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To The Unknown Hero by Hans Erich Nossack. New York. 1974. Farrar Straus Giroux. hardcover. Jacket design by Lawrence Ratzkin. Translated from the German by Ralph Manheim. 0374278385.

 

0374278385FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Hans Erich Nossack belongs to the extraordinary lineage of German writers that includes Hesse, Kafka, Rilke, and Novalis. Jean-Paul Sartre has called him ‘the most interesting contemporary German writer.’ TO THE UNKNOWN HERO, the third of his novels to be published in English, shows Nossack’s inimitable wry conscience in a comic mood that promises to delight the reader. The book is both an adventure story and a proof of the limitations of historiography. ‘Professor Precise,’ German pedant, had early in his in academic career written a 200-page treatise called ‘To the Unknown Hero,’ about a bit of German history, ten event-filled days in 1919 that paved the way to the Weimar Republic. The hero of this brief revolution, praised as a tactical and political genius, was a man known only as Comrade Hein, a mysterious figure who disappeared from the midst of the first assembly of victorious revolutionaries and was never heard from again. ‘Professor Precise,’ with filial pride, had presented his middle-class, grocer father with a copy of his published book - with surprising results, for the father clearly knew a great deal more about Comrade Rein than the son dreamed could be known. For a long time, however, the implication of his father’s knowledge was not clear to the arrogant scholar; and then, reluctantly but inevitably, he realizes that his search for the truth about Comrade Hein has only just begun and that it is his obligation to embark on a new investigation of his once lionized hero. The suspense of the story and the skill with which Nossack has woven together its complex elements give this book the succinctness and resonance of a parable of modern and revolutionary times. The Times Literary Supplement, in reviewing the German edition, said: ‘Nossack has written a splendidly humorous book in which the comic - and at times almost burlesque - element brilliantly focuses the essential discontinuity in life. He has always evinced a predilection for the comic and dramatic in his works, but never before have they been so overt.’ Nossack’s brisk prose style has been admirably re-created by Ralph Manheim.

Nossack Hans Erich

 

Hans Erich Nossack was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1901, and much of his writing was shaped by his relationship to his native city, where he died in 1976. His work was banned by the Nazi regime and most of his manuscripts were destroyed by the allied bombing of Hamburg in 1943. Hailed by Jean-Paul Sartre as one of the great German existentialist novelists, Hans Erich Nossack has long been considered a major writer throughout Europe. His essays, poems, plays and novels - of which TO THE UNKNOWN HERO, THE D’ARTHEZ CASE, AND THE IMPOSSIBLE PROOF have been translated into English - won him Europe’s most important literary prizes.

 


 

 

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Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty. Cambridge. 2014. Harrvard University Press. hardcover. 685 pages. 9780674430006.

 

9780674430006FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality. Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality--the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth--today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and Piketty Thomas undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piketty says, and may do so again. A work of extraordinary ambition, originality, and rigor, Capital in the Twenty-First Century reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today.

 

Thomas Piketty is Professor at the Paris School of Economics.

 


 

 

Crowds And Power by Elias Canetti. New York. 1962. Viking Press. hardcover. 295 pages. Jacket design by James and Ruth McCrea. 

 

