General book blog.

Fromm, Erich. The Sane Society. New York. 1955. Rinehart and Company. 370 pages. hardcover. Jacket design by Marilyn Marcus.


sane society rinehart and company 1955FROM THE PUBLISHER -


THE SANE SOCIETY is in many ways a continuation and extension of the brilliant psychiatric concepts Erich Fromm first formulated in ESCAPE FROM FREEDOM, now recognized as a modern classic. It is, in many ways, an answer to Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents. THE SANE SOCIETY discusses the plight of modern man in a society whose main concern is economic production instead of increased human productivity, a society in which man has lost the dominant place. Modern man, declares Dr. Fromm, has been alienated from the world he has created—from his fellow man, from the things he uses and consumes, from his government, from himself. His is a "manipulated personality." To allow present trends to develop unchecked will result, Dr. Fromm declares, in an insane society of totally alienated men. What can we do? Between capitalist managerialism and totalitarian dictatorship, there is a third way, a way to create a sane society in which no man is a means toward another's ends, where man is the center and where all economic and political activities are subordinated to the aim of his growth. Besides presenting (for the first time in his writings) a complete and systematic concept of humanistic psychoanalysis, Dr. Fromm outlines various possibilities of social change which can divert us from the path to robotism and lead us to mental health as productive, responsible individuals in a sane society. Fromm Erich


Erich Seligmann Fromm (March 23, 1900 – March 18, 1980) was a German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist. He was associated with what became known as the Frankfurt School of critical theory.








The Crown Jewels: The British Secrets at the Heart of the KGB Archives by Nigel West and Oleg Tsarev. New Haven. 1999. Yale University Press. 366 pages. hardcover. 0300078064. Jacket illustration by John MacDonald. 




   This lively account of Soviet foreign intelligence activity in Great Britain during the Cold War is based on documents newly released from the KGB archives, their "crown jewels", as the KGB unofficially called its most valuable assets. Written by Nigel West, called by the Sunday Times "the unofficial historian of the secret services" and Oleg Tsarev, a former KGB lieutenant colonel, The Crown Jewels provides much new information on the activities of all the well-known British pro-Soviet spies, including Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, and Anthony Blunt, as well as many lesser-known spymasters and recruiters, reproducing many of their reports for the first time. The book adds unsuspected dimensions to the famous Cambridge ring (including details of Burgess's offer to murder his fellow conspirator Goronwy Rees). It also reveals a completely unknown Soviet network based in London and headed by a named Daily Herald journalist; describes the huge scale of Soviet penetration of the British Foreign Office from 1927 to 1951; explores a previously unknown spy ring in Oxford; and tells about the key role played by Blunt in supervising post-war Soviet espionage activities in London.



West Nigel and Tsarev OlegRupert William Simon Allason (born 8 November 1951) is a military historian and journalist and former Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Torbay in Devon, from 1987 to 1997. He  writes books and articles on the subject of espionage under the pen name Nigel West. Fluent in English, Tsarev was a career KGB First Chief Directorate officer and served in the Third (English) Department in Line PR, the political intelligence branch, spending seven years in London under TASS journalistic cover. While in London he cultivated many politicians and was a familiar figure around the Palace of Westminster but in later years always politely declined to discuss the operational activities he had undertaken, and denied having made any significant recruitments.





Selected Poems by Charles Olson. Berkeley. 1993. University of California Press. hardcover. 225 pages. Jacket art: 'Charles Olson' by R. B. Kitaj. Edited by Robert Creeley. 0520075285.




   'I have assumed a great deal in the selection of the poems from such a large and various number, making them a discourse unavoidably my own as well as any Olson himself might have chosen to offer. I had finally no advice but the long held habit of our using one another, during his life, to act as a measure, a bearing, an unabashed response to what either might write or say.'-Robert Creeley. A seminal figure in post-World War II literature, Charles Olson has helped define the postmodern sensibility. His poetry embraces themes of empowering love, political responsibility, the wisdom of dreams, the intellect as a unit of energy, the restoration of the archaic, and the transformation of consciousness-all carried in a voice both intimate and grand, American and timeless, impassioned and coolly demanding. In this selection of some 70 poems, Robert Creeley has sought to present a personal reading of Charles Olson's decisive and inimitable work-'unequivocal instances of his genius'-over the many years of their friendship.



