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(12/10/2014) Salman The Solitary by Yashar Kemal. London. 1997. 311 pages. hardcover. 1860463894. Jacket illustration by Chris Corr. Translated from the Turkish by Thilda Kemal. keywords: Literature Translated Turkey.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Fleeing invading Russian troops with his family, Ismail Agha, a Kurdish peasant in Turkey, comes upon Salman, a small child left for dead at the roadside. At the urgings of his mother, who treats Salman’s wounds, Ismail agrees to take Salman with the family. When the family settles in a small village, Ismail raises Salman as his own son. Salman idolizes Ismail and imitates him in every way. Ismail dotes on the foundling, until his wife, Zero, becomes pregnant and bears him Mustafa. Suddenly, Salman is no longer the beloved only son, and a vicious rivalry blossoms between the boys. Salman’s obsessive devotion to Ismail grows; at the same time, his anger at being replaced in his father’s affections drives him to violence, first against Mustafa and, finally, against the very father whose love and approval he desperately needs. Chilling, bloody, relentlessly real, this highly emotional examination of the father-son bond and of jealousy between brothers is the work of a major Turkish novelist.

Yashar Kemal, (born in 1922) is a Turkish writer of Kurdish ethnic heritage. He is one of Turkey's leading writers. He has long been a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, on the strength of Memed, My Hawk. As an outspoken intellectual, he does not hesitate to speak on sensitive issues. His activism resulted in a twenty-month suspended jail sentence, on charges of advocating separatism. Kemal, was born in Hemite (now Gökçedam), a hamlet in the province of Osmaniye in southern Turkey. His parents were from Van, who came into Çukurova during the First World War. Kemal had a difficult childhood because he lost his right eye due to a knife accident, when his father was slaughtering a sheep on Eid al-Adha, and had to witness as his father was stabbed to death by his adoptive son Yusuf while praying in a mosque when he was five years old. This traumatic experience left Kemal with a speech impediment, which lasted until he was twelve years old. At nine he started school in a neighboring village and continued his formal education in Kadirli, Osmaniye Province. Kemal was a locally noted bard before he started school, but was unappreciated by his widowed mother until he composed an elegy on the death of one of her eight brothers, all bandits. However, he forgot it and became interested in writing as a means to record his work when he questioned an itinerant peddler, who was doing his accounts. Ultimately, his village paid his way to university in Istanbul. He worked for a while for rich farmers, guarding their river water against other farmers' unauthorized irrigation. However, instead he taught the poor farmers how to steal the water undetected, by taking it at night. Later he worked as a letter-writer, then as a journalist, and finally as a novelist. He said that the Turkish police took his first two novels. When Yashar Kemal was visiting Akdamar Island in 1951, he saw the island's Holy Cross Church being destroyed. Using his contacts to the public, he helped stop destruction of the site. However, the church remained in a neglected state until 2005, when restoration by the Turkish government began. In 1952, Yashar Kemal married Thilda Serrero, a member of a prominent Sephardi Jewish family in Istanbul. Her grandfather, Jak Mandil Pasha, was the chief physician of the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II. She translated 17 of her husband’s works into the English language. Thilda died on January 17, 2001 (aged 78) from pulmonary complications at a hospital in Istanbul, and was laid to rest at Zincirlikuyu Cemetery. Thilda is survived by her husband, her son Rasit and a grandchild. Yashar Kemal remarried on August 1, 2002 with Ayse Semiha Baban, a lecturer for public relations at Bilgi University in Istanbul. She was educated at the American University of Beirut, Bosphorus University and Harvard University. He published his first book Agitlar (‘Ballads’) in 1943, which was a compilation of folkloric themes. This book brings to light many long forgotten rhymes and ballads and Kemal had started to collect these ballads at the age of 16. His first stories Bebek (‘The Baby’), Dükkanc? (‘The Shopkeeper’), Memet ile Memet (‘Memet and Memet’) were published in 1950. He had written his first story Pis Hikaye (‘The Dirty Story’) in 1944, while he was serving in the military, in Kayseri. Then he published his book of short stories Sari Sicak (‘Yellow Heat’) in 1952. The initial point of his works was the toil of the people of the Çukurova plains and he based the themes of his writings on the lives and sufferings of these people. Yashar Kemal has used the legends and stories of Anatolia extensively as the basis of his works. He received international acclaim with the publication of Memed, My Hawk (Turkish: Ince Memed) in 1955. In Ince Memed, Yashar Kemal criticizes the fabric of the society through a legendary hero, a protagonist, who flees to the mountains as a result of the oppression of the Aghas. One of the most famous living writers in Turkey, Kemal is noted for his command of the language and lyrical description of bucolic Turkish life. He has been awarded 19 literary prizes so far and nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1973. His 1955 novel Teneke was adapted into a theatrical play, which was staged for almost one year in Gothenburg, Sweden, in the country where he lived for about two years in the late 1970s. Italian composer Fabio Vacchi adapted the same novel with the original title into an opera of three acts, which premiered at the Teatro alla Scala in Milano, Italy in 2007. Kemal lays claim to having recreated Turkish as a literary language, by bringing in the vernacular, following Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's sterilization of Turkish by removing Persian and Arabic elements.

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(12/12/2014)  Joyce's Dublin: A Walking Guide To Ulysses by Jack McCarthy (with Danis Rose). New York. 1991. St Martin's Press. hardcover. 93 pages. Jacket photograph courtesy of The Bettman Archive. Jacket design by Doris Borowsky. keywords: Ireland Joyce Ireland Literature Reference. 0312058853.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   James Joyce once remarked that he was ‘more interested in the street names of Dublin than in the riddle of the universe.’ Dublin is a detailed presence in all of Joyce’s works, but his classic novel ULYSSES guaranteed Dublin enduring fame for readers and visitors. JOYCE’S DUBLIN traces the routes the main characters take throughout ULYSSES, a series of intricately crafted peregrinations Joyce used to puzzle and intrigue his readers. He even bragged about putting ‘so many enigmas and puzzles’ in ULYSSES that it would keep the professors busy for centuries. Like ULYSSES, this book is divided into eighteen chapters, each with notes to accompany the novel and designed for layman and scholar. Anything but the expected stoic academic tome, it is a guide for people who want to see the city for themselves and fo1lw in the footsteps of Stephen and Bloom - climbing the Martello Tower, walking Sandymount Strand, drinking at Davy Byrne’s Pub, or reading in the National Library - and truly digest Joyce’s masterpiece.

 

JACK MCCARTHY is a lawyer, real estate developer, and author living and working in Princeton, New Jersey. He is married, and has three children. DANIS ROSE is an editor of the James Joyce Archive, and the author of several books on Joyce, including THE LOST NOTEBOOK: NEW EVIDENCE ON THE GENESIS OF ULYSSES (1989).

 

 

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(12/11/2014) Eva's Apples by William Gerhardi. New York. 1928. Duffield & Company. hardcover. 394 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   William Gerhardi’s third novel, published in England as JAZZ AND JASPER. The American publisher, Duffield, insisted on the title change claiming that the word ‘jazz’ had been ‘worn threadbare’ in the States. Gerhardi always wanted the title to be DOOM, which it eventually became in later editions in later editions. Despite its bleak title, DOOM is Gerhardie’s most wildly funny novel. It is the story of Frank Dickin, an impoverished young novelist and his involvement, on the one hand with an eccentric family of Russian emigres and in particular their beautiful daughter Eva - and, on the other with an all-powerful newspaper magnate, Lord Ottercove, who decides to take him up as a lost cause. The untameable comic pot-pourri also involves a mad English lord who plans to destroy the world, and, with an outrageous sleight of hand, that only Gerhardie could get away with, the novel slowly slips from social comedy toward apocalyptic speculation. ‘Amusing, brilliant and quite, quite mad.’ - Herald Tribune.

William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936).