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   A mounting groundswell of opinion from abroad indicates that this bold and startlingly original work will be a publishing event of the greatest importance. The book will doubtless prove to be as obligatory for the reader of today, concerned with the mainsprings of human affairs, as Spengler’s DECLINE OF THE WEST was for an earlier generation. Canetti’s book is, however, both shorter and far easier to read than Spengler’s. The increasing interplay between crowds and power is the most important social phenomenon of our century. Men hitherto unknown are suddenly thrown up by the crowd, and the power they then wield is more absolute than that of any established former ruler. These men have started wars involving the whole of mankind, and the destruction of life they have wrought is incalculable. Event single human being on earth is in some way or another affected by them, and the complete extinction of mankind is threatened by this mysterious interplay between crowds and power. A real understanding of this problem is urgent. CROWDS AND POWER is based on the author’s own firsthand observation of crowds in several countries, on his vast research for twenty-five years on historical crowds in various civilizations, and on the roots and motives of personal power. DR. C. VERONICA WEDGWOOD, the distinguished British writer and lecturer, says in her review of CROWDS AND POWER in The London Daily Telegraph: ‘This is a powerful and haunting book which fires the imagination and the intellect. of comprehensive significance, a kind of ‘Leviathan’ for the twentieth century. Some passages in this book recall in their unvarnished and telling directness the etchings of Goya. The whole provides an astonishing and disturbing new perspective of the human scene.’ IRIS MURDOCH in The Spectator writes: ‘To deal adequately with CROWDS AND POWER one would have to be, like its author, a mixture of historian, sociologist, psychologist, philosopher and poet. One is certainly confronted here with something large and important: an extremely imaginative, original and massively documented theory of the psychology of crowds. It is also a great original work on a vitally important subject, and provides us with an eminence from which we can take a new look at Marx and Freud. We need and we shall always need the visions of great imaginers and solitary men of genius.’ 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.

 

 


 

 

 

Tituba of Salem Village by Ann Petry. New York. 1964. Thomas Y. Crowell. hardcover. 256 pages. Jacket by John Wilson. 

 

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    In Salem village in 1692, superstition and hysteria mounted to the climax that we know today as the Salem Witch Trials. A major figure in the trials—indeed, one of the first three ‘witches’ condemned - was Tituba, a slave from Barbados. In this book Ann Petry has brought Tituba alive for us. With controlled narrative skill she has illuminated those harsh Puritan times, and described with mounting tension the widespread belief in witches. As Tituba’s story unfolds, we come close to her as a woman. She had been forced to leave the sunny land of her youth and go as a slave to a cold, dreary New England village, with a greedy and self-seeking master. Tituba’s only fault was that she was more intelligent, more sensitive, and more capable than most of the people around her. To the people of Salem Village, struggling to understand the harsh God who controlled their seasons and their sustenance, the idea of a woman who made a compact with the devil, and then brought harm to others, became an obsession. Tituba’s competence, and the fact that she was both a slave and black, made her particularly vulnerable to suspicion and attack. Ann Petry throws the events of those terrible days into clear, honest focus. She has brought to life each of the participants, so that we understand why they acted as they did. A sense of foreboding, an accumulation of hysteria and terror, fills the narrative. The culmination of the witch trials, in which confession of witchcraft frequently gained acquittal and denial was often taken as evidence of guilt, provides a dramatic and absorbing picture of a community which committed an irreparable evil in the name of their God.

 


