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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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(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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(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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(11/27/2014)  Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer. New York. 1979. 361 pages. hardcover. 0670194751. keywords: Literature South Africa Women.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   A depiction of South Africa today, this audiobook is more revealing than a thousand news dispatches as it tells the story of a young woman cast in the role of a young revolutionary, trying to uphold a heritage handed on by martyred parents while carving out a sense of self.

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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(11/28/2014)  There's A Wocket In My Pocket! by Dr. Seuss. New York. 1974. unpaginated. BE18. hardcover. 0394829204. Cover art by Dr. Seuss. keywords: Children's Books.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   There's a Wocket in My Pocket is filled with bizarre creatures and rhymes: the nupboard in the cupboard, ghairs beneath the stairs, and the bofa on the sofa!.

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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(11/29/2014) The Passion Of New Eve by Angela Carter. New York. 1977. Harcourt Brace & Jovanovich. hardcover. 191 pages. Jacket design by Richard Mantel. keywords: Literature England Women. 0151712850.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   ‘I know nothing. I am a tabula rasa, a blank sheet of paper, an unhatched egg. I have not yet become a woman, although I possess a woman’s shape. Not a woman, no: both more and less than a real woman. Now I am a being as mythic and monstrous as Mother herself. New York has become the City of Dreadful Night where dissolute Leilah performs a dance of chaos for Evelyn. But this young Englishman’s fate lies in the arid desert, where a many-breasted fertility goddess will wield her scalpel to transform him into the new Eve.

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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(11/05/2014) Stanley And The Women by Kingsley Amis. New York. 1985. Summit Books. hardcover. 256 pages. September 1985. Jacket design by Fred Marcellino. keywords: Literature England. 0671603175.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The hero of Kingsley Amis’s comedy is Stanley Duke. Attractive, prosperous and happily remarried, Stanley leads a life that is positively enviable-that is, until it becomes apparent that his teenage son, Steve, is going mad. It isn’t that Steve suddenly tears up a copy of Bellow’s HERZOG, or cranks his stereo to ear-shattering levels. that’s normal. It’s his pursuit by cosmic forces that concerns his father. Stanley’s confrontation with his son’s madness give Amis the opportunity to pull off a comic masterpiece.

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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(11/14/2014) God's Fifth Column: A Biography Of The Age 1890-1940 by William Gerhardie. London. 1981. Hodder & Stoughton. hardcover. 360 pages. Cover design: Melvyn Gill. 0340263407.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   GOD’S FIFTH COLUMN is the last book of William Gerhardie who died in 1977 in his eighty-second year. Well known in the 1920s and 1930s chiefly as a novelist (whose books were admired by Arnold Bennett, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh and others). Gerhardie fell mysteriously silent at the beginning of the Second World War and did not publish another book during the remaining thirty-seven years of his life. After his death the manuscript of this ambitious and unusual book was discovered among his papers and has been skillfully edited for publication by Michael Holroyd and Robert Skidelsky. It is a biography of the age, 1890-1940, through which Gerhardie lived. ;If I were the Unknown Soldier,’ he wrote, ‘my ghost would refuse to lie down under the heavy piece of marble; I would arise, and I would say to them: keep your blasted memorial and learn sense!’ The suffering unit was Gerhardie’s measure of the crimes and follies of rulers; and his criticism of orthodox historians was that they echoed the generals and statesmen, endorsing the calculations of the insane. For Gerhardie, it is the artists, the men of imagination rather than of will, who are the true spokesmen for mankind; and it is through the artist’s vision and the writer’s use of language that he tries to bring the age into moral perspective. Gerhardie conceived GOD’S FIFTH COLUMN as the motive force that sabotages man’s complacency and makes progress possible. Faith, hope, charity and mercy are the four columns in God’s army; the fifth is divine discontent. The theme, like a fifth column agent himself, enters the work surreptitiously and gains force through cumulative illustration; the absurdity of Queen Victoria, empress of more than half the world, defending her hearthside rug from the footprint of Balfour; the tragic-comedy of Tolstoy, apostle of love, fleeing from his wife; the gaiety of Chekhov’s funeral, his coffin arriving in a truck marked ‘For Oysters.’ The incidents and personalities are subtly linked through contrast and parallel to make GOD’S FIFTH COLUMN one of the most remarkable works of this gifted writer. 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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(11/15/2014) Anton Chehov by William Gerhardi. New York. 1923. Duffield & Company. hardcover. 207 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Author's second book, and the first full-length book on Chehov in any language other than Russian.Gerhardi’s study is centered on a concept of ‘the ineffable,’ which permits the novel to do what philosophy cannot, in other words to hold apparently irreconcilable ideas in a significant relationship. ‘There is a book’, wrote Desmond MacCarthy in the New Statesman, ‘no-one interested in Chehov should miss reading. It has been out some time, and it is by Mr William Gerhardie who wrote that admirable novel about Russian life, Futility. This critical study is one of the best I have read. one that will find a permanent place in any library of critical literature.’ Written for the most part while Gerhardie was at Oxford, Anton Chehov was first published in 1923. It was, indeed, the first critical study of Chehov to be published in any language, and the general acclaim with which it was greeted in England and America was echoed in Russia, where today it is still spoken of as a standard work. For English readers, dealing as it does with the whole of Chehov’s work, it remains one of the most authoritative studies available. Gerhardie was uniquely placed to write this book. His Russian childhood and bilingual upbringing enabled him to appreciate Chehov’s humour and lyricism in a way which simply was not open to those who had access to Chehov’s writings merely in translation. This is a work of warmth and affection. To some extent, Gerhardie claims, Chehov’s writings can take the place of life itself, so that, when they die, Chehov’s readers ‘may congratulate themselves on having lived a hundred lives - but paid for one’. Gerhardie has for Chehov, in addition to the deep understanding ofone imaginative writer for another, a love which is part of his love of life itself.