 

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(12/09/2014) Doom by William Gerhardie. New York. 1975. St Martin's Press. hardcover. 275 pages. Preface by Michael Holroyd.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The novels of William Gerhardie have their unique place in the literature of the 20’s and 30’s, and when some of them became available again. Briefly, in the late 40’s they were acclaimed afresh by the critics: ‘He is a comic writer of genius. but his art is profoundly serious; underneath the shamelessness and the farce, his themes are the great ones. of love, grief and death, of intimations of joy and of our imprisonment in the world of flesh and time.’ - C. P. Snow, The Sunday Times. ‘The humour of life, the poetry of death and the release of the spirit - these things William Gerhardie describes as no prose writer has done before him. How did he become lost to view? How can we resurrect him ? Anthony Powell, Evelyn Waugh. C. P. Snow, Kingsley Amis, William Cooper - all acknowledge his influence. He is one of the immortals. He is our Gogol’s Overcoat. We all come out of him.’ - Olivia Manning, The Times. Now. after being out of print for two decades, all of Mr. Gerhardie’s works are to be re-published in revised, definitive editions with prefaces by Michael Holroyd, the third generation of critics to acknowledge the important position they hold in English fiction. Doom is perhaps William Gerhardie’s wittiest novel, Its central character is based on Beaverbrook; Lord Ottercove dominates a story which combines extravagant fantasy with Fleet Street satire, and his immense energy carries along’ an entourage that includes fictional portraits of several people whom Gerhardie knew in real life, having met some of them through Beaverbrook. Arnold Bennett, who appears, was to praise Doom for its ‘wild and brilliant originality.’

William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936).

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(12/09/2014) Several Perceptions by Angela Carter. New York. 1968. Simon & Schuster. hardcover. 154 pages. Jacket design by Paul Davis. keywords: Literature England Women.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Center stage in Angela Carter’s unruly tale of the Flower Power Generation is Joseph - a decadent, disorientated rebel without a cause. A self-styled nihilist whose girlfriend has abandoned him, Joseph has decided to give up existing. But his concerned friends and neighbours have other plans. In an effort to join in the spirit of protest which motivates his contemporaries, Joseph frees a badger from the local zoo; sends a turd airmail to the President of the United States; falls in love with the mother of his best friend; and, accompanied by the strains of an old man’s violin, celebrates Christmas Eve in a bewildering state of sexual discovery. But has he found the Meaning of Life?

Angela Carter (7 May 1940 – 16 February 1992) was an English novelist and journalist, known for her feminist, magical realism, picaresque and science fiction works. In 2008, The Times ranked Carter tenth, in their list of ‘The 50 greatest British writers since 1945’ Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne, in 1940, Carter was evacuated as a child to live in Yorkshire with her maternal grandmother. As a teenager she battled anorexia. She began work as a journalist on the Croydon Advertiser, following in the footsteps of her father. Carter attended the University of Bristol where she studied English literature. She married twice, first in 1960 to Paul Carter. They divorced after twelve years. In 1969 Angela Carter used the proceeds of her Somerset Maugham Award to leave her husband and relocate for two years to Tokyo, Japan, where she claims in NOTHING SACRED (1982) that she ‘learnt what it is to be a woman and became radicalised.’ She wrote about her experiences there in articles for New Society and a collection of short stories, FIREWORKS: NINE PROFANE PIECES (1974), and evidence of her experiences in Japan can also be seen in THE INFERNAL DESIRE MACHINES OF DOCTOR HOFFMAN (1972). She then explored the United States, Asia and Europe, helped by her fluency in French and German. She spent much of the late 1970s and 1980s as a writer in residence at universities, including the University of Sheffield, Brown University, the University of Adelaide, and the University of East Anglia. In 1977 Carter married Mark Pearce, with whom she had one son. As well as being a prolific writer of fiction, Carter contributed many articles to The Guardian, The Independent and New Statesman, collected in SHAKING A LEG. She adapted a number of her short stories for radio and wrote two original radio dramas on Richard Dadd and Ronald Firbank. Two of her fictions have been adapted for the silver screen: The Company of Wolves (1984) and THE MAGIC TOYSHOP (1987). She was actively involved in both film adaptations, her screenplays are published in the collected dramatic writings, The Curious Room, together with her radio scripts, a libretto for an opera of Virginia Woolf's Orlando, an unproduced screenplay entitled The Christchurch Murders (based on the same true story as Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures) and other works. These neglected works, as well as her controversial television documentary, The Holy Family Album, are discussed in Charlotte Crofts' book, Anagrams of Desire (2003). Her novel NIGHTS AT THE CIRCUS won the 1984 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for literature. At the time of her death, Carter was embarking on a sequel to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre based on the later life of Jane's stepdaughter, Adèle Varens. However, only a synopsis survives. Angela Carter died aged 51 in 1992 at her home in London after developing lung cancer.

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(12/08/2014) The Memoirs Of Satan by William Gerhardi and Brian Lunn. London. 1932. Cassell & Company. hardcover. 382 pages.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   SATAN narrates the epic of mankind and the part he has played therein. From the dim days of the remote Ice Age he watches the growth of the world, the coming of man, the part played by love and passion. He gives his version of the stories of Adam and Eve, the destruction of Sodom, the adventures of Jonah, the tribulation of Job ; he recalls the great days of history when he possessed Tiberius, Nero, the Caliph of Bagdad, Cromwell, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon, and many another. Finally, he arrives at a Bayswater boardinghouse, an old man and very weary. He has his last great adventure, makes his last possession, and then his mortal remains are taken for cremation to Golders Green. FROM Futurian War Digest, a sci-fi/fantasy fanzine published in Leeds during the Second World War by J. Michael Rosenblum – (from Issue 13 (Vol. 2, Number 1), dated October 1941: ‘The Memoirs of Satan’ collated by William Gerhardie and Brian Lunn, (Cassell & Co 1932) is a surprising sort of book altogether. According to this, Satan was a collaborator of God, chosen to look after this earth because of his free and independent spirit. Mankind is due to an infatuation of his for a primitive she-ape, and he continually bemoans the fact that he did not choose a more sensible animal, such as the whale, to half endow with his divine nature. Due to his failure with this planet, Satan is finally punished by the All-Highest with the withdrawal of his immortality, and he dies, leaving the notes of his eon-long existence in a Bloomsbury hotel.’

 

  William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936). 

 

Brian Lunn (1893–1956) was a British writer. He was born in Bloomsbury, London to Methodist parents. He had a somewhat Puritanical upbringing, his father Henry Simpson Lunn (1859-1939, founder of Lunn's Travel agency that would become Lunn Poly) having strong religious beliefs which were in conflict with his talent as a businessman. Arnold Lunn and Hugh Kingsmill were his brothers. His most important work as a writer was 'Switchback', his autobiography published in 1948. Its highlight is Brian's description of a mental breakdown he had while serving in Mesopotamia in the 11th Black Watch. The onset of his breakdown was described as follows: 'Men and beasts passed through the haze, black outlines; a troup of mules with Indian driver was a stately silhouette; shambling after them a bucket-carrying menial with tousled turban and bedraggled shirt flapping round flexed knees was an immortal grotesque, raised above the plane of human need and anxiety. The Platonic Idea, as interpreted by Schopenhauer, the basis of art. Removed from all appeal to the will, the horrible was transmuted into the beautiful. He was, in fact, a sanitary man staggering back from a punishment fatigue; constantly in trouble, he would incur more fatigues, with stoppages of pay, staggering in the bog of inefficiency under implacable authority. ' '...I looked along the river banks - tents and incinerators, horses and mules, soldiers, native and European, a complex of endeavour in an enterprise as unreal as all the day-to-day needs and anxieties and discomforts, ambitions and humiliations of each individual, were real.' ‘Unreal? The word came back to me as a sudden illumination. That was it, it was all a staged show.' The delusions which accompanied this insight were hardly more absurd than the futilities of war. His other books were a biography of Martin Luther, a travel guide to Belgium and a history of the Rothschild family. "Salvation Dynasty" was Brian Lunn's account of the Salvation Army's founders.