Petry AnnAnn Petry (born October 12, 1908, died April 28, 1997) was an African American author. Ann Lane was born as the younger of the two daughters to Peter and Bertha Clark in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Her parents belonged to the Black minority of the small town. Her father was a pharmacist and her mother was a shop owner, chiropodist, and hairdresser. The family belonged to the middle-class, and never had to suffer any financial struggles similar to those of many Harlem inhabitants. The Lane girls were raised sheltered from most of the disadvantages other black people in the United States had to experience due to the color of their skin. Only once did Ann experience racial discrimination when she went to school two years early at the age of 4 with her older sister Helen. On their way home, the two sisters were attacked by some white juveniles with stones. After the girls’ uncles took care of this by threatening the wrongdoers the Lane girls were never bothered again. The strong family bonding was a big support for Ann’s self-esteem. Her well-traveled uncles, who had many stories to tell their nieces when coming home, her ambitious father who overcame racial obstacles when opening his pharmacy in the small town as well as her mother and aunts, set a great example to Ann and Helen to become strong themselves. Petry interviewed by the Washington Post in 1992 says about her tough female family members that ‘it never occurred to them that there were things they couldn’t do because they were women.’ The wish to become a professional writer was raised in Ann for the first time in high school when her English teacher read her essay to the class commenting on it with the words: ‘I honestly believe that you could be a writer if you wanted to.’ However, Petry decided on a rather stable education and followed the family tradition after finishing high school. She enrolled in college and graduated with a Ph.G. degree from Connecticut College of Pharmacy in New Haven in 1931 and worked in the family business for several years. On February 24, 1938 she married George D. Petry of New Iberia, Louisiana. This new commitment brought Petry to New York and eventually back to writing. She did not only write articles for newspapers like Amsterdam News, or People’s Voice, and published short stories in the Crisis, but was also engaged at an elementary school in Harlem. It was during this period of her life that she had realized and personally experienced what the black population of the United States had to go through in their everyday life. Traversing the littered streets of Harlem, living for the first time among large numbers of poor black people, seeing neglected children up close – Petry’s early years in New York inevitably made painful impressions on her. Deeply impacted by her Harlem experiences, Ann Petry was in the possession of the necessary creative writing skills to bring it to paper. Her daughter Liz explains to the Washington Post that ‘her way of dealing with the problem was to write this book, which maybe was something that people who had grown up in Harlem couldn’t do.’ She wrote her most popular novel The Street in 1946 and won the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. Back in Old Saybrook in 1947, the writer worked on Country Place (1947), The Narrows (1953), and some other stories but they have never achieved the same success as her first book. Until her death Petry lived in a representative 18th century house in her hometown, Old Saybrook. Ann Lane Petry died at the age of 88 on 28th April 1997. She was outlived by her only daughter, Liz Petry.


 

 

 

 

The Torch In My Ear by Elias Canetti. New York. 1982. Farrar Straus Giroux. hardcover. 384 pages. Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel. 0374278474.

 

0374278474FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Elias Canetti, winner of the 1981 Nobel Prize for literature, is one of the major intellectual figures of the twentieth century. He is a master of many genres, having written both a great novel - AUTO-DA-FÉ - and a great work of social theory – CROWDS AND POWER. But Canetti’s genius is perhaps nowhere more evident than in his autobiography. THE TORCH IN MY EAR is the second volume of Canetti’s memoirs. As the first volume, THE Tongue Set Free, was marked by Canetti’s first great admiration - that for his mother - The Torch In My Ear is above all else the account of Canetti’s admiration for the first great mentor of his adulthood, the Viennese writer Karl Kraus. Indeed, the title is a reference to Kraus’s magazine, THE TORCH. The book is also the portrait of Canetti’s first wife, Veza. Within the framework of these great passions, Canetti provides an astonishing account of the Vienna and Berlin of the 1920s. The voices of Kraus, of Veza, and of Canetti’s mother are accompanied by those of Brecht (toward whom Canetti is severe, Isaac Babel, George Grosz, and many others. The sounds, as Canetti would have it, of these people are alive in the book, as are the sounds of Central Europe on the edge of the abyss - the epoch itself set free by Canetti’s words. 

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 Voices Of Marrakesh: A Record of a Visit by Elias Canetti. New York. 1978. Seabury Press. hardcover. 103 pages. Jacket design by Tim McKeen. 0816493464.

 

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   No ordinary travel book, this account of a stay in Marrakesh by one of Europe’s major contemporary writers takes the reader on an inward journey that parallels and complements the outward ‘record of a visit.’ The city’s bewildering medley of voices, reaching out across the barriers of language and culture, recorded with a fidelity both perceptive and discreet, becomes an invitation to confront the realities of life and death. In a series of sharply etched scenes we meet the Arabs, Jews and Europeans who make up the city’s population; we stroll through the bazaars and watch people at work: we listen to the storytellers in the Djema el Fna and are set upon by an army of beggars; we get to know a family. We feel, in short, that we are beginning to understand the city, when suddenly all of its strangeness assumes tangible form in one final, challenging enigma.

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.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Solar by Ian McEwan. New York. 2010. Doubleday. hardcover. 287 pages. Jacket design by Suzanne Dean. 9780385533416.