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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(10/13/2014) Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley. New York. 1958. Harper & Brothers. hardcover. 147 pages. keywords: Literature England Essays.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   BRAVE NEW WORLD REVISITED is not fiction. It is a shocking, yet calm, estimate of what has been done (since the publication of BRAVE NEW WORLD in 1932), what is being done and what may very soon be done to turn men into compliant robots. The enemies of freedom are subtle, often unobserved, and far more numerous than we suppose. Mr. Huxley reveals them with the lucidity and scientific insight for which he is famous. With overpowering impact, the book is a challenge to complacency and a plea that mankind should educate itself in freedom before it is too late.

Aldous Huxley was born on 26th July 1894 near Godalming, Surrey. He began writing poetry and short stories in his early twenties, but it was his first novel, CROME YELLOW (1921), which established his literary reputation. This was swiftly followed by ANTIC HAY (1923), THOSE BARREN LEAVES (1925) and POINT COUNTER POINT (1928) - bright, brilliant satires in which Huxley wittily but ruthlessly passed judgment on the shortcomings of contemporary society. For most of the 1920s Huxley lived in Italy and an account of his experiences there can be found in ALONG THE ROAD (1925). The great novels of ideas, including his most famous work BRAVE NEW WORLD (published in 1932 this warned against the dehumanizing aspects of scientific and material 'progress') and the pacifist novel EYELESS IN GAZA (1936) were accompanied by a series of wise and brilliant essays, collected in volume form under titles such as MUSIC AT NIGHT (1931) and ENDS AND MEANS (1937). In 1937, at the height of his fame, Huxley left Europe to live in California, working for a time as a screenwriter in Hollywood. As the West braced itself for war, Huxley came increasingly to believe that the key to solving the world's problems lay in changing the individual through mystical enlightenment. The exploration of the inner life through mysticism and hallucinogenic drugs was to dominate his work for the rest of his life. His beliefs found expression in both fiction (TIME MUST HAVE A STOP, 1944 and ISLAND, 1962) and non-fiction (THE PERENNIAL PHILOSOPHY, 1945, GREY EMINENCE, 1941 and the famous account of his first mescalin experience, THE DOORS OF PERCEPTION, 1954. Huxley died in California on 22nd November 1963.

