G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Monday, October 05, 2009

How Google books can save me from becoming Bibliokleptomania

Daniel Soar:

It’s clearly wrong for all the information in all the world’s books to be in the sole possession of a single company. It’s clearly not ideal that only one company in the world can, with increasing accuracy, translate text between 506 different pairs of languages. On the other hand, if Google doesn’t do these things, who will?

(London Review of Books, 6 October 2011)

I have a confession to make. I have stolen atleast one book from a library in Mumbai where my cousin worked in early 1990's.

The book is 'Ravindranath: Teen Vyakhyane' by P L Deshpande 1980 ('रवींद्रनाथ: तीन व्याख्याने', पु. ल. देशपांडे).


I was in love with the book, it was out-of-print and I thought, like most Marathi books, it would never get reprinted.

(It since has. A few times. But the fear was valid. It took 'ages' for Rutu Chakra ऋतुचक्र by Durga Bhagwat दुर्गा भागवत (1956) to get reprinted. I often pestered the publisher- Popular Prakashan- about it.)

Courtesy Dennis Drabelle, I came to know that "bibliokleptomania is a term for the bad habit of stealing books not for profit but because you love them, take pride in them, must have them". (The Washington Post, September 27, 2009)

On September 7 2009, it was reported:

"...Google today defended its plan to scan and publish millions of books online, telling a European Commission hearing it made access to information on the Web more democratic...

Dan Clancy, architect of the Google program, defended the project on Monday, saying it stemmed in part from the group's ambition to allow Web surfers to find out-of-print books...

..."You can discover information which you did not know was there," Google's engineering director said. "It is important that these (out-of-print) books are not left behind. Google's interest was in helping people to find the books."

An author at the hearing also spoke in favor of Google.

"The settlement mostly only affects out-of-print books," said James Gleick, one of a number of writers who sued Google and later settled the action to let it scan old books and print them online.

"For us who are authors of out-of-print books, it brings our work to a whole new audience."..."


So many dead Marathi authors would be brought to life if Google publishes their out-of-print books.

Majority of Marathi books published are not easily accessible to a commoner like me because they are out of print and most libraries that perhaps stock them are dying.

Just a couple of illustration.

V K Rajwade, Riyasatkar Sardesai and Vasudevshastri Khare were three great historians. They wrote for a lay reader as much as scholars, almost only in Marathi. Once they were middle-class household names. Their work was hotly debated.

(btw- Recently historian Prof. Dipesh Chakrabarty wrote to me: "...But I think the American situation influences us...in the US professional historians usually write only to be read by one another and a clear distinction exists between "popular" and "academic" histories...")

Today, other than a few of Rajwade's books, all the books they wrote are out-of-print.

One of the most important book from 20th century Maharashtra, "Sudamyache Pohe Arthat Sahitya-Battishee" by Shripad Krishna Kolhatkar ('सुदाम्याचे पोहे अर्थात साहित्य-बत्तिशी' श्रीपाद कृष्ण कोल्हटकर), first published in 1902(?), is not available in an unabridged form today.

I can give a hundred such examples.

I like Google's objective: You can discover information which you did not know was there.

If Google doesn’t do these things, who will?

‘An excellent weekend, thank you. We went to a literary festival. I burned many books.’

Spectator, September 2009