May 17, 2007KR BlogUncategorized

Take Two

Looking through the literary keyhole. Scotland’s Sunday Herald recently featured three short essays on the homes of writers from different perspectives. Journalist Alan Taylor recounts a visit to poet Norman MacCaig‘s home in Edinburgh, John Updike‘s seaside home in Beverly Springs, Mass., and novelist Dame Muriel Spark‘s 14th-century rectory in Tuscany. Rob Fletcher writes about his grandparents’ “remote Hebridean cottage” where Eric Blair, aka George Orwell, ill and desiring privacy, lived and wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four. Barnhill, still owned by Fletcher’s family, is a five-mile trek on foot from civilization, but somehow, says Fletcher, “not infrequently, intrusive Orwellites are discovered, unbidden, wandering around inside the house.” Finally, author Ajay Close describes her stay in the home of Perth poet William Soutar, who spent 13 years in bed suffering from ankylosing spondylitis before dying at the age of 45 in 1943. “Even now, separated from him by 64 years, I find him an uneasy house-mate,” writes Close.

Never judge a book by its cover? Nyet. Check out these avant-garde Russian covers in the New York Public Library’s Digital Gallery. From a scrap book of Russian bookjackets, the display spans 1917-1942 with hundreds of images. (Tip o’ the hat to JP for the lead.)