 

 

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(11/07/2014) James Joyce: A Passionate Exile by John McCourt. London. 2000. Orion Books. hardcover. 112 pages. Front cover: James Joyce by Augustus John courtesy of the artist estate, Bridgernan Art Library. Back: James Joyce in Zurich 1938, Hulton Getty. keywords: Literature Ireland James Joyce Photography Literary Criticism. 0752818295.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   JAMES JOYCE: A PASSIONATE EXILE is a revealing new account of the life, times and writings of the twentieth century’s most distinguished novelist. Combining words with an extraordinary collection of contemporary photographs and other images, it depicts his family’s fall from riches to rags and his experience of growing up in late nineteenth century Dublin. Author and Joyce scholar John McCourt also examines Joyce’s relationship with his life-long partner, Nora Barnacle and casts new light on their 40-year voluntary exile in Europe, first in the cosmopolitan Adriatic port of Trieste, then in lively wartime Zurich, and finally in Paris, the artistic centre of the world in the 1920s and 30s. Exile from Ireland was a necessary condition for Joyce to forge in the smithy of his soul the uncreated conscience of his race in his magnificent short story collection DUBLINERS, in his intense bildungsroman A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN and in his modern epic ULYSSES.

John McCourt is from Dublin. He was educated at Belvedere College and University College, Dublin, where he obtained his PhD for a thesis on Joyce’s Trieste experiences. He has been living and working in Trieste since 1991. He is a researcher and lecturer at the University of Trieste, where he is also programme director of the university’s annual Trieste Joyce School.

 

 

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(11/08/2014) Manuel Puig and The Spider Woman: His Life and Fictions by Suzanne Jill Levine. New York. 2000. Farrar Straus Giroux. hardcover. 448 pages. Jacket design by Jonathan D. Lippincott. Jacket photograph by Mario Fenelli. Photograph of author and Manuel Puig, 1981, by Lydia Rubio. keywords: Literature Argentina Biography Latin America Translated. 0374281904.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Manuel Puig (1932-1990), Argentinian author of KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN and pioneer of high camp, stands alone in the pantheon of contemporary Latin American literature. Strongly influenced by Hollywood films of the thirties and forties, his many-layered novels and plays integrate serious fiction and popular culture, mixing political and sexual themes with B-movie scenarios. When his first two novels were published in the late sixties, they delighted the public but were dismissed as frivolous by the leftist intellectuals of the Boom; his third novel was banned by the Peronist government for irreverence. His influence was already felt though-even by writers who had dismissed him-and by the time the film version of KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN became a worldwide hit, he was a renowned literary figure. Puig’s way of life was as unconventional as his fiction: he spoke of himself in the female form in Spanish, renamed his friends after his favorite movie stars, referred to his young male devotees as ‘daughters,’ and, as a perennial expatriate, lived (often with his mother) everywhere from Rome to Rio de Janeiro. Suzanne Jill Levine, his principal English translator, draws upon years of friendship as well as copious research and interviews in her remarkable book, the first biography of this inimitable writer.

SUZANNE JILL LEVINE is a professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara and a noted translator of contemporary Latin American literature. She is the author of three books, including THE SUBVERSIVE SCRIBE.

 

 

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(11/09/2014) The Moon & The Bonfires by Cesare Pavese. New York. 1953. Farrar Straus & Young. hardcover. 206 pages. Translated from the Italian by Marianne Ceconi. Foreword by Paolo Milano. keywords: Literature Italy Translated.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Anguila, the narrator, is a successful businessman lured home from California to the Piedmontese village where he was fostered by peasants. But, after twenty years, much has changed. Slowly, through the power of memory, he is able to piece together the past and relates it to what he finds left in the present. He looks at the lives and sometimes violent faces of the villagers he has known from childhood, setting the poverty, ignorance or indifference that binds them to these hills and valleys against the beauty of the landscape and the rhythm of the seasons. With stark realism and muted compassion, Pavese weaves the strands together and brings them to a stark and poignant climax.

