The Polish translation of the ancient Roman joke book Philogelos. I offer this as evidence that Poland must be counted as one of those nations that could preserve civilization single-handed if need be.
Some days afterwards the second mate sent for me to his cabin. He had been on the sick list, and he was lying in his bunk, stripped to the waist, one arm and one leg touching the floor. He raised himself slowly when I came in, and spat. He had in a pronounced degree the Nova Scotian peculiarities and accent, and after he had shaved, his face shone like polished leather.
"Hallo!' he said. "See heeyur, young Kemp, does your neck just itch to be stretched?"
I looked at him with mouth and eyes agape.
He spat again, and waved a claw towards the forward bulkhead.
"They'll do it for yeh," he said. "You're such a green goose, it makes me sick a bit. You hevn't reckoned out the chances, not quite. It's a kind of dead reckoning yeh hevn't had call to make. Eh?"
"What do you mean?" I asked, bewildered.
He looked at me, grinning, half naked, with amused contempt, for quite a long time, and at last offered sardonically to open my eyes for me.
I said nothing.
"Do you know what will happen to you," he asked, "ef yeh don't get quit of that Carlos of yours?"
I was surprised into muttering that I didn't know.
"I can tell yeh," he continued. "Yeh will get hanged."
By that time I was too amazed to get angry. I simply suspected the Blue Nose of being drunk. But he glared at me so soberly that next moment I felt frightened.
"Hanged by the neck," he repeated; and then added, "Young fellow, you scoot. Take a fool's advice, and scoot. That Castro is a blame fool, anyhow. Yeh want men for that job. Men, I tell you." He slapped his bony breast.
I had no idea that he could look so ferocious. His eyes fascinated me, and he opened his cavernous mouth as if to swallow me. His lantern jaws snapped without a sound. He seemed to change his mind.
"I am done with yeh," he said, with a sort of sinister restraint. He rose to his feet, and, turning his back to me, began to shave, squinting into a broken looking glass.
Joseph Conrad and Ford Madox Ford, Romance: A Novel, pages 41-42.
In the time of Nichols it did look as if they were really becoming enterprising. They had actually chased and boarded ships sixty miles out at sea. It seems he had inspired them with audacity by means of kicks, blows, and threats of instant death, after the manner of Bluenose sailors. His long limbs, the cadaverous and menacing aspect, the strange nasal ferocity of tone, something mocking and desperate in his aspect, had persuaded them that this unique sort of heretic was literally in league with the devil.
Hilda van Stockum wrote and illustrated A Day on Skates in 1934, and you can read the whole thing here now that it's in the public domain. It includes a drawing of this charming thing that people don't do anymore:
Edith Somerville, co-author of the Irish RM books, studied art in Paris in the 1880s. Here is her sketch of one of her art classes, looking much as art classes look today. Somerville used her Paris experience in the novel French Leave. Source.
Okakura Kakuzo wrote The Book of Tea in English in Boston in 1906 to introduce the Japanese tea ceremony to a Western audience steeped in Aestheticism. Tuttle picked it up in 1956 and has kept it in print ever since. Over the twentieth century Americans worked out a plain, tough, colloquial style of prose ideally suited to writing about Zen practice. Okakura pre-dates that. Here he is on flowers:
Tell me, gentle flowers, teardrops of the stars, standing in the garden, nodding your heads to the bees as they sing of the dew and the sunbeams, are you aware of the fearful doom that awaits you? Dream on, sway and frolic while you may in the gentle breezes of summer. To-morrow a ruthless hand will close around your throats. You will be wrenched, torn asunder limb by limb, and borne away from your quiet homes. The wretch, she may be passing fair. She may say how lovely you are while her fingers are still moist with your blood. Tell me, will this be kindness? It may be your fate to be imprisoned in the hair of one whom you know to be heartless or to be thrust into the buttonhole of one who would not dare to look you in the face were you a man. It may even be your lot to be confined in some narrow vessel with only stagnant water to quench the maddening thirst that warns of ebbing life.
Oh, brother! An ikebana master should hit him with a stick. Tuttle is not doing the way of tea any favours by keeping this book in print.
Sixty years before Wikipedia there were Pelican Books. If you were spotted with one of these in your pocket during World War Two you were considered Officer Material. Now they're back. The volume above was published in 1950, soon after Partition, which might explain why a book primarily about archaeological digs in Pakistan is called Prehistoric India.
Tove. Tove Jansson was born 100 years ago this year. Best known internationally for her Moomin comics, she was also a very good novelist. A lot of her stuff is available in English this year, so snap it up.
Kegan Paul published the series of speculative essays To-Day And To-Morrow from 1923 to 1931. Each volume identifies an aspect of the modern (1920s) world and attempts to foresee how things will develop through the 20th Century. The books have a standard format: brown cardboard boards 6 3/8" tall and 4 5/8" across; labels pasted to the spine and front board; about 90 pages plus ten or twenty pages of ads for other volumes. Most of the books are titled according to the formula: X or the Future of Y, where X is a name from classical mythology and Y is the topic of the volume. In the pile above we have:
Achates or the Future of Canada, by W. Eric Harris.
"Canada's way to the future, then, is well defined. It is a path which leads to world service, within the Empire, and one of intimate co-operation with the United States in an endeavour to keep that influential and powerful nation working in co-operation with the Empire in the development of the peoples of the world, and in the promotion of world peace."
Cassandra or the Future of the British Empire, by F.C.S. Schiller.
"It is therefore by the way of financial influence and control that the political unification of the world can be brought about most easily and smoothly, though gradually, with a minimum of disturbance, violence and friction and with a maximum of peace and prosperity."
Hanno or the Future of Exploration, by J. Leslie Mitchell.
"The inevitable triumph of ballistics that will enable men to explore the lunar deserts may soon elsewhere uprear 'Upon the night's starr'd face/ Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance.'"
Lars Porsena or the Future of Swearing, by Robert Graves.
"To conclude, swearing as an art is at present in low water. National passion seldom runs high, invention is numbed, and there is no appeal of a politico-religious nature which will meet everywhere with the same respect. The only taboo strong enough to be worth breaking is the sexual one, and swearing shows every sign of continuing standardized on the basis of that for some time."
Lysistrata, Woman's Future and Future Woman, by A.M. Ludovici.
"The regeneration of man will immediately transform woman and her position; because, while her contempt for the male will vanish, she will recover both physically and spiritually that lost joy of looking up to her mate."
Morpheus or the Future of Sleep, by Professor D.F. Fraser-Harris M.D., D.Sc., F.R.S.E.
" A certain amount of legislation will be enacted in the near future in the interests of sleep, legislation exactly comparable with that we already have in the interests of pure air, pure food and proper drainage."
Achates was Aeneas' good and faithful friend. Cassandra had the power of prophecy, but nobody believed her. Hanno was an explorer. Lars Porsena swore by the Nine Gods in Macaulay's "Horatio at the Bridge". Lysistrata led a women's strike against the Peloponnesian War. Morpheus was the god of dreams.