Today in literature and publishing: Oscar Wilde's Tomb has had its last kiss, the British lose an undiscovered Charlotte Bronte manuscript to the French, and picking the year's most overrated books.
It's been three weeks since a seven-foot tall glass wall was put up to protect Oscar Wilde's tomb from the kisses of visitors to the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and people are grudgingly beginning to admit that the wall isn't an affront to everything the writer and his work stand for. Sheila Pratschke, the director of the Irish Cultural Institute in Paris, which arranged to have Wilde's tomb restored, tells The New York Times: “We’re not happy, of course, with the partition, with the glass screen. But it’s more aesthetically pleasing than I expected." A stronger endorsement came from Marc Overton, a Californian who "first visited the grave in 1966 and had been returning almost every year since." He's thrilled that there are "no more disgusting lip marks" on the tomb. Though the kissers haven't given up. The day The Times visited, "the glass was already spotted with kisses, and flowers and notes were strewn at the tomb’s foot and inside." [The New York Times]
A "previously untraced and unpublished" Charlotte Bronte manuscript was sold at auction at Sotheby's in London yesterday. Much to the dismay of the British, The Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits in Paris had the winning bid of £690,850. The manuscript was expected to fetch a price somewhere between £200,000 and £300,000 and the Bronte Society had raised "more than £650,000 to keep the find in Britain." Nobody's taking the loss well. Andrew McCarthy, the director of the Bronte Patronage Museum said the 4000 word miniature manuscript, which The Daily Mail suggests is a precursor to the scene in Jane Eyre where Mr. Rochester's crazy first wife escapes from the attic, "belongs in Haworth and we are bitterly disappointed that scholars and members of the public may now not have the opportunity to study and enjoy it as part of our public collection." Bonnie Greer, president of the Bronte Society, bemoaned the fact that the tiny book, which Bronte wrote when she was 14, "would not be going home." We would never endorse lawlessness on the international stage, but Stealing Charlotte would be a great title for one of those gritty British heist movies. [The Independent]
The New York Daily News' new book blog has moved on from Truman Capote beefcake shots to selecting the five most overrated books of 2011. Lists of overrated and underrated things are silly, subjective, and frequently designed just to offend and enrage. But they're also fun to read. With that in mind, the five titles that just didn't do it for the Daily News were:
- That Is All by John Hodgman
- You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik
- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
- That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum
- The Submissions by Amy Waldman
Amazon, which has been dinged in the past for a lack of specifics when it comes to Kindle sales, issued a press release announcing that it has been selling "well over" one million Kindles a week during the holiday shopping season. Reuters notes that the figures cited by Amazon "include the Kindle Fire tablet and all the versions of the Kindle e-reader" and that no numbers were given for the Fire sales alone. [Reuters]
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.