 

 

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(12/07/2014) Laughter In The Dark by Vladimir Nabokoff. Indinapolis. 1938. 292 pages. hardcover. keywords: Literature America Russia.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Laughter in the Dark is a worked-over English translation of Kamera obskura, with the names of the main characters altered but with theme and plot more or less intact. A rather stuffy Berlin art critic (Bruno Krechmar in the Russian version / Albert Albinus in the English translation) becomes infatuated with a teenaged gamine (Margot,) leaving his wife and child to set up house with her. Through Albinus, Margot again encounters her first lover, an inhumanly nasty artist (Robert Gorn / Axel Rex.) As a result, Albinus suffers a series of misfortunes at the caprice of Rex and the not unwilling Margot. The Berlin setting, German characters, and cruel world view set Laughter in the Dark somewhat apart from the bulk of Nabokov’s oeuvre.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was born on April 23, 1899, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Nabokovs were known for their high culture and commitment to public service, and the elder Nabokov was an outspoken opponent of antisemitism and one of the leaders of the opposition party, the Kadets. In 1919, following the Bolshevik revolution, he took his family into exile. Four years later he was shot and killed at a political rally in Berlin while trying to shield the speaker from right-wing assassins. The Nabokov household was trilingual, and as a child Nabokov was already reading Wells, Poe, Browning, Keats, Flaubert, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Tolstoy, and Chekhov, alongside the popular entertainments of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne. As a young man, he studied Slavic and romance languages at Trinity College, Cambridge, taking his honors degree in 1922. For the next eighteen years he lived in Berlin and Paris, writing prolifically in Russian under the pseudonym Sirin and supporting himself through translations, lessons in English and tennis, and by composing the first crossword puzzles in Russian. In 1925 he married Vera Slonim, with whom he had one child, a son, Dmitri. Having already fled Russia and Germany, Nabokov became a refugee once more in 1940, when he was forced to leave France for the United States. There he taught at Wellesley, Harvard, and Cornell. He also gave up writing in Russian and began composing fiction in English. In his afterword to Lolita he claimed: "My private tragedy, which cannot, and indeed should not, be anybody's concern, is that I had to abandon my natural idiom, my untrammeled, rich, and infinitely docile Russian tongue for a second-rate brand of English, devoid of any of those apparatuses--the baffling mirror, the black velvet backdrop, the implied associations and traditions--which the native illusionist, frac-tails flying, can magically use to transcend the heritage in his own way." [p. 317] Yet Nabokov's American period saw the creation of what are arguably his greatest works, Bend Sinister (1947), Lolita (1955), Pnin (1957), and Pale Fire (1962), as well as the translation of his earlier Russian novels into English. He also undertook English translations of works by Lermontov and Pushkin and wrote several books of criticism. Vladimir Nabokov died in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1977.

 

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(12/06/2014) The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter. New York. 1967. Simon & Schuster. hardcover. 191 pages. Jacket design by Paul Davis. keywords: Literature England Women.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   A startling tale of the redemptive power of physical and emotional love. One night Melanie walks through the garden in her mother’s wedding dress. The next morning her world is shattered. Forced to leave the comfortable home of her childhood, she is sent to London to live with relatives she has never met: Aunt Margaret, beautiful and speechless, and her brothers, Francie, whose graceful music belies his clumsy nature, and the volatile Finn, who kisses Melanie in the ruins of the pleasure gardens. And brooding Unlce Philip loves only the life-sized wooden puppets he creates in his toyshop. This classic gothic novel established Angela Carter as one of our most imaginative writers and augurs the themes of her later creative work.

 

  Angela Carter (7 May 1940 – 16 February 1992) was an English novelist and journalist, known for her feminist, magical realism, picaresque and science fiction works. In 2008, The Times ranked Carter tenth, in their list of ‘The 50 greatest British writers since 1945’ Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne, in 1940, Carter was evacuated as a child to live in Yorkshire with her maternal grandmother. As a teenager she battled anorexia. She began work as a journalist on the Croydon Advertiser, following in the footsteps of her father. Carter attended the University of Bristol where she studied English literature. She married twice, first in 1960 to Paul Carter. They divorced after twelve years. In 1969 Angela Carter used the proceeds of her Somerset Maugham Award to leave her husband and relocate for two years to Tokyo, Japan, where she claims in NOTHING SACRED (1982) that she ‘learnt what it is to be a woman and became radicalised.’ She wrote about her experiences there in articles for New Society and a collection of short stories, FIREWORKS: NINE PROFANE PIECES (1974), and evidence of her experiences in Japan can also be seen in THE INFERNAL DESIRE MACHINES OF DOCTOR HOFFMAN (1972). She then explored the United States, Asia and Europe, helped by her fluency in French and German. She spent much of the late 1970s and 1980s as a writer in residence at universities, including the University of Sheffield, Brown University, the University of Adelaide, and the University of East Anglia. In 1977 Carter married Mark Pearce, with whom she had one son. As well as being a prolific writer of fiction, Carter contributed many articles to The Guardian, The Independent and New Statesman, collected in SHAKING A LEG. She adapted a number of her short stories for radio and wrote two original radio dramas on Richard Dadd and Ronald Firbank. Two of her fictions have been adapted for the silver screen: The Company of Wolves (1984) and THE MAGIC TOYSHOP (1987). She was actively involved in both film adaptations, her screenplays are published in the collected dramatic writings, The Curious Room, together with her radio scripts, a libretto for an opera of Virginia Woolf's Orlando, an unproduced screenplay entitled The Christchurch Murders (based on the same true story as Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures) and other works. These neglected works, as well as her controversial television documentary, The Holy Family Album, are discussed in Charlotte Crofts' book, Anagrams of Desire (2003). Her novel NIGHTS AT THE CIRCUS won the 1984 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for literature. At the time of her death, Carter was embarking on a sequel to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre based on the later life of Jane's stepdaughter, Adèle Varens. However, only a synopsis survives. Angela Carter died aged 51 in 1992 at her home in London after developing lung cancer.

 

 

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(12/06/2007) The Pillars Of Hercules: A Grand Tour Of The Mediterranean by Paul Theroux. New York. 1995. Putnam. keywords: Travel Literature Mediterranean. 511 pages. Jacket design by One Plus One Studio. Jacket photograph by R. Kord / H. Armstrong Roberts. 0399141081.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

  The journeys of Paul Theroux are the stuff of dreams and adventure; his wonderfully observant accounts of distant lands and seas have unlocked the mysteries of China, the islands of the South Pacific, the outer reaches of Siberia, and the far corners of Patagonia. Transported by Theroux’s marvelous storytelling, readers have been carried to places they may never visit, into exotic corners of the world where travelers are few and discovery is still possible. Now Paul Theroux has ventured to one of the most traveled places on earth, and returned with his most exhilarating, revealing, and eloquent travel book. In this modern version of the Grand Tour, Theroux sets off from Gibraltar, one of the fabled Pillars of Hercules, on a glorious journey around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It is a long, lively, occasionally dangerous, and endlessly fascinating trip, up the coast of Spain, along the Riviera, by ferry to the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, and beyond-way beyond. By foot, train, bus, and cruise ship, Theroux travels around Italy and the Greek islands, to Albania in a state of near anarchy and to war-torn Croatia. He sails across an old sea of myths into Istanbul, its minarets, mosque domes, and obelisks beckoning him to the Levant. After hearing of Theroux’s onward itinerary, a Turkish shipmate murmurs, ‘Gechmis olsen!’ - May it be behind you! Ahead are Damascus and the remote villages of Syria, shrouded in the cult of Assad and his martyred son; Israel, besieged by suicide bombers; Egypt, where Theroux visits with Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, recovering from an assassination attempt. And past the hill that marks the southern Pillar of Hercules lie Morocco and Paul Bowles’ Tangier. Exploring coastlines as wild as anything he encountered in China or Peru, probing through layers of tradition and culture, ancient and modern tawdry and splendid, Theroux recalls the words of his predecessors - Homer, E Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Evelyn Waugh, Carlo Levi, Lawrence Durrell - and weaves the legends and siren calls of civilizations as old as time into a tantalizing story about life on the Mediterranean today His magnificent Grand Tour is an irresistible invitation to discovery enlightenment, and sheer entertainment.

