Posts Tagged: history
In 1863, chemist Angelo Mariani created Vin Mariani, a combination of Bordeaux wine and coca leaves (you know, where cocaine comes from). As you can imagine, it was an instant hit. Advertisements promised to “restore health and vitality,” cure malaria, and be “especially adapted to children.” Many believed in the medicinal properties of alcohol at the time, and incorporating the newly-discovered cocaine seemed almost too good to be true.
The Public Domain Review takes a trip through the world of imaginary musical instruments, including sound houses, steam-powered bands, and the infamous cat piano....more
The Codex Gigas…contains the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, as well as an assortment of other texts that tackle everything from practical instructions for exorcisms to seventh-century grammar tips written by Isidore, the scholar-turned saint of Seville.
Atlas Obscura examines the Codex Gigas, a strange tome weighing in at 165 pounds and better known as “the Devil’s Bible.”...more
Jessica B. Harris writes about her collection of historic postcards and the unique slice-of-life perspective offered by the 19th century postcard form. Harris has cultivated her postcard collection for decades with a focus on “depicting Africans in their homeland and in the diaspora with food: fishing, farming, vending, serving, and consuming.” This essay appears in the Spring 2015 issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review....more
Given the current debate within SF about politics in genre and whether it is desirable, [Sylvia] Townsend Warner is a peculiarly apposite subject. A lesbian, a feminist, and an active member of the British Communist Party, her work from the beginning was intimately tied up with her beliefs and values.
In the seventeenth century, country folk believed that the badger had legs on one side shorter than the other – the consensus was that the short legs were on the left.
The Public Domain Review looks at Pseudodoxia Epidemica, a bestiary written by author and physician Sir Thomas Browne that sought to dispel myths about unicorns, Noah’s Ark, and badgers....more
Part of [Gandhi’s] genius was he was able to broaden out the appeal of the independence movement…But the way he did it was by using Hindu iconography and stories, mythology…He was personally very unprejudiced about this..But for Muslims, ordinary Muslims, who would see this and listen to these speeches and so forth, he seemed like a Hindu figure more than a national figure.
In Those Who Write for Immortality, [Heather] Jackson includes a checklist of factors relevant to literary survival. Did the writer have family and friends to ensure that her work stayed in print? When was her biography written, and by whom?
Lumberjacks of yesteryear cut trees from remote camps before shipping the lumber to sawmills. One mill owner built his lumberjacks a rolling boxcar library so the workers could enjoy books even while in distant logging camps. The Bonner mill library car was built in 1921 and functioned as a library through the 1950s, during which time more than 8,000 books were checked out....more
Tea has a myriad of shapes. If I may speak vulgarly and rashly, tea may shrink and crinkle like a Mongol’s boots. Or it may look like the dewlap of a wild ox, some sharp, some curling as the eaves of a house.
On the bicentennial of the Battle of Waterloo, Andrew Roberts argues that we’d all be better off with a little more Napoleon:
A vast amount of literature has explored why Napoleon fought such an unimaginative, error-prone battle at Waterloo. Hundreds of thousands of historians have pored over the questions of why he attacked when, where and how he attacked.
Sudden sounds, such as the report of a musket or a cannon, were well known to kill scorbutic sailors. Even pleasant stimuli such as a drink of fresh water, or a long-awaited taste of fruit, could provoke a seizure and put an end to their lives.
I very much desire to make your acquaintance. If agreeable please return this card, appointing a time and place for interview, on the other side.
Before Tinder or texting, people flirted the old-fashioned way: with escort cards. Messy Nessy Chic looks at the tools of some 19th century pick-up artists....more
I feel like if you look at the history of Cuba, it’s always been a tumultuous one, even going back to Columbus, right? It always seems to have been a place that is sort of struggling to gain its footing in the world.
For the image to work…the viewer must not see the image for what it is – a black square. The viewer must understand the square as formlessness, and the black inside as neither a fullness nor an emptiness. This simple little image requires a lot of work on the part of the viewer…For a synthetic, systematic thinker like Fludd, this must have been a difficult move.
How many different words are there for “intoxicated”? Quite a lot, as it turns out—writers have been inventing new words to describe inebriation for just about as long as they’ve been drinking. A new book exploring the history of synonyms of wasted reveals the origins of some five hundred years of poggled language....more
Salon has published an excerpt from Edward E. Baptist’s new book about the relationship between slavery and the development of capitalism in America. In it, he identifies the ways in which the American master narrative has written slavery out of our nation’s history and denied the system of mass murder and suffering on whose back the land of the free was conceived:
It would have to avoid the old platitudes, such as the easy temptation to tell the story as a collection of topics—here a chapter on slave resistance, there one on women and slavery, and so on.