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Call Number: Received Not Yet Cataloged-Grant Book
Publication Date: Stanford, Calif.: Redwood Pr., 2021. 306 p.
Description: As tyrannical passions increasingly plague twenty-first-century politics, tales told in ancient Greek epics and tragedies provide a vital antidote. Democracy as a concept did not exist until the Greeks coined the term and tried the experiment, but the idea can be traced to stories that the ancient Greeks told and retold. From the eighth through the fifth centuries BCE, Homeric epics and Athenian tragedies exposed the tyrannical potential of not only individuals but groups large and small. These stories identified abuses of power as self-defeating and initiated a movement away from despotism and toward broader forms of political participation. Following her highly praised book “Enraged,” the classicist Emily Katz Anhalt retells tales from key ancient Greek texts and then goes on to interpret the important message they hold for us today. As she reveals, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Aeschylus’s Oresteia, and Sophocless Antigone encourage us–as they encouraged the ancient Greeks–to take responsibility for our own choices and their consequences. These stories emphasize the responsibilities that come with power (any power, whether derived from birth, wealth, personal talents, or numerical advantage), reminding us that the powerful and the powerless alike have obligations to each other. They assist us in restraining destructive passions and balancing tribal allegiances with civic responsibilities. (publ.)
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2019. xvii, 165 p.
Reviewed: TLS 20 Mar. 2020 p. 33. Description: Gilgamesh is the most ancient long poem known to exist. It is also the newest classic in the canon of world literature. Lost for centuries to the sands of the Middle East but found again in the 1850s, it tells the story of a great king, his heroism, and his eventual defeat. It is a story of monsters, gods, and cataclysms, and of intimate friendship and love. Literary historian Michael Schmidt provides a unique meditation on the rediscovery of Gilgamesh and its profound influence on poets today. Schmidt describes how the poem is a work in progress even now, an undertaking that has drawn on the talents and obsessions of an unlikely cast of characters, from archaeologists and museum curators to tomb raiders and jihadis. Fragments of the poem, incised on clay tablets, were scattered across a huge expanse of desert when it was recovered in the nineteenth century. The poem had to be reassembled, its languages deciphered. The discovery of a pre-Noah flood story was front-page news on both sides of the Atlantic, and the poem’s allure only continues to grow as additional cuneiform tablets come to light. Its translation, interpretation, and integration are ongoing. In this illuminating book, Schmidt discusses the special fascination Gilgamesh holds for contemporary poets, arguing that part of its appeal is its captivating otherness. He reflects on the work of leading poets such as Charles Olson, Louis Zukofsky, and Yusef Komunyakaa, whose own encounters with the poem are revelatory, and he reads its many translations and editions to bring it vividly to life for readers.
Publication Date: New York: Columbia UP, 2020. xxxi, 392 p.
Description: Twain lived during a time of great change, upheaval, progress, and challenge. He rose from obscurity to become what some have called “the most recognizable person on the planet.” Beyond his contributions to literature, which were hugely important and influential, he was a businessman, an inventor, an advocate for social and political change, and ultimately a cultural icon. Placing his life and work in the context of his age reveals much about both Mark Twain and America in the last half of the nineteenth century, the twentieth century, and the first decades of the twenty-first century. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2018. xx, 449 p.
Description: This volume provides a comprehensive overview of Nathaniel Hawthorne and demonstrates why he continues to be a critically significant figure in American literature. The first section focuses on Hawthorne’s interest in and knowledge of past (Puritan and colonial) and contemporary nineteenth-century history (women’s, African American, Native American) as the inspiration for his writings and the source of his literary success. The second section explores his fascination with social history and popular culture by examining topics as mesmerism, utopian life styles, theatrical performances, and artistic innovations. The third section looks at how Hawthorne succeeded and excelled in the literary marketplace, as an author of children’s literature, literary sketches, and historical romances. In the fourth section, Hawthorne’s literary precursors, peers, colleagues, and successors are analyzed. In the final section, Hawthorne’s attachment to family, nature, and home is examined as the source of creative inspiration and philosophical questing. (publ.)
Original artwork and materials explore children's literature and its impact in society and culture over time. A favorite childhood book can leave a lasting impression, but as adults we tend to shelve such memories. The story of the origins of children's literature is a tale with memorable characters and deeds, from Hans Christian Andersen and Lewis Carroll to E. B. White and Madeleine L'Engle, who safeguarded a place for wonder in a world increasingly dominated by mechanistic styles of thought, to artists like Beatrix Potter and Maurice Sendak who devoted their extraordinary talents to revealing to children not only the exhilarating beauty of life but also its bracing intensity. Regarding children's literature as both a rich repository of collective memory and a powerful engine of cultural change is more important today than ever.
Publication Date: New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020, c2018. 197 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: PW 3 Aug. 2020 p. 46. Description: Long a site of peaceful resistance to the Assad regimes, Daraya fell under siege in 2012. For four years no one entered or left, and aid was blocked. Bombs fell on this place of homes and families. A group searching for survivors stumbled upon a cache of books; in a week they had six thousand volumes; in a month fifteen thousand. A sanctuary was born: a library to escape the blockade, offering Arabic poetry, American self-help, Shakespearean plays and more. Over text messages, Minoui came to know the young men who gathered in the library, exchanged ideas, learned English, and imagined how to shape the future, even as bombs kept falling from above. (publ.)
Publication Date: Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 2020. 320 p.
Reviewed: PW 7 Sept. 2020 p. 48; TLS 21 May 2021 p. 20 Description: Opening with the notorious bonfires of un-German and Jewish literature in 1933 that offered such a clear signal of Nazi intentions, Burning the Books takes us on a 3000-year journey through the destruction of knowledge and the fight against all the odds to preserve it. Richard Ovenden, director of the world-famous Bodleian Library, explains how attacks on libraries and archives have been a feature of history since ancient times but have increased in frequency and intensity during the modern era. Libraries are far more than stores of literature, through preserving the legal documents such as Magna Carta and records of citizenship, they also support the rule of law and the rights of citizens. Today, the knowledge they hold on behalf of society is under attack as never before. In this book, he explores everything from what really happened to the Great Library of Alexandria to the Windrush papers, from Donald Trumps deleting embarrassing tweets to John Murray’s burning of Byron's memoirs in the name of censorship. … From the rediscovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the desert, hidden from the Romans and lost for almost 2000 years to the medieval manuscript that inspired William Morris, the knowledge of the past still has so many valuable lessons to teach us and we ignore it at our peril. (publ.)
How were the Crusades, and the crusaders, narrated, described, and romanticised by the various communities that experienced or remembered them? This Companion provides a critical overview of the diverse and multilingual literary output connected with crusading over the last millennium, from the first writings which sought to understand and report on what was happening, to contemporary medievalism, in which crusading is a potent image of holy war. The desire for Jerusalem has had a long afterlife in many cultural contexts and media.
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2020. xiii, 228 p.
Reviewed: PW 22 June 2020 p. 142. Description: Seamus Heaney was the leading Irish poet of the second half of the twentieth century, and, after W. B. Yeats, arguably the most significant poet in the history of Irish literature. When he died in 2013 the public reaction in Ireland was extraordinary, and the outpouring of feeling decisively demonstrated that he occupied an exceptional place in national life. The words of his last message to his wife, “Noli timere,” “Don’t be afraid,” appeared over and over again on social media, while key phrases from favourite poems became and have remained canonical. In this short book, conceived for the Writers on Writers series, historian Roy Foster offers an extended and largely chronological reflection upon Heaney’s life, work and historical context, from the poet’s origins in Northern Ireland and the publication of Death of a Naturalist in 1966, through the explosive impact of his 1975 collection North, and then into his years as a “world poet” and an Irish writer with a powerful influence on English literature generally. Foster considers virtually all of Heaney’s major output, including later volumes such as The Spirit Level and Human Chain, as well as Heaney’s translation of Beowulf and his renderings from Virgil. Throughout the book, Foster conveys something of Heaney's charismatic, expansive and subtle personality, as well as the impact of his work in both the USA and in Europe. (publ.)
