UCLA’s news service fills in a little more of the backstory regarding Robert Montgomery Bird‘s Sheppard Lee: Written by Himself, an unusual novel first published in 1836 and recently reissued by New York Review Books. (I blogged about it a month ago.) This quote, from the UCLA prof who discovered the book, Christopher Looby, pushes the book a little higher up the to-read pile:
“‘Sheppard Lee’ feels more like an example of magical realism or postmodernism than antebellum literature,” said Looby, who has taught at UCLA since 2001. “It seems like it could have been written today. It’s really ahead of its time.”
Teasingly, NYRB editor Edwin Frank suggests in the story that I could get to the task right now–thanks to the book being in the public domain, it should be readily available online. Not quite: Nothing on Project Gutenberg or the Internet Archive (though they have some of his other works). There’s a complete edition of Volume 2 on Google Books, but only a limited preview of Volume 1.