 

9780385533416FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   The literary event of the season: a new novel from Ian McEwan, as surprising as it is masterful. Michael Beard is a Nobel prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions, and half-heartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. While he coasts along in his professional life, Michael's personal life is another matter entirely. His fifth marriage is crumbling under the weight of his infidelities. But this time the tables are turned: His wife is having an affair, and Michael realizes he is still in love with her. When Michael's personal and professional lives begin to intersect in unexpected ways, an opportunity presents itself in the guise of an invitation to travel to New Mexico. Here is a chance for him to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and very possibly save the world from environmental disaster. Can a man who has made a mess of his life clean up the messes of humanity? A complex novel that brilliantly traces the arc of one man's ambitions and self-deceptions, Solar is a startling, witty, and stylish new work from one of the world's great writers.

 

McEwan IanIan McEwan was born on 21 June 1948 in Aldershot, England. He studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970. He received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia. McEwan's works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987) and the Prix Fémina Etranger (1993) for The Child in Time; and Germany's Shakespeare Prize in 1999. He has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction numerous times, winning the award for Amsterdam in 1998. His novel Atonement received the WH Smith Literary Award (2002), National Book Critics' Circle Fiction Award (2003), Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction (2003), and the Santiago Prize for the European Novel (2004). He was awarded a CBE in 2000. In 2006, he won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel Saturday, and his novel On Chesil Beach was named Galaxy Book of the Year at the 2008 British Book Awards. McEwan has been named the Reader's Digest Author of the Year for 2008, the 2010 Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award, and in 2011 was awarded the Jerusalem Prize. McEwan lives in London.

 

 


 

 

 

The Last Kings Of Thule by Jean Malaurie. New York. 1982. Dutton. hardcover. 608 pages. Jacket design by Mary Gale Moyes. 0525030522.

 

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    In 1950, fate beckoned Jean Malaurie. A young scientist studying in the Sahara Desert, he was granted permission to conduct an expedition in the ‘cold desert’ around the North Pole. There he would be living among the northernmost people of the world, the Polar Eskimos of Thule, Greenland. The men of Thule were a race apart. Through geographical isolation and the social planning of Greenlandic Eskimo explorer Knud Rasmussen, they had managed for decades to maintain an advanced, self-sufficient Inuit culture independent of their colonial masters, the Danes. They were truly kings: strong individualists, heroic hunters. Yet they continued to maintain a form of pure communalism, sharing food, property, labor - even offspring and sexual mates. Thievery was practically unknown among them. In all of Greenland there was no jail. This is the society into which Jean Malaurie was granted intimate entry for one historic year. His experience was the last of a kind, for at the end of that year the U.S. government built a huge military base in the middle of Thule Eskimo territory. The isolation was over: the modern world bad won. Rarely has a book come to the English-speaking public with such advance status: translated into sixteen languages. with encomiums from adventurers, naturalists, and scholars alike, with worldwide sales in the hundreds of thousands of copies. Some readers have hailed the anecdotal side of Eskimo life depicted here; others the harrowing adventures such as the crossing to Canada by dogsled; still others the profound understanding of the Inuit character or the stirring account of Eskimo regeneration in the seventies and eighties. Like the great Eskimo adventure books from decades past - by Elisha Kent Kane, Frederick Cook. Robert Peary - The Last Kings of Thule continues the saga of man’s triumph in the Arctic. More than those works, it paints for us the exemplary life of the Polar Eskimos as they were - and arc becoming again. Jean Malaurie’s portrait is not only a lesson and inspiration for the 100,000 Eskimos in the United States. Canada, Greenland, and the U.S.S.R., but a human model for all mankind.
 