Paul Theroux is the internationally acclaimed author of such travel books as THE HAPPY ISLES OF OCEANIA, RIDING THE IRON ROOSTER THE KINGDOM BY THE SEA, THE 0LD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS, and THE GREAT RAILWAY BAZAAR. Among his many novels are THE MOSQUITO COAST, MY SECRET HISTORY, and MULROY THE MAGICIAN. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.

 

 

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(12/06/2008) Weimar On The Pacific: German Exile Culture In Los Angeles & The Crisis Of Modernism by Ehrhard Bahr. Berkeley. 2007. University Of California Press. keywords: History Weimar California Los Angeles Germany. 358 pages. 9780520251281.

An interesting look at the emigres from Weimar Germany who settled in Southern California.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In the 1930s and 40s, Los Angeles became an unlikely cultural sanctuary for a distinguished group of German artists and intellectuals--including Thomas Mann, Theodore W. Adorno, Bertolt Brecht, Fritz Lang, and Arnold Schoenberg--who had fled Nazi Germany. During their years in exile, they would produce a substantial body of major works to address the crisis of modernism that resulted from the rise of National Socialism. Weimar Germany and its culture, with its meld of eighteenth-century German classicism and twentieth-century modernism, provided served as a touchstone for this group of diverse talents and opinions. Weimar on the Pacific is the first book to examine these artists and intellectuals as a group. Ehrhard Bahr studies selected works of Adorno, Horkheimer, Brecht, Lang, Neutra, Schindler, Doblin, Mann, and Schoenberg, weighing Los Angeles's influence on them and their impact on German modernism. Touching on such examples as film noir and Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus, Bahr shows how this community of exiles reconstituted modernism in the face of the traumatic political and historical changes they were living through.

Ehrhard Bahr is distinguished professor emeritus of German at UCLA.

 

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(12/06/2009) Discourse On Colonialism by Aime Cesaire. New York. 1972. Monthly Review Press. Translated From The French By Joan Pinkham. keywords: Caribbean Martinique Politics Black Literature. 79 pages. Cover photo by Henri Mellin.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This volume makes available for the first time in English the most important political essay by the father of ‘Negritude’ as concept and as movement. Césaire’s Discourse on Colonial• ism was first published in 1955, and did much to shape the emergent Third World view of Europe and the United States. Included as well is an interview with Césaire about his ideas and work, conducted by the Haitian poet René Depestre in Havana in 1967. Césaire is already well known to the English-reading public through his plays and poetry, especially RETURN TO MY NATIVE LAND, which André Breton called ‘nothing less than the greatest lyrical monument of all time. ’ These political essays make available his pathbreaking contributions to the revolt of the Third World. The main subject of these writings is the barbarism of the colonizer and the unhappiness of the colonized, the destruction of civilizations that were dignified and fraternal by the colonizer’s machine for exploitation. Césaire praises as healthy contact between the peoples of the world. But between the colonizer and the colonized there is no contact; there is only intimidation, police, taxes, thievery, rape, contempt, mistrust, and the morgue. it is not human contact, but the contact between dehumanized elites and degraded masses. Far from seeing the end of the era of formal colonization as the end of the problem, Césaire singles out the American form of imperialism as the only variety of oppression that surpasses that of Europe. Barbarism’s hour, he says, has arrived — modern barbarism, the American hour. Like Fanon, who was also born in Martinique and educated in France, Césaire turned to Africa for values he could counterpose to the Europe he came to despise. The ‘humanism’ of Europe he denounced as a pseudo-humanism, with a sordidly racist conception of the rights of man. European and United States civilization he saw as sick; morally weakened by its use of force against the subjugated, and by its justifications of imperialism, it calls down upon itself its own punishment.

 

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(12/06/2010) The One From The Other: A Bernie Gunther Novel by Philip Kerr. New York. 2006. Putnam. keywords: Mystery England Germany. 372 pages. Jacket photographs - 'Man lighting cigarette' by Mario Lalich, 'Clock tower at Marienplatz' by Owen Franken. Jacket design by High Design. 0399152997. June 2009.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Germany, 1949: Amid the chaos of defeat, it’s a place of dirty deals, rampant greed, fleeing Nazis, and all the intrigue and deceit readers have come to expect from this immensely talented thriller writer. In THE ONE FROM THE OTHER, Hitler’s legacy lives on. For Bernie Gunther, Berlin has become too dangerous, and he now works as a private detective in Munich. Business is slow and his funds are dwindling when a woman hires him to investigate her husband’s disappearance. No, she doesn’t want him back-he’s a war criminal. She merely wants confirmation that he is dead. It’s a simple job, but in postwar Germany, nothing is simple-nothing is what it appears to be. Accepting the case, Bernie takes on far more than he’d bargained for, and before long, he is on the run, facing enemies from every side.

 

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(12/06/2011) The Door To Bitterness by Martin Limon. New York. 2005. Soho Press. keywords: Mystery America Korea Military. 278 pages. Cover design by Cheryl L. Cipriani/Brooklyn Bauhaus. 1569474044.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

    The pair of G.I. cops Martin Limon first introduced in JADE LADY BURNING (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year) are back with a vengeance in their latest adventures in Seoul and the sin cities surrounding the capital in the 1970s. North Korea is menacing, Vietnam is burning as these two weave through the back alleys and bordellos, as they try to tip back the scales of justice in the right direction. This time they are not only pursuing criminals, they’re chasing themselves in a way, too. Homicidal thieves have gotten hold of Sueno’s badge, and are using it to lull their victims just long enough to strike-with his gun. That they are murderous makes it all that much worse for the dynamic duo. The army wants its equipment accounted for, the I.D. and weapon recovered. George and Ernie want to recover their reputation and catch the culprits.

Martin Limon is the author of numerous short stories starring his army police duo, as well as three novels. THE DOOR TO BITTERNess is the fourth in the Sueno and Bascom series, after JADE LADY BURNING, SLICKY BOYS, and BUDDHA’S MONEY.


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(12/06/2012) The Insulted & The Injured by Fyodor Dostoevsky. New York. 1923. Macmillan. 345 pages. hardcover. keywords: Literature Russia Translated.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

    A great classic by a master story teller, THE INSULTED AND INJURED is a compassionate novel of deep and all-destroying love, of self-denial and licentious sinfulness. The wracking visions of pity for his fellow man, the author’s tortured and prophetic genius, the incomparable portraits of flesh-and-blood people. they are all there in the story of Vanya’s willing acceptance of the destruction of his love for Natasha by his irresolute friend Alyosha. Into this novel, published after Dostoevsky’s shattering moment in front of the firing squad and his Siberian exile, the great Russian master poured his harrowing insights into the recesses of the human soul. ‘An unusual version of the eternal triangle. the contrast between the love that ‘seeketh not itself to please’ and the lust of the man who knows no law but that of his own appetite.’ - Avram Yarmolinsky.

 


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(11/30/2014) Pretty Creatures by William Gerhardi. New York. 1927. Duffield & Company. hardcover. 194 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Written between 1924 and 1925, in a wonderfully spare prose in which not a word is wasted, Pretty Creatures consists of three short novels and two stories which show Gerhardie’s gifts of perception in their purest form. One of the stories was described by Julian Symons as ‘a little masterpiece.’

