Milton’s Copy of Shakespeare, “Bartleby” Today, and the Future of a Crazy Horse Monument
Let’s kick things off this morning with a couple of items from the Milton desk. First, and this is big, scholars believe they have found John Milton’s annotated copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio: “The astonishing find, which academics say could be one of the most important literary discoveries of modern times, was made by Cambridge University fellow Jason Scott-Warren when he was reading an article about the anonymous annotator by Pennsylvania State University English professor Claire Bourne. Bourne’s study of this copy, which has been housed in the Free Library of Philadelphia since 1944, dated the annotator to the mid-17th century, finding them alive to ‘the sense, accuracy, and interpretative possibility of the dialogue’. She also provided many images of the handwritten notes, which struck Scott-Warren as looking oddly similar to Milton’s hand.” Also, a student at Tufts has identified what she thinks is an acrostic section of Paradise Lost. In Book 9, “at a point when Eve is arguing with Adam – the lines read FFAALL (‘fall’ twice) from top to bottom, with another FALL spelled out from the bottom of the passage upwards.” Was this intentional on Milton’s part? Maybe. Maybe not.
Why do we need Herman Melville’s “Bartleby” today? Colin Fleming: “We talk now about ‘living your best life,’ a silly notion that usually means, ‘do as you please, because the world will make allowances for you.’ In Melville’s time, there was something called prudence. In fact, this was the era of ‘new prudence,’ which was an over-extension of humane treatments to the point that they became patronizing, and people conflated being patronized with respect.”
Talk to your friends on the phone again, Amanda Mull says, instead of texting them, and I agree, unless you’re the lady sitting across from me in Amtrak’s quiet car chatting away with a husband or boyfriend. She should definitely hang up.
The Far Sidereturns . . . online: “A new era of The Far Side, the newspaper strip by Gary Larson, is coming. Fans noticed over the weekend that the strip’s official website had been updated with a new cartoon and a message: ‘Uncommon, unreal, and (soon-to-be) unfrozen. A new online era of The Far Side is coming!’”
Fraser Nelson talks about his 10 years at the helm of Spectator and what’s next for the magazine: “‘Roughly speaking we’re at 80,000’, Nelson announces. ‘There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors that the industry uses but the figure I’ve given you is a clean figure… print plus digital.’ He has the air of a man who can’t quite believe his luck. ‘It does feel incredibly strange’, he says, looking about his office, sitting in the chair from which he conducts editorial conferences, one foot propped up on the PM’s old green Chesterfield. ‘I sometimes feel as if I’m going to wake up…’ The rest of the country is pretty equally startled. Overnight, denizens of the Spectator have seized power.”
Essay of the Day:
In 1947, Korczak Ziolkowski began acquiring land in the Black Hills to build a monument—the world’s largest—of Crazy Horse. It is still unfinished and some wonder if it should have been started in the first place:
“There are many Lakota who praise the memorial. Charles (Bamm) Brewer, who organizes an annual tribute to Crazy Horse on the Pine Ridge Reservation, joked that his only problem with the carving is that ‘they didn’t make it big enough—he was a bigger man than that to our people!’ I spoke with one Oglala who had named her son for Korczak, and others who had scattered family members’ ashes atop the carving. Some are grateful that the face offers an unmissable reminder of the frequently ignored Native history of the hills, and a counterpoint to the four white faces on Mt. Rushmore. ‘It’s the one large carving that they can’t tear down,’ Amber Two Bulls, a twenty-six-year-old Lakota woman, told me.
“But others argue that a mountain-size sculpture is a singularly ill-chosen tribute. When Crazy Horse was alive, he was known for his humility, which is considered a key virtue in Lakota culture. He never dressed elaborately or allowed his picture to be taken. (He is said to have responded, ‘Would you steal my shadow, too?’) Before he died, he asked his family to bury him in an unmarked grave.
“There’s also the problem of the location. The Black Hills are known, in the Lakota language, as He Sapa or Paha Sapa—names that are sometimes translated as ‘the heart of everything that is.’ A ninety-nine-year-old elder in the Sicongu Rosebud Sioux Tribe named Marie Brush Breaker-Randall told me that the mountains are ‘the foundation of the Lakota Nation.’ In Lakota stories, people lived beneath them while the world was created. Nick Tilsen, an Oglala who runs an activism collective in Rapid City, told me that Crazy Horse was ‘a man who fought his entire life’ to protect the Black Hills. ‘To literally blow up a mountain on these sacred lands feels like a massive insult to what he actually stood for,’ he said. In 2001, the Lakota activist Russell Means likened the project to ‘carving up the mountain of Zion.’ Charmaine White Face, a spokesperson for the Sioux Nation Treaty Council, called the memorial a disgrace. ‘Many, many of us, especially those of us who are more traditional, totally abhor it,’ she told me. ‘It’s a sacrilege. It’s wrong.’”
Receive Prufrock in your inbox every weekday morning. Subscribe here.