Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Map goes on sale in Oxford for £60,000 after being found inside novel belonging to illustrator Pauline Baynes

Source: The Guardian. Text: ScreenRant.

Blackwell’s Rare Books in Oxford, England is exactly the sort of place you would hope to find a piece of literary treasure. So it is fitting that a special map has recently been discovered within an old book here – a map that ties a fantasy place that we have seen envisioned in books and on screen, with reality.

J.R.R Tolkien’s Middle-earth is an intricate fantasy universe where his novels (The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy) take place. The discovery of this map is particularly significant because it has been annotated by the author himself, his edits giving an insight into his inspiration for these vast lands he described so vividly.

Tolkien’s Middle-earth novels were published between 1936 and 1955 and quickly came to be regarded as classics, appealing to both child and adult readers. Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of the books brought new life to the stories in this century, as advances in CGI allowed the range of fantasy creatures and epic locations to be created with justice on screen. It is the illustrated maps of Middle-earth featured within the novels that aid understanding of the geography described within the works – a vital guide to these stories about legendary journeys across continents.

Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf in Jackson’s Middle-earth movies, has posted a pic of said annotated map online:

The annotated map was discovered tucked into a copy of Lord Of The Rings that belonged to illustrator Pauline Baynes – who had been commissioned to create the map in color for an edition of the books to be published in 1970. Both Tolkien and Baynes have annotated the map and their notes reveal that some Middle-earth locations were in fact based on real places.

3585The notebooks reveal that Hobbiton is on the same latitude as Oxford, and imply that the Italian city of Ravenna could be the inspiration behind Minas Tirith. Photograph: Blackwell’s Rare Books. Source: The Guardian.

The Guardian has reported that ‘Hobbiton’ shares a latitude with Oxford (where Tolkien taught at the university). In addition, Jerusalem, Belgrade and Cyprus are referenced and it seems Ravenna, Italy inspired the Middle-earth city ‘Minas Tirith’. In addition to these details, the map conveys the exacting nature of Tolkien’s design and working process. Blackwell’s (which is exhibiting the map in Oxford) has been quoted, clarifying the implication of their discovery:

“Before going on display in the shop this week, this had only ever been in private hands. One of the points of interest is how much of a hand Tolkien had in the poster map; all of his suggestions, and there are many, are reflected in Baynes’s version……. The degree to which it is properly collaborative was not previously apparent, and couldn’t be without a document like this. Its importance is mostly to do with the insight it gives into that process.”

Check out a portion of the annotated map, below:


Tolkien’s extensive mythology indicates a mind that was as exacting as it was creative. The collaboration with Baynes (who also worked with Tolkien’s long-time friend and author C.S. Lewis) proved to be paramount in creating the iconic illustrations we all associate with the Middle-earth novels. This discovery is important from an academic point of view but also a marvelous gift to fans of both the books and the movies alike.

The map can be viewed through Blackwell’s if you are in the UK, or purchased… if you care to part with $92,118, that is.

Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals, by Dinah Fried, is a book of fifty photographs of meals from celebrated literature — ranging from The Secret Garden to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Fictitious Dishes

Dinah Fried began Fictitious Dishes as a series of five photographs when she was a student at Rhode Island School of Design. Now it’s a book that serves up a delectable assortment of photographic interpretations of culinary moments from contemporary and classic literature. Showcasing famous meals including the madcap tea party from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the watery gruel from Oliver Twist, the lavish chicken breakfast from To Kill a Mockingbird, the stomach-turning avocado-and-crabmeat salad from The Bell Jar, and the seductive cupcakes from The Corrections, this unique volume pairs each place setting with the text from the book that inspired its creation. Interesting food facts and entertaining anecdotes about the authors, their work, and their culinary predilections complete this charming book, which is sure to whet the appetites of lovers of great literature and delicious dishes. Source:

FictitiousDishes_aliceinwonderlandAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland

FictitiousDishes_olivertwistOliver Twist

FictitiousDishes_thebelljarThe Bell Jar

FictitiousDishes_thecatcherintheryeThe Catcher in the Rye

FictitiousDishes_ontheroadOn the Road


FictitiousDishes_tokillamockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird

FictitiousDishes_thegirlwiththedragontattooThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

FictitiousDishes_swannswaySwann’s Way

FictitiousDishes_mobydickMoby-Dick; or The Whale

Apparently, Warner Bros. has signed a deal to franchise hell itself, as the studio recently announced it has picked up a feature pitch titled Dante’s Inferno, which would bring Dante Alighieri’s legendary poem Inferno to life on the big screen. Tentatively title Dante’s Inferno, the screenplay is being touted as an epic scale love story that revolves around a man braving the nine circles of hell for his love. The film was pitched by relative newcomer Dwain Worrell, who has previously written only two other features, Operator (2015) and Walking the Dead (2010).