William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936).

 

 

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(12/01/2014)  Poems & Antipoems by Nicanor Parra. New York. 1967. New Directions. hardcover. 149 pages. Jacket photograph by Thomas Merton. Design by David Ford. Edited by Miller Williams. keywords: Poetry Translated Latin America Chile Literature.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The Chilean poet Nicanor Parra is one of those significant figures who appear from time to time in all literature and through a profound originality and sense of the Pound/Confucius principle of ‘Make It New’ revitalize the poetry of their language. Just as the Imagists and William Carlos Williams re-channelled the course of American poetry, so Parra’s ‘antipoems,’ with their directness of metaphor and rejection of rhetoric and ‘poetic’ decoration, are influencing young poets throughout Latin America, ‘Anti poetry,’ Parra has said, ‘seeks to return poetry to its roots.’ The reader may judge from this collection, which is drawn from all of Parra’s published books, how well he has succeeded. Poems and 14ntipoems has been edited, with an introduction, by Miller Williams and presents Parra’s Spanish texts opposite the English versions which are by the editor, W. S. Merwin, Denise Levertov, Thomas Merton, William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Fernando Alegria, J. Laughlin, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who first discovered Parra for North American readers with a book in the City Lights series in 1960. CONTENTS: Introduction; from POEMAS Y ANTIPOEMAS (1938-1953) - Nineteen-Thirty; Disorder in Heaven; Self-Portrait; Song; Ode to Some Doves; Puzzle; Madrigal; Landscape; Travel Notes; Letters to an Unknown Woman; The Pilgrim; The Tunnel; Memories of Youth; Piano Solo; The Viper; The Vices of the Modern World; The Tablets; The Trap; The Individual’s Soliloquy; from VERSOS DE SALON (1953-1962) - Changes of Name; Roller Coaster; In the Graveyard; Clever Ideas Occur to Me; Love Tale; Journey through Hell; Death and the Maiden; I Move the Meeting Be Adjourned; Mummies; Butterfly; Dreams; Dog’s Life; Poetry Ends With Me; Women; Soda Fountain; Litany of the Little Bourgeois; What the Deceased Had To Say About Himself; Funeral Address; The Imperfect Lover; The Shuffled Deck; from CANCIONES RUSAS (1963-1964) - Snow; Chronos; Beggar; Hot Cakes; Rites; Nobody; from EJERCICIOS RESPIRATORIOS (1964-1966) - Stains on the Wall; Act of Independence; Lonelyhearts; I call Myself a Reasonable Man; Thoughts; In The Cemetery; Young Poets; Ponchartrain Causeway; Test; Lord’s Prayer; I Take Back Everything I’ve Said. Poemas y Antipoemas and Versos de Salon were first published by Editorial Nascimento, Santiago de Chile, Canciones Rusas was first published by Editorial Joaquin Mortiz, Mexico City. Nicanor Parra’s first book publication in the United States was a selection of Antipoems in Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights ‘Pocket Poets’ Series, San Francisco.

Nicanor Parra Sandoval (born 5 September 1914) is a Chilean poet, mathematician, and physicist. He is considered an influential poet in Chile and throughout Latin America. Some rank him among the most important poets of Spanish language literature. Parra describes himself as an ‘anti-poet,’ due to his distaste for standard poetic pomp and function; after recitations he exclaims ‘Me retracto de todo lo dicho’ (‘I take back everything I said’). Parra, the son of a schoolteacher, was born in 1914 in San Fabián de Alico, Chile, near Chillán in southern Chile. He comes from the artistically prolific Parra family of performers, musicians, artists, and writers. His sister, Violeta Parra, was a folk singer, as was his brother Roberto Parra Sandoval. In 1933, he entered the Instituto Pedagógico of the University of Chile, and qualified as a teacher of mathematics and physics in 1938, one year after his first book, Cancionero sin Nombre, appeared. After teaching in Chilean secondary schools, in 1943 he enrolled in Brown University in the United States to study physics. In 1948, he attended Oxford University to study cosmology. He returned to Chile as a professor at the Universidad de Chile in 1946. Since 1952, Parra has been professor of theoretical physics in Santiago and has read his poetry in England, France, Russia, Mexico, Cuba, and the United States. He has published several books. Parra chooses to leave behind the conventions of poetry; his poetic language renounces the refinement of most Latin American literature and adopts a more colloquial tone. His first collection, Poemas y Antipoemas (1954) is a classic of Latin American literature, one of the most influential Spanish poetry collections of the twentieth century. It is cited as an inspiration by American Beat writers such as Allen Ginsberg. On December 1, 2011, Parra won the Spanish Ministry of Culture's Cervantes Prize, the most important literary prize in the Spanish-speaking world. On June 7, 2012, he won the Premio Iberoamericano de Poesía Pablo Neruda.

 

 

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(12/02/2014) Meet Yourself As You Really Are by William Gerhardi and Prince Leopold Loewenstein. Philadelphia. 1936. Lippincott. hardcover. 336 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Your personality is unique - unique in its particular combination of traits common to everybody. This book in no way minimizes your individuality but it approaches that individuality via widely shared characteristics. A series of searching questions reveals first the general out- line, then the details of your own life-pattern. What may seem at first glance to be a maze of questions, instructions, and cross-references soon turns out to be a clear path towards self- revelation. The authors of this unusual book have worked for many years to perfect the nearest possible approach to an accurate characterology.

 

 

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(12/03/2014)  Chamber Music by James Joyce. New York. 1971. Grossman Publishers/Cape Editions. paperback. 46 pages. Cape Editions 48. keywords: Poetry Ireland Joyce Ireland Literature. 0670211273.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   CHAMBER MUSIC, which appeared originally in 1907, was the first of Joyce’s books to reach the public. Though it brought no royalties, it was to gain him a place in the Imagist Anthology. It was thus to associate him with the Anglo-American group that included Eliot and Pound, who later helped to publicize his books. Elusive and formal, these poems are, above all, musical. Joyce, who trained as a singer in Paris, set out to write lyrics that could be sung, and their imagery – characteristically - appeals chiefly to the ear. Echoes from books, together with images from musical instruments, contribute to Joyce’s ‘elegant and antique phrase’. His models are the Elizabethan lyricists, the airs of Dowland and the words of Shakespeare. Joyce made the selection for CHAMBER MUSIC, sequentially arranged, from the large amount of verse composed during his Dublin days. It was first published by Jonathan Cape in 1927.

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century. Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922), a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer's Odyssey are paralleled in an array of contrasting literary styles, perhaps most prominent among these the stream of consciousness technique he perfected. Joyce was born in Dublin, Ireland, on February 2, 1882. He was the oldest of ten children in a family that experienced increasing financial difficulties during his childhood. After attending Clongowes Wood College and Belevedere College (both Jesuit institutions) in Dublin, he entered the Royal University, where he studied languages and philosophy. Upon his graduation, in 1902, Joyce left Ireland for France but returned the following year because his mother was dying. In 1904 he met Nora Barnacle (they fell in love on June 16, ‘Bloomsday’), and in October of that year they went together to Europe, settling in Trieste. In 1909 and again in 1912 Joyce made unsuccessful attempts to publish Dubliners, a collection of fifteen stories that he intended to be ‘a chapter of the moral history of my country focused on Dublin, ‘the centre of paralysis.’ In 1914 Dubliners finally appeared, followed by the semiautobiographical novel A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN, a reworking of an earlier manuscript, STEPHEN HERO. During the First World War Joyce and Nora lived in Zurich; in 1920 they moved to Paris, where Ulysses was published in 1922. FINNEGANS WAKE, Joyce’s most radical and complex work, began appearing in installments in 1928 and was published in its entirety in 1939. After the German occupation of Paris, Joyce and Nora (who were married in 1931) moved to Zurich, where he died in January. His complete oeuvre includes three books of poetry, a play, occasional journalism, and his published letters. Though most of his adult life was spent abroad, Joyce's fictional universe does not extend far beyond Dublin, and is populated largely by characters who closely resemble family members, enemies and friends from his time there; Ulysses in particular is set with precision in the streets and alleyways of the city. Shortly after the publication of Ulysses he elucidated this preoccupation somewhat, saying, ‘For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.’

