Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Steam Engine Time

Project Gutenberg is a long-standing attempt to make publically available pretty much every book that isn't under copyright any more. It's been running for a zillion years, and has been growing pretty slowly. Now, though -- it looks like the Distributed Proofreaders project (which spreads out the workload) is taking off, and rather suddenly. They just got a LiveJournal RSS feed (pgdp_posted) listing the books as they are completed, and I am impressed at how fast it's now running -- on the order of ten books a day, it appears.

The books are all over the map in every respect -- different languages, all genres and subjects, some periodicals mixed in with the books; the only commonplace is that they are mostly pretty old, due to copyright laws. But there are some neat gems in here. I'm intrigued by Mysticism in English Literature (1913). I'm hugely curious about some of the Scientific American volumes they have from the 1880's.

And I love the fact that they've put in The Symbolism of Freemasonry (1882), a classic that I've been meaning to get a copy of for years. The historical discussions are entirely untrustworthy, but it's fascinating to get some deep insights into the mythology of Masonry from a less cynical time. And the discussions of the symbolism itself, starting around Chapter X, are wonderful illustrations of how much can be invested in a good symbol. Anyone who is looking for an exploration of what goes on in the Lodge (in vastly more symbolic depth than most Masons ever consider) might have fun looking through this. (Bearing in mind that this is Victorian mystical literature, and therefore a bit dense.)

Very, very neat. The complete list of what the PGDP volunteers have done can be found on the Gutenberg website. I may have to volunteer to help with this -- I do rather enjoy the occasional transcription, and it would be worthwhile to formalize a few of them...

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