Inferno is one of the most famous pieces ever written by Dante Alighieri. It is just one part of a three part epic poem titled The Divine Comedy, which is one of the key writings in Italian literature. The entire set of poetry took twelve years to complete, finishing in the year 1320, just a year before Alighieri passed away. Dante’s Inferno is one of those pieces that is often referenced in passing, but few are actually familiar with the scope of its influence on modern religion. The very concept of hell as a physical place where tortures and pain occur, as well as many of the modern ideas about Satan are a literary construct of Inferno, rather than anything found in the Bible.

charonThe original poem, which begins on Easter weekend in the year 1300, is divided in 100 cantos and split into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. Dante himself is the main character who, finding himself lost after the death of his beloved Beatrice, is met in the woods by the long-dead poet Virgil. In Dante’s Inferno, Virgil guides Dante through the nine circles of Hell (Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery), revealing various eternal torments suffered by different kinds of sinners. Although it deals with religious themes, the poem is far from a theological work. Instead, Inferno is a tale about humanity and our moral struggles that simply borrows from various religions and mythology to aid in its literary construct.

According to the outlet, this new version of Dante’s Inferno will see Dante travel “through the nine circles of hell to save the woman he loves.” Although the specifics of this iteration of the tale have not yet been revealed, an attempt to “save” Beatrice is not part of the original poem. In fact, it is Beatrice (in real life, the inspiration for Dante’s “Vita Nuova”) who saves Dante, appearing in the Earthly paradise at the very end of “Purgatorio,” taking over for Virgil and serving as Dante’s guide through “Paradiso.”

The script is in the preliminary stages of development at this point, with no cast or director officially attached. We know that the tale has been pitched as a love story, which will no doubt make the characters and their struggles far more accessible.

Media influence

dantes_inferno_cover_artDante’s Inferno is truly an epic piece that has influenced countless other media, including modern comic books like Hellblazer, which was developed into the television show Constantine. In fact, DC Comics actually released a six-issue Dante’s Inferno comic book series in 2009, tying into the EA video game of the same name. If the film goes well and Warner produces all three parts of The Divine Comedy, then we may well be looking at a film series that is as epic in scale as the Lord of the Rings and Hobbitt trilogies. No release date or filming dates, cast or director have been mentioned, since the project is in the preliminary stages.

Various filmic takes on Dante’s Inferno stretch as far back as Giuseppe de Liguoro’s 1911 silent film, L’Inferno (click here to watch on YouTube) and more recently 1998 movie What Dreams May Come took Dante’s text elements to show actor Robin Williams in a descent into hell to save his wife’s soul. This Warner Bros. version has contemporary competition, however, as Universal Pictures has their own plans for a Dante’s Inferno movie. To be directed by Evil Dead‘s Fede Alvarez, the Universal version is based on the Electronic Arts video game of the same name. Although it its set in the early 14th century, the game version reimagines Alighieri as a Templar Knight and also sets Dante on a mission to save Beatrice’s soul.



His glory, by whose might all things are mov’d,
Pierces the universe, and in one part
Sheds more resplendence, elsewhere less.  In heav’n,
That largeliest of his light partakes, was I,
Witness of things, which to relate again
Surpasseth power of him who comes from thence;
For that, so near approaching its desire
Our intellect is to such depth absorb’d,
That memory cannot follow.  Nathless all,
That in my thoughts I of that sacred realm
Could store, shall now be matter of my song.


     Benign Apollo! this last labour aid,
And make me such a vessel of thy worth,
As thy own laurel claims of me belov’d.
Thus far hath one of steep Parnassus’ brows
Suffic’d me; henceforth there is need of both
For my remaining enterprise Do thou
Enter into my bosom, and there breathe
So, as when Marsyas by thy hand was dragg’d
Forth from his limbs unsheath’d.  O power divine!
If thou to me of shine impart so much,
That of that happy realm the shadow’d form
Trac’d in my thoughts I may set forth to view,
Thou shalt behold me of thy favour’d tree
Come to the foot, and crown myself with leaves;
For to that honour thou, and my high theme
Will fit me.  If but seldom, mighty Sire!
To grace his triumph gathers thence a wreath
Caesar or bard (more shame for human wills
Deprav’d) joy to the Delphic god must spring
From the Pierian foliage, when one breast
Is with such thirst inspir’d.  From a small spark
Great flame hath risen: after me perchance
Others with better voice may pray, and gain
From the Cirrhaean city answer kind.