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2020. xv, 277 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 11 Feb. 2021 p. 22. Description: This book explores mistakes in poems–and critics’ generous responses to them–in order to reveal a crucial tension between thinking about poetry’s errors as common failures in craft and honoring them as moments of unintended creativity. It makes the case for calling a mistake a mistake, arguing that when readers deny poets the possibility of error, they undermine the very process of creation that they aim to celebrate. The novel, as a genre, has always been given to mistakes, as John Sutherland and others have shown. But poetry, an art form that accepts accident and surprise as qualities somehow integral to its aesthetic practice, seems inherently immune to the possibility. Most of its flaws appear felicitous. Accordingly, critics of poetry have tended to allow mistakes in poems–solecisms, misused words, factual errors–to inform and sometimes even govern their readings. For instance, Keats’s use of “Cortez” when surely he means “Balboa” in “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer” is a historical mistake that, despite having produced an array of justifications from critics (of nearly all methodological persuasions), may have more to say about what we believe poetry to be capable of doing than about the poem to which it belongs. Keats’s readers feel a responsibility to make right what his poem got wrong. This book begins by asking: why should it be so? By uncovering different kinds of mistakes that poets have made from Romanticism onward, when notions of selfhood become more closely linked with the lyric voice, and, more important, by analyzing their reception, the book by Erica McAlpine raises certain questions about intentionality. For instance, is there a difference between an accident and a mistake? Does the word mistake imply authorial intention? Is it possible for a poet to err without meaning to, either consciously or unconsciously? (Even Freud differentiates mistakes “deriving from repression” from those that “are the result of real ignorance.”) In answering these questions using specific examples from poets including William Wordsworth, John Clare, Robert Browning, Emily Dickinson, Hart Crane, Elizabeth Bishop, Seamus Heaney, and Paul Muldoon, this book identifies certain readings of mistakes as unnecessary justifications and uses the impulse to justify as a way of defining the qualities of poetry that distinguish it from other modes of writing (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Random House, 2021. 432 p.
Reviewed: TLS 2 Apr. 2021 p. 5. Description: For the last twenty years, George Saunders has been teaching a class on the Russian short story to his MFA students at Syracuse University. Here he shares a version of that class with us, offering some of what he and his students have discovered together over the years. Paired with iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, the seven essays in this book are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it’s more relevant than ever in these turbulent times. In his introduction, Saunders writes, “We’re going to enter seven fastidiously constructed scale models of the world, made for a specific purpose that our time maybe doesn’t fully endorse but that these writers accepted implicitly as the aim of art–namely, to ask the big questions, questions like, How are we supposed to be living down here? What were we put here to accomplish? What should we value? What is truth, anyway, and how might we recognize it?” He approaches the stories technically yet accessibly, and through them explains how narrative functions; why we stay immersed in a story and why we resist it; and the bedrock virtues a writer must foster. The process of writing, Saunders reminds us, is a technical craft, but also a way of training oneself to see the world with new openness and curiosity. (publ.)
Publication Date: Chicago: U. Chicago Pr., 2018. vii, 359 p.
Reviewed: LRB 30 July 2020 p. 33. Description: Inventing counterfactual histories is a common pastime of modern-day historians, both amateur and professional. We speculate about an America ruled by Jefferson Davis, a Europe that never threw off Hitler, or a second term for JFK. These narratives are often written off as politically inspired fantasy or a pop culture fodder, but in Telling it Like it Wasn’t, Catherine Gallagher takes the history of counterfactual history seriously, pinning it down an an object of dispassionate study. She doesn’t take a moral or normative stand on the practice but focuses her attention on how it works and to what ends–a quest that takes readers on a fascinating tour of literary and historical criticism. (publ.)
Publication Date: Macon, Ga.: Mercer UP, 2020. xxi, 218 p.
Description: While McCullers’s longer work has received significant critical attention, her short fiction has not received the same treatment. This collection adds to analyses of McCullers’s better-known stories as well as considers those that have received little or no critical attention. McCullers's writing maintains lasting appeal because it captures both the joy and sadness of humanity, especially the meaning we draw from connections with others and the pain of isolation when we find it difficult to cultivate these relationships in modern culture. While critical assessment of McCullers's work has more often focused on her concern with loneliness and belonging, this collection depicts an author who was deeply invested in the social and political state of the world. Her short fiction includes interrogations of class-based, racial, and ableist prejudice, disconcerting portrayals of the social and political anxiety surrounding the Second World War, satirical eviscerations of some of the most oppressive social norms of the mid-twentieth century, and bold suggestions that lesbian desire, queer relationships, and female autonomy have a valid place in American culture. Through her depictions of differently-abled, sexually nonconforming characters, as well as characters of various races and classes, her short fiction redefines notions of belonging in the modern social context. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Library of America, 2020. 285 p.
Reviewed: TLS 7 Feb. 2020 p. 36. Description: As this literary companion demonstrates, bird watching offers an encounter with the ineffable, with the transcendence of song and flight, with fragile and evanescent beauty. Birds raise our sights, elevate our thoughts, even as they prompt an earthbound reckoning with their strange and mysterious otherness. Here literature professor and avid birder Andrew Rubenfeld, in collaboration with acclaimed writer Terry Tempest Williams, who provides a foreword, gathers evocative and surprising writings on birds and our fascination with them from an astonishing array of American poets and writers. The result is a literature of singular depth and beauty, with occasional flights of fancy in the mix. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2019. 320 p.
Reviewed: PW 10 Dec. 2018 p. 45; LJ June 2019 p. 109; TLS 29 Nov. 2019 p. 15 (2019 Book of the Year). Description: Award-winning poet and literary critic Stephanie Burt offers an accessible introduction to the seemingly daunting task of reading, understanding, and appreciating poetry. Burt dispels preconceptions about poetry and ex-plains how poems speak to one another–and how they can speak to our lives. She shows readers how to find more poems once they have some poems they like, and how to connect the poetry of the past to the poetry of the present. Burt moves seamlessly from Shakespeare and other classics to the contemporary poetry circulated on Tumblr and Twitter. She challenges the assumptions that many of us make about “poetry,” whether we think we like it or think we don’t, in order to help us cherish–and distinguish among–individual poems. (publ.)
Publication Date: [Studies in the History of Culture Ser.] London: Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2017. 465 p.
Reviewed: TLS 16 Aug. 2019 p. 27. Description: The Gutenberg Bible is widely recognized as Europe’s first printed book, a book that forever changed the world. However, despite its initial impact, fame was fleeting: for the better part of three centuries the Bible was virtually forgotten; only after two centuries of tenacious and contentious scholarship did it attain its iconic status as a monument of human invention. This is the first book to tell the whole story of Europe’s first printed edition, describing its creation at Mainz circa 1455, its impact on fifteenth-century life and religion, its fall into oblivion during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and its rediscovery and rise to worldwide fame during the centuries thereafter. (publ.)
Publication Date: Richmond Hill, Ontario: Firefly Books, 2017. 272 p.
Description: While the modern children’s book, intended specifically for the enjoyment of children, did not emerge until 18th-century Europe, its roots span centuries and continents: children’s literature began with fables, myths and folk tales from the oral tradition. This book takes a global perspective and traces the development of the genre from ancient stories such as Aesop’s Fables and the Indian Panchatantra, through the Puritan primers of the 17th century, to the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, to the highly collectable Ladybird books of the 20th century, and up to modern classics and bestsellers such as the Harry Potter series. Illustrations have often been key components of children’s stories, visualizing fantastic scenes and making them instantly recognizable. Original artwork from iconic illustrators such as Arthur Rackham, Walter Crane and John Tenniel is beautifully re-produced throughout. (publ.) Note: Gift of Calmar Library.
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2017. vii, 725 p.
Description: This book provides an engaging, accessible, and exciting new history of French literature from the Renaissance through the twentieth century, from Rabelais and Marguerite de Navarre to Samuel Beckett and Assia Djebar. Christopher Prendergast, one of today’s most distinguished authorities on French literature, has gathered a transatlantic group of more than thirty leading scholars who provide original essays on carefully select-ed writers, works, and topics that open a window onto key chapters of French literary history. The book begins in the sixteenth century with the formation of a modern national literary consciousness, and ends in the late twentieth century with the idea of the “national” coming increasingly into question as inherited meanings of “French” and “Frenchness” expand beyond the geographical limits of mainland France. (publ.)
Publication Date: [American Studies Now: Critical Histories of the Present; no. 8] Oakland: U. California Pr., 2019. 136 p.
Description: Ayn Rand’s complicated notoriety as popular writer, leader of a political and philosophical cult, reviled intellectual, and ostentatious public figure endured beyond her death in 1982. In the twenty-first century, she has been resurrected as a serious reference point for mainstream figures, especially those on the political right from Paul Ryan to Donald Trump. This book follows Rand’s trail through the twentieth century from the Russian Revolution to the Cold War and traces her posthumous appeal and the influence of her novels via her cruel, surly, sexy heroes. Outlining the impact of Rand’s philosophy of selfishness, historian and journalist Lisa Duggan illuminates the Randian shape of our neoliberal, contemporary culture of greed and the dilemmas we face in our political present. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Doubleday, 2019. xix, 355 p., 8 p. of plates.
Reviewed: Economist 25 May 2019 p. 80. Description: 984 isn't just a novel; it’s a key to understanding the modern world. George Orwell’s final work is a treasure chest of ideas and memes–Big Brother, the Thought Police, Doublethink, Newspeak, 2+2=5–that gain po-tency with every year, particularly in 2016, when the election of Donald Trump made it a bestseller (“Ministry of Alternative Facts,” anyone?). Its influence has morphed endlessly into novels (The Handmaid’s Tale), films (Brazil), television shows (V for Vendetta), rock albums (Diamond Dogs), commercials (Apple), even reality TV (Big Brother). This is the first book that fully examines the epochal and cultural event that is 1984 in all its aspects: its roots in the utopian and dystopian literature that preceded it; the personal experiences in wartime Great Britain that Orwell drew on as he struggled to finish his masterpiece in his dying days; and the political and cultural phenomena that the novel ignited at once upon publication and that far from subsiding, have only grown over the decades. It explains how fiction history informs fiction and how fiction explains history. (publ.)