Olson Charles

Charles Olson (27 December 1910 – 10 January 1970) was a second generation American modernist poet who was a link between earlier figures such as Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams and the New American poets, which includes the New York School, the Black Mountain School, the Beat poets, and the San Francisco Renaissance. Consequently, many postmodern groups, such as the poets of the language school, include Olson as a primary and precedent figure. He described himself not so much as a poet or writer but as 'an archeologist of morning.'








The Lost Years by Vitaliano Brancati. London. 1992. Harvill/Harper Collins. hardcover. 207 pages. Jacket illustration. Portrait of a man, unfinished (Tadeusz de Lempicki), 1928 by Tamara de Lempicka. Translated from the Italian by Patrick Creagh. 0002711583.


0002711583FROM THE PUBLISHER -    


In Natàca, a Sicilian coastal town, the citizens lead their lives from season to season on an open-air stage. Nothing happens in Natàca that escapes a thousand watchful eyes; nothing happens that eludes a thousand sardonic tongues; but then under that opaque, even blue sky nothing happens in Natàca - tedium reigns supreme. When Buscaino arrives, ostensibly on his return from America, and sets about raising funds to build a panoramic tower (for the pleasure of the citizens and his own profit), the apathetic townsfolk are for a moment galvanized, and the ever-optimistic Buscaino believes that American-Style dynamism will finally rout Southern sloth. But Natàca, any coincidental similarities notwithstanding, is not New York. THE LOST YEARS, with its gallery of dazzlingly wrought caricatures of Sicilian provincials, from the crumbling duke in his draughty high-ceilinged palazzo to the all-devouring bourgeois mother amid her ormolu clocks and coffee-cups, was Vitaliano Brancati’s first novel, issued in 1938 during the heyday of Fascism. Its covert political satire of a Nation in pursuit of a cause was lost on the gerarchi and it escaped the hands of the censors. It is now published for the first time in English.


Brancati Vitaliano

VITALIANO BRANCATI was born at Pachino, near Syracuse, in 1907, and was educated at Catania where he took a degree in  literature In 1924 he joined the Fascist party, but after being ‘Fascist to the roots of his hair’, as he said, he repudiated it completely and THE LOST YEARS, started in 1934 and published in serial in 1938, were the first fruits of his conversion. From 1937 he was a schoolteacher in Catania and Rome, but turned to full-time writing after the war. Don Giovanni In Sicilia was published in 1941 and in 1949 another novel, Il Bell’ Antonio was published and won the Bagutta Prize. He also wrote short stories, plays and a considerable number of articles for the press. He was married to the actress Anna Proclemer, and in 1954 died in Turin.







Love In The Ruins by Walker Percy. New York. 1971. Farrar Straus Giroux. hardcover. 403 pages. Jacket design by Janet Halverson. 0374193029.




   Love in the Ruins is a novel of speculative or science fiction by author Walker Percy from 1971. It follows its main character, Dr Thomas More, namesake and descendant of Sir Thomas More (author of Utopia), a psychiatrist in a small town in Louisiana called Paradise. Over time, the US has become progressively more fragmented, between left and right, black and white, as social trends of the 1960s run to illogical extremes. Society begins to come apart at the seams and no one except More seems to notice and no one, including him, seems particularly to care. More, a lapsed Catholic, an alcoholic, and a womanizer, invents a device that he names the Ontological Lapsometer, which can diagnose and treat the harmful mental states at the root of society's slow disintegration. However, in the wrong hands, the device can also exacerbate the problems, and a government representative, intent on getting More a Nobel Prize, seeks to put it to his own uses while More attempts to prevent a disaster.