     Through diver passages, the world’s bright lamp
Rises to mortals, but through that which joins
Four circles with the threefold cross, in best
Course, and in happiest constellation set
He comes, and to the worldly wax best gives
Its temper and impression.  Morning there,
Here eve was by almost such passage made;
And whiteness had o’erspread that hemisphere,
Blackness the other part; when to the left
I saw Beatrice turn’d, and on the sun
Gazing, as never eagle fix’d his ken.
As from the first a second beam is wont
To issue, and reflected upwards rise,
E’en as a pilgrim bent on his return,
So of her act, that through the eyesight pass’d
Into my fancy, mine was form’d; and straight,
Beyond our mortal wont, I fix’d mine eyes
Upon the sun.  Much is allowed us there,
That here exceeds our pow’r; thanks to the place
Made for the dwelling of the human kind

     I suffer’d it not long, and yet so long
That I beheld it bick’ring sparks around,
As iron that comes boiling from the fire.
And suddenly upon the day appear’d
A day new-ris’n, as he, who hath the power,
Had with another sun bedeck’d the sky.


     Her eyes fast fix’d on the eternal wheels,
Beatrice stood unmov’d; and I with ken
Fix’d upon her, from upward gaze remov’d
At her aspect, such inwardly became
As Glaucus, when he tasted of the herb,
That made him peer among the ocean gods;
Words may not tell of that transhuman change:
And therefore let the example serve, though weak,
For those whom grace hath better proof in store

     If I were only what thou didst create,
Then newly, Love! by whom the heav’n is rul’d,
Thou know’st, who by thy light didst bear me up.
Whenas the wheel which thou dost ever guide,
Desired Spirit! with its harmony
Temper’d of thee and measur’d, charm’d mine ear,
Then seem’d to me so much of heav’n to blaze
With the sun’s flame, that rain or flood ne’er made
A lake so broad.  The newness of the sound,
And that great light, inflam’d me with desire,
Keener than e’er was felt, to know their cause.

     Whence she who saw me, clearly as myself,
To calm my troubled mind, before I ask’d,
Open’d her lips, and gracious thus began:
“With false imagination thou thyself
Mak’st dull, so that thou seest not the thing,
Which thou hadst seen, had that been shaken off.
Thou art not on the earth as thou believ’st;
For light’ning scap’d from its own proper place
Ne’er ran, as thou hast hither now return’d.”

     Although divested of my first-rais’d doubt,
By those brief words, accompanied with smiles,
Yet in new doubt was I entangled more,
And said: “Already satisfied, I rest
From admiration deep, but now admire
How I above those lighter bodies rise.”

     Whence, after utt’rance of a piteous sigh,
She tow’rds me bent her eyes, with such a look,
As on her frenzied child a mother casts;
Then thus began: “Among themselves all things
Have order; and from hence the form, which makes
The universe resemble God.  In this
The higher creatures see the printed steps
Of that eternal worth, which is the end
Whither the line is drawn.  All natures lean,
In this their order, diversely, some more,
Some less approaching to their primal source.
Thus they to different havens are mov’d on
Through the vast sea of being, and each one
With instinct giv’n, that bears it in its course;
This to the lunar sphere directs the fire,
This prompts the hearts of mortal animals,
This the brute earth together knits, and binds.
Nor only creatures, void of intellect,
Are aim’d at by this bow; but even those,
That have intelligence and love, are pierc’d.
That Providence, who so well orders all,
With her own light makes ever calm the heaven,
In which the substance, that hath greatest speed,
Is turn’d: and thither now, as to our seat
Predestin’d, we are carried by the force
Of that strong cord, that never looses dart,
But at fair aim and glad.  Yet is it true,
That as ofttimes but ill accords the form
To the design of art, through sluggishness
Of unreplying matter, so this course
Is sometimes quitted by the creature, who
Hath power, directed thus, to bend elsewhere;
As from a cloud the fire is seen to fall,
From its original impulse warp’d, to earth,
By vicious fondness.  Thou no more admire
Thy soaring, (if I rightly deem,) than lapse
Of torrent downwards from a mountain’s height.
There would in thee for wonder be more cause,
If, free of hind’rance, thou hadst fix’d thyself
Below, like fire unmoving on the earth.”

     So said, she turn’d toward the heav’n her face.


Read on-line or download the complete Dante’s The Divine Comedy The Vision of Paradise, Purgatory, and Hell (Project Gutenberg). Source text: Coming Soon  and Screen Rant. Source for Gustave Doré’s illustrations from The vision of Purgatory and Paradise by Dante Alighieri (London and New York: Cassell, Petter, and Galpin [1868?]: The Word of Dante.

A long time ago, in a craft-minded household far, far away, two felt-sensitive siblings came up with the idea of remaking the original Star Wars trilogy in yarn.

The result, Star Wars Epic Yarns by Vancouver natives Jack and Holman Wang, published by Chronicle Books. The trio of books each contain 12 classic scenes from A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi respectively, rendered in the adorable felt format.












Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy

This is the title of the newly released book of Dave Zirin, the sports editor for the Nation and the author of Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down.

