Monday, May 19, 2014


As summertime leisure and vacations loom before us what a better time to think of fine literature than now when book reading is on a high, at least that is the opinion of Common Sense Media. To wit, The Morgan Library and  Museum celebrates modern American literature with an exhibition of masterworks from the world's greatest private collection. Only in New York my friends, the Best of New York. Here's the scoop!!!

GATSBY TO GARP: Modern Masterpieces from the Carter Burden Collection opens tomorrow through September 7, 2014. Who was Burden? Right you are to ask. Carter Burden, was a former trustee of the Morgan Library and Museum and onetime New York City Councilman, but he was also a singular collector, a man destined to assemble the greatest collection of modern American literature. He paid record prices for copies in the best possible condition and with notable attributes such as authors' annotations and presentation inscriptions.Famed writers included in the show range from Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and Hemingway to Jack Kerouac, Toni Morrison, and John Irving, John Steinbeck to name a few.
  Beginning in 1997, after Burden's death the previous year, his family made a gift to the Morgan of twelve thousand volumes from his collection which includes first editions, manuscripts, and revised galley proofs. Authors featured in this unparalleled exhibition are some of the country's most celebrated authors who wrote about America with uncanny realism that records even moments of historical significance.
   Gatsby to Garp examines the vibrant American literary landscape of the twentieth century, a period that encompassed a remarkable explosion of creativity, and  explores such topics as language and style, geography and setting, literary identity and relationships among writers. The exhibition offers particular emphasis on the concept of 'firsts'---as it pertains to book production and format and to literary movements and experimentation. It also includes a number of authors' photographs.
   THE ROARING TWENTIES: "You are all a lost generation." - Gertrude Stein. the Roaring Twenties also saw the birth of modern book design. It was not until the second decade of the twentieth century that their design became bold and colorful. Francis Cugat's bold Art Deco jacket design for the Great Gatsby is one of the most iconic in twentieth century American Literature. The jacket's most prominent feature, the staring melancholic eyes of a woman influenced Fitzgerald's narrative. After reviewing an early draft of the design, while still in the midst of composition, Fitzgerald told his publisher that he had "written it into" the novel Dust jackets which are by their nature most often discarded, or easily torn or lost, were originally intended to protect a book's binding, and those that survive are highly valued by collectors.
   My Ansonia, while John Steinbeck and James Agee documented the realities of the Depression-era rural South and West. This group of writers who carved out varied landscapes and the social realities of the United States also included Daschell Hammett and Raymond Chandler who evoked the gritty underworld of urban California.
WILLIAM FAULKNER: "I discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust opened up a gold mine of other people, so I created a cosmos of my own.": - William Faulkner delved into the very core of The space in which an author composes, the setting in character reveal themselves, the places that writing explores are all bound up in literary expression. Faulkner was one of those visionaries as were others. Willa Cather left Nebraska decades before penning her lyrical descriptions of the prairie in My Ansonia while other authors penned locality as their own.
   LANGSTON HUGHES: "I, too, sing America." Langston Hughes was among the Renaissance writers who consistently viewed race, identity, and the African American experience in ways that broke from earlier forms and gave expression to a new sense of cultural identity. Renaissance writers were also concerned with representations of authentic experience and voice. They were also writing concurrently with the Lost Generation. The movement was identified as such in Alain Locke's 1925, anthology The New Negro and was one of the first books of the Harlem Renaissance and a cornerstone of the movement. It was a magical era Harlem was in vogue, the jazz clubs on 125th Street and Lenox Avenue hummed in the sound of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, and a younger generation of writers was coalescing as the first black literary movement in America's History.
   This rich and remarkable exhibition is at the Morgan, 225 Madison Ave. (36th Street)
   Ta Ta Darlings!!! As an author and columnist PollyTalk advises that you visit the Morgan more than once to get an eagle view of this literary exhibition. It's a rare opportunity to see original work by America's famed authors.  Fan mail welcome at pollytalk@verizon. Visit Polly's website: www.pollytalk and in the left hand column click on Polly's other Blogs on fashion , visionary men, hidden treasures in New York and poetry..


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