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Hannah Keyser
Hannah Keyser

Celebrate Bloomsday With a Look at Joyce's Handwritten Manuscript

Hannah Keyser
Hannah Keyser

Kathy Haas, Associate Curator of the Rosenbach Museum and Library, calls Bloomsday "the only international literary holiday." The celebration of James Joyce and his novel Ulysses makes a strong case for that distinction, but that doesn't mean there aren't pockets of particular enthusiasm on June 16: Dublin, of course, and—perhaps less obviously—Philadelphia.

The City of Brotherly Love's claim to the famous work resides in a classic brick townhouse on Delancey Street. There, the Rosenbach houses the art and book collections of Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach and his brother Philip. A highlight of the literary treasure trove is the only complete, hand-written manuscript of Ulysses. Well, nearly complete. The final sentence is missing—Joyce claimed to have lost it—and when it was found after his death it ended up at the University of Buffalo.

The manuscript began as Joyce's "fair copy." The author either couldn't or wouldn't type his work, and so his messy notebooks had to be rewritten by Joyce himself in (marginally) neater script to be sent to the typist. In 1917, Joyce began the project of transcribing his work, often using it as a chance to edit as he went. Two years later, John Quinn, an Irish-American collector of literary manuscripts, offered to buy the fair copy from Joyce to be auctioned off. The author sent what he had, but the novel itself was not yet finished. Over the next year, Joyce finished writing, but because the book was still in process, these later sections are much rougher, with scrawled edits and bearing less of a resemblance to the final product we know today.

This unique provenance makes it slightly tricky to categorize the artifact. "It’s a complicated story because each section of the manuscript has a different relationship to the final text," Haas says. "He did continue to make changes—for example, our manuscript is significantly shorter than the final novel."

Caveats aside, it's a rich piece of literary history. Researchers are invited to contact the Rosenbach's librarian for access to the manuscript and it has provided dozens of years of distinct exhibits tied to Bloomsday. This year, in conjunction with Shakespeare's 450th birthday, the exhibit examines the effect of the Bard's work on Ulysses. Even ignoring references or allusions, the novel quotes directly from over 30 plays—everything from Antony and Cleopatra to Twelfth Night. Visitors can see the original pages of the manuscript that include those quotes alongside 17th century folios of Shakespeare's plays.

The Bloomsday Festival runs until Wednesday this week, but the exhibit—along with a separate case comparing Ulysses to Dubliners, which turns 100 this year—will be up all summer. Oh, and each year the museum designs a new Bloomsday shirt, which are all pretty great.

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Arend Kuester, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Qatar National Library's Panorama-Style Bookshelves Offer Guests Stunning Views
Arend Kuester, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Arend Kuester, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The newly opened Qatar National Library in the capital city of Doha contains more than 1 million books, some of which date back to the 15th century. Co.Design reports that the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) designed the building so that the texts under its roof are the star attraction.

When guests walk into the library, they're given an eyeful of its collections. The shelves are arranged stadium-style, making it easy to appreciate the sheer number of volumes in the institution's inventory from any spot in the room. Not only is the design photogenic, it's also practical: The shelves, which were built from the same white marble as the floors, are integrated into the building's infrastructure, providing artificial lighting, ventilation, and a book-return system to visitors. The multi-leveled arrangement also gives guests more space to read, browse, and socialize.

"With Qatar National Library, we wanted to express the vitality of the book by creating a design that brings study, research, collaboration, and interaction within the collection itself," OMA writes on its website. "The library is conceived as a single room which houses both people and books."

While most books are on full display, OMA chose a different route for the institution's Heritage Library, which contains many rare, centuries-old texts on Arab-Islamic history. This collection is housed in a sunken space 20 feet below ground level, with beige stone features that stand out from the white marble used elsewhere. Guests need to use a separate entrance to access it, but they can look down at the collection from the ground floor above.

If Qatar is too far of a trip, there are plenty of libraries in the U.S. that are worth a visit. Check out these panoramas of the most stunning examples.

Qatar library.

Qatar library.

Qatar library.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images: Arend Kuester, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Reading Aloud to Your Kids Can Promote Good Behavior and Sharpen Their Attention
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Some benefits of reading aloud to children are easy to see. It allows parents to introduce kids to books that they're not quite ready to read on their own, thus improving their literacy skills. But a new study published in the journal Pediatrics shows that the simple act of reading to your kids can also influence their behavior in surprising ways.

As The New York Times reports, researchers looked at young children from 675 low-income families. Of that group, 225 families were enrolled in a parent-education program called the Video Interaction Project, or VIP, with the remaining families serving as the control.

Participants in VIP visited a pediatric clinic where they were videotaped playing and reading with their children, ranging in age from infants to toddlers, for about five minutes. Following the sessions, videos were played back for parents so they could see how their kids responded to the positive interactions.

They found that 3-year-olds taking part in the study had a much lower chance of being aggressive or hyperactive than children in the control group of the same age. The researchers wondered if these same effects would still be visible after the program ended, so they revisited the children 18 months later when the kids were approaching grade-school age. Sure enough, the study subjects showed fewer behavioral problems and better focus than their peers who didn't receive the same intervention.

Reading to kids isn't just a way to get them excited about books at a young age—it's also a positive form of social interaction, which is crucial at the early stages of social and emotional development. The study authors write, "Such programs [as VIP] can result in clinically important differences on long-term educational outcomes, given the central role of behavior for child learning."

Being read to is something that can benefit all kids, but for low-income parents working long hours and unable to afford childcare, finding the time for it is often a struggle. According to the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, only 34 percent of children under 5 in families below the poverty line were read to every day, compared with 60 percent of children from wealthier families. One way to narrow this divide is by teaching new parents about the benefits of reading to their children, possibly when they visit the pediatrician during the crucial first months of their child's life.

[h/t The New York Times]

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