 

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(12/04/2014) The Mixquiahuala Letters by Ana Castillo. Binghamton. 1986. Bilingual Press. hardcover. 132 pages. Cover design: Christopher J. Bidlack. keywords: Literature Latina Women Ethnic Hispanic Latin America. 0916950670.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   THE MIXQUIAHUALA LETTERS, an epistolary novel focusing on the correspondence between two Hispanic women, is a probing description of the relationship between the sexes. The novel is a far-ranging social and cultural document that encompasses both Mexican and United States Hispanic forms of love and gender conflict. Readers will find the conclusion of this novel to be a most powerful and emotionally gripping evocation of sexual warfare.

Ana Castillo (born 15 June 1953) is a Mexican-American Chicana novelist, poet, short story writer, essayist, editor, playwright, translator and independent scolar. Considered as one of the leading voices in Chicana experience, known for her daring and experimental style as a Latino novelist. Her works offer pungent and passionate socio-political comment that is based on established oral and literary traditions. Castillo's interest in race and gender issues can be traced throughout her writing career. Her novel, Sapogonia was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She is the editor of ‘La Tolteca’, an arts and literary magazine. Castillo held the first Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Endowed Chair at DePaul University. She has attained a number of awards including an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for her first novel, ‘The Mixquiahuala Letters’, a Carl Sandburg Award, a Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in fiction and poetry and in 1998 Sor Juana Achievement Award by the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago.

 

 

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(12/05/2014) The Romanovs: Evocation of the Past as a Mirror for the Present by William Gerhardi. London. 1940. Rich & Cowan. hardcover. 542 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   A vivid and highly entertaining account of the Russian dynasty, presenting history ‘with singular dramatic power and with an easy command of all the authorities’ (Daily Telegraph).

William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936).

 

 

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(11/17/2014) Little Lit: Stranger Stories for Strange Kids by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly (editors). New York. 2001. Harper Collins. hardcover. 64 pages. September 2004. keywords: Comix Comics Art Children’s Books. 0060286261.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The second groundbreaking anthology from the New York Times best-selling team of Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly is here! The everyday world is turned upside down and the ordinary becomes extraordinary in this collection of the strangest tales. From Art Spiegelman's The Several Lives of Selby Sheldrake to Maurice Sendak's Cereal Baby Keller to Jules Feiffer's Trapped in a Comic Book, these stories are sure to entice any young reader. Also included are comics and features by Ian Falconer and David Sedaris, Paul Auster and Jacques de Loustal, Crockett Johnson, Richard McGuire, and Barbara McClintock, a puzzle by Lewis Trondheim, and make-your-own comic-book endpapers from Kaz. Little Lit Strange Stories for Strange Kids continues the tradition of bringing the pleasure of books and reading into the hands and minds of kids.

 

 

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(11/18/2014) Crimes Of Conscience: Selected Short Stories by Nadine Gordimer. London. 1991. 121 pages. paperback. 0435906682. keywords: Literature South Africa Women.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This powerful collection of short stories, set in Gordimer's native South Africa, reveals her outstanding ability to pierce the core of the human condition.

Nadine Gordimer (20 November 1923 – 13 July 2014) was a South African writer, political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was recognized as a woman ‘who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity’. Gordimer's writing dealt with moral and racial issues, particularly apartheid in South Africa. Under that regime, works such as Burger's Daughter and July's People were banned. She was active in the anti-apartheid movement, joining the African National Congress during the days when the organization was banned. She was also active in HIV/AIDS causes. Ms Gordimer once said, ‘In imaginative writing theme is communication in the deepest sense. . . . Themes are statements or questions arising from the nature of the society in which the writer finds himself immersed and the kind and quality of the life around him.’ 

 

 

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(11/19/2014) Headed For The Blues: A Memoir by Josef Skvorecky. Hopewell. 1996. Ecco Press. hardcover. 176 pages. Translated from the Czech by Kaca Polackova Henley. keywords: Literature Translated Czech Eastern Europe Autobiography. 0880014628.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Jazz, politics, sex, fear, and the humor necessary to survive absurdity provide the backdrop as Skvorecky seamlessly interweaves his own story with those of his friends; particularly that of his childhood friend Prema, whose life stands in stark contrast to Skvorecky's own. Forced to flee the country shortly after the end of World War II for illegally broadcasting from a stolen transmitter, Prema embarks on an itinerant life, wandering as far as Australia, occasionally dropping Skvorecky 'Dear Old Buddy' postcards reporting on a life robbed of its home and its promise. Headed for the Blues recounts Czechoslovakia's evolution from Nazi rule to Soviet-dominated communism, from the age of the 'exhausted executioners' ('there were so many executions the Ministry asked them to slow down, the executioners are exhausted') to the age of those petty agents of the secret police called fizls ('rhymes with weasels'), a time when friends and neighbors - even family members - informed on one another. As a culture of fear and mistrust grew in the country, the lives of its people were heedlessly tossed about by the winds of politics. Throughout the book there are fascinating digressions on the subject of writing from a master of twentieth-century literature. Skvorecky discusses his own novels, the works of others, the process of writing, and the differences between real life and his highly autobiographical fiction.

Josef Škvorecký (September 27, 1924 – January 3, 2012) was a Czech-Canadian writer and publisher who spent much of his life in Canada. SKVORECKY was born in Bohemia, emigrated to Canada in 1968, and was for many years a professor of English at Erindale College, University of Toronto. He and his wife, the novelist Zdena Salivarova, ran a Czech-language publishing house, Sixty-Eight Publishers, in Toronto, and were long-time supporters of Czech dissident writers before the fall of communism in that country. Skvorecky’s novels include THE COWARDS, MISS SILVER’S PAST, THE BASS SAXOPHONE, THE ENGINEER OF HUMAN SOULS, and DVORAK IN LOVE. He was the winner of the 1980 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1984 Governor General’s Award for fiction in Canada. Škvorecký's fiction deals with several themes: the horrors of totalitarianism and repression, the expatriate experience, and the miracle of jazz.

 

 

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(11/20/2014) Fox In Socks by Dr. Seuss. New York. 1993. unpaginated. hardcover. 0394800389. Cover art by Dr. Seuss. keywords: Children's Books.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   A collection of tongue twisters that is 'an amusing exercise for beginning readers.' - Kirkus.

Theodor Seuss Geisel (March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991) was an American writer, poet, and cartoonist most widely known for children's picture books written and illustrated as Dr. Seuss. He had used the pen name Dr. Theophrastus Seuss in college and later used Theo LeSieg, and once Rosetta Stone, as well as Dr. Seuss. Geisel published 46 children's books, which were often characterized by imaginative characters, rhyme, and frequent use of anapestic meter. His most celebrated books include the bestselling Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton Hears a Who!, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. Numerous adaptations of his work have been created, including 11 television specials, four feature films, a Broadway musical and four television series. He won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958 for Horton Hatches the Egg and again in 1961 for And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Geisel also worked as an illustrator for advertising campaigns, most notably for Flit and Standard Oil, and as a political cartoonist for PM, a New York City newspaper. During World War II, he worked in an animation department of the United States Army, where he wrote Design for Death, a film that later won the 1947 Academy Award for Documentary Feature. He was a perfectionist in his work and he would sometimes spend up to a year on a book. It was not uncommon for him to throw out 95% of his material until he settled on a theme for his book. For a writer he was unusual in that he preferred to only be paid after he finished his work rather than in advance. Geisel's birthday, March 2, has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association.