Percy Walker


Walker Percy, (May 28, 1916 – May 10, 1990) was a Southern author from Covington, Louisiana, whose interests included philosophy and semiotics. Percy is known for his philosophical novels set in and around New Orleans, Louisiana, the first of which, The Moviegoer, won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction. He devoted his literary life to the exploration of ‘the dislocation of man in the modern age.’ His work displays a combination of existential questioning, Southern sensibility, and deep Catholic faith.




The Conscience Of Words by Elias Canetti. New York. 1979. Seabury Press. hardcover. 246 pages. 246 pages. 0816493340.




   This volume contains the essays of Elias Canetti written between the years of 1962 and 1974. As such, it is a unique record of his critical concerns, a record, as he says, ‘summing up the spiritual stations of my entire adult life.’ At first glance, it may seem odd to juxtapose studies of figures like Kafka and Confucius, Buchner and Tolstoy, Karl Kraus and Hitler, or to mix essays describing catastrophes like Hiroshima with literary ref lections about keeping journals or identifying the structure of a novel. But it has always been this adjacency, this ability to connect the seemingly disparate, that has been the particular achievement of this audacious writer. Of all of Canetti’s works—whether they be novels, sociological investigations, or criticism—this collection of essays best indicates what most concerns Canetti the man. In his own words: ‘The public and the private can no longer be separated, they overlap in ways that would never have seemed possible. The enemies of mankind have rapidly gained power, coming very close to an ultimate goal of destroying the earth. Hence, it is all the more important to speak about those that have withstood our monstrous century. It is not, I think, superfluous to speak also about oneself - among countless other witnesses of this era. It is not purely private to show how a man of today has managed to produce a novel, so long as his aim was to truly confront the age; or how he arranges a diary to keep from being spiritually ground up in that age.’  


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.








Samuel Taylor Coleridge: A Selection of His Poems and Prose by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Middlesex. 1957. Penguin Books. paperback. 314 pages. D35. Edited by Kathleen Raine. The Penguin Poets series. 


pp samuel taylor coleridge d35FROM THE PUBLISHER -



   FROM THE INTRODUCTION – The difficulties of making a selection from the writings of Coleridge are of a special kind. So many are the fields of thought in which Coleridge’s protean genius was active, that the first question that arises is how to present him — as poet, as metaphysician, as critic, as theologian; as the dreamer of Kubla Khan, or as the philosopher of the Romantic movement. During his lifetime, readers of the Morning Post knew him as a parliamentary reporter and an influential journalist; subscribers to his two periodicals, The Watchman and The Friend, as a political philosopher. We can no longer catch the echoes of his wonderful talk, by which he dominated and enchanted private gatherings and the public audiences who attended his extempore lectures; but to regard Coleridge as purely and simply a poet would be an over- simplification. He has been described as the last English thinker to attempt that universality of knowledge characteristic of the Renaissance; for science also was within his field of interest — he was a friend of -Humphry Davy — and his speculations on memory and association point forward to the discoveries of Freud on the nature of the human mind, and the unconscious. Yet another Coleridge might be presented from his many letters, ::;at range over all these aspects of thought, and contain, besides, minute observations of nature, mountain walks, waterfalls — Coleridge the Lake-poet, although in fact all his important poems had been written before he set foot in Cumberland. From these letters, Coleridge Samuel Taylor besides, emerges the story of a day-to-day life hampered by domestic unhappiness, financial anxiety, ill-health, and opium addiction — Coleridge the failure, the procrastinator, the dreamer of great unfulfilled projects. What, in a small selection, should be included, what omitted?


Samuel Taylor Coleridge (October 21, 1772, Ottery St Mary, United Kingdom - July 25, 1834, Highgate, United Kingdom) was an English poet, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets.




Von Harbou, Thea. Metropolis. New York. 1963. Ace Books. Introduction by Forrest J. Ackerman, editor of SPACEMAN Magazine. 222 pages. paperback. F-246. Cover and title-page design by Jack Gaughan.


ace metropolis f 246FROM THE PUBLISHER -


Metropolis is a classic of science-fiction which created an impact on the literary world which reverberates to this day. Its dramatic [resentation of the city-world of the next century stirred the minds of readers with an unforgettable vision of a metropolis grown to Gargantuan proportions, of humanity fighting to keep its soul against the monster world of machinery, robots, and complexity that had been spawned in our own century. The book inspired a movie by director director Fritz Lang in 1925, which is  possibly the best science-fiction film ever made.