Publication Date: London: Jonathan Cape, 2019. xv, 287 p.
Reviewed: TLS 9 Aug. 2019 p. 29. Description: With the writers of the Golden Age as her guides–Pushkin, Tolstoy, Gogol and Turgenev, among others–Wheeler travels across eight time zones, from rinsed north-western beetroot fields and far-eastern Arctic tundra to the cauldron of ethnic soup that is the Caucasus. She follows nineteenth-century footsteps to make connections between then and now: between the places where flashing-epauletted Lermontov died in the aromatic air of Pyatigorsk, and sheaves of corn still stand like soldiers on a blazing after-noon, just like in Gogol’s stories. On the Trans-Siberian railway in winter she crunches across snowy platforms to buy dried fish from babushki, and in summer she sails the Black Sea where dolphins leapt in front of violet Abkhazian peaks. … At a time of deteriorating relations between Russia and the West, Wheeler searches for a Russia not in the news–a Russia of humanity and daily struggles. She gives voice to the “ordinary” people of Russia, and discovers how the writers of the Golden Age continue to represent their country today. (publ.)
Publication Date: Cork, Ireland: Cork UP, 2019. x, 250 p.
Reviewed: TLS 25 Oct. 2019 p. 34. Description: Samuel Beckett referred to Brendan Behan as “the new O’Casey” and yet, despite all his international success, despite his enduring popularity, and perhaps because of his fame (and indeed, notoriety), Behan remains a neglected figure in literary criticism today. This is why this new volume edited by leading Irish Studies expert, John McCourt, is so timely. Penned by an impressive group of international scholars, Reading Brendan Behan looks beyond the author's all-too-well-known personality and focuses on what ultimately matters - the writing. Reading Brendan Behan is the first volume in 20 years to focus on Behan's rich and eclectic body of creative works - his poetry and plays in Irish and English, his short stories and his extraordinary autobiographical novel, Borstal Boy. It explores how Behan sought to identify the proper role for the post-independence Irish writer in a country where clerical and political policing and rigid censorship laws allowed little room for artistic manoeuvre. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Columbia UP, 2019. 344 p.
Reviewed: PW 4 Nov. 2019 p. 42. Description: Samuel Beckett as a guru for business executives? James Joyce as a guide to living a good life? The notion of notoriously experimental authors sharing a shelf with self-help books might seem far-fetched, yet a hidden history of rivalry, influence, and imitation links these two worlds. In this book, Beth Blum reveals the profound entanglement of modern literature and commercial advice from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Blum explores popular reading practices in which people turn to literature in search of practical advice alongside modern writers’ rebukes of such instrumental purposes. As literary authors positioned themselves in opposition to people like Samuel Smiles and Dale Carnegie, readers turned to self-help for the promises of mobility, agency, and practical use that serious literature was reluctant to supply. (publ.)
Publication Date: [Ohio Short Histories of Africa Ser.] Athens: Ohio UP, 2018. 146 p.
Reviewed: TLS 26 July 2019 p. 31. Description: The publication of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958) is heralded as the inaugural moment of modern African fiction, and the book remains the most widely read African novel of all time. Translated into dozens of languages, it has sold more than twelve million copies, and has become a canonical reading in schools the world over. While it is neither the first African novel to be published in the West nor necessarily the most critically valued, its iconic status has surpassed even that of its author. Until now–in the sixtieth anniversary year of its publication–there has not been an updated history that moves beyond the book's commonly discussed con-texts and themes. In this accessible and concise, Terri Ochiagha provides that history, asking new questions and bringing to wider attention unfamiliar but crucial elements of the story. These include new insights into questions of canonicity and into literary, historiographical, and precolonial aesthetic influences. She also assesses adaptations and appropriations not just in films but in theater, hip-hop, and popular literary genres such as Onitsha Market Literature. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Basic Books, 2019. 214 p.
Reviewed: TLS 18 Oct. 2019 p. 25; LR Nov. 2019 p. 27. Description: Do you worry that you’ve lost patience for anything longer than a tweet? If so, you’re not alone. Digital-age pundits warn that as our appetite for books dwindles, so too do the virtues in which printed, bound objects once trained us: the willpower to focus on a sustained argument, the curiosity to look beyond the day’s news, the willingness to be alone. The shelves of the world’s great libraries, though, tell a more complicated story. Examining the wear and tear on the books that they contain, English professor Leah Price finds scant evidence that a golden age of reading ever existed. From the dawn of mass literacy to the invention of the paperback, most readers already skimmed and multitasked. Print-era doctors even forbade the very same silent absorption now recommended as a cure for electronic addictions. The evidence that books are dying proves even scarcer. In en-counters with librarians, booksellers and activists who are reinventing old ways of reading, Price offers fresh hope to bibliophiles and literature lovers alike. (publ.)
Publication Date: Cambridge, England: Galileo, 2018. 303 p.
Reviewed: TLS 20 July 2018 p. 36 (reference) Description: This selection is made by Boyd Tonkin, who is uniquely placed to choose these 100 titles. Not only was he Literary Editor of The Independent newspaper but he started the prestigious Independent Foreign Fiction Prize which ran from 1990 until 2015 before becoming part of the Man Booker awards. For each selection he has written a commentary on the plot and theme of the work concerned, as well as writing about the merits of the particular translation(s) into the English language. The works are arranged in date order of publication, and are not ranked in any other way.
Publication Date: Minneapolis: U. Minnesota Pr., 2019. vii, 231 p.
Reviewed: Choice (Aug. 2019; vol. 56 no. 12); Essential; recommended for community college libraries. Description: A favorite childhood book can leave a lasting impression, but as adults we tend to shelve such memories. For fourteen months beginning in June 2013, more than half a million visitors to the New York Public Library viewed an exhibition about the role that children’s books play in world culture and in our lives. After the exhibition closed, attendees clamored for a catalog of it as well as for children’s literature historian Leonard S. Marcus’s insightful, wry commentary about the objects on display. Now with this book, a collaboration between the University of Minnesota’s Kerlan Collection of Children’s Literature and Leonard Marcus, the nostalgia and vision of that exhibit can be experienced anywhere. The story of the origins of children’s literature is a tale with memorable characters and deeds, from Hans Christian Andersen and Lewis Carroll to E. B. White and Madeleine L'Engle, who safeguarded a place for wonder in a world increasingly dominated by mechanistic styles of thought, to artists like Beatrix Potter and Maurice Sendak who devoted their extraordinary talents to revealing to children not only the exhilarating beauty of life but also its bracing intensity. Philosophers like John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau and educators such as Johann Comenius and John Dewey were path-finding interpreters of the phenomenon of childhood, inspiring major strands of bookmaking and storytelling for the young. (publ.)
Publication Date: London: British Library, 2017. 203 p.
Reviewed: TLS 27 July 2018 p. 31. Description: This is a book of book lists. Not of the “1,001 Books You MUST Read Be-fore You Die” variety but lists that tell stories. Lists that make you smile, make you wonder, and see titles together in entirely new ways. From Bin Laden's bookshelf to the books most frequently left in hotels, from prisoners’ favorite books to MPs’ most borrowed books, these lists are proof that a person’s bookcase tells you everything you need to know about them, and sometimes more besides. (publ.)
Publication Date: [Critical Insights Ser.] Ipswich, Mass.: Salem Pr., 2019. xxvii, 299 p.
Description: Because important works frequently offer challenging responses to social, historical, and political issues, often it is the very best works that provoke–at least initially–the most hostility or discomfort. This work presents an essay introduction to the topic, four “critical essays,” and ten “critical readings,” each meant to explore controversial and debated texts, as well as more general debates about censorship in both its broad and specific in-stance.
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2011. xxi, 405 p.
Description: Charles Dickens, a man so representative of his age as to have become considered synonymous with it, demands to be read in con-text. This book illuminates the worlds–social, political, economic and artistic–in which Dickens worked. Dickens’s professional life encompassed work as a novelist, journalist, editor, public reader and passionate advocate of social reform. This volume offers a detailed treatment of Dickens in each of these roles, exploring the central features of Dickens’s age, work and legacy, and uncovering sometimes surprising faces of the man and of the range of Dickens industries. (publ.)
Publication Date: Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Pr., 2018. xxvi, 242 p.
