One of the great mysteries in American literature is the title of Herman Melville's 1851 novel, Moby-Dick. Or is it Moby Dick? Should the title be hyphenated, or not?
The first American edition had a hyphen in the title. But confusingly, inside the book the whale was referred to as Moby Dick, without a hyphen — except for one single time, on page 609, when the name was hyphenated because it spanned two lines.
There have been many subsequent editions. Some of them have a hyphenated title. Some of them don't. It seems to be totally random. But because that first edition had a hyphen, scholars consider that to be the correct spelling. So the title of the book is Moby-Dick, but the name of the whale is Moby Dick.
But why the hyphen? There's a number of theories. Perhaps Melville just liked hyphenated titles. One of his earlier works, White-Jacket, was also mysteriously hyphenated.
Or perhaps the hyphen was a mistake. Supporters of this theory note that the title was changed at the last minute, from The Whale to Moby-Dick, and the title change was communicated to the printer by Melville's brother, Allan. So maybe Allan made a mistake, and it was never Herman's intention to hyphenate the title?
We'll never know. It'll always be one of those mysteries that literary scholars love to debate. (such as here, here, and here).
How To Hide Anything, by Michael Connor (Paladin Press, 1984). The entire book can be viewed or downloaded for free at archive.org.
With little effort and expense, you can hide cash, armaments and even family from the menacing eyes of burglars, terrorists or anyone. Learn how to construct dozens of hiding places right in your house and yard. Here are small hiding places for concealing money and jewelry and large places for securing survival supplies or persons. More than 100 drawings show how to turn ordinary items into extraordinary hiding places.
The notion of Koro, or supernatural penis theft, is practically a NOTW trademark. I'm pretty sure I first learned about this delusion from Chuck about thirty years ago.
Now we can learn even more, thanks to a new book which covers this exotic madness, plus many others.
From the publisher's site:
"The Geography of Madness is an investigation of 'culture-bound' syndromes, which are far stranger than they sound. Why is it, for example, that some men believe, against all reason, that vandals stole their penises, even though they’re in good physical shape? In The Geography of Madness, acclaimed magazine writer Frank Bures travels around the world to trace culture-bound syndromes to their sources–and in the process, tells a remarkable story about the strange things all of us believe."
"Around the year 1910, a patient at State Lunatic Asylum No. 3 in Nevada, Missouri, who referred to himself as The Electric Pencil, executed 280 drawings in ink, pencil, crayon and colored pencil. These beautiful drawings of animals, people and buildings were executed on both sides of 140 ledger pages, each bearing the name of the hospital in official type across the top, thus dramatizing the interface of the institutional and the creative. The Electric Pencil's drawings were sewn into a handmade album of fabric and leather, which shortly afterwards was lost--for a century."
Buy one book on Amazon .. get Emails to buy others. Found this in my inbox while drinking my coffee.
For anyone wanting a list here is what he has written I've purchased.
Shuteye for the Timebroker
The Emperor of Gondwanaland and Other Stories
Joe's Liver *Paul is looking for a donor liver?*
The Steampunk Trilogy
A Princess of The Linear Jungle
Seeing is Believing
The Paul Di Filippo Megapack
Andres Ruzo grew up with the story of the boiling river as told to him by his grandfather. Later, as a geoscientist, he decided to try and validate the legend. The Boiling River: Adventure and Discovery in the Amazon is the story of how, as a man, he proved the legend that captivated him as a boy.
Composition No. 1 by Marc Saporta was the first-ever do-it-yourself or interactive novel. It was published in French in 1962, and an English translation followed a year later. The novel came in a box, as a set of looseleaf pages. Readers were instructed to "shuffle them like a deck of cards" before reading, so that chance would decide the order of events in the narrative.
image source: Newsweek - Oct 28, 1963
In 2011, Visual Editions came out with an elegantly boxed new edition of the work (available on Amazon). As well as an iPad version of it that automatically shuffles the pages.
The story is a flimsy wisp of a thing, really no more than a jumble of fragments. The setting is Paris during the German occupation. The central character is little glimpsed and never named. He has a mistress called Dagmar, a depressed wife (I think) called Marianne, and a young German au pair whom he rapes during the course of the novel, before being injured in a serious car accident.
Coe noted that the British Library had two copies of the original novel, "both, I'm sorry to say, diligently bound by over-zealous librarians (though at least each copy has the pages bound in a different order)."
This new book by Edward Brooke-Hitching looks like a good read (Amazon link), and potentially of interest to WU readers. From the publisher's blurb:
Have you ever wondered what people did for fun throughout history? Edward Brooke-Hitching began to wonder the same thing while flipping through an eighteenth-century German book on hunting, and found a bygone sport in which German nobles launched foxes into the air. This random discovery of a game that slipped through the mainstream historical cracks led him to wonder: how many other sports have been left out of modern history accounts?
It looks like it was released first in the UK with the title Fox Tossing, Octopus Wrestling, and Other Forgotten Sports. But for the US release, the publisher dropped the "Octopus Wrestling" from the title. Why? I think the longer title is better. Perhaps they thought the idea of octopus wrestling was too weird for us Americans. Or perhaps they figured that Americans don't read much, so we need a shorter title.
Books Selected and endorsed for Pure Weirdness by Your WU Team
Who We Are
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.