 

 

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(11/21/2014) Futility: A Novel On Russian Themes by William Gerhardi. New York. 1922. Duffield & Company. hardcover. 256 pages. Preface by Edith Wharton.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This is the first novel by William Gerhardie, first published in 1922, and it was made famous by H. G. Wells, who described it as 'true, devastating - a wonderful book'. Based on Gerhardie's own experiences as a member of the British Military Mission to Siberia shortly after the October Revolution, Futility paints a picture of contemporary Russian society which deserves comparison with the writing of Chekhov. At the centre of the story is Nicolai Vasilievich, who trails across Russia in the wake of the British Mission in the perpetual and unrealistic hope of seeing his fortunes improve, even though they steadily deteriorate. In counterpoint to Nicolai's comic progression, Gerhardie tells the story of his narrator's hopeless love for Nina, the second of Nicolai's three bewitching adolescent daughters. 'William Gerhardie is one of our immortals. He is our Gogol's Overcoat. We all came out of him.' Olivia Manning 'He is a comic writer of genius. but his art is profoundly serious.' C. P. Snow.

William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936).

 

 

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(11/22/2014) The Bass Saxophone by Josef Skvorecky. New York. 1979. Knopf. hardcover. 212 pages. January 1979. Front-of-jacket illustration by G. Freschet. Translated from the Czech by Kaca Polackova-Henley. keywords: Literature Translated Czech Eastern Europe. 0394502671.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The two haunting, poetic novellas that comprise THE BASS SAXOPHONE brilliantly evoke the comedy and sadness of life under the Nazi and Soviet dictatorships. They are prefaced by a remarkable memoir of Skvorecky's jazz-obsessed youth. Jazz is a symbol of freedom in both these novellas. In EMOKE, which is set in the shadow of the Communist regime, jazz becomes the means by which a jaded young man plots the seduction of a mysterious girl enmeshed in superstition and the occult. Spurned, but fascinated, he is drawn into her tortured existence until catapulted into the final bitter comedy. In THE BASS SAXOPHONE a young Czechoslovakian student living under the rule of the Nazis is lured by his love of jazz - the ‘forbidden music’ - into secretly and dangerously playing in a German band, with bizarre and unexpected results. Written with the lyrical intensity of a great jazz performance, these two extraordinary novellas are among Skvorecky's finest works.

Josef Škvorecký (September 27, 1924 – January 3, 2012) was a Czech-Canadian writer and publisher who spent much of his life in Canada. SKVORECKY was born in Bohemia, emigrated to Canada in 1968, and was for many years a professor of English at Erindale College, University of Toronto. He and his wife, the novelist Zdena Salivarova, ran a Czech-language publishing house, Sixty-Eight Publishers, in Toronto, and were long-time supporters of Czech dissident writers before the fall of communism in that country. Skvorecky’s novels include THE COWARDS, MISS SILVER’S PAST, THE BASS SAXOPHONE, THE ENGINEER OF HUMAN SOULS, and DVORAK IN LOVE. He was the winner of the 1980 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1984 Governor General’s Award for fiction in Canada. Škvorecký's fiction deals with several themes: the horrors of totalitarianism and repression, the expatriate experience, and the miracle of jazz.

 

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(11/23/2014) You Can't Do Both by Kingsley Amis. London. 1994. Hutchinson & Company. hardcover. 306 pages. keywords: Literature England. 0091782627.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In this strongly autobiographical novel, set in pre-war England, Robin Davies suffocates under an overbearing father and a gentile society. He aches for discovery, for independence - and tries it with Dilys, seductive and insatiable; with Jeremy, intellectual and anguished; and with Nancy, the Oxford woman who marked a key turning point in his life. This is a coming-of-age, not a parting-of-ways story, for Robin's relationship with his father eventually becomes deeply affectionate and affecting. 'Funny, outrageous and tender.' (B-O-T Editorial Review Board).

Kingsley Amis was born in South London in 1922 and was educated at the City of London School and at St John’s College, Oxford, of which he is an Honorary Fellow. Between 1949 and 1963 he taught at the University College of Swansea, Princeton University and Peterhouse, Cambridge. He started his career as a poet and has continued to write in that medium ever since. His novels include LUCKY JIM (1954). TAKE A GIRL LIKE YOU (1960), THE ANTI-DEATH LEAGUE (1966), ENDING UP (1974), THE ALTERATION (1976), JAKE’S THING (1978) and STANLEY AND THE WOMEN (1984). His novel, THE OLD DEVILS, won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1986. Among his other publications are NEW MAPS OF HELL, a survey of science fiction (1960), RUDYARD KIPLING AND HIS WORLD (1975) and THE GOLDEN AGE OF SCIENCE FICTION (1981). He published his COLLECTED POEMS in 1979, and has also edited THE NEW OXFORD BOOK OF LIGHT VERSE and THE FABER POPULAR RECITER. Kingsley Amis was awarded the CBE in 1981.

 

 

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(11/24/2014) Pending Heaven by William Gerhardi. New York. 1930. Harper & Brothers. hardcover. 293 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   ‘A fantastic, semi-symbolical, loosely written narrative in which the characters are a pack of lunatics with farmyard morals - Liverpool Post. Gerhardie himself descried the book as ‘ a novel about two men treading the donkey-round of paradise deferred their literary friendship strained to breaking-point by rivalry in love. The two main characters are thought to be based on Hugh Kingsmill (Max) and Gerhardie himself (Victor).

William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936).

 

 

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(11/25/2014)  The Pencil Of God by Philippe Thoby-Marcelin and Pierre Marcelin. Boston. 1951. Houghton Mifflin. hardcover. 204 pages. Cover: Anne Marie Jauss. Translated from the French by Leonard Thomas. keywords: Literature Translated Haiti Caribbean Black. 078144554X.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In their latest novel, THE PENCIL OF GOD, the Marcelin brothers strike a new note. The first novel, CANAPÊ VERT, was awarded the prize by John Dos Passos in the Latin-American contest. OF CANAPÉ VERT and THE BEAST OF THE HAITIAN HILLS, Waldo Frank has said: ‘The novels of the Marcelins capture the profound rhythms of Haitian life, and reveal both the folkloric roots and the social actuality of a dramatic unique people.’ With the Haitian exposition to celebrate the 150th anniversary of their liberation, the spotlight is on Haiti. The Marcelins emerge more clearly than ever as the eloquent representatives of a literature which has at last come into its own. THE PENCIL OF GOD writes hard and fast when it writes; and the Haitians it say the pencil of God has no eraser. This is a novel of the strange half-lit world which exists in Haiti between the church and voodoo, and of a simple devout man, Diogene Cyprien, a small warehouse owner, whose weakness is an everlasting and virile love of the ladies. In his last fling, the very dissimulation and craftiness which he has used to attain his heart’s desire is boomeranged back to him by his love’s old female relatives, who place a voodoo curse on him. His life becomes a series of freak disasters - tongues clack in the provincial, small-town atmosphere of Saint-Marc. The gossip that he is a werewolf, a fiend, a consort of evil spirits, at first a whisper, becomes a deafening roar. Like a swimmer pulled by the tide between the sharks and the reefs, Diogene is pulled between the church and voodoo. The curse is the curse of gossip and suspicion, which can be as effective in Boston or New York or anywhere else as it is in Haiti. THE PENCIL OF GOD is not an explanation of why Haitians believe in voodoo or why it works, but of the subtle suggestive process of how. In THE PENCIL OF GOD the Marcelin brothers present that society halfway between Paris and Africa, half civilized and half primitive. Edmund Wilson has said: ‘They have an interest and importance something like that of Silone.’ It is not unusual in Haiti for a son to prefix his mother’s maiden name to his surname, and Philippe Thoby-Marcelin has availed himself of this custom, while his brother, Pierre Marcelin, has not. Both, however, were born of the same parents in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the heirs to a family literary tradition. Their maternal grandfather, Armand Thoby, attained eminence as a Haitian author as did an uncle, Perceval Thoby, who specialized in political writings. Their father, Emile Marcelin, in addition to having a political career which culminated in the posts of Minister of Finance and Haitian Minister to Cuba, was a novelist and literary critic. Their formal education was entrusted to the Catholic clergy of Haiti’s novels of Haiti’s private schools while their informal education was accomplished - at least in part - by the writers and political leaders who made the Marcelin home in Port-au-Prince a gathering place. Their paternal grandmother, Heloise Marcelin, the foremost pianist of her time, exerted an influence on their artistic education. Philippe Thoby-Marcelin has borne the responsibility for much of Haiti’s renaissance in the arts and was a leader in the avant-garde literary movement there. As a member of the group which centered around ‘La Revue Indigène’ he took a strong stand against the imitation of French writing which has been the custom with his literary forebears. The tenets of this circle were frankly nationalistic and stemmed from the belief that their cultural heritage was the strongest weapon against any deleterious influences from the United States. By writing as Haitians, speaking the language of their own people and their own times, they strove to encourage a respect for values native to Haitians and to all black peoples. ‘We were called - with a certain good humor to be sure - these young messieurs of La Revue Indigeste’ (The Indigestible Review),’ says Mr. Thoby-Marcelin. ‘We were very unjust toward our elders whom we accused of having failed at everything, particularly in guarding our country’s independence. We did not take the obstacles into account and we failed to see that after all they had advanced, that in many ways they had prepared the way for us.’