Description: Examines the tremendous change the American Civil War brought to society as reflected in the literature of the time. It delves into the cultural, historical, and literary contexts of the era, looking beyond common conceptions and instead reflecting on the era’s complexities and contradictions. The book profiles key American literature related to the war, both on and off the battlefield, including Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, Ambrose Bierce’s “Chickamauga,” Louisa May Alcott’s Hospital Sketches, the Civil War poems of Walt Whitman and Herman Melville, and Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” This book serves to demonstrate how profoundly the actions on the Civil War battlefield shaped American politics, society, and the arts. (publ.)
Publication Date: [Why It Matters Ser.] Medford, Mass.: Polity Books, 2018. v, 143 p.
Reviewed: TLS 21 Sept. 2018 p. 15 Description: Few today are willing to defend the elitist, sometimes racist, vision of the importance of classics, and it is no longer considered essential education for politicians and professionals. Shouldn’t classics then be obsolete? Far from it. As Neville Morley shows, the ancients are as influential today as they ever have been, and we ignore them at our peril. Not only do they have much to teach us about the past, but they can offer important lessons for the complex cultural, social and political worlds we inhabit. Classics is the original interdisciplinary subject, offering students a distinctively open, creative and disputatious education. Classics no longer holds all the answers, but it is unusually receptive to new questions.(publ.)
Publication Date: Rochester, N.Y.: Camden House, 2018. 270 p.
Reviewed: Choice (Jan. 2019 vol. 56 no. 5) Top 75 Titles recommended for community college libraries. Description: Flannery O’Connor is one of the most widely read, discussed, and taught of all American authors. She is immensely popular with students, general readers, and literary critics. Her work, often characterized as “Southern Gothic,” betrays in its focus on morality her devout Roman Catholic faith even as it displays a wicked sense of humor. She has been the subject of numerous articles and books, and indeed an entire journal devoted to her writings has existed for decades. There is not, however, any chronological overview of the history of O’Connor criticism. The present volume fills that very conspicuous gap. (publ.)
Publication Date: Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Pr., 2016. xxxii, 208 p.
Description: Oklahoma drought refugees seeking livelihood in California, rural white Mississippians, and African American migrants making new lives in Chicago all represented the dramatic transitions across the spectrum of American life during the Great Depression. These vastly different groups of Americans still shared common experiences of desperation and poverty during the 1930s. This book focuses on literary works by three Depression-era authors–William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Richard Wright–and supplies dozens of primary source documents that serve to illuminate the harsh realities of life in the 1930s and enable students to better appreciate key pieces in American literature from the Great Depression era. It gives readers historical context for multiple works of American literature about the Great Depression through a wide range of features, including chronologies, essays explaining key events, and primary document excerpts as well as support materials that include activities, lesson plans, discussion questions, topics for further research, and suggested readings. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2015. xxiii, 329 p.
Description: This volume explores the Russia where the great writer, Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821–81), was born and lived. It focuses not only on the Russia depicted in Dostoevsky’s works, but also on the Russian life that he and his contemporaries experienced: on social practices and historical developments, political and cultural institutions, religious beliefs, ideological trends, artistic conventions and literary genres. Chapters by leading scholars illuminate this broad context, offer insights into Dostoevsky’s reflections on his age, and examine the expression of those reflections in his writing. Each chapter investigates a specific context and suggests how we might understand Dostoevsky in relation to it. Since Russia took so much from Western Europe throughout the imperial period, the volume also locates the Russian experience within the context of Western thought and practices, thereby offering a multidimensional view of the unfolding drama of Russia versus the West in the nineteenth century. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2013. xviii, 411 p.
Description: Edgar Allan Poe mastered a variety of literary forms over the course of his brief and turbulent career. As a storyteller, Poe defied convention by creating Gothic tales of mystery, horror, and suspense that re-main widely popular today. This collection demonstrates how Poe’s experience of early nineteenth-century American life fueled his iconoclasm and shaped his literary legacy. Rather than provide critical explications of his writings, each essay explores one aspect of Poe’s immediate environment, using pertinent writings including verse, fiction, reviews, and essays to suit. Examining his geographical, social, and literary contexts, as well as those created by the publishing industry and advances in science and technology, the essays paint an unprecedented portrait of Poe's life and times. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2012. xxi, 400 p.
Description: Edith Wharton was one of America’s most popular and prolific writers, becoming the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1921. In a publishing career spanning seven decades, Wharton lived and wrote through a period of tremendous social, cultural, and historical change. Bringing together a team of international scholars, this volume provides the first substantial text dedicated to the various contexts that frame Wharton’s remarkable career. Each essay offers a clearly argued and lucid assessment of Wharton’s work as it relates to seven key areas: life and works, critical receptions, book and publishing history, arts and aesthetics, social designs, time and place, and literary milieu. (publ.)
Description: Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) wrote in 19th century American English and referenced long-vanished cultural contexts. A “private poet,” she created her own vocabulary, and many of her poems have quite specific local and personal connections. Promoting a richer appreciation of Dickinson's work for a modern audience, this book explores unfamiliar aspects of her language and her world. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2013. xxx, 479 p.
Description: Ernest Hemingway’s literary career was shaped by the remarkable contexts in which he lived, from the streets of suburban Chicago to the shores of the Caribbean islands, to the battlefields of WWI, Franco’s Spain, and WWII. This volume examines the various geographic, political, social, and literary contexts through which Hemingway crystallized his unmistakable narrative voice. Written by forty-three experts in Hemingway studies, the comprehensive yet concise essays collected here explore how Hemingway is both a product and a critic of his times, touching on his relationship to matters of style, biography, letters, cinema, the arts, music, masculinity, sexuality, the environment, ethnicity and race, legacy, and women. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2013. xxxviii, 476 p.
Description: The fiction of F. Scott Fitzgerald serves as a compelling and incisive chronicle of the Jazz Age and Depression Era. This collection explores the degree to which Fitzgerald was in tune with, and keenly observant of, the social, historical and cultural contexts of the 1920s and 1930s. Original essays from forty international scholars survey a wide range of critical and biographical scholarship published on Fitzgerald, examining how it has evolved in relation to critical and cultural trends. The essays also reveal the micro-contexts that have particular relevance for Fitzgerald’s work–from the literary traditions of naturalism, realism and high modernism to the emergence of youth culture and prohibition, early twentieth-century fashion, architecture and design, and Hollywood–underscoring the full extent to which Fitzgerald internalized the world around him. (publ.)
Reviewed: PW 23 July 2018 p. 191. Description: On the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, this fascinating study explores how the real science of her times influenced Mary Shelley’s classic work of science fiction. Mary Shelley grew up surrounded by the era’s prominent scientific thinkers, and conceived Frankenstein in a time of rapid scientific change–including debates on the reanimation of corpses and “the elixir of life.” This engrossing book offers insight into the world of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century science through the prism of Shelley’s seminal novel–the first work of science fiction ever–revealing how the monster was conceived, positing the real-life basis for Victor Frankenstein, and describing in vivid detail the experiments that might have led to the Creature’s birth. It also explores incarnations of the monster since Frankenstein was first published and modern interpretations of the “mad scientist,” while looking ahead to such scientific wonders as permanent bionic limbs and implants. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2018. xxvi, 337 p.
Description: Franz Kafka (1883-1924) lived through one of the most turbulent periods in modern history, witnessing a world war, the dissolution of an empire and the foundation of a new nation state. But the early twentieth century was also a time of social progress and aesthetic experimentation. Kafka’s novels and short stories reflect their author’s keen but critical engagement with the big questions of his time, and yet often Kafka is still cast as a solitary figure with little or no connection to his age. This book aims to redress this perception. In thirty-five short, accessible essays, leading international scholars explore Kafka’s personal and working life, his reception of art and culture, his engagement with political and social is-sues, and his ongoing reception and influence. (publ.)
Publication Date: Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2018. 375 p.
Reviewed: LJ Aug. 2018 p. 114. Description: Throughout history doctors have felt the need to express themselves in prose and poetry, often on subjects far removed from their medical interests. Renowned surgeon Seymour I. Schwartz felt this same compulsion to write and eventually decided to investigate other authors with a back-ground in medicine. The result is this informative and entertaining compilation of biographical profiles spanning the Middle Ages to the present era. In many cases, literary fame has eclipsed memory of these authors' medical expertise: Most people today talk about Maimonides, Rabelais, Locke, Schiller, Keats, Conan Doyle, and Chekhov because of their literary works, not because they practiced medicine. But the lesser-known individuals are just as interesting in many ways: such people as Cadwallader Colden, the loyalist lieutenant governor of New York during the American Revolution, who wrote the first English history of the Iroquois; Margaret Georgina Todd, author of popular novels in the Victorian era, which promoted the idea of women in medicine; and Rudolph John Chauncey Fisher, who was not only a physician, researcher, and radiologist, but played a role in the Harlem Renaissance as an orator, musician, musical arranger, and literary figure. Schwartz concludes with profiles of contemporary doctors who are also respected authors. (publ.)
Publication Date: Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Pr., 2016. xix, 260 p.