Cesare Pavese (9 September 1908 – 27 August 1950) was an Italian poet, novelist, literary critic and translator; he is widely considered among the major authors of the 20th century in his home country. Cesare Pavese was born in Santo Stefano Belbo, in the province of Cuneo. It was the village where his father was born and where the family returned for the summer holidays each year. He started infant classes in San Stefano Belbo, but the rest of his education was in schools in Turin. His most important teacher at the time was Augusto Monti, writer and educator, whose writing style was devoid of all rhetoric. As a young man of letters, Pavese had a particular interest in English-language literature, graduating from the University of Turin with a thesis on the poetry of Walt Whitman. Among his mentors at the university was Leone Ginzburg, expert on Russian literature and literary critic, husband of the writer Natalia Ginzburg and father of the future historian Carlo Ginzburg. In those years, Pavese translated both classic and recent American and British authors that were then new to the Italian public. Pavese moved in antifascist circles. In 1935 he was arrested and convicted for having letters from a political prisoner. After a few months in prison he was sent into ‘confino’, internal exile in Southern Italy, the commonly used sentence for those guilty of lesser political crimes. (Carlo Levi and Leone Ginzburg, also from Turin, were similarly sent into confino.) A year later Pavese returned to Turin, where he worked for the left-wing publisher Giulio Einaudi as editor and translator. Natalia Ginzburg also worked there. Pavese was living in Rome when he was called up into the fascist army, but because of his asthma he spent six months in a military hospital. When he returned to Turin, German troops occupied the streets and most of his friends had left to fight as partisans. Pavese fled to the hills around Serralunga di Crea, near Casale Monferrato.He took no part in the armed struggle taking place in that area. During the years in Turin, he was the mentor of the young writer and translator Fernanda Pivano, his former student at the Liceo D'Azeglio. Pavese gave her the American edition of SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY, which came out in Pivano's Italian translation in 1943.After the war Pavese joined the Italian Communist Party and worked on the party's newspaper, L'Unità. The bulk of his work was published during this time. Toward the end of his life, he would frequently visit Le Langhe, the area where he was born, where he found great solace. Depression, the failure of a brief love affair with the actress Constance Dowling, to whom his last novel was dedicated, and political disillusionment led him to his suicide by an overdose of barbiturates in 1950. That year he had won the Strega Prize for La Bella Estate, comprising three novellas: 'La tenda', written in 1940, 'Il diavolo sulle colline'(1948) and 'Tra donne sole' (1949). Leslie Fiedler wrote of Pavese's death ‘. .for the Italians, his death has come to have a weight like that of Hart Crane for us, a meaning that penetrates back into his own work and functions as a symbol in the literature of an age.’ The circumstances of his suicide, which took place in a hotel room, mimic the last scene of Tra Donne Sole (AMONG WOMEN ONLY), his penultimate book. His last book was 'La Luna e i Falò', published in Italy in 1950 and translated into English as THE MOON AND THE BONFIRES by Louise Sinclair in 1952.

 

 

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(11/10/2014) Old Tales From Spain by Felipe Alfau. Garden City. 1929. Doubleday Doran. hardcover. 207 pages. Illustrated by Rhea Wells. keywords: Spain Childrens Literature.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   A collection of children's stories from the author of LOCOS: A COMEDY OF GESTURES and CHROMOS.

Felipe Alfau (1902–1999), was a Spanish American (Catalan American) novelist and poet. Like his contemporaries Luigi Pirandello and Flann O'Brien, Alfau is considered a forerunner of later postmodern writers such as Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Pynchon, Donald Barthelme, and Gilbert Sorrentino. Born in Barcelona, Alfau emigrated with his family at the age of fourteen to the United States, where he lived the remainder of his life. Alfau earned a living as a translator; his sparse fictional and poetic output remained obscure throughout most of his life. Alfau wrote two novels in English: LOCOS: A COMEDY OF GESTURES and CHROMOS. LOCOS — a metafictive collection of related short stories set in Toledo and Madrid, involving several characters that defy the wishes of the author, write their own stories, and even assume each others' roles — was published by Farrar and Rinehart in 1936. The novel, for which Alfau was paid $250, received some critical acclaim, but little popular attention. The novel was republished in 1987 after an editor for the small publisher Dalkey Archive Press found the book at a barn sale in Massachusetts, read it, and contacted Alfau after finding his telephone number in the Manhattan phone book. The novel's second incarnation was modestly successful, but Alfau refused payment, instructing the publisher to use the earnings from LOCOS to fund some other unpublished work. When asked if he had written any other books, Alfau provided the manuscript for CHROMOS, which had been resting in a drawer since 1948. CHROMOS, a comic story of Spanish immigrants to the United States contending with their two cultures, went on to be nominated for the National Book Award in 1990. Alfau also wrote a book of poetry in Spanish, SENTIMENTAL SONGS (La poesia cursi), written between 1923 and 1987 and published in 1992, and a book of children's stories, OLD TALES FROM SPAIN, written in 1929.