Von Harbou Thea

Thea Gabriele von Harbou (27 December 1888 – 1 July 1954) was a German screenwriter, novelist, film  director, and actress. She is remembered as the screenwriter of the science fiction film classic Metropolis  (1927) and the 1925 novel on which it was based. Harbou collaborated as a screenwriter with film director Fritz Lang, her husband, during the period of transition from silent to sound films.








Jackson, Lauren Michele. White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue… and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation. Boston. 2019. Beacon Press. 9780807011805. 187 pages. hardcover.


9780807011805FROM THE PUBLISHER -


Exposes the new generation of whiteness thriving at the expense and borrowed ingenuity of black people—and explores how this intensifies racial inequality. American culture loves blackness. From music and fashion to activism and language, black culture constantly achieves worldwide influence. Yet, when it comes to who is allowed to thrive from black hipness, the pioneers are usually left behind as black aesthetics are converted into mainstream success—and white profit. Weaving together narrative, scholarship, and critique, Lauren Michele Jackson reveals why cultural appropriation—something that’s become embedded in our daily lives—deserves serious attention. It is a blueprint for taking wealth and power, and ultimately exacerbates the economic, political, and social inequity that persists in America. She unravels the racial contradictions lurking behind American culture as we know it—from shapeshifting celebrities and memes gone viral to brazen poets, loveable potheads, and faulty political leaders. An audacious debut, White Negroes brilliantly summons a re-interrogation of Norman Mailer’s infamous 1957 essay of a similar name. It also introduces a bold new voice in Jackson. Piercing, curious, and bursting with pop cultural touchstones, White Negroes is a dispatch in awe of black creativity everywhere and an urgent call for our thoughtful consumption.

Jackson Lauren MicheleLauren Michele Jackson teaches in the Departments of English and African American Studies at Northwestern University. Her writing about race and culture has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Essence, the New Republic, Teen Vogue, Rolling Stone, and New York magazine, among many other places. She lives in Chicago.









Baldwin, James. Nothing Personal. Boston. 2021. Beacon Press. 9780807006429. Foreword by Imani Perry. Afterword by Eddie S. Glaude Jr. 83 pages. hardcover. Jacket design by Carol Chu. 

9780807006429FROM THE PUBLISHER -


James Baldwin’s critique of American society at the height of the civil rights movement brings his prescient thoughts on social isolation, race, and police brutality to a new generation of readers. Available for the first time in a stand-alone edition, Nothing Personal is Baldwin’s deep probe into the American condition. Considering the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020—which were met with tear gas and rubber bullets the same year white supremacists entered the US Capitol with little resistance, openly toting flags of the Confederacy—Baldwin’s documentation of his own troubled times cuts to the core of where we find ourselves today. Baldwin’s thoughts move through an interconnected range of questions, from America’s fixation on eternal youth, to its refusal to recognize the past, its addiction to consumerism, and the lovelessness that fuels it in its cities and popular culture. He recounts his own encounter with police in a scene disturbingly similar to those we see today documented with ever increasing immediacy. This edition also includes a new foreword from interdisciplinary scholar Imani Perry and an afterword from noted Baldwin scholar Eddie S. Glaude Jr. Both explore and situate the essay within the broader context of Baldwin’s work, the Movement for Black Lives, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the presidency of Donald Trump. Nothing Personal is both a eulogy and a declaration of will. In bringing this work into the twenty-first century, readers new and old will take away fundamental and recurring truths about life in the US. It is both a call to action, and an appeal to love and to life.


Baldwin JamesJames Baldwin (1924–1987) was a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, appeared in 1953 to excellent reviews, and his essay collections Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time were bestsellers that made him an influential figure in the growing civil rights movement. Baldwin spent much of his life in France, where he moved to escape the racism and homophobia of the United States. He died in France in 1987, a year after being made a Commander of the French Legion of Honor.






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