Malaurie JeanJEAN MALAURIE was trained as a geomorphologist, but after his experience with the Polar Eskimos he turned to authorship, publishing, research, and exploration. In 1967 he recorded on film the disintegrating culture of Thule, and from l974 to 1977 he produced a multipart film documentary on all of the world’s Eskimos, which included footage from Siberia, where Westerners had long been forbidden. He is director of the French Center for Arctic Studies and founder of the publishing imprint Terre Humaine, whose authors include Margaret Mead and Claude Levi-Strauss. He has received awards from many nations, including the Award of the Academie Francaise and of the French Academy of Sciences, and is a consultant to the Greenlandic, French, Canadian, and U.S. governments on Eskimo matters. The Last Kings of Thule is his magnum opus, a chronicle of a life spent as an Eskimo observer, folklorist, and champion of Eskimo rights.


 

Dicta and Contradicta by Karl Kraus. Urbana and Chicago. 2001. University of Illinois Press. hardcover. 191 pages. Cover photo from the Historical Museum of the City of Vienna, courtesy of the City of Vienna. Cover design by Erin Kirk New. Translated from the German by Jonathan McVity. 9780252026485.

 

9780252026485FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   From the decadent turn of the century to the Third Reich, the acerbic satirist Karl Kraus was one of the most famous and feared intellectuals in Europe. Uniquely combining humor with profundity and venom with compassion, DICTA AND CONTRADICTA is a bonanza of scandalous wit from Vienna’s answer to Oscar Wilde. Through the polemical and satirical magazine Die Fackel (The torch), which he founded in 1899, Kraus launched wicked but unrelentingly witty attacks on literary and media corruption, sexual repression, militarism, and the social hypocrisy of fin-de-siècle Vienna. His barbed aphorisms were an essential part of his running commentary on Viennese culture. For DICTA AND CONTRADICTA, originally published in 1909 and revised in 1923, Kraus selected nearly 1,000 of the scathing aphorisms that had appeared in Die Fackel. In this new translation, Jonathan McVity masterfully renders Kraus’s multilayered meanings, preserving the clever wordplay of the German in readable colloquial English. He also provides an essay on Kraus’s life and milieu and annotations that clarify many of Kraus’s literary and socio-historical allusions. 

Kraus Karl

 

Karl Kraus (1874-1936) was the editor of and chief contributor to the journal Die Fackel, the author of dramatic works including The Last Days of Mankind, and a translator of many foreign masterpieces into German.

Jonathan McVity holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Oxford University.

 

 


 

 

 

Black Skies: An Inspector Erlendur Novel by Arnaldur Indridason. New York. 2014. Minotaur Books/St Martin's. hardcover. 330 pages. September 2013. Jacket design by Ervin Serrano. Jacket photograph by Tim Robinson./Arcangel Images. Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb. 9781250000392.

 

9781250000392FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Arnaldur Indridason, whom The Sunday Times calls 'one of the most brilliant crime writers of his generation,' has thrilled readers around the world with his series set in Reykjavik. In Black Skies, Indridason further cements his position as one of today's top international crime writers. A man is making a crude leather mask with an iron spike fixed in the middle of the forehead. It is a 'death mask,' once used by Icelandic farmers to slaughter calves, and he has revenge in mind. Meanwhile, a school reunion has left Inspector Erlendur's colleague Sigurdur Óli unhappy with life in the police force. While Iceland is enjoying an economic boom, Óli's relationship is on the rocks and soon even his position in the department is compromised. When a favor to a friend goes wrong and a woman dies before his eyes, Oli has a murder investigation on his hands. From the villas of Reykjavík's banking Indridason Arnaldur elite to a sordid basement flat, Black Skies is a superb story of greed, pride, and murder from one of  Europe's most successful crime writers.

 

ARNALDUR INDRIDASON won the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Silence of the Grave and is the only author to win the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel two years in a row. The film of Jar City was Iceland’s entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, and the film Silence of the Grave is in production with the same director. The film Contraband, starring Mark Wahlberg, was based on an Icelandic film written by Indridason, who lives in Reykjavik, Iceland.

 


 


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