 

 

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(11/11/2014) Nights At The Circus by Angela Carter. New York. 1985. Viking Press. hardcover. 295 pages. February 1985. Jacket illustration & design by Vincent X. Kirsch. Winner James Tait Black Memorial Prize. keywords: Literature England Women. 0670803758.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Sophi Fevvers—the toast of Europe’s capitals, courted by the Prince of Wales, painted by Toulouse-Lautrec—is an aerialiste extraordinaire, star of Colonel Kearney’s circus. She is also part woman, part swan. Jack Walser, an American journalist, is on a quest to discover Fevvers’s true identity: Is she part swan or all fake? Dazzled by his love for Fevvers, and desperate for the scoop of a lifetime, Walser joins the circus on its tour. The journey takes him - and the reader - on an intoxicating trip through turn-of-the-century London, St. Petersburg, and Siberia - a tour so magical that only Angela Carter could have created it.

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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(11/12/2014) The Watcher And Other Stories by Italo Calvino. New York. 1971. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. hardcover. 181 pages. Jacket design by Anita Walker Scott. Translated from the Italian by William Weaver & Others. keywords: Literature Translated Italy. 0151948801.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Italo Calvino, the scintillating author of COSMICOMICS and T ZERO, shows his astonishing range in these three long stories. In ‘The Watcher,’ fact predominates over fantasy. The setting is Cottolengo, a city within the city of Turin, where, hidden from sight, the rejects of the human race — cripples, idiots, monsters — are cared for by the Church in a self-contained world of their own. Here, on Election Day, Amerigo Ormeo, member of a left-wing party, penetrates into the enemy stronghold to see that no election fraud is committed. Two concepts of man confront each other, movingly, revealingly, and not without a subtle ambiguity. In the other stories fantasy rockets off from its base in fact. ‘Smog,’ written in 1958, marvelously anticipates a preoccupation with pollution that is raised to lunatic proportions. ‘The Argentine Ant’ is a masterpiece of sustained horror with farcical undertones, illustrating man’s defeat before an enemy too small and ubiquitous to be overcome. A bold intelligence, a true originality, a brilliant inventiveness raise these stories to an exhilarating pitch and make them irresistible reading.

