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John Visits the Library of Congress

On the 17th of November John was invited to speak by the sf group at the Library of Congress on the topic of Scottish fantasy. In fact, he spoke for about half the time on Scottish fantasy, especially his usual rave concerning George Macdonald, and the other half of the time he devoted to yet another rant on the subject of how generic fantasy is coming to dominate the marketplace.

Beforehand our hostess Sinya took us (and our great friend Jean Marie Ward) for a special tour of the library and some of its exhibits and holdings...and graciously forbore from checking our pockets and the insides of our garments after we had been looking at the books. Among those books, of especial interest were some antique Thai handmade books she showed us. Tremendous thanks to Sinya for this, and also to her and Colleen for organizing the whole event.

A note from Pam...

I know that when most people visit Washington, DC they go to see places like the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Memorial, the White House... What they don't realize is that the gem of the lot of them is the Library of Congress. Even if you are not interested in the books, maps and manuscripts (and it is kind of unlikely that you would be on this website if you weren't!) the interior architecture and decoration are absolutely fabulous. I had to drag Paul away from a trompe l'oeil mosaic of Minerva: where ever you stand in front of the picture the goddess's feet still seem to be pointing towards you. In the end, it was only by threatening to fall asleep where we stood that Sinya, Jean Marie and myself were able to persuade him to stop scampering from side to side scrutinizing the mosaic from every conceivable angle. HONESTLY! You would thing this man had a foot fetish!

Another major attraction for us was a very large reproduction of the first map of the world to show the Americas as a seperate land mass/continent. Apparently it was because of this map that the Americas got their name: the cartographer was such a fan of Amerigo Vespucci that he put his name on the new continent, and that was the name that stuck.

You have to go see the LOC! It is the jewel in the crown of Washington. I could have spent all day lying on my back looking at the ceilings. John said this stratagem might be misunderstood by foreign tourists. My reply cannot be put on this webpage.

Our hostess Sinya