Smithsonian: Top 10 Books Lost To Time

Discuss

20 Responses to “Smithsonian: Top 10 Books Lost To Time”

  1. Timothy Krause says:

    The Margites was only ascribed to Homer (whoever “Homer” might have been, anyway). And it’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, sans the “The.”

  2. bob d says:

    Ah, the 14th century, when the difference between “explorer-cartographer” and “conman” was nonexistent.

  3. teknocholer says:

    No problem. A few billion virtual  monkeys should be able to recreate these works in no time.

    • xenphilos says:

      And the cool result of that would be a couple of books that are very similar to Inventio Fortunata, but with robots, pirates, aliens and every combination of the three!

  4. Lobster says:

    These are some interesting choices.   I’m pretty sure we’ve lost more important and remarkable books than those written by Jane Austen and Sylvia Plath (with all due respect to those writers and their fans, as they were both very talented).

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      I’m pretty sure we’ve lost more important and remarkable books than those written by Jane Austen and Sylvia Plath (with all due respect to those writers and their fans, as they were both very talented).

      Did you really just name the only two on the list that were written by women as the ones least worthy of inclusion? Breathtaking!

      • ernunnos says:

        He really just named two books on the list that were never completed. So technically, they weren’t written by women, so much as not written at all. And a thing kinda’ has to be found – or at least created – before it can be said to be lost. The fact that both entries on the list from female authors suffer from the same lack of prerequisite existence smacks of perfunctory inclusion. Just a wee bit condescending, no? “There, there, little lady. I’m sure your novel would have been great. We need some females on this list. In you go.”

      • Lobster says:

        I’m not a huge fan of Melville either, and I probably should have included Stevenson’s draft, too.

        That said, are you serious?  Are you actually accusing me of sexism simply because I picked two authors from a list of authors?  I like Plath and I like Austen.  I just don’t think they’re two of the stronger entries on the list, especially in light of MadRat’s additions.  Has nothing to do with their being women and plenty to do with their writing.

        I’d really prefer to ditch the fair-and-balanced stuff and talk about some literature.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          That said, are you serious? Are you actually accusing me of sexism simply because I picked two authors from a list of authors?

          Absolutely. You looked at a list of ten authors and picked the two women as being the least meaningful. If you had dissed the ancient in favor of the modern or vice versa, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but keep all the men and ditch the two women? It’s actually shocking to see someone say that.

          I’d really prefer to ditch the fair-and-balanced stuff and talk about some literature.

          Austen and Plath speak to the terror and despair of being women in a male-dominated world. Austen, in particular, is a rare female voice actually speaking about women’s issues. They’re a hell of a lot more meaningful than a draft of Jekylll and Hyde.

          • Lobster says:

            Yes, as I said, I should have included Stevenson on the list.  I wasn’t really thinking that hard about it because I didn’t expect a moderator to call me a sexist. 

            If you want to have an honest discussion about this, I’d appreciate it if you took my word for it when I said that I’ve read and enjoy both of those authors.  If you’re determined I must be a sexist simply because I have the audacity to have an opinion, then we’re done here.  Also consider calling me an elitist and a troll, as those three seem to be the most popular way to shut down conversation on Boingboing.

            We can talk about the contributions of both authors as much as you please.  Austen in particular wrote about women who dared to have opinions that weren’t handed to them by men, tied in a pink bow.  As for Plath, I’m not sure she would have been any happier were she a man.  Sure she wrote about that “terror and despair” you mention, but she wrote about how terrible EVERYTHING is.  Maybe she was a voice for feminism, but it was overarching depression that put her head in that oven.

          • Gulliver says:

            Top ten lists always bring out the best in everyone.

            Hemingway and Plath I can do without, so too for the Bible books tossed out by various ecumenical councils and other Church censors. Austen, however, is number two on that list after Shakespeare, and certainly Homer’s equal as a storyteller (though, being not proficient in ancient Greek, I cannot compare styles). Stevenson I’m iffy on; good storyteller, mediocre prose.

            Antinous, Lobster may simply have no taste :o

    • CLamb says:

      Yes, but we’ve also lost the knowledge that they ever existed.

  5. Bevatron Repairman says:

    Too bad the last Indiana Jones movie didn’t hinge on something like this, instead of crystal alien heads.  A shoot out in the Library of Congress would have been so much cooler.

    • penguinchris says:

      Neat idea, but… the original three Indiana Jones films all revolved around something supernatural – that’s kind of his thing, supernatural archaeology.

      What you’re looking for has been done – National Treasure, with Nicolas Cage, and its sequel (which, naturally, was nowhere near as good as the original, but worth watching IMO).

      That said, please don’t take this as a defence of the crystal skull thing – that was one of the worst decisions possible and I’m staggered that they ruined the great opportunity that Indiana Jones 4 could have been with such a fucking stupid thing (and the ending, and all the CGI, and the stupid characters, and Shia Lebeef…)

  6. MadRat says:

    Hey, wait.  What about “On Sphere-Making” by Archimedes?  What about the poetry of Sappho?  Where’s “Ab urbe condita libri” by Titus Livius?  Where’s “Hermocrates” by Plato?  What about the missing parts of the “Canterbury Tales” or Nikola Tesla lost lab notes?

  7. Guest says:

    “What followed next was a game of telephone that stretched across centuries.”

    A most non-non-non bogus game

    http://youtu.be/N2a3nbTrO_c?t=2m4s

  8. Mister44 says:

    My copy of “Space Assassin” by Steve Jackson games is surprisingly absent from the list.

  9. penguinchris says:

    Oh and while I agree that Lobster choosing the two women isn’t shocking – I am sure it was just a coincidence – I do agree with Antinous that the Jekyll and Hyde draft is clearly the one thing on this list that is a definite head-scratcher. Unless there’s some crucial context those of us unfamiliar with the case are missing, I’m not sure why that draft is so important when we have the final work.

    If I were to similarly exclude two of these books, I would also choose the Plath, but definitely not the Austen – and in fact, that one being available but missing the second two acts is exactly what makes it so tantalizing – that, and the fact that she’s hugely popular *and* is an excellent writer of literature. And I’m not a particular fan of Austen, but I can recognize that.

  10. Kimmo says:

    #1 lost book: Archimedes’ Method.

    We had to wait another 500 years for calculus to be reinvented after a monk turned the last surviving copy into yet another Bible a millenia later…

Leave a Reply