Italo Calvino (October 15, 1923 - September 19, 1985) was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy (1952-1959), the Cosmicomics collection of short stories (1965), and the novels Invisible Cities (1972) and If on a winter’s night a traveler (1979). Italo Calvino was born in Santiago de Las Vegas, Cuba, to botanists Mario Calvino and Evelina Mameli. (His brother was Floriano Calvino, a famous geologist.) The family soon moved to its homeland Italy, where Italo lived most of his life. They moved to Sanremo, on the Italian Riviera, where his father had come from (his mother came from Sardinia). The young Italo became a member of the Avanguardisti (a fascist youth organization in which membership was practically compulsory) with whom he took part in the occupation of the French Riviera. He suffered some religious troubles, as his relatives were openly atheist in a largely Catholic country. He was sent to attend a Waldensian private school. Calvino met Eugenio Scalfari (later a politician and the founder of the major Italian newspaper La Repubblica), with whom he would remain a close friend. In 1941 Calvino moved to Turin, after a long hesitation over living there or in Milan. He often humorously described this choice, and used to describe Turin as ‘a city that is serious but sad.’ In 1943 he joined the Partisans in the Italian Resistance, in the Garibaldi brigade, with the battlename of Santiago. With Scalfari he created the MUL (liberal universitarian movement). Calvino then entered the (still clandestine) Italian Communist Party. Calvino graduated from the University of Turin in 1947 with a thesis on Joseph Conrad and started working with the official Communist paper L’Unità. He also had a short relationship with the Einaudi publishing house, which put him in contact with Norberto Bobbio, Natalia Ginzburg, Cesare Pavese and Elio Vittorini. With Vittorini he wrote for the weekly Il Politecnico (a cultural magazine associated with the university). Calvino then left Einaudi to work mainly with L’Unità and the newborn communist weekly political magazine Rinascita. He worked again for the Einaudi house from 1950, responsible for the literary volumes. The following year, presumably to advance in the communist party, he visited the Soviet Union. The reports and correspondence he produced from this visit were later collected and earned him literary prizes. In 1952 Calvino wrote with Giorgio Bassani for Botteghe Oscure, a magazine named after the popular name of the party’s head-offices. He also worked for Il Contemporaneo, a Marxist weekly. From 1955 to 1958 Calvino had an affair with the actress Elsa de’ Giorgi, an older and married woman. Calvino wrote hundreds of love letters to her. Excerpts were published by Corriere della Sera in 2004, causing some controversy. In 1957, disillusioned by the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary, Calvino left the Italian Communist party. His letter of resignation was published in L’Unità and soon became famous. He found new outlets for his periodic writings in the magazines Passato e Presente and Italia Domani. Together with Vittorini he became a co-editor of Il Menabò di letteratura, a position which Calvino held for many years. Despite severe restrictions in the US against foreigners holding communist views, Calvino was allowed to visit the United States, where he stayed six months from 1959 to 1960 (four of which he spent in New York), after an invitation by the Ford Foundation. Calvino was particularly impressed by the ‘New World’: ‘Naturally I visited the South and also California, but I always felt a New Yorker. My city is New York.’ The letters he wrote to Einaudi describing this visit to the United States, were first published as ‘American Diary 1959-1960’ in the book Hermit in Paris in 2003. In 1962 Calvino met the Argentinian translator Esther Judith Singer (Chichita) and married her in 1964 in Havana, during a trip in which he visited his birthplace and met Ernesto Che Guevara. This encounter later led him to contribute an article on the 15th of October 1967, a few days after the death of Guevara, describing the lasting impression Guevara made on him. Back in Italy, and once again working for Einaudi, Calvino started publishing some of his cosmicomics in Il Caffè, a literary magazine. Vittorini’s death in 1966 influenced Calvino greatly. He went through what he called an ‘intellectual depression’, which the writer himself described as an important passage in his life: ‘. I ceased to be young. Perhaps it’s a metabolic process, something that comes with age, I’d been young for a long time, perhaps too long, suddenly I felt that I had to begin my old age, yes, old age, perhaps with the hope of prolonging it by beginning it early’. He then started to frequent Paris, where he was nicknamed L’ironique amusé. Here he soon joined some important circles like the Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle) and met Roland Barthes and Claude Lévi-Strauss, in the fermenting atmosphere that was going to evolve into 1968’s cultural revolution (the French May). During his French experience, he also became fond of Raymond Queneau’s works, which would influence his later production. Calvino had more intense contacts with the academic world, with notable experiences at the Sorbonne (with Barthes) and at Urbino’s university. His interests included classical studies: Honoré de Balzac, Ludovico Ariosto, Dante, Ignacio de Loyola, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Cyrano de Bergérac, and Giacomo Leopardi. At the same time, not without surprising Italian intellectual circles, Calvino wrote novels for Playboy’s Italian edition (1973). He became a regular contributor to the important Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. In 1975 Calvino was made Honorary Member of the American Academy, and the following year he was awarded the Austrian State Literary Prize for European literature. He visited Japan and Mexico and gave lectures in several American towns. In 1981 he was awarded the prestigious French Légion d’Honneur. During the summer of 1985, Calvino prepared some notes for a series of lectures to be delivered at Harvard University in the fall. However, on 6 September, he was admitted to the ancient hospital of Santa Maria della Scala in Siena, where he died during the night between the 18 and 19 September of a cerebral hemorrhage. His lecture notes were published posthumously as Six Memos for the Next Millennium in 1988. His style is not easily classified; much of his writing has an air of the fantastic reminiscent of fairy tales (Our Ancestors, Cosmicomics), although sometimes his writing is more ‘realistic’ and in the scenic mode of observation (Difficult Loves, for example). Some of his writing has been called ‘postmodern’, reflecting on literature and the act of reading, while some has been labeled ‘magical realist’, others fables, others simply ‘modern’. Twelve years before his death, he was invited to and joined the Oulipo group of experimental writers. He wrote: ‘My working method has more often than not involved the subtraction of weight. I have tried to remove weight, sometimes from people, sometimes from heavenly bodies, sometimes from cities; above all I have tried to remove weight from the structure of stories and from language.’.

