Friday, February 02, 2007



Wake up, slugabeds! Today's the day! The last letter in the alphabet, and the last pages in William Rose Benét's invaluable and often entertaining reference book, The Reader's Encyclopedia (Crowell 1948 edition). I've gotten tired of typing that over and over. The book is going back to its regular home on the bookshelf behind me, after sitting front and center on my desk for a month. A few final entries from the Zs - all proper names today:

Zenger, John Peter (1697-1746). German-born printer who came to America in 1710. In his trial for seditious libel (1734-1735) he was defended by Andrew Hamilton, and was acquitted. The decision in this case is believed to have established freedom of the press in America. (p.1239)

Zenobia. A beautiful and intellectually brilliant woman in Hawthorne's Blithedale Romance who drowns herself for love of Hollingsworth. She is said to have been drawn, in part at least, from Margaret Fuller.

There is also a historical Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, who is sometimes included in a list of "the nine worthy women" of the world. (p.1239) (Only nine of us?)

Zeuxis. A Grecian painter who is said to have painted some grapes so well that the birds came and pecked at them. The story goes on to relate that Zeuxis' rival Parrhasius placed a canvas of his next to the grapes, and when the spectators demanded that he remove the curtain concealing his work, it developed that the curtain was a painted one. (p.1240)

The longer entry for the zodiac is interesting, and there are a few familiar terms it was good to see clear definitions for, like Zeitgeist. I'm scanning the "Errata and Addenda" section at the very end, too, and the only item I notice that I should addend myself on this blog is "sweetness and light: Last line, omit. See also Ancients and Moderns." Well, there we go. That's how you read a reference book from cover to cover (humbly takes a bow).

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Thanks and congratulations.

What's next?

Hey Dan, thanks! I don't know what's next... I'm hoping something will present itself. It usually does, in the book business (there's always something to read next).
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