The Cemetery of Forgotten Books
Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.

The only way you can truly get to know an author is through the trail of ink he leaves behind him. The person you think you see is only an empty character: truth is always hidden in fiction.


Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two

"Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager."
Susan Sontag (via misswallflower)
"Writing a book is easy. Writing a *good* book is hard. It’s like shitting out a typewriter one painful, jagged mechanical part at a time." (via terribleminds)
"And what is a novel if not a conviction of our fellow-men’s existence strong enough to take upon itself a form of imagined life clearer than reality and whose accumulated verisimilitude of selected episodes puts to shame the pride of documentary history?"
Joseph Conrad
"In a week or so, I go to New York, to bury myself in a third-story room, and work and slave on my “whale” while it is driving through the press. That is the only way I can finish it now, -I am so pulled hither and thither by circumstances. The calm, the coolness, the silent grass-growing mood in which a man ought always to compose, -that, I fear, can seldom be mine. Dollars damn me; and the malicious devil is forever grinning in upon me, -I shall at last be worn out and perish, like an old nutmeg-grater, grated to pieces by the constant attrition of the wood, that is, the nutmeg. What I feel most moved to write, that is banned, -it will not pay. So the product is a final hash, and all my books are botches"
Herman Melville
"You are right in demanding that an artist should take a conscious attitude to his work, but you confuse two conceptions: the solution of a question and the correct setting of a question. The latter alone is obligatory for the artist. In ‘Anna Karenina’ and in ‘Onyeguin’ not a single problem is solved, but they satisfy completely because all the problems are set correctly. It is for the judge to put the questions correctly; and the jurymen must decide, each one according to his taste."
Anton Checkov
"The business of the poet and novelist is to show the sorriness underlying the grandest things, and the grandeur underlying the sorriest things."
Thomas Hardy


Walt Whitman faced multiple publishing dilemmas throughout his career, but when he began working James R. Osgood & Co. in Boston things seemed to be turning around.  Whitman was able to work with Osgood and design Leaves of Grass to look how he wanted: “a (plain) specimen in type, paper, ink, binding, &c. as bookmaking can produce—not for luxury however, but solid wear, use, reading, (to carry in the pocket, valise &c)—a book of about 400 pages to sell at $3” (Folsom 48).  Not long after the volume was published in 1881, the New England Society for the Suppression of Vice complained to the Massachusetts Attorney-General and called for Osgood to suppress Leaves and for Whitman to remove certain “obscene” poems (50).  Whitman did not comply and Osgood gave Whitman the plates and 225 sets of unbound sheets (51).  These plates are especially important because “All issues of Leaves after this are printed from the Osgood plates” (49).  Unsuccessful publishing ventures in England soon followed.  Whitman was able to find a new publishing house, Rees Welsh & Co. in Philadelphia which was soon taken over by David McKay.  McKay and Whitman issued another edition in 1882 under Rees Welsh & Co. and later under David McKay beginning in 1884. 

McKay’s later edition imitates the 1881 Osgood edition closely.  Side by side, you can see that the two publishers made use of the same emblems and olive-yellow book cloth.  The 1881 edition is slightly smaller—perhaps this is a result of Whitman’s desire to have the book fit well in a pocket. 

-Jillian P.

PS3201 1881 and PS3201 1884b

Folsom, Ed.  Walt Whitman: Whitman Making Books, Books Making Whitman, a Catalog and Commentary.  The University of Iowa, 2005.

"Seeing someone read a book you love is seeing a book recommend a person."
Reddit user coolstoryreddit  (via perfect)