Description: This book helps students to better understand key pieces in literature from the Gilded Age and Progressive Era by putting them in the context of history, society, and culture through historical context essays, literary analysis, chronologies, documents, and suggestions for discussion and further research. It provides teachers and students with selections that align with the ELA Common Core Standards and that also offer useful connections for curriculum that integrates American literature and social studies. It covers Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, Willa Cather’s A Lost Lady, and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Readers will be able to appreciate the significance of this period through these canonical and widely taught works of American literature. The book also includes historical context essays, primary document excerpts, and suggested readings. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2018. xvi, 939 p.
Reviewed: TLS 22 June 2018 p. 9. Description: Russia possesses one of the richest and most admired literatures of Europe, reaching back to the eleventh century. This volume provides a comprehensive account of Russian writing from its earliest origins in the monastic works of Kiev up to the present day, still rife with the creative experiments of post-Soviet literary life. (publ.)
Publication Date: Toronto, Ont.: Misfit Pr., 2019. 200 p.
Reviewed: PW 17 Dec. 2018 p. 130. Description: A collection of playfully elucidating essays to help reluctant poetry readers become well-versed in verse. Developed from Adam Sol’s popular blog, this book is a collection of 35 short essays that walks readers through an array of contemporary poems. Sol is a dynamic teacher, and in these essays, he has captured the humor and engaging intelligence for which he is known in the classroom. With a breezy style, Sol delivers essays that are perfect for a quick read or to be grouped together as a curriculum. Though it’s not a textbook, the book demonstrates poetry’s range and pleasures through encounters with individual poems that span traditions, techniques, and ambitions. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2009. xx, 414 p.
Description: This collection of original, cohesive and concise essays charts the vital contextual backgrounds to Joyce’s life and writing. The volume begins with a chronology of Joyce’s publishing history, an analysis of his various biographies and a study of his many published and unpublished letters. It goes on to examine how his works were received in the main twentieth-century critical and theoretical schools. Most importantly, it places Joyce within multiple Irish, British and European contexts, providing a lively sense of the varied and changing world in which he lived, which formed him, and from which he wrote. The essays collectively show how Joyce was rooted in his times, how he is both a product and a critic of his multiple contexts, and how important he remains to the world of literature, criticism and culture. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2005. xxx, 467 p.
Description: Covering many aspects of Jane Austen’s life, works and historical context, this collection of essays provides the most complete one volume introduction to her life and times. The generously illustrated collection of concise contributions is arranged alphabetically, and covers topics ranging from biography to portraits, critical responses to translations, agriculture to transport. An essay on the reception of Austen’s work is also included, showing how criticism of Austen has responded to literary movements and fashions. (publ.)
Publication Date: Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Pr., 2015. xxvi, 237 p.
Description: Author Linda De Roche examines the writing of the time to look beyond the common conceptions of the Roaring Twenties and instead reflect on the era’s complexities and contradictions, including how gender and race influenced social mores. The book profiles key American literature of the time, including F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Sinclair Lewis’s Babbit, Anita Loos’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and Nella Larsen’s Passing. Filled with essays that offer historical explorations of each work as well as suggested learning activities, chapters also feature study questions, primary source documents, and chronologies. Support materials include activities, lesson plans, discussion questions, topics for further research, and suggested readings. (Publ.)
Publication Date: Toronto: U. Toronto Pr., 2017. xix, 312 p.
Reviewed: TLS 24/31 Aug. 2018 p. 38. Description: Josep Pla is Catalonia’s foremost twentieth-century prose writer. He witnessed and wrote about some of the twentieth-century’s most notable events including the Spanish Civil War and the foundation of the state of Israel. Due to a lack of translations of his work he is only now being dis-covered by the international audience and will soon join the ranks of major realist writers in world literature. Joan Ramon Resina teases out the writ-er’s deep-seated intellectual concerns and challenges the assumption of Pla as an anti-intellectual. He condenses Pla’s forty-seven volumes of work, including travel books, narrative fiction, and history, into eleven thematic units: time, memory, perception, life, religion, metaphysics, utopia, and self-delusion. Resina acutely explores the writer’s authorial gaze and invites the reader to see the world through the eyes of one of the most un-derappreciated observers and writers of the twentieth-century. (publ.)
Publication Date: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2018. viii, 318 p.
Reviewed: Choice (Dec 2018 vol. 56 no. 4) Essential; Outstanding Academic Title Award; Recommended for community college libraries. Description: Delves into the biographies of four key figures–Edward Bellamy, William Morris, Edward Carpenter, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman–who lived during an extraordinary period of literary and social experimentation. The publication of Bellamy’s Looking Backward in 1888 opened the floodgates of an unprecedented wave of utopian writing. Morris, the Arts and Crafts pioneer, was a committed socialist whose News from Nowhere envisions a workers’ Arcadia. Carpenter boldly argued that homosexuals constitute a utopian vanguard. Gilman, a women’s rights activist and the author of The Yellow Wallpaper, wrote numerous utopian fictions, including Herland, a visionary tale of an all-female society. These writers, Robertson shows, shared a belief in radical equality, imagining an end to class and gender hierarchies and envisioning new forms of familial and romantic relationships. They held liberal religious beliefs about a universal spirit uniting humanity. They believed in social transformation through nonviolent means and were committed to living a simple life rooted in a restored natural world. And their legacy remains with us today, as Robertson describes in entertaining firsthand accounts of contemporary utopianism, ranging from Occupy Wall Street to a Radical Faerie retreat. (publ.)
Description: Argues that literary analysis can enhance our historical understanding of race and Reconstruction. The standard view that Reconstruction ended with the Compromise of 1877 is a retrospective construction. Works of literature provide the perspective of those who continued to see possibilities for its renewal well past 1877. … Literature’s political allegories allow us to recreate debates rather than view the end of Reconstruction as a foregone conclusion. Because many of the issues raised by Reconstruction remain unresolved, those debates continue into the present. Chapters treat how the racial issues raised by Reconstruction are interwoven with debates over state v. national authority, efforts to combat terrorism (the KKK), the paternalism of welfare, economic expansion, and the question of who should rightly inherit the nation’s past. Thomas examines authors who opposed Reconstruction, authors who supported it, and authors who struggled with mixed feelings. (publ.) Contents: Introduction: not in plain black and white – 1. Reconciliation and reunion: clasping hands over the bloody chasm – 2. Federalism: thinking nationally, acting locally – 3. The Ku Klux Klan: the necessity of extreme measures – 4. Of mules and men: African American manhood and the paradox of paternalism – 5. Ruiz de Burton and railroads: the westward course of reconstruction – 6. Working with the heritage of the Old South – 7. Inheriting a shadow and a dream.
Publication Date: Boston: Beacon Pr., 2018. 237 p.
Description: Lorraine Hansberry, who died in 1965 at age thirty-four, was, by all accounts, a force of nature. She was also one of the most radical, courageous, and prescient artist-intellectuals of the twentieth century–and one of the least understood. Defined largely by her groundbreaking play A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry has been hidden in plain sight for decades. Little of her manifold contributions, her associations, her other writing, or her transgressive nature is known. A prolific and probing artist, she also committed herself passionately to political activism. Hansberry's unflinching dedication to social justice brought her under FBI surveillance in the midst of McCarthyism, when she was barely in her twenties. Looking for Lorraine is the first biography of Hansberry in decades, and it shows her multi-dimensional and miraculous complexity. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: New York Review of Books, 2018. xxxiv, 8 p. of plates; 90 p.
Reviewed: NYRB 20 Dec. 2018 p. 24; NYT/BR 20 Jan. 2019 p. 17. Description: The first translation of painter and writer Jozef Czapski’s inspiring lectures on Proust, first delivered in a prison camp in the Soviet Union during World War II. During the Second World War, in the heart of the malevolent Soviet Union, a Polish prisoner of war brought Marcel Proust’s novel À la Recherche du Temps Perdu to life without a single page of text available for reference. Presenting a series of lectures in an attempt to distract his fellow officers from their collective misery, Józef Czapski managed to revive the novel and his experience of reading it purely from memory. It was a clarifying moment for him, a Proustian moment. His talks were given in French, helping to focus the men’s minds and distract their thoughts from their grim surroundings. Calling upon deep reserves of aesthetic knowledge and critical thinking in a variety of languages, Czapski offered aspects of Proust’s story, like Scheherazade, night after night. His lectures are a testament to the survival of memories of both worlds woven together, the fictional Faubourg Saint-Germain and the actual Soviet prison camp. (publ.) Note:Translation of: Proust contre la decheance: conférences au camp du Gri-azowietz (Montricher[), France: Editions Noir sur Blanc, 1987).
Publication Date: [Jess and Betty Jo Hay Ser.] Austin: U. Texas Pr., 2018. xii, 305 p.
