Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Spy Who Loved Me

The best part about doing archival work on Cold War materials is that when you are allowed to use a digital camera to photograph documents, you feel like someone out of a John le Carre novel.

Fun fact: When the US Information Services Bureau, which ran the American Libraries across Europe in the post-WWII period (particularly in France and Austria), asked for donations of books representative of American culture, New Directions gave them a recently published translation of Baudelaire.

As James Laughlin's right-hand man Robert MacGregor put it, in a 1955 letter to Mr. L.L. Brady at the American Embassy in Paris, "Here is an excellent example of American scholarship. Bilingual editions are of inestimable value, and not only in schools. It therefore occurs to us that you might find FLOWERS OF EVIL a useful item for the New Year's presentations to people of importance, as well as for the end-of-the-year school prizes next June, the library loan collections and the lists of available titles circulated to the 21 French-speaking missions." (quoted from New Directions Publishing Corp. records, call # bMS Am 2077, Houghton Library, Harvard)