In his new book, “Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy,” sportswriter Dave Zirin tackles the growing unrest in Brazil in the lead-up to one of sport’s biggest spectacles. Thousands of police officers have joined bus drivers for day two of a massive strike in São Paulo, just weeks before the World Cup is set to begin. Meanwhile, more than 10,000 people have occupied a lot next to one of the arenas that will host the World Cup’s opening match. They call their protest “The People’s Cup” and are opposing the nearly half a billion dollars spent on the stadium, even as their communities lack adequate hospitals and schools. Demonstrations throughout the country have called attention to similar concerns.

Read here the interview with the author Dave Zirin to Democracy Now.


What are talking about the book:

“People think speaking truth to power is easy, but if it was easy everyone would do it. This book does it… It speaks truth to the powers that be, from Brazil to the US to FIFA to the IOC. It hits you like an uppercut that rattles your brain and sets it straight. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.”
—John Carlos, 1968 Olympic medalist

“Dave Zirin has long stood on the edge of the sports writing world, exploding topics many of his colleagues are scared to approach. With Brazil’s Dance with the Devil, he puts to bed any notion that the IOC and FIFA have the best interests of their host countries at heart. Brazil is a special country and Dave Zirin honors its people and history while mercilessly going after those who would undermine its people. This book is a remarkable mix of investigative sports journalism and insightful social history.”
—Glenn Greenwald, author, No Place to Hide

“In a sports journalism landscape where it sometimes seems there are only those who fawn and those who pander, where curiosity about the world at large is in short supply, Zirin is an altogether different kind of presence. He does care, until it hurts, and consistently delivers unique takes on the nexus of sports and race, globalization, politics and human rights. In Brazil’s Dance with the Devil, Zirin’s at his best, on familiar and fertile ground. Like so much of his work, it’s incisive, heartbreaking, important and even funny.”
—Jeremy Schaap, ESPN, author of New York Times bestseller Cinderella Man

“For years, FIFA and the Brazilian government have failed to understand the complexity of the Brazilian populace, that it’s possible both to love soccer and to be outraged over the organization of the World Cup at the expense of the people. Dave Zirin, one of our great chroniclers of sports and society, spent time on the ground in Brazil interviewing those most affected by the Brazilian World Cup and Olympics, and he comes away with the truth of it all: That the brutal expense of these Mega-events isn’t worth the investment of so much public money and historical memory. Everyone who watches the World Cup should read this book.”
—Grant Wahl, senior writer, Sports Illustrated

“A vision from abroad about our Brazil from inside. It’s a vision at once critical, smart, truthful, and free of prejudices, and not sparing any criticisms of his own country, the United States. Additionally it’s a generous vision that uplifts the great Brazilian people. Enthusiastically recommended!”
—Juca Kfouri, columnist, UOL Esporte

“Dave Zirin offers a great, fast-paced primer for those who want to get up to speed with what is happening on the ground in Brazil as it prepares for the World Cup and Olympics. Zirin brings the reader through years of history in order to contextualize the tumult on the streets during the 2013 Confederations’ Cup and offers perspective on what the world can expect during the World Cup and Olympics. Brazil’s Dance with the Devil gives insight into the linkages between corruption, massive public spending and the folly of mega-event planning in a country with huge wealth inequalities and major infrastructure challenges. Zirin has done his homework and fieldwork, consulting the classics and experts to bring together a fast-paced, focused read for an international audience.”
—Juliana Barbassa, Former Rio de Janeiro correspondent, Associated Press

“Dave Zirin fans, of which I count myself as one, will relish his new book, Brazil’s Dance with the Devil. With his unique sports-politics lens and artful story-telling, this book focuses on Rio’s upcoming World Cup and Olympics. Readers will never again allow their love of sports to blind them to the re-purposed political ends of big, international sporting events.
—Nancy Hogshead-Makar, civil rights attorney, senior director of advocacy Womens Sports Foundation, Olympic Gold medalist

“Dave Zirin does it again. In only the way he knows, he takes the political and makes it extremely personal and inserts us all into the heart of soccer in Brazil. You don’t have to have ever watched a soccer to be caught up in this epic story. Sports needs Dave Zirin more than it even knows. Although after this book he probably won’t be invited to carry The Olympic Torch anytime soon.”
—W. Kamau Bell, comedian

“Like everything Dave Zirin writes, this book is impassioned, deeply informed and very readable. It’s also a necessary book, because Brazil is a poorly understood country entering a crucial period. Zirin backs up his opinions with good, honest reporting. Brazil has a good friend in him.”
—Simon Kuper, author, Soccernomics

“Millions will enjoy the World Cup and Olympics, but Zirin justly reminds readers of the real human costs beyond the spectacle.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Brazil’s Dance With the Devil, is a powerful and haunting look at what’s happening behind the scenes (oft-tragically) in a nation hosting both the World Cup and the Olympics. It’s strong work.”
—Jeff Pearlman, author, Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty