General book blog.

The Nonexistent Knight & The Cloven Viscount by Italo Calvino. New York. 1962. Random House. Translated From The Italian By Archibald Colquhoun. 246 pages. Jacket design by Lawrence Ratzkin.


nonexistent knight and the cloven viscountFROM THE PUBLISHER -

 These two novellas together with Calvino's previously published novel, THE BARON IN THE TREES, make a witty trilogy of allegorical fantasy. Recently republished in Italy under the title OUR ANCESTORS, they reflect the unique mind of one of Italy's leading young writers, whose satire of medieval times is highly relevant to the contemporary scene. THE NONEXISTENT KNIGHT is an earthy parody of chivalry and knighthood. Agilulf, the improbable hero of this tale, is an empty suit of armor, yet he is the essence of military perfection, resented by his fellow paladins, loved by Bradamante, a dashing female knight, and admired by Raimbaut, an idealistic volunteer who is eager for the glamour of war. In order to retain his knightly rank, Agilulf is forced to scour Europe to verify the chastity of a virgin he rescued fifteen years before. His quest, a burlesque of the time-honored rituals of medieval romance, finds him evading the seductive charms of the widow Priscilla, and rescuing the reluctant virgin from a Sultan's harem. The author's ironic scrutiny surveys war, love, male vanity and female duplicity. An irreverent view of the human condition is Calvino's aim, and he succeeds brilliantly. THE CLOVEN VISCOUNT, set in the late Middle Ages, is the grisly tale of Viscount Medardo di Terralba, who in his first battle against the Turks is neatly cut in half by a cannon shot. He returns to his lands in Austria -- literally half a man -- and becomes the personification of evil, provides children with poison mushrooms, banishes his faithful nurse to a leper colony, and carries on a ghoulish courtship with a beautiful shepherdess. When the other half of the Viscount miraculously appears on the scene and tries to undo the damage, a weird conflict develops, and the happy ending is no less startling than the story itself. As an allegory of modern man -- alienated and mutilated --this novel has profound overtones. As a parody of the Christian parables of good and evil, it is both witty and refreshing. Italo Calvino was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy, the Cosmicomics collection of short stories, and the novels Invisible Cities and If on a winter's night a traveler.


Calvino ItaloItalo Calvino was born in Santiago de Las Vegas, Cuba, to botanists Mario Calvino and Evelina Mameli. The family soon moved to its homeland Italy, where Italo lived most of his life. They moved to Sanremo, on the Italian Riviera, where his father had come from The young Italo became a member of the Avanguardisti with whom he took part in the occupation of the French Riviera. He suffered some religious troubles, as his relatives were openly atheist in a largely Catholic country. He was sent to attend a Waldensian private school. Calvino met Eugenio Scalfari, with whom he would remain a close friend. In 1941 Calvino moved to Turin, after a long hesitation over living there or in Milan. He often humorously described this choice, and used to describe Turin as 'a city that is serious but sad.' In 1943 he joined the Partisans in the Italian Resistance, in the Garibaldi brigade, with the battlename of Santiago. With Scalfari he created the MUL Calvino then entered the Italian Communist Party. Calvino graduated from the University of Turin in 1947 with a thesis on Joseph Conrad and started working with the official Communist paper L'Unite. He also had a short relationship with the Einaudi publishing house, which put him in contact with Norberto Bobbio, Natalia Ginzburg, Cesare Pavese and Elio Vittorini. With Vittorini he wrote for the weekly Il Politecnico Calvino then left Einaudi to work mainly with L'Unite and the newborn communist weekly political magazine Rinascita. He worked again for the Einaudi house from 1950, responsible for the literary volumes. The following year, presumably to advance in the communist party, he visited the Soviet Union. The reports and correspondence he produced from this visit were later collected and earned him literary prizes. In 1952 Calvino wrote with Giorgio Bassani for Botteghe Oscure, a magazine named after the popular name of the party's head-offices. He also worked for Il Contemporaneo, a Marxist weekly. From 1955 to 1958 Calvino had an affair with the actress Elsa de' Giorgi, an older and married woman. Calvino wrote hundreds of love letters to her. Excerpts were published by Corriere della Sera in 2004, causing some controversy. In 1957, disillusioned by the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary, Calvino left the Italian Communist party. His letter of resignation was published in L'Unite and soon became famous. He found new outlets for his periodic writings in the magazines Passato e Presente and Italia Domani. Together with Vittorini he became a co-editor of Il Menab? di letteratura, a position which Calvino held for many years. Despite severe restrictions in the US against foreigners holding communist views, Calvino was allowed to visit the United States, where he stayed six months from 1959 to 1960, after an invitation by the Ford Foundation. Calvino was particularly impressed by the 'New World': 'Naturally I visited the South and also California, but I always felt a New Yorker. My city is New York. ' The letters he wrote to Einaudi describing this visit to the United States, were first published as 'American Diary 1959-1960' in the book Hermit in Paris in 2003. In 1962 Calvino met the Argentinian translator Esther Judith Singer and married her in 1964 in Havana, during a trip in which he visited his birthplace and met Ernesto Che Guevara. This encounter later led him to contribute an article on the 15th of October 1967, a few days after the death of Guevara, describing the lasting impression Guevara made on him. Back in Italy, and once again working for Einaudi, Calvino started publishing some of his cosmicomics in Il Caffe, a literary magazine. Vittorini's death in 1966 influenced Calvino greatly. He went through what he called an 'intellectual depression', which the writer himself described as an important passage in his life: '. I ceased to be young. Perhaps it's a metabolic process, something that comes with age, I'd been young for a long time, perhaps too long, suddenly I felt that I had to begin my old age, yes, old age, perhaps with the hope of prolonging it by beginning it early'. He then started to frequent Paris, where he was nicknamed L'ironique amus?. Here he soon joined some important circles like the Oulipo and met Roland Barthes and Claude Levi-Strauss, in the fermenting atmosphere that was going to evolve into 1968's cultural revolution During his French experience, he also became fond of Raymond Queneau's works, which would influence his later production. Calvino had more intense contacts with the academic world, with notable experiences at the Sorbonne and at Urbino's university. His interests included classical studies: Honore de Balzac, Ludovico Ariosto, Dante, Ignacio de Loyola, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Giacomo Leopardi. At the same time, not without surprising Italian intellectual circles, Calvino wrote novels for Playboy's Italian edition He became a regular contributor to the important Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. In 1975 Calvino was made Honorary Member of the American Academy, and the following year he was awarded the Austrian State Literary Prize for European literature. He visited Japan and Mexico and gave lectures in several American towns. In 1981 he was awarded the prestigious French Legion d'Honneur. During the summer of 1985, Calvino prepared some notes for a series of lectures to be delivered at Harvard University in the fall. However, on 6 September, he was admitted to the ancient hospital of Santa Maria della Scala in Siena, where he died during the night between the 18 and 19 September of a cerebral hemorrhage. His lecture notes were published posthumously as Six Memos for the Next Millennium in 1988. His style is not easily classified; much of his writing has an air of the fantastic reminiscent of fairy tales, although sometimes his writing is more 'realistic' and in the scenic mode of observation Some of his writing has been called 'postmodern', reflecting on literature and the act of reading, while some has been labeled 'magical realist', others fables, others simply 'modern'. Twelve years before his death, he was invited to and joined the Oulipo group of experimental writers. He wrote: 'My working method has more often than not involved the subtraction of weight. I have tried to remove weight, sometimes from people, sometimes from heavenly bodies, sometimes from cities; above all I have tried to remove weight from the structure of stories and from language.'



Set the Night on fire: L.A. in the Sixties by Mike Davis and Jon Wiener. London/New York. 2020.  Verso. 9781784780227.  788 pages. hardcover. Cover design by Matt Dorfman.


9781784780227FROM THE PUBLISHER - 


A magisterial, riveting movement history of Los Angeles in the Sixties. Los Angeles in the sixties was a hotbed of political and social upheaval. The city was a launchpad for Black Power—where Malcolm X and Angela Davis first came to prominence and the Watts uprising shook the nation. The city was home to the Chicano Blowouts and Chicano Moratorium, as well as being the birthplace of “Asian American” as a political identity. It was a locus of the antiwar movement, gay liberation movement, and women’s movement, and, of course, the capital of California counterculture. Mike Davis and Jon Wiener provide the first comprehensive movement history of L.A. in the sixties, drawing on extensive archival research and dozens of interviews with principal figures, as well as the authors’ storied personal histories as activists. Following on from Davis’s award-winning L.A. history, City of Quartz, Set the Night on Fire is a historical tour de force, delivered in scintillating and fiercely beautiful prose. “Authoritative and impressive.” –Los Angeles Times. “Monumental.” –Guardian.



Davis Mike and Wiener JonMike Davis is the author of City of Quartz, Late Victorian Holocausts, Buda’s Wagon, and Planet of Slums. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the Lannan Literary Award. He lives in San Diego. Jon Wiener is a longtime Contributing Editor at the Nation and host and producer of Start Making Sense, the magazine’s weekly podcast. He is an Emeritus Professor of U.S. history at UC Irvine, and his books include Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files and How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey across America. He lives in Los Angeles.






Last of the Conquerors by William Gardner Smith. New York. 1948. Farrar Straus & Company. hardcover. 262 pages. August 1948. 


last of the conquerorsFROM THE PUBLISHER -


   ‘William Gardner Smith has the two great qualities, simplicity and bitternes. One is a divine gift, and the other, a tragic acquisition.’ - Christopher Morley. Some people will read this novel with indignation, some with shame. Many will be shocked. It is the story of a young man who learned for the first time - in an enemy country - how it feels to be treated as a human being. It is the story of Hayes Dawkins, Negro soldier in the Army of Occupation, who found himself accepted as an equal by the Germans and looked upon as an inferior by his white comrades in arms. In Berlin Hayes discovered a new world in which he could go where he pleased, face any man, love any woman. When a change of station brought him to a post where he was again a Negro, a second-class human being, the shock and hurt were almost too great to bear. It was then he knew why Negroes would rather stay in Germany than go home, why some even deserted to the Russian zone. Caught in a current of injustice and hatred, Hayes was faced with an almost impossible decision - a choice between two worlds. In portraying Hayes Dawkins, William Gardner Smith has drawn a moving picture of a young man caught between two worlds unable to decide which he should make his own. LAST OF THE CONQUERORS is a first novel of promise and distinction. Born in 1927, William Gardner Smith was only twenty when he finished LAST OF THE CONQUERORS, his first novel. Born and brought up in Philadelphia, he has been a reporter for the Pittsburgh Courier in that city for five years. After spending a year in Germany in the Army of Occupation, he attended Temple University.


Smith William GardnerWilliam Gardner Smith (February 6, 1927 – November 5, 1974) was an American journalist, novelist, and editor. Smith is linked to the black social protest novel tradition of the 1940s and the 1950s, a movement that became synonymous with writers such as Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Willard Motley, and Ann Petry. His third book, South Street (1954), is considered to be one of the first black militant protest novels. Smith's last published novel, The Stone Face (1963), in its account of the Paris massacre of 1961, ‘stand[s] as one of the few representations of the event available’. Smith was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania of African American descent. After 1951, he maintained an expatriate status in France. However, due to his various journalistic and editorial assignments, he also lived for extended periods of time in Ghana. In the final decade of his life, Smith would travel to the United States to visit family and friends and write about the racial and social upheaval that was occurring there. Some of Smith's journalism and reportage from this period was published in various media outlets in France and Europe. Some of it was revised, re-adapted, and published in Return To Black America in 1970. Smith spoke fluent French, and was a frequent contributor and guest on radio and television programs in France where he was considered an expert on the political struggle, civil unrest, and racial tension occurring in the United States during the turbulent decade of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Smith was diagnosed with cancer in October 1973 and died just over a year later in Thiais, a commune in the southern suburbs of Paris, France.




The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara. New York. 1980. Random House. hardcover. 297pages. April 1980.  Jacket design: The Artworks. 0394507126.


0394507126FROM THE PUBLISHER -    


Second of all is Velma: daughter, mother, wife, friend, worker - and an attempted suicide. She has survived self-slashed wrists and gassed lungs and now she sits on a stool in the Southwest Community Infirmary. For some reason she is not sure of, she did not die. And for another reason she is also not sure of, she is sitting on this stool in a radical medical center listening to a faith healer asking her ‘Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well?’ Thirdly is Minnie Ransom - fabulous healer in beige T-strap shoes - love and wisdom incarnate who (with her spirit-guide, Old Wife) marshals all of her gifts to help Velma deal with the things that made her thirsty for death: Was it Obie who did not love her well or enough? the friends who misunderstood her? the haunted quality of life itself since the bottoming-out of the Movement? But first of all are the Salt Eaters - the Black people who inhabit a city somewhere in the South called Claybourne, and who are connected to the healing taking place and who witness an event that alters their lives forever. M’Dear Sophie, Velma’s godmother; Doc Serge, ex-pimp and neighborhood sage; Palma, Velma’s sister and member of a singing troupe called the Seven Sisters of the Grain; Obie, head of the ominous 7 Arts Academy; Fred Holt, bus driver and mourner; Dr. Meadows, a ‘redbone’ Black who is terrified of his own people. Whether Toni Cade Bambara sits us down at a healing, or moves us through Claybourne at carnival time or chills us with a mysterious thunderstorm, she locks us into the lives of the Salt Eaters. Some of them are centered, some are off balance; some are frightened, some are daring. But all are brilliantly drawn representatives of a people searching for the healing properties of salt. Equally as stunning as her characters is Ms. Bambara’s vision. From the boymen who live off welfare women, to the primordial mud mothers who carry their children in their hides, to a little girl watching her godparents dance in the sand, the author explores the narcissistic qualities of despair and the tremendous responsibility of being a well person. (As Minnie Ransom says, ‘Sweetheart, wholeness is no trifling matter.’) As always Ms. Bambara’s style is comedy with a knife’s edge, and tragedy with balm. After years of acclaim as one of our finest short-story writers, Toni Cade Bambara has written a show-stopper of a first novel.


Bambara Toni CadeToni Cade Bambara, born Miltona Mirkin Cade (March 25, 1939 – December 9, 1995)was an African-American author, documentary film-maker, social activist and college professor. Toni Cade Bambara was born in New York City to parents Walter and Helen (Henderson) Cade. She grew up in Harlem, Bedford Stuyvesant (Brooklyn), Queens and New Jersey, NJ. In 1970 she changed her name to include the name of a West African ethnic group Bambara. Bambara graduated from Queens College with a B.A. in Theater Arts/English Literature in 1959, then studied mime at the Ecole de Mime Etienne Decroux in Paris, France. She also became interested in dance before completing her master's degree in American studies at City College, New York (from 1962), while serving as program director of Colony Settlement House in Brooklyn. She has also worked for New York social services and as a recreation director in the psychiatric ward of Metropolitan hospital. From 1965 to 1969 she was with City College's Search for Education, Elevation, Knowledge-program. She taught English, published material and worked with SEEK's black theatre group. She was made assistant professor of English at Rutgers University's new Livingston College in 1969, was visiting professor in Afro-American Studies at Emory University and at Atlanta University (1977), where she also taught at the School of Social Work (until 1979). She was writer-in-residence at Neighborhood Arts Center (1975–79), at Stephens College at Columbia, Missouri (1976) and at Atlanta's Spelman College (1978–79). From 1986 she taught film-script writing at Louis Massiah's Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia. Bambara participated in several community and activist organizations, and her work was influenced by the Civil Rights and Black Nationalist movements of the 1960s. She went on propaganda trips to Cuba in 1973 and to Vietnam in 1975. She moved to Atlanta, GA with her daughter, Karma Bene, and became a founding member of the Southern Collective of African-American Writers. Toni Cade Bambara was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1993 and died of it in 1995, at age 56. Her first book was, Gorilla, My Love (1972), collected fifteen short stories, written between 1950 and 1960. Most of the stories in Gorilla, My Love are told through a first-person point of view. The narrator is often a sassy young girl who is tough, brave, and caring. Bambara called her writing upbeat fiction. Included were ‘Blues Ain't No Mockin Bird‘ as well as ‘Raymond's Run.’ Bambara was active in the 1960s Black Arts movement and the emergence of black feminism. Her anthology The Black Woman (1970) with poetry, short stories, and essays by Nikki Giovanni, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Paule Marshall and herself, as well as work by Bambara's students from the SEEK program, was the first feminist collection to focus on African-American women. Tales and Stories for Black Folk (1971) contained work by Langston Hughes, Ernest J. Gaines, Pearl Crayton, Alice Walker and students. She wrote the introduction for another groundbreaking feminist anthology by women of color, This Bridge Called My Back (1981), edited by Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga. While Bambara is often ascribed as a ‘feminist,’ in her chapter titled ‘On the Issue of Roles’, she writes, ‘Perhaps we need to let go of all notions of manhood and femininity and concentrate on Blackhood.’ Her novel The Salt Eaters (1980) is centered around a healing event that coincides with a community festival in a fictional city of Claybourne, Georgia. The novel Those Bones Are Not My Child or If Blessings Come (title of the manuscript), was published posthumously in 1999. It deals with the disappearance and murder of forty black children in Atlanta between 1979 and 1981. It was called her masterpiece by Toni Morrison, who edited it and also gathered some of Bambara's short stories, essays, and interviews in the volume Deep Sightings & Rescue Missions: Fiction, Essays & Conversations. (Vintage, 1996). Her work was explicitly political, concerned with injustice and oppression in general and with the fate of African American communities and grassroots political organizations in particular, esp. The Salt Eaters. Her script for two awards-winning Louis Massiah film The Bombing of Osage Avenue dealt with the massive police assault in Philadelphia on the headquarters of MOVE, at 6221 Osage Ave., on May 13, 1985. Female protagonists and narrators dominate her writings, which was informed by radical feminism and firmly placed inside African American culture, with its dialect, oral traditions and jazz techniques. She was always influenced by the people of Harlem and by her strong-willed mother, Helen Bent Henderson Cade Brehon, who urged her and her brother Walter (an established painter) to be proud of African American culture and history. Bambara contributed to PBS's American Experience documentary series with ‘Midnight Ramble’: Oscar Micheaux and the Story of Race Movies. She also was one of four filmmakers who made the collaborative 1995 documentary W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography in Four Voices.



Haiti Noir by Edwidge Danticat (editor). New York. 2011. Akashic Books. hardcover. 315 pages. 9781617750137.


9781617750137FROM THE PUBLISHER -


   'A wide-ranging collection from the beloved but besieged Caribbean island. [. ] The 36th entry in Akashic's Noir series (which ranges from Bronx to Delhi to Twin Cities) is beautifully edited, with a spectrum of voices.' --Kirkus Reviews. 'Danticat has succeeded in assembling a group portrait of Haitian culture and resilience that is cause for celebration.' --Publishers Weekly. 'A solid contribution to the [noir] series, especially for its showcasing of a setting not commonly portrayed in crime fiction.' --Booklist. 'Who can ever judge how important Danticat has been to Americans' understanding and re-evaluating Haiti's position and role in the hemisphere? Not just as a novelist and essayist in her own right, but as editor and guiding force behind this collection of short stories and the re-publication and English translation of the Chauvet triptych, the Haitian-born Danticat has brought her country's literature back into the world of English-speakers. Filled with delights and surprises, Haiti Noir, taken as a whole, provides a profound portrait of the country, from its crises to its triumphs, from the tiny bouks of the countryside to the shanties of the sprawling bidonvilles. Danticat herself has a lovely story in the collection, and permits two distinguished foreign writers on Haiti, Madison Smartt Bell and Mark Kurlansky, to slide in there among all the brilliant Haitians.' --Daily Beast. Includes brand-new stories by: Edwidge Danticat, Rodney Saint-Eloi, Madison Smartt Bell, Gary Victor, M.J. Fièvre, Marvin Victor, Yanick Lahens, Louis-Philipe Dalembert, Kettly Mars, Marie Ketsia Theodore-Pharel, Evelyne Trouillot, Katia Ulysse, Ibi Aanu Zoboi, Nadine Pinede, and others. Haiti has a tragic history and continues to be one of the most destitute places on the planet, especially in the aftermath of the earthquake. Danticat EdwidgeHere, however, Edwidge Danticat reveals that even while the subject matter remains dark, the caliber of Haitian writing is of the highest order.


 Edwidge Danticat is the author of numerous books, including BREATH, EYES, MEMORY, KRIK? KRAK!, a National Book Award finalist, THE FARMING OF BONES, an American Book Award winner, and THE DEW BREAKER, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and winner of the first Story Prize. She lives in Miami with her husband and daughter.






Earwitness: Fifty Characters by Elias Canetti. New York. 1979. Seabury Press. hardcover. 101 pages. 081649357x.




   This unusual book combines criticism, literary invention, and social psychology. EARWITNESS displays Canetti’s innovative approach to character description which was originally created by the Greek philosopher Theophrastus and ate practiced by the English character writers of the seventeenth century. Relying on poetic imagery, singular insights, and unabashed word play, Canetti displays fifty characters, fifty ironic paradigms of human behavior, to demonstrate how man’s individual and social being frustrate rigid psychological or sociological categories. ‘The Corpse Skulker’ with his lugubrious delight in death, ‘The Fun Runner,’ so hastily consuming pleasure that he has no time to taste or savor, ‘The Defective,’ a person quite pleased and secure thanks to an inferiority complex - these characters and many others could only have been invented by a writer as adept at fiction as he is informed about theories of behavior. Indeed, Elias Canetti, as artist, even offers a rare clue to his creative methods when describing the character called ‘The Earwitness’: ‘He comes, halts, huddles unnoticed in a corner, peers into a book or a display, hears whatever is to be heard, and moves away untouched and absent. One would think he was not there for he is such an expert at vanishing. He is already somewhere else, he is already listening again, he knows all the places where there is something to be heard, stows it nicely away and forgets nothing.’ 

Canetti Elias


Elias Canetti (1905-1994), Bulgarian-born author of the novel Auto-da-Fé, the sociological study Crowds and Power, and three previously published memoir volumes (The Tongue Set Free, The Torch in my Ear, and The Play of the Eyes), won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1981.






Redheads Die Quickly and Other Stories by Gil Brewer. Gainesville. 2012. University Press of Florida. paperback. 298 pages. Cover illustration by Larry Leshan. Edited by David Rachels. 9780813044064.


9780813044064FROM THE PUBLISHER -


   Gil Brewer (1922-1983), a second-generation noir writer, followed in the footsteps of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and James M. Cain. He spent most of his life in the Tampa Bay area, where he also set most of his fiction. Like his characters, he was a victim of his own weaknesses, dying as a result of the alcoholism that plagued his whole adult life. Brewer published prolifically under various pseudonyms and in a variety of niche genres including mystery, romance, and pornography. Over the course of his career, he published more than 100 short stories and 50 novels, including A Taste for Sin, Satan Is a Woman, and The Girl from Hateville. He is known for his everyday characters--often underdogs, frequently downtrodden, and desperate to get ahead in life--who ultimately succumb to their own weaknesses and desires. Brewer revolutionized the availability of reading-as-entertainment for the American people by helping to exploit a new market: the paperback original. Many of his novels, including the bestselling 13 French Street, have recently been reissued for a new audience. However, Redheads Die Quickly and Other Stories is the first collection of his short fiction. Because his work was published in a large number of pulp magazines, and because he regularly didn't publish stories under his own name, Brewer's fans--and fans of hard-boiled noir fiction in general--have often been frustrated in their efforts to find the work of this mid-century American crime writer. David Rachels has sifted through the Brewer papers at the University of Wyoming, thumbed thousands of publications, and tracked down rare pulp magazines on eBay, to create the first-ever authoritative list of Brewer's short stories, with the best featured in a single volume.


Brewer GilFlorida writer Gil Brewer (1922-1983) was the author of dozens of wonderfully sleazy sex/crime adventure novels of the 1950's and 60's, including Backwoods Teaser and Nude on Thin Ice; some of them starring private eye Lee Baron (Wild) or the brothers Sam and Tate Morgan (The Bitch). Gil Brewer, who had not previously published any novels, began to write for Gold Medal Paperbacks in 1950-51. Brewer wrote some 30 novels between 1951 and the late 60s – very often involving an ordinary man who becomes involved with, and is often corrupted and destroyed by, an evil or designing woman. His style is simple and direct, with sharp dialogue, often achieving considerable intensity. Brewer was one of the many writers who ghost wrote under the Ellery Queen byline as well. Brewer also was known as Eric Fitzgerald, Bailey Morgan, and Elaine Evans.








The Play Of The Eyes by Elias Canetti. New York. 1986. Farrar Straus Giroux. hardcover. 329 pages. Jacket design by Candy Jernigan. Translated from the German by Ralph Manheim. 0374234345.




   Iris Murdoch has said that Elias Canetti is ‘one of our great imaginers and solitary men of genius.’ Winner of the 1981 Nobel Prize for Literature, Canetti is certainly one of the great German writers of the twentieth century. His novel AUTO-DA-FÉ and his sociological work Crowds and Power are masterpieces, but his autobiographical work is every bit the equal of these books. THE PLAY OF THE EYES is the third volume of Canetti’s memoirs. Set in Vienna between 1931 and 1937, at a time when the European catastrophe was already clear to anyone with eyes to see, the book is both a portrait of its time and an intellectual and spiritual autobiography. Canetti had already written AUTO-DA-FÉ and his play THE WEDDING, but he was still relatively unknown. The book is in part an account of his life in Vienna - the Vienna which saw one of the greatest cultural moments in history - and his friends and rivals there. He describes his relationships with Hermann Broch, Robert Musil, Fritz Wortruba, the composer Alban Berg, and Alma Mahler. Never, perhaps, have these figures become so alive for the modern reader as in Canetti’s descriptions. The book is much more than a compendium of anecdotes. It is also one story of the intellectual development of a great thinker. Canetti is unsparing about himself, and central to the book is the account of his friendship with the mysterious Dr. Sonne - a mentor whose effect on Canetti’s life and work was enormous. THE PLAY OF THE EYES is one of the most extraordinarily self-aware and unsparing of autobiographies - a work of art in itself. ELIAS CANETTI was born in Bulgaria in 1905 to Sephardic parents. His childhood was, as Susan Sontag has remarked, ‘rich in displacements’ and included stays in England, Switzerland, France, Austria, and Germany. He studied in Vienna and in 1938 emigrated first to Paris and then to London. Canetti now divides his time between England and Switzerland. In 1972, Canetti received the German Büchner Prize, and in 1981, the Nobel Prize for Literature. Canetti Elias

Elias Canetti (1905-1994), Bulgarian-born author of the novel Auto-da-Fé, the sociological study Crowds and Power, and three previously published memoir volumes (The Tongue Set Free, The Torch in my Ear, and The Play of the Eyes), won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1981.




The Secret Heart Of The Clock: Notes, Aphorisms, Fragments 1973-1985 by Elias Canetti. New York. 1989. Farrar Straus Giroux. hardcover. 160 pages. Jacket design by Jacqueline Schuman. Translated from the German by Joel Agee. 0374256942.




   Elias Canetti is one of the preeminent intellectual figures of the twentieth century. He is, as Iris Murdoch has put it, ‘one of our great imaginers and solitary men of genius.’ Canetti’s gifts are too wide-ranging to be limited to one genre. He has written a novel, AUTO-DA-FÉ, which many consider on a par with Musil and Broch; his work of social theory, CROWDS AND POWER, is a revolutionary achievement, an entirely original way of rethinking history and mass psychology; the three volumes of his autobiography, THE TONGUE SET FREE, THE TORCH IN MY EAR, and THE PLAY OF THE EYES, are themselves both literary masterpieces and noble attempts to account for the character of our times. With THE SECRET HEART OF THE CLOCK, Canetti has created his own medium – a highly personal testimonial of what he himself chooses to term ‘notations,’ bits and pieces: notes, aphorisms, fragments. Written toward the end of his life, these ‘notations,’ taken together, present an awesomely tender, guiltily gloomy meditation on death and aging. As with all of Canetti’s work, THE SECRET HEART OF THE CLOCK is as much about language and literature as it is a record of intense self-analysis. There is no room for youth, health, hope, innocence, or humor in Canetti’s landscape, a landscape in which the threat of nuclear annihilation casts its shadow over the whole; but there is love in it - ’not for myself,’ he writes, ‘but for others.’ For all its bleakness, this is a moving, absorbing, and nourishing document, providing a fascinating glimpse into the mind of an extraordinary writer, in his eighties more lucid than ever. Canetti Elias

Elias Canetti (1905-1994), Bulgarian-born author of the novel Auto-da-Fé, the sociological study Crowds and Power, and three previously published memoir volumes (The Tongue Set Free, The Torch in my Ear, and The Play of the Eyes), won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1981.





The Human Province by Elias Canetti. New York. 1978. Seabury Press. hardcover. 281 pages. Jacket design by Tim McKeen. Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel. 0816493359.




   Written during the decades of research and composition of his masterpiece, CROWDS AND POWER, THE HUMAN PROVINCE contains Canetti’s reflections from 1942 to 1972. He wrings as a ‘safety valve, an indispensible daily exercise’ to guard against a loss of spontaneity. They offered him a freedom of thought and expression because he ever intended them for publication; they were left untouched, exactly as he originally wrote them. However, they eventually became so important to him that he felt he would ‘suffocate’ without them. THE HUMAN PROVINCE province is a record of thirty years in an intensely conscious existence. It records the evolution of Canetti’s life and thought in both their spiritual and intellectual contexts. As such, these reflections become personal revelations, not merely diary entries or aphorisms. They represent the truth of one man so completely that the reader can trace the development of the author’s ideas, observations and memories, and follow his thought on many questions, including the nature of the religious experience - East and West - of mythology, and of the human potential to overcome the finality of death in a genuinely existential way. As Canetti has said, THE HUMAN PROVINCE represents a separate part of his life and, indeed, the book is unique as the most autobiographical of his works. Canetti Elias


Elias Canetti (1905-1994), Bulgarian-born author of the novel Auto-da-Fé, the sociological study Crowds and Power, and three previously published memoir volumes (The Tongue Set Free, The Torch in my Ear, and The Play of the Eyes), won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1981.







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