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Goshen Public Library and Historical Society

Across the Reference Desk

by Janet Hamill

September 13, 2000

Susan Vreeland's GIRL IN HYACINTH BLUE is an exquisite piece of new fiction on the shelves of the Goshen Public Library and Historical Society. Takin as its point of departure a painting claimed by its owner to be by Vermeer, GIRL IN HYACINTH BLUE traces the mysterious provenance of the painting, from the present, back to the moment of its inspiration. In a work of true literary detection, Vreeland explains how an unknown Vermeer came to hang on the study wall of a contemporary professor mathematics outside Philadelphia. Vreeland reveals the dark secret that allowed the professor's father to acquire the painting in World War II Amsterdam and the peculiar history of the painting, prior to this century, that kept the Dutch masterpiece out of the hands of musuem curators and serious collectors. Like Vermeer's paintings, GIRL IN HYACINTH BLUE illuminates the poignant of everyday life, as well as the meaning of art and beauty ata ny moment in our collective history.

A new book on the shelves of current non-fiction at the library looks at the natural and cultural history of our ability to shed tears. CRYING by Tom Lutz explores the way people have understood weeping from the earliest known representation of tears in the 14th century B.C. through the treatment of tears in contemporary culture. In addition to consolidating the "tear" tehories of philosophers, physiologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and sociologists, Lutz examines crying in the visual arts and literature. From medieval paintings to Picasso, from Homer to Shakespeare, to recent Hollywood tear jerkers like Titanic, CRYING is a provocative attempt to expose the commonality in all societies of tears of happiness, joy, pride, rage, and sorrow.

On the shelves of new videos at the library, patrons will be happy to find the complete series of HORATIO HORNBLOWER films, from the recent A&E production. In four self-contained episodes - THE DUEL, THE DUCHESS AND THE DEVIL, THE WRONG WAR, and THE FIRE SHIPS, C.S. Forester's swashbuckling tales of hig-seas adventure in the King's Navy, circa 1790, come to life in this acclaimed adaptation.