell your friends about the site.

To Obtain a Copy of the Book, Visit:
http://searchandtrace.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/a-god-entranced-vision-of-all-things-the-legacy-of-jonathan-edwards/

Visit the Blog at:
http://searchandtrace.wordpress.com/

 

Internet Archive: Hard Copy Ark


The link below is to a great article on one of my favorite websites – the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive is also setting up a ‘hard copy ark,’ in which they are trying to save a copy of every book for the future. It’s a great site and a great idea.

For more visit:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/04/technology/internet-archives-repository-collects-thousands-of-books.html

This Little Church Went to Market – The Church in the Age of Entertainment, by Gary Gilley


I have decided to start reading this book again. I have mentioned ‘This Little Church Went to Market’ in an earlier post in At the BookShelf and this is linked to below:

https://atthebookshelf.wordpress.com/2010/10/30/this-little-church-went-to-market-by-gary-gilley/

Back in October 2010 when I started to read this book I put it aside for some reason – I may have gone on holiday and forgot about it on my return. Anyhow, I decided to take it up again and then to read the two other books that come after it as per my original post. So that is my plan over the next few weeks and months.

This Little Church Went to Market, by Gary Gilley, was first published in 2002 by Xulon Press (ISBN: 1 5916 0049 9). The edition I have is that published as a paperback by Evangelical Press in 2010 (ISBN: 0-85234-596-8 & ISBN-13 978-085234-596-2). The book was revised and updated in 2006. My edition has 142 pages, so it isn’t a large book by any means.

So about to start reading the book – feel free to read it also and join in the discussion on it.

 

Book Group

I have added this book to read at the book group at BookClubIt. Please join in the discussion at the book group or add your thoughts here on the Blog.

At the BookShelf (book reading group at BookClubIt):
http://www.bookclubit.com/bookclub.php?id=404

 

The Book – Get a Copy

At Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2275230.This_Little_Church_Went_to_Market

At Shelfari:
http://www.shelfari.com/books/6229162/This-Little-Church-Went-to-Market-The-Church-in-the-Age-of-Enter

Purchase a copy of the book at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/This-Little-Church-Went-Market/dp/1591600499
http://www.amazon.com/This-Little-Church-Went-Market/dp/0852345968/

Or Visit:
http://www.monergismbooks.com/This-Little-Church-Went-to-Market-p-16471.html

 

Note: This is a completely independent review – I have received nothing for it.

 

Oxford University Press


 

I am now reviewing for Oxford University Press. I received my first book to review today. The book is ‘Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India,’ by Stanley Wolpert. The author is Professor of History Emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles. His previous books are ‘Gandhi’s Passion,’ ‘Nehru: A Tryst With Destiny,’ ‘Jinnah of Pakistan,’ and ‘A New History of India.’

The copy of ‘Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India’ that I was sent is a paperback, which was published on the 5th November 2009 with 238 pages.

When I have read the book, I will be posting the review here.

Visit Oxford University Press at:

www.oup.com

‘The Reformers and Their Stepchildren,’ by Leonard Verduin


I have been reading ‘The Reformers and Their Stepchildren,’ by Leonard Verduin, in the last week or so. It is not the first time that I have read this book, having read it some time ago – probably 10 years ago now I would say.

This is a book that I would recommend to any believer, but particularly to a Reformed believer, whether he be Paedobaptist or Baptist. Verduin seeks to analyse the Reformation and the relationship between the Reformers and their ‘stepchildren’ from a Biblical standpoint, rather than any particular denominational standpoint. Though he does defend the stepchildren, he does so only when they are in line with Scriptural teaching on the point being discussed within that particular chapter.

Who are the stepchildren? The stepchildren or the ‘second front,’ as Verduin also describes them, are those believers who sought a complete reforming of the church. In fact, it may be fair to say that these believers sought a complete break from the Romish church, and a new church built on the teachings of Scripture and modelled on the New Testament church alone.

The frustration for these nonconformist believers was that the reform movement only went so far and did not result in the complete renewal that they desired and that the situation required.

Thus far I have read only the first two chapters of the book and once again I am finding it a very worthwhile read. I find myself in substantial agreement with the position of many of the stepchildren and with Verduin. With as much respect as I have for the Reformers, such as John Calvin, Martin Luther and John Knox, I too would have found myself frustrated at the level of reform achieved by them (though they were better men than I). A complete break and renewal would have been the way forward I believe.

The first two chapters deal with the joint secular-religious church-state that was set up at both the time of Constantine and then at the Reformation in the various Protestant nations that embraced the Reformation. They deal with the all-embracing religion that was constructed in such centres as Geneva and the ‘unified’ approach to it, as well as the reaction of the stepchildren and their withdrawal from it.

This book is as close to a must read for believers as there is I think – especially of the Reformed persuasion.

My copy of the book (paperback) is by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. and was printed in 1964.