 

 

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(11/26/2014) Polyglots by William Gerhardi. New York. 1925. Duffield & Company. hardcover. 375 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   THE POLYGLOTS, Gerhardie’s comic masterpiece, is the unforgettable tale of an eccentric Belgian family living in the Far East through the uncertain years after the First World War and the Russian Revolution. The tale is recounted by their dryly conceited young English relative Captain Georges Hamlet Alexander Diabologh, who comes to stay with them during his military mission to the East. Filled with a host of bizarre characters - depressives, obsessives, paranoiacs, sex maniacs, hypochondriacs - Gerhardie paints a wonderfully absurd and directionless world where the comic and tragic are irrevocably entwined.

William Alexander Gerhardie (1895-1977) was a British (Anglo-Russian) novelist and playwright. Gerhardie (or Gerhardi: he added the ‘e’ in later years as an affectation) was one of the most critically acclaimed English novelists of the 1920s (Evelyn Waugh told him ‘I have talent, but you have genius’). H.G Wells was a ferocious champion of his work. His first novel Futility, was written while he was at Cambridge and drew on his experiences in Russia fighting (or attempting to fight) the Bolsheviks, along with his childhood experiences visiting pre-revolutionary Russia. Some say that it was the first work in English to fully explore the theme of ‘waiting’ later made famous by Samuel Beckett in WAITING FOR GODOT, but it is probably more apt to recognize a common comic nihilism between those two figures. His next novel, THE POLYGLOTS is probably his masterpiece (although some argue for DOOM). Again it deals with Russia (Gerhardie was strongly influenced by the tragi-comic style of Russian writers such as Chekhov who he wrote a study of while in College). He collaborated with Hugh Kingsmill on the biography ‘The Casanova Fable’, his friendship with Hugh being both a source of conflict over women and a great intellectual stimulus. After World War II Gerhardie’s star waned, and he became unfashionable, and although he continued to write, he had nothing published after 1939. After a period of poverty-stricken oblivion, he lived to see two ‘definitive collected works’ published by Macdonald (in 1947-49 and then revised again in 1970-74). More recently, both Prion and New Directions Press have been reissuing his works. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest ‘Pronounced jer (as Ger in Gerald) hardy, with the accent on the a: jer-har’dy. This is the way I and my relatives pronounce it, tho I am told it is incorrect. Philologists are of the opinion that it should be pronounced with the g as in Gertrude. I believe they are right. I, however, cling to the family habit of mispronouncing it. But I do so without obstinacy. If the world made it worth my while I would side with the multitude.’ (Charles Earle Funk, What’s the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936).

 

 

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The Neglected Books Page

23 March 2019

www.NeglectedBooks.com: Where forgotten books are remembered
  • The Signpost, by E. Arnot Robertson (1943)

    Macmillan splashed this ad for E. Arnot Robertson’s novel, The Signpost across the top half of page 13 on the New York Herald Tribune Weekly Book Review, consuming paper that British publishers struggling with wartime shortages would have coveted. A Book of the Month Club selection, The Signpost was expected to have good sales based... Read more

    The post ...

  • Marriage, Widowhood and After: Three Poems by Dorothy Livesay

    Wedlock Flesh binds us, makes us one And yet in each alone I hear the battle of the bone: A thousand ancestors have won. And we, so joined in flesh Are prisoned yet As soul alone must thresh In body’s net; And our two souls so left Achieve no unity: We are each one bereft... Read more

    The post ...

  • No Goodness in the Worm, by Gay Taylor (1930)

    I’ve been interested in reading No Goodness in the Worm ever since I read A Prison, A Paradise, the memoir in which Gay Taylor, writing under the pseudonym of Loran Hurnscot (compiled from what she saw as her two worst sins, sloth and rancour), recalled her obsession and affair with A. E. Coppard and the... Read more

    The post ...

  • Letters Home, arranged and edited by Mina Curtiss (1944)

    I knew Mina Curtiss’s name as the collector and editor of the letters of Marcel Proust. Curtiss wrote of her experiences in tracking down Proust’s letters in her 1978 memoir, Other People’s Letters (which is, unfortunately, out of print again). But I was surprised to learn that during World War Two, she collected letters written... Read

    ...
  • As It Was in the Beginning, by G. E. Trevelyan (1934)

    The anonymous TLS reviewer described G. E. Trevelyan’s third novel, As It Was in the Beginning (1934) as “almost unreadable in its intensity.” Thumbing through the book after getting it in the mail last month, I could see that was an apt assessment, and somewhat dreaded the level of attention I would have to devote... Read more

    The post ...

  • Angry Man’s Tale, by Peter de Polnay (1939)

    At a time when many first-time novelists bemourn publishers’ reluctance to back their works with advertisement, Alfred A. Knopf’s half-page ad for Peter de Polnay’s Angry Man’s Tale (1939) stands as righteous refutation. Look at that headline (perhaps not the best choice of font, Mr. Knopf): “Not the book of the year. Not even the... Read

    ...
  • “On the Floor” and the Mystery of Joan Jukes

    “But when I open the door I find someone has moved my chair.” Some hold that a proper short story should start midstream. Joan Jukes’ 1935 story, “On the Floor,” takes this advice to the extreme. Where are we? What was happening before he/she opened the door? Who is this narrator? The reader can only... Read more

    The post ...

  • William’s Wife, by G. E. Trevelyan (1938)

    William’s Wife is the natural history of a bag lady. Starting from the day of her wedding to grocer William Chirp, a widower in his late fifties, G. E. Trevelyan takes us step by step through the metamorphosis of Jane Atkins from an ordinary young woman in service (a good position, more of a lady’s... Read more

    The post ...

  • Undercurrent, by Barbara Jefferis (1953)

    When Miss Doxy, the spinster at center of Barbara Jefferis’ novel Undercurrent, sits down to breakfast in her boarding house dining room, she notices a strange man sitting at a table near the door. “They have so much,” she thinks. “So much money, so much power, so many people. They can change their man three... Read more

    The post ...

  • Quiet Street, by Michael Ossorgin [Mikhail Osorgin] (1930)

    I’ve been saving Mikhail Osorgin’s novel, Quiet Street, for a quiet break. There is something about a good, thick Russian book — things like Anna Karenina, Life and Fate, or Konstantin Paustovsky’s autobiography — that demand you set aside distractions and carve out hours to let it take over your life, and I could tell... Read

    ...
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