This Week in Literary History: Happy Birthday Typewriter!
Playwright Arthur Miller took a stand against McCarthyism on June 21, 1956 by refusing to name off any communists before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Arthur Miller defines "bad-ass": defies the government, wins a Pulitzer prize for "Death of a Salesman" and marries Marilyn Monroe. Save some for the rest of us, please.
It was on June 23, 1868 that a newspaper publisher/part-time poet/politician patented what would become every writer's best friend (and sometimes worst enemy), the "Sholes & Glidden Type Writer". While it started out as nothing more than a little box type thing of which only 5,000 were sold in the 5 years it was in production, Christopher Sholes' typewriter was the beginning of a whole new way of writing. Who would have thought that 151 years later, Cormac McCarthy would sell his little Olivetti for $254,500 at auction? It's the new McCarthyism!
June 23rd is also the night that Papa Shakespeare set his play "A Midsummer Night's Dream". The name is a little bit deceiving considering the summer solstice began two days ago. But he's Shakespeare, he can get away with anything.
So it is now officially summertime. For us Phoenicians here at HFR, this means about another 3 months (if we're lucky) of 100+ degree days, so another 3 months of living like vampires, shades drawn, avoiding the daytime sun like it's a handful of garlic. On the upside, it also means a bunch of new lit journals arriving in the mail! The new Gettysburg Review just came in and inside there is a poem by Elizabeth Gold called "Wild Turkey" that is all about Christopher Sholes' sweet invention, the typewriter. Gold calls them "discarded messengers of the machine age" and her poem suggests that typewriters recognize their role within the new technological age, as "ghosts." "That's why / we seldom see them," she writes, "but we hear them, / sometimes, typing away at that life / sentence". Pick up a copy of The Gettysburg Review and check it out.