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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Candlelight


Michigan Mike went skiing. He says "Gotta do something to keep form going crazy in the winter here."
Which made me think: When did Edison invent the electric light? A hundred years ago? People have been living in Northern Europe for how many thousands of years? What did people do in the winter before there were electric lights?
California Bob chips in: "Well, they had oil lamps and lanterns for quite a while, and candles for ... hundreds?  thousands? of years before that."
Michigan Mike replies: "And there were far fewer people living in the northern climes, probably because they killed each other to take their candles."

Then we have this paragraph from jonljensen:

I recall the introduction to Herman Melville's final published work Clarel. If you haven't heard of Clarel you are not alone. It was last book that Melville published in his lifetime, years after Moby Dick was largely ignored. Melville must have wanted to be ignored to an even greater extent, for Clarel is a verse novel. Over 18,000 lines long, it bares the dubious distinction of being the longest poem in American Literature. Anyway, Hershel Parker in his introduction to the modern edition argues that Melville’s massive work was overlooked in part because of gaslight. Before it, most living rooms might have one lamp per room and thus one reader, reading out loud to a family cloaked in darkness. This made the reading of long poems, Parker reasons, far more popular, prior to gaslight and doomed Clarel. Melville wrote his poem meant for a family circle of reading, the introduction reasoned, but by the time it was published, gaslight lit up whole rooms. Each person might read their own book, cloaked now in their own silence. 

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