Monday, October 29, 2007

Calculus, Poetry, the two William Batchelder Greenes, etc

As much as I complain, and will continue to complain, about the quality of Google Books' digital archive, their access to materials is remarkable. I have very mixed feelings about that access, given the rather cavalier way in which scanning appears to be done. I worry that scarce, fragile volumes are being subjected to the rigors of the duplication process—without any complete and usable edition resulting! But the other side of the coin is that today I finally have access to a copy of William Batchelder Greene's 1859 An Expository Sketch of a New Theory of the Calculus, the work, published in Paris, which occupied much of Greene's attention in the years he and his family lived in France. And you have access to it as well, though I expect it is one of the least inviting of Greene's works. I have yet to determine if the diagrams are complete, though I already suspect that they are not. Google Books has also added the Explanation of "The Theory of the Calculus" (misidentified as The Theory of the Calculus itself).

If that isn't enough marginal William B. Greene material for you, then you can dip into the poetical works of William Batchelder Greene and William Batchelder Greene, Jr. Of some libertarian interest is the elder Greene's version of The Book of Job, which has some interesting commentary on secular and divine authority tucked away in its footnotes. Three other volumes:

all appear to be the work of the younger William. William, Jr. was an uneven poet, and received a number of poor reviews. Check out the timeline for a few, including one which begins: "Mr Greene's verses are beautifully printed on admirably thick paper. It grieves us not to find anything more hearty to say by way of recommendation of his volume." Of course, his father was prone, at least in youth, to some uncertain productions in verse, such as his "Song of Espousal." But there are some interesting moments, at least. "The Amputation," in The Staunch Express, is worth a look.

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