“Come with me,” Mom says. “To the library. Books and summertime go together.”
-Lisa Schroeder, I Heart You, You Haunt Me
The books “Marco Polo” and “The Travels of Baron Munchausen” on display with a globe from the Young Adult department, in the Wilson Room.
June brings the official start of summer (June 21st, to be exact), and summer (for some) is the perfect time to travel, if not around the world, maybe just around your city. In this day and age, it’s easy to get up and go. I can’t quite say the same for some of the characters chosen in this month’s post — some exist before cars had even been invented! Either way, if you’re travelling or enjoying a staycation indoors, this month’s books will take you on a journey.
The Odyssey and The Iliad
Published by LEC: 1931
The Odyssey is the second oldest existing work in Western literature, with The Iliad being the first. The Iliad discusses the fall of Troy; covering only a few weeks in the final year of the Trojan War. The Odyssey’s story then follows Odysseus (or Ulysses, depending on your version) and his journey home to Ithaca. Throughout the course of the epic poem, Odysseus encounters various obstacles that elongate his journey home, and leave his wife and son to fend for themselves.
The Wilson Collection’s copies of the Odyssey and the Iliad are both numbered 118, and come bound in cloth with gold script along the spine. Additionally, both are translated from their traditional ancient Greek into English by Alexander Pope.
Introduction to the Iliad
Title Page for The Odyssey
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Published by LEC: 1941
Originally published in 1883, Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale of pirates and buried gold was originally serialized in Young Folks Magazine, with Stevenson adopting the pseudonym Captain George North. The story is broken into six parts, following a young Jim Hawkins as he eagerly assists, navigating the sea for buried treasures. The book itself has many spin-offs and over 50 different movie and TV adaptations.
Our copy of Treasure Island contains watercolors by Edward A. Wilson, including a frontpiece lithograph of Captain Long John Silvers. The art is dynamic and fluid, matching the story closely in sense of expression. The comedy that a story about adventure at sea was done with watercolors is not lost on me.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Author: Mark Twain
Published by LEC: 1942
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was originally published in 1884, and banned (for the first time) only one month after its publication due to its “coarse” language and its depictions of racism. Readers follow the story of Huckleberry Finn, son of the town drunk and best friend to Tom Sawyer as he goes about town.
While the Wilson collection houses two editions of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, my favorite of the two is the one Thomas Hart Benton illustrated with line and wash drawings, giving Huck a particularly mischevious look as he navigates Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, and Kentucky. The line and wash style gives the characters a sort of looseness that goes well with the story; the tones in the illustrations muted and casual.
The Seven Voyages of Sinbad
Published by LEC: 1949
A story my mother read to me as a child, and one that I continue to love well into my twenties. The story follows Sinbad the sailor as he travels the globe, fighting glorious creatures and meeting varying villains. My favorite encounter of his would have to be with the multiple supernatural creatures, one of which being a Cyclops. His battle with the Cyclops in both written and film adaptations is lively and riveting, sure to captivate any audience in question.
The Seven Voyages of Sinbad has several film and TV adaptations, including last year’s brief TV run on Syfy. Sinbad originally appeared in the Thousand and One Nights story collection as a late edition–in fact, the first known point at which they appear in the Thousand Nights is a Turkish collection dated 1637.
What makes Sinbad as a character so limitless are his acts of bravery, ambition and skill, as well as his ability to think his way out of any situation.
With the illustrations featured by Edward A. Wilson (same illustrator for Treasure Island), the book is allowed to come to life with mystic drawings, rich with color and variety, featuring many of the magical beasts described in the story.
~ Sabrina Nicole, Wilson Collection Intern
As always, if you are interested in viewing these books or any others individually, you can make an appointment by calling either (615) 880-2356 or (615) 880-2363, or simply respond to this blog post.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for an even more special Off-the-Shelf post next month!