L’ Aquila

3 January 2011

An old photo of S. Maria del Suffragio

Ah, the joys of copyright. Someone will have to refresh my memory as to why it’s useful to keep a book under copyright for eighty years — and who exactly is benefited by it — but the calendar helped me out, by rolling along slowly, and Luigi Serra’s Aquila is finally online. Mr. Serra, a conscientious art historian who covered the city of L’ Aquila in 142 pages, and 142 illustrations, died in 1940, and thru the blessings of copyright law, his work fell into the public domain yesterday.

Of course, nearly all the work of transcription and scanning those many photos, I did within a coupla months of the earthquake that so devastated the Abruzzese capital; and sat on my hands for a year and more, waiting for Mr. Serra to be sufficiently dead. It is a fine book though, even if one might have wished for a bit more synthesis here and there: a small chapter on the (sparse) Roman remains of Amiternum, two large chapters on the Middle Ages and the Renaissance forming the bulk of the work, a section on the Baroque period, and a coda on what was modern art in 1929, at least if you were conservative even then! in which our author shows himself to have loved the work of Teofilo Patini, who was new to me.

And oh yes — those photos, which some of us might sniff at in our age of 12-megapixel digital color at our fingertips, are now irreplaceable: much of what they document came crashing down in rubble last year.

New opportunities

1 January 2010
Caricature of Thayer pilfering from older writers

Caricature of Thayer pilfering from older writers

With the turning of the new year, and ourselves sliding closer to the grave, a few already dead writers become slightly deader than they were before; and those that matter on this January 1 are those who published in Europe and died just over 70 years ago: their publications fall into the public domain. Thus, two “new” items on LacusCurtius today — from 1909 and 1912 — by Stuart Jones, who died in 1939: I’d transcribed them a year or two ago and have been holding them for release today, complete with a timed e-mail to myself to remind me. Aficionados of military history will chortle with glee as they watch him go after the clay feet of T. Rice Holmes: a review of Holmes’ Ancient Britain (EHR 24:114‑116) and a review of Holmes’ Conquest of Gaul (EHR 27:127‑130).

Holmes himself entered the public domain a couple of years ago; I’m not too interested in military stuff, but his works really do belong online — let’s see if I get around to them this year.