Dog-Eared and Dispatched: February 21, 2016
This week we mourn two literary greats, both of whom passed on Friday, February 19: Harper Lee, age 89, and Umberto Eco, age 84. In slightly uplifting news, book clubs are purported to help retired senior citizens live longer by providing them regular social activity—ready? Set? Read!
Harper Lee has died at the age of 89. Best known as the author of the beloved To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee was an intensely private woman and requested that her funeral be a friends-and-family-only affair. “This is a sad day for our family. America and the world knew Harper Lee as one of the last century’s most beloved authors,” said Hank Conner, Lee’s nephew, in a statement released the morning of February 19. “We knew her as Nelle Harper Lee, a loving member of our family, a devoted friend to the many good people who touched her life, and a generous soul in our community and our state. We will miss her dearly.” His statement also said that “Ms. Lee passed away in her sleep early this morning. Her passing was unexpected. She remained in good basic health until her passing.” Michael Morrison, president and publisher of HarperCollins U.S., publisher of Mockingbird and Lee’s other novel Go Set a Watchman, said, “The world knows Harper Lee was a brilliant writer but what many don’t know is that she was an extraordinary woman of great joyfulness, humility and kindness. She lived her life the way she wanted to—in private—surrounded by books and the people who loved her.” [New York Times, AL.com, Publishers Weekly]
Umberto Eco was an Italian scholar in the field of semiotics, perhaps best known for writing the internationally best-selling medieval mystery The Name of the Rose, who passed away on February 19 at the age of 84. He considered himself first and foremost a philosopher, saying, “I am a philosopher…I write novels only on the weekends,” although sometimes this quote is written as, “I think of myself as a serious professor who, during the weekend, writes novels,” indicating he enjoyed both disciplines at which he excelled. [New York Times, NPR]
- The Russian Institute of Health and Hygiene is policing children’s books for sex, drugs, and italics.
- Are men or women more likely to finish a book—or rather, an ebook—once they start reading it?
- The New York Public Library is opening a new multimedia exhibit at Lincoln Center in honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
- London’s Feminist Library will be evicted on March 1st, the first day of Women’s History Month.
- The New Yorker has written a profile of New Directions Press, a small and experimental publishing house, focusing especially on how staying small has contributed to their success.
- Book clubs can help you live longer—if you’re a retired senior citizen, that is.