paper trail

The origins of Mark Twain, Hollywood's Nazi ties

The Collaboration, Ben Urwand's new book about Hollywood’s "pact with Hitler," was published last month and has already, unsurprisingly, stirred up all kinds of controversy. In a review of Urwand’s book,The New Yorker's David Denby wondered why Harvard University Press had chosen to publish the book, citing what he deemed its many “omissions and blunders.” Denby also urged Harvard UP to “acknowledge these problems and correct them in a revised edition that is better informed, if less sensational.” In response to the review, Harvard UP issued a statement supporting Urwand’s work, and directing critics to “nearly 60 pages of notes and documentation [that] enable readers to judge for themselves the strength and validity of his presentation.”

At The New Republic, Geoff Dyer writes about one of Franco Pagetti’s photograph from a series of war photos taken in Syria.

In the new issue of the Mark Twain Journal, a rare-book dealer argues that Samuel Clemens’s came up with his pseudonym, Mark Twain, after seeing the name “in a popular humor journal.” Twain liked to say that he borrowed the name from a Mississippi riverboat captain, but new evidence suggests that he adopted the name, “then invented the riverboat story to promote his Missouri roots.”

Fun fact, courtesy of Casey N. Cep at the Paris Review: The inspiration for Dr. Seuss’s classic children’s book Green Eggs and Ham was a bet between Seuss and Random House editor Bennett Cerf that Seuss couldn’t write a book with only fifty words in it. Seuss won that bet. Of the 681 words in Green Eggs, the majority of them are repetitions.

If the government does shut down this week, the Library of Congress will go with it. The library announced the news in a statement posted on their website: “In the event of a temporary shutdown of the federal government, beginning Tuesday, Oct. 1, all Library of Congress buildings will close to the public and researchers. All public events will be cancelled and web sites will be inaccessible.”