Reviewed: PW 18 June 2018 p. 94; LRB 19 Dec. 2019 p. 21. Description: When Stoner was published in 1965, the novel sold only a couple of thousand copies before disappearing with hardly a trace. Yet John Williams’s quietly powerful tale of a Midwestern college professor, William Stoner, whose life becomes a parable of solitude and anguish eventually found an admiring audience in America and especially in Europe. The New York Times called Stoner “a perfect novel,” and a host of writers and critics, including Colum McCann, Julian Barnes, Bret Easton Ellis, Ian McEwan, Emma Straub, Ruth Rendell, C. P. Snow, and Irving Howe, praised its artistry. The New Yorker deemed it “a masterly portrait of a truly virtuous and dedicated man.” This book traces the life of Stoner’s author, John Williams. Acclaimed biographer Charles J. Shields follows the whole arc of Williams’s life, which in many ways paralleled that of his titular character, from their shared working-class backgrounds to their undistinguished careers in the halls of academia. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2018. xxv, 384 p.
Description: This collection of essays covers the geographical, social, cultural and literary contexts of Melville’s life and works, as well as its literary reception. It will enable readers to approach Melville’s writings with fuller insight, and to read and understand them in a way that approximates the way they were read and understood in his time. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018. 736 p.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 15 July 2018 p. 10; TLS 23 Nov. 2018 p. 7; Choice (Jan. 2019 vol. 56 no. 5); Top 75 Books highly recommended for community college libraries. Description: A look at the glittering, decadent world of turn-of-the-century Paris through the first in-depth study of the three women who inspired the character of the Duchesse de Guermantes, the epitome of high-born glamour, in Marcel Proust's great novel, In Search of Lost Time. Geneviève Halévy Bizet Straus; Laure de Sade, Comtesse Adhéaume de Chevigné; and Elisabeth de Riquet de Caraman-Chimay, Comtesse Greffulhe, were the three superstars of fin-de-siècle Parisian high society who, as Caroline Weber writes, "transformed themselves, and were transformed by those around them, into living legends: paragons of elegance, nobility, and style." All of them were stifled in loveless marriages and, between the 1870s and 1890s, sought freedom and fulfillment by reinventing themselves as icons. Weber offers an intimate look at the illicit passion, secret heartbreak, and fierce, indomitable ambition that lay behind her heroines' exquisite public facades. At their fabled salons, they inspired and championed the creativity of several generations of well-known writers, artists, composers, designers, and journalists who regarded them with boundless fascination and longing. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2014. xxiv, 406 p.
Description: Nearly every aspect of the poet’s career is treated in this new critical volume: his interest in poetics and style; his role as a public figure; his deep fascination with science, psychology, and education; his peculiar and difficult relation to religion; his investments, as thinker and writer, in politics and war; the way he dealt with problems of mental illness that be-set his sister and two of his children; and, finally, the complex geopolitical contexts that inform some of his best poetry. Contributors include a number of influential scholars of Frost, but also such distinguished poets as Paul Muldoon, Dana Gioia, Mark Scott, and Jay Parini. Essays eschew jargon and employ highly readable prose, offering scholars, students, and general readers of Frost a broadly accessible reference and guide. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2013. xxxii, 456 p.
Description: This wide-ranging collection of essays from 37 renowned Beckett scholars reveals how extensively Beckett entered into dialogue with important literary traditions and the realities of his time. Drawing on his major works, as well as on a range of letters and theoretical notebooks, the essays are designed to complement each other, building a broad overview that will allow students and scholars to come away with a better sense of Beckett's life, writings, and legacy. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2011. xvi, 416 p.
Description: T. S. Eliot’s work demands much from his readers. The more the reader knows about his allusions and range of cultural reference, the more rewarding his poems, essays and plays are. This book is carefully designed to provide an authoritative and coherent examination of those contexts essential to the fullest understanding of his challenging and controversial body of work. It explores a broad range of subjects relating to Eliot’s life and career; key literary, intellectual, social and historical contexts; as well as the critical reception of his oeuvre. Taken together, these chapters sharpen critical appreciation of Eliot’s writings and present a comprehensive, composite portrait of one of the twentieth century’s preeminent men of letters. (publ.)
Publication Date: Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2018. xxi, 227 p.
Description: While the Victorian era captivates many today, much of what people believe about the Victorian world is actually false. This book looks at nine specific myths about Victorian Britain, explaining how the myths perpetuated and then showing why they are inaccurate. Coverage spans 1830-1914, from shortly before Victoria’s reign to World War I. The book is organized in three sections, beginning with social issues, then cultural ones, and ending with politics and war. The social sections pull in the reader by discussing the most common myths about the Victorians–their sexual prudery, strict gender roles, and infamous views of the family–while offering counterpoints to the myths. The cultural section moves into humor, criminal justice issues, and race, and the political section caps the book with discussions of the Industrial Revolution, foreign affairs, and war. Included are a large number of primary source documents showing how the misconceptions became popular, along with evidence for what scholars now believe to be the truths behind the myths. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2012. xviii, 502 p.
Description: Woolf scholars have long debated how context–whether historical, cultural, or theoretical–is to be understood in relation to her work, and how her work produces new insights into context. Drawing on an international field of leading and emergent specialists, this collection provides an authoritative resource for contemporary Woolf scholarship that explores the distinct and overlapping dimensions of her writings. Rather than survey existing scholarship, these essays extend Woolf studies in new directions by examining how the author is contextualized today. The collection also highlights connections between Woolf and key cultural, political, and historical issues of the twentieth century such as avant-gardism in music and art, developments in journalism and the publishing industry, political struggles over race, gender, and class, and the bearings of colonial-ism, empire, and war. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2015. xv, 313 p.
Description: This book provides a broad and authoritative framework that will help readers to better understand this widely read yet challenging writer. Each essay offers a critical assessment of Faulkner’s work as it relates to such topics as genre, reception, and the significance of place. Although Faulkner dwelt in his native Mississippi throughout his life, his visits to cities like New Orleans, Paris, and Los Angeles profoundly shaped his early career. Inextricable from the dramatic upheavals of the twentieth century, Faulkner’s writing was deeply affected by the Great War, the Great Depression, World War II, and the civil rights movement. (publ.)
Publication Date: [Bookmarked Ser.] New York: IG Publishing, 2019. 168 p.
Reviewed: PW 10 Dec. 2018 p. 46; PW 29 Apr. 2019 p. 80. Description:Stoner tells the story of William Stoner. Born into a poor Missouri farming family at the end of the nineteenth century, Stoner is sent to the state university to study agronomy. Instead, he falls in love with literature and be-comes a professor. In this achingly beautiful novel, we witness the many disappointments and struggles in Stoner’s life, including his estrangement from his wife and daughter, and the failure of his academic career to pros-per, all set against the dramatic changes of the first half of the twentieth century. First published in 1965, Stoner was not initially a popular success, despite glowing reviews. However, the novel was rediscovered in the early 2000s, and has gone on to become an international bestseller, as well as a celebrated critical favorite, with many considering it the quintessential American novel. (publ.)
Publication Date: Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Pr., 2019. xxxiv, 238 p.
Description: The literary works of the First World War are one of the richest sources we have for understanding one of the twentieth century’s most significant conflicts. Not only do many of them have historical merit, but some were critically acclaimed by both contemporaries and subsequent scholars. For example, Henri Barbusse’s Under Fire, one of the earliest novels of the war, won accolades in France and the respect of war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen as well as novelists Erich Maria Remarque and Ernest Hemingway. This book examines these works and those of war poets Rupert Brooke and John McCrae and others, providing context as well as opportunities to explore thematic elements with primary source documents, such as diaries, letters, memoirs, newspaper and journal articles, speeches, and government publications. It is unique in its use of literary and historical sources as mediums by which to both better understand the literature of the war and use literature to better understand the war itself. (publ.)
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2018. 360 p.
Reviewed: PW 18 Dec. 2018 p. 114. Description: The first English-language biography of Astrid Lindgren provides a moving and revealing portrait of the beloved Scandinavian literary icon whose adventures of Pippi Longstocking have influenced generations of young readers all over the world. Lindgren’s sometimes turbulent life as an unwed teenage mother, outspoken advocate for the rights of women and children, and celebrated editor and author is chronicled in fascinating detail by Jens Andersen, one of Denmark’s most popular biographers. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Atria/37Ink, 2018. 272 p.
Reviewed: PW 30 Oct. 2017 p. 67 Description: Throughout American history black people are the only group of people to have been forbidden by law to learn to read. This unique collection seeks to shed light on that injustice and subjugation, as well as the hard-won literary progress made, putting some of America’s most cherished voices in a conversation in one magnificent volume that presents reading as an act of resistance. (publ.)
Publication Date: Lebanon, N.H.: ForeEdge, 2017. xv, 322 p.
Reviewed: TLS 1 Dec. 2017 p. 36 Description: Chronicles the daring activities of a group of poets turned partisans and scholars turned smugglers in Vilna, The Jerusalem of Lithuania. The rescuers were pitted against Johannes Pohl, a Nazi expert on the Jews, who had been dispatched to Vilna by the Nazi looting agency, Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, to organize the seizure of the city’s great collections of Jewish books. Pohl and his Einsatzstab staff planned to ship the most valuable materials to Germany and incinerate the rest. The Germans used forty ghetto inmates as slave-laborers to sort, select, pack, and transport the materials, either to Germany or to nearby paper mills. This group, nicknamed the Paper Brigade, and informally led by poet Shmerke Kaczerginski, a garrulous, street-smart adventurer and master of deception, smuggled thousands of books and manuscripts past German guards. If caught, the men would have faced death by firing squad at Ponar, the mass-murder site outside of Vilna. To store the rescued manuscripts, poet Abraham Sutzkever helped build an underground book-bunker sixty feet beneath the Vilna ghetto. Kaczerginski smuggled weapons as well, using the groups worksite, the former building of the Yiddish Scientific Institute, to purchase arms for the ghettos secret partisan organization. All the while, both men wrote poetry that was recited and sung by the fast-dwindling population of ghetto inhabitants. With the Soviet liberation of Vilna (now known as Vilnius), the Paper Brigade thought them-selves and their precious cultural treasures saved only to learn that their new masters were no more welcoming toward Jewish culture than the old, and the books must now be smuggled out of the USSR. (publ.)
Publication Date: Woodbridge, Suffolk (UK): James Currey/Boydell & Brewer, 2017. xii, 300 p.
Reviewed: TLS 23 Mar. 2018 p. 26 Description: Easily the leading and most engaging voice of her era and generation, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has bridged gaps, introduced new motifs and narrative varieties which have energized contemporary African fiction since her first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003). With Half of a Yellow Sun (2007) and The Thing Around Your Neck–Short Stories (2009), she established herself as a preeminent story-teller. Americanah (2013), with ingenuous craftsmanship addresses the sensitive themes of passionate love, independence, freedom and moral responsibility with extravagant and versatile narrative innovations. Through her writings, she has made herself relevant to people of all ages–across racial and linguistic boundaries. (publ.)
Publication Date: New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2017. xiv, 268 p.
Reviewed: CHE 1 Sept. 2017 (new books); NYT/BR 10 Sept. 2017 p. 18. Description: Millennia ago, Greek myths exposed the dangers of violent rage and the need for empathy and self-restraint. Homer’s Iliad, Euripides’ Hecuba, and Sophocles’ Ajax show that anger and vengeance destroy perpetrators and victims alike. Composed before and during the ancient Greeks’ groundbreaking movement away from autocracy toward more inclusive political participation, these stories offer guidelines for modern efforts to create and maintain civil societies. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Columbia UP, 2018. 448 p.
Reviewed: PW 26 June 2017 p. 49; NYRB 7 Mar. 2019 p. .26. Description: Mythologized as the era of the “good war” and the “Greatest Generation,” the 1940s are frequently understood as a more heroic, uncomplicated time in American history. Yet just below the surface, a sense of dread, alienation, and the haunting specter of radical evil permeated American art and literature. Writers returned home from World War II and gave form to their disorienting experiences of violence and cruelty. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Pegasus Books, 2018. 384 p.
Reviewed: PW 13 Nov. 2017 p. 53; Economist 17 Feb. 2018 p. 73. Description: The tale of a tormented creature created in a laboratory began on a rainy night in 1816 in the imagination of a nineteen-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, newly married to the celebrated Romantic poet Percy Shelley. Since its publication two years later, in 1818, Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus has spread around the globe through every possible medium and variation. Frankenstein has not been out of print once in 200 years. It has appeared in hundreds of editions, perhaps more than any other novel. It has inspired a multitude of stage and screen adaptations, the latest appearing just last year. “Frankenstein” has become an indelible part of popular culture, and is shorthand for anything bizarre and human-made; for instance, genetically modified crops are “Frankenfood.” Conversely, Frankenstein’s monster has also become a benign Halloween favorite. Yet for all its long history, Frankenstein's central premise—that science, not magic or God, can create a living being, and thus these creators must answer for their actions as humans, not Gods—is most relevant today as scientists approach creating synthetic life. (publ.) Note: Commemorating the bicentenary of first publication in 1818.
Publication Date: London: Reel Art Pr., 2017. 208 p.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 29 Oct. 2017 p. 19; Economist 17 Feb. 2018 p. 73; NPR (25 Nov. 2018) Description: On New Year’s Day 1818, Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein was first published in an anonymous three-volume edition of 500 copies. Some thought the book was too radical in implication. A few found the central theme intriguing ... no-one predicted its success. … Celebrating the 200th anniversary of its original publication, this book examines the many visual adaptions of the novel–120 films alone, at the last count–on screen, stage, in novels, comics and graphic novels, in advertisements and even on cereal packets. (publ.)
Publication Date: Iowa City: U. Iowa Pr., 2017. xii, 252 p.
Reviewed: CHE 28 July 2017 (new books) Description: Explains the factors that triggered the demise of the Mid-west’s regionalist energies, from anti-midwestern machinations in the literary world and the inability of midwestern writers to break through the cultural politics of the era to the growing dominance of a coastal, urban culture. These developments paved the way for the proliferation of images of the Midwest as flyover country, the Rust Belt, a staid and decaying region. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Columbia Global Reports, 2016. 105 p.
Reviewed: NYT/BR 25 June 2017 p. 26 Description: Acclaimed literary critic Adam Kirsch explores some of the 21st century’s best-known writers--including Orhan Pamuk, Haruki Murakami, Roberto Bolaño, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Mohsin Hamid, Margaret Atwood, Michel Houellebecq, and Elena Ferrante. They are employing a way of imagining the world that sees different places and peoples as intimately connected. From climate change and sex trafficking to religious fundamentalism and genetic engineering, today's novelists use 21st-century subjects to address the perennial concerns of fiction, like morality, society, and love. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Liveright, 2017. xxvi, 651 p.
Reviewed: LR June 2017 p. 6; NYT/BR 18 June 2017 p. 16; WSJ 23/24 Sept. 2017 p. C5 Description: The work of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe has reverberated through two and a half centuries, altering the course of literature in ways both grand and intimate. No other writer so completely captivated the intellectual life of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Europe, putting into language the anxieties and ambitions of a civilization on the cusp of modernity. …Telling the larger-than-life story of the writer considered to be the Shakespeare of German literature, …Safranski weaves a rich tale of Europe in the throes of revolution and of the man whose ideas heralded a new era. (publ.) Note: Originally published as: Goethe: Kunstwerk des Lebens: Biographie (Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag, 2013).
Publication Date: Lincoln: U. Nebraska Pr., 2018. 186 p.
Reviewed: PW 15 Jan. 2018 p. 52. Description: An exploration of influential literature of the Plains region in both the United States and Canada. Literature reflects the destruction of the culture of the first people who lived there, the attempts of settlers to conquer the land, and the tragic losses and successes of settlement that are still shaping our modern world of environmental threat, ethnic and racial hostilities, declining rural communities, and growing urban populations. In addition to featuring writers such as Ole Edvart Rölvaag, Willa Cather, and John Neihardt, who address the epic stories of the past, Pratt also includes contemporary writers such as Louis Erdrich, Kent Haruf, Ted Koos-er, Rilla Askew, N. Scott Momaday, and Margaret Laurence. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2016. xi, 268 p.
Description: Like every authoritarian regime in history, Nazi Germany tried to control intellectual freedom through book censorship. Between 1933 and 1945, Hitler’s party orchestrated a massive campaign to take control of all forms of communication in the nation. Book burnings abounded–in 1933 alone, there were 93 book burnings in 70 German cities. Indeed, Werner Schlegel, an official in the Ministry of Propaganda, called the book burnings “a symbol of the revolution.” Bookstores, libraries, and universities were pillaged, while German authors were targeted by the regime. Yet surprisingly, Nazi book censorship has been largely overlooked by modern historians. In this book, Guenter Lewy analyzes the various strategies that the Nazis employed to enact censorship and the people, including Martin Bormann, Philipp Bouhler, Joseph Goebbels, and Alfred Rosenberg, who led the attack on intellectual life. (publ.)
Publication Date: Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2018. x, 252 p.
Reviewed: CHE 6 Apr. 2018 (new books) Description: Stresses the US experience of war in the twenty-first century and argues that wherever and whenever there is war, there will be imaginative responses to it, especially the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. … Gilman exposes the circumstances in American culture currently preventing literature and film of our recent wars from making a significant impact. He contends that Americans’ inclination to demand distraction limits learning from these compelling responses to war in the past decade. According to Gilman, where there should be clarity and depth of knowledge, we instead face misunderstanding and the anguish endured by veterans betrayed by war and our lack of understanding. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2016. xiv, 448 p.
Reviewed: Choice Sep. 2017 vol. 55 no. 1 (Highly Recommended; Top 75 Titles recommended for community college libraries) Description: Featuring a comprehensive introduction that charts the development of a complex canon, this history includes extensive essays that illuminate the cultural and political intricacies of Mexican literature. Organized thematically, these essays survey the multilayered verse and fiction of such diverse writers as Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Mariano Azuela, Xavier Villaurrutia, and Octavio Paz. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Harper Perennial, 2018. 224 p.
Reviewed: PW 5 Feb. 2018 p. 52; LJ 1 March 2018 p. 84 Description: Poetry demands more from readers—intellectually, emotion-ally, and spiritually—than other literary forms. Most of us started out loving poetry because it filled our beloved children's books from Dr. Seuss to Robert Louis Stevenson. Eventually, our reading shifted to prose and later when we encountered poetry again, we had no recent experience to make it feel familiar. But reading poetry doesn’t need to be so overwhelming. In an entertaining and engaging voice, Thomas C. Foster shows readers how to overcome their fear of poetry and learn to enjoy it once more. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: IG Publishing, 2016. 143 p.
Reviewed: TLS 18/25 Aug. 2017 p. 11 Description: The Bookmarked series focuses on a famous work of literature that left a powerful impression on an author. Kirby Gann takes on John Knowles’ classic about the tragic friendship between two boys at a boarding school. Author Gann is the recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship and two Professional Assistance Awards from the Kentucky Arts Council. He is managing editor at Sarabande Books, and teaches in the brief-residency MFA in writing program at Spalding University.
Publication Date: Philadelphia: U. Penn. Pr., 2017. x, 270 p.
Reviewed: Choice Sep. 2017 vol. 55 no. 1 (Highly Recommended; recommended for community college libraries) Description: Although religious devotion has long been identified as the primary motivation of those who took the cross, Stefan Vander Elst argues that it was by no means the only focus of the texts written to convince the warriors of Western Christianity to participate in the holy war. Vander Elst examines how, across three centuries, historiographical works that served as exhortations for the Crusade sought specifically to appeal to aristocratic interests beyond piety. They did so by appropriating the formal and thematic characteristics of literary genres favored by the knightly class, the chansons de geste and chivalric romance. (publ.)
Publication Date: Chicago: U. Chicago Pr., 2018. 224 p.
Reviewed: PW 18 Dec. 2018 p. 116 Description: Offers for the first time a selection of Hynes’s essays and introductions that explore the traditions of war writing from the twentieth century to the present. Hynes takes as a given that war itself—the battle-field uproar of actual combat—is unimaginable for those who weren’t there, yet we have never been able to turn away from it. We want to know what war is really like: for a soldier on the Somme; a submariner in the Pacific; a bomber pilot over Germany; a tank commander in the Libyan desert. To learn, we turn again and again to the memories of those who were there, and to the imaginations of those who weren’t, but are poets, or filmmakers, or painters, who give us a sense of these experiences that we can’t possibly know. (publ.)
Publication Date: London: Virago/Little Brown, 2017. 352 p.
Reviewed: TLS 13 Oct. 2017 p. 25; LR Dec. 2017/Jan. 2018 p. 52 Description: Outsiders tells the stories of five novelists–Mary Shelley, Emily Brontë, George Eliot, Olive Schreiner, Virginia Woolf–and their famous novels. We have long known their individual greatness but in linking their creativity to their lives as outsiders, this group biography throws new light on the genius they share. (publ.)
Publication Date: Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2017. 192 p.
Description: This first book-length study of critically acclaimed novelist Patricia A. McKillip’s lyrical other-worlds analyzes her characters, environments and legends and their interplay with genre expectations. The author gives long overdue critical attention to McKillip’s work and demonstrates how a broader understanding of world-building enables a deeper appreciation of her fantasies. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2018. 208 p.
Reviewed: TLS 7 Sept. 2018 p. 29. Description: This book surveys the history of independent skeptical reading, from antiquity to the present. It tells the stories of heroic efforts at self-education by disadvantaged people in all parts of the world. It analyzes successful reading promotion campaigns throughout history (concluding with Oprah Winfrey) and explains why they succeeded. It also explores some disturbing current trends, such as the reported decay of attentive reading, the disappearance of investigative journalism, “fake news,” the growth of censorship, and the pervasive influence of advertisers and publicists on the media–even on scientific publishing. For anyone who uses libraries and Internet to find out what the hell is going on, this book is a guide, an inspiration, and a warning. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2017. ix, 278 p.
Reviewed: CHE 15 Sept. 2017 (new books) Description: Racism is resilient, duplicitous, and endlessly adaptable, so it is no surprise that America is again in a period of civil rights activism. A significant reason racism endures is because it is structural: it’s embedded in culture and in institutions. One of the places that racism hides–and thus perhaps the best place to oppose it–is books for young people. Philip Nel presents five serious critiques of the history and current state of children’s literature tempestuous relationship with both implicit and explicit forms of racism. (publ.)
Publication Date: Chicago: U. Chicago Pr., 2017. 215 p.
Description: Who reads poetry? We know that poets do, but what about the rest of us? When and why do we turn to verse? Seeking the answer, Poetry magazine since 2005 has published a column called “The View From Here,” which has invited readers “from outside the world of poetry” to describe what has drawn them to poetry. Over the years, the incredibly diverse set of contributors have included philosophers, journalists, musicians, and artists, as well as doctors and soldiers, an iron-worker, an anthropologist, and an economist. This collection brings together fifty compelling pieces, which are in turns surprising, provocative, touching, and funny. (publ.)
Reviewed: PW 26 June 2017 p. 49 Description: Award-winning poet Matthew Zapruder takes on what it is that poetry—and poetry alone—can do. Zapruder argues that the way we have been taught to read poetry is the very thing that prevents us from enjoying it. In lively, lilting prose, he shows us how that misunderstanding interferes with our direct experience of poetry and creates the sense of confusion or inadequacy that many of us feel when faced with it. (publ.)
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge UP, 2016. xxiii, 357 p.
Reviewed: Choice Oct 2016 vol. 54 no. 2 (Essential; Recommended for Community College Libraries; Outstanding Academic Title) Contents: (1) Harriet Beecher Stowe and the “Book That Made This Great War”; (2) The American Book Trade and the Civil War; (3) The Transatlantic History of Civil War Literature; (4) The “American Renaissance” after the American Civil War; (5) The Realists’ Civil War; (6) Dépôt Culture: The Civil War and Periodical Fiction; (7) Imitation and Resistance in Civil War Poetry and Song; (8) Children’s Literature; (9) Writing Lives: Civil War Diaries; (10) Civil War Memoir; (11) Civil War Narrative History; (12) Walt Whitman; (13) War and the Art of Writing: Emily Dickinson’s Relational Aesthetics; (14) Herman Melville and the Civilian Author; (15) Looking at Lincoln; (16) Frederick Douglass, Violence, and Abraham Lincoln; (17) Mary Boykin Chesnut: Epic and Minature; (18) Mark Twain; (19) Replay : William Faulkner and the Civil War; (20) Robert Penn Warren’s Civil War; (21) Natasha Trethewey’s Civil War; (22) Afterword: Archiving the War.
Publication Date: New York: Oxford UP, 2016. ix, 278 p.
Description: Fitzgerald shows the reader with little or no knowledge of the Latin language how it works as a unique vehicle for poetic expression and thought. Moving between close analysis of particular Latin poems and more general discussions of Latin poets, literature, and society, Fitzgerald gives the un-Latined reader an insider’s view of how Latin poetry feels and what makes it worth reading, even today.
Publication Date: New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017. xxii, 307 p.
Reviewed: TLS 14 Apr. 2017 p. 8; FA 96(3) May/June 2017 p. 163; LRB 4 May 2017 p. 11; NYRB 13 July 2017 p. 44; Economist 9 Dec. 2017 p. 83 (2017 Books of the Year). Description: Putting a century of scholarship on one of the world’s most enduring popular novels into accessible, narrative form, this new approach to a classic of world literature is written for a wide general readership. Packed full of information about the book’s origins and later career on stage and screen, The Novel of the Century brings to life the extraordinary story of how Victor Hugo managed to write his novel of the downtrodden despite a revolution, a coup d’état, and political exile; how he pulled off the deal of the century to get it published; and how he set it on course to be-come the novel that epitomizes the grand sweep of history in the nineteenth century.
Publication Date: Columbia: U. South Carolina Pr., 2016. xvii, 238 p.
Reviewed: CHOICE Sep 2017 vol. 55 no. 1 (highly recommended; recommended for community college libraries) Note: Best known for The Savage Detectives, winner of the Rómulo Gallegos Prize; the novella By Night in Chile; and the posthumously published novel 2666, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Bolaño died in 2003 just as his reputation was becoming established. After a brief biographical sketch, Gutiérrez-Mouat chronologically contextualizes literary interpretations of Bolaño’s work in terms of his life, cultural background, and political ideals.