 

 

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(11/01/2014) Heroes and Villains by Angela Carter. New York. 1969. Simon & Schuster. hardcover. 215 pages. Jacket design by Graham Percy. keywords: Literature England Women.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

  An allegorical post-Apocalyptic novel, in which three surviving social groups—the Professors, the Barbarians, and the Out People—come into conflict when a Professor’s daughter is captured and becomes the bride of a Barbarian. The novel is set in a future Dark Ages, but its opening is a clever parody of ‘Emma.’

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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(10/26/2014) Chinese Junks on the Pacific: Views from a Different Deck by Hans Konrad Van Tilburg. Gainesville. University Press of Florida. paperback. 288 pages. June 2013. A volume in the series New Perspectives on Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology, edited by James C. Bradford and Gene A. Smith. 6 x 9. 55 b/w illus. keywords: Chinese Junks Maritime History. 9780813049212.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   ‘It is Van Tilburg’s goal to broaden our understanding of Chinese nautical technology, to explore the evolution of Chinese vessels between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries, to investigate the differences between Chinese and Western ships and, in the absence of historical documents, to read the vessels themselves as cultural artefacts [sic] or texts that contain historical information regarding their construction and functions that would otherwise be lost to history.’ —International Journal of Maritime History ‘Treats surviving ships as living records of China’s pre-modern shipbuilding and shipping practices at an archaeological and anthropological juncture. This is a welcome move in scholarship.’ - Mariner’s Mirror ‘By focusing on the voyage of ten junks that crossed the Pacific between 1905 and 1989. [Van Tilburg] reveals the multifarious history behind these vessels and the stereotypes held by an intrigued American public witnessing their arrival.’—Bulletin of the Pacific Circle.

Hans Konrad Van Tilburg, maritime heritage coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is the author of A Civil War Gunboat in Pacific Waters: Life on Board USS Saginaw.

 

 

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25 June 2019

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  • The Fire Escape, by Susan Kale (1960)

    The paperback editions of The Fire Escape trumpet its message: “The tragic, unvarnished story of a prostitute.” Which is a bit like plastering the banner line, “The Story of a Cockroach” across the cover of The Metamorphosis: yes, well, I guess you could say it is, but that’s actually missing the point in a pretty... Read more

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  • Blitz Writing: Night Shift and It Was Different at the Time, by Inez Holden (2019)

    As a rule, I don’t cover in print books on this site: the fact that a book is in print is proof that it may be underappreciated, but it’s certainly not forgotten. However, I have to make an exception in the case of the Handheld Press’s recent release of two of Inez Holden’s three books... Read more

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  • Journey Through a Lighted Room, by Margaret Parton (1973)

    I knew I was going to like Margaret Parton’s memoir, Journey Through a Lighted Room, on page two, when she writes of reflecting upon a Quaker meeting while “wandering aimlessly about the garden with a vodka and tonic in hand.” This is the story of a woman who wasn’t ashamed by the fact that she... Read more

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  • The Mere Living, by B. Bergson Spiro (Betty Miller) (1933)

    Had The Mere Living not been largely forgotten by now, it would undoubtedly be saddled with an shakeable and unfavorable comparison to Virginia Wolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. For both are circadian novels (taking place within the space of a single day) set in London and both really heavily on the use of a stream of consciousness... Read more

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  • My Heart for Hostage, by Robert Hillyer (1942)

    I feel a little trepidation in writing about My Heart for Hostage. It may be the closest thing to a perfect book that I’ve come across in nearly 13 years of working on this site. It’s so good that early in reading it, I felt a frisson of fear that Robert Hillyer would not be... Read more

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  • Linked in the Lutheran Underworld, from Direction North, by John Sykes (1967)

    It is not that I am a particularly avid drinker, but one partial to a glass of beer or a glass or two of wine with a meal, and then a lift at the start of the evening—apart from specific drinking occasions; but since I came to Finland I have been goaded almost to a... Read more

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  • The Rabbit’s Umbrella, by George Plimpton (1955)

    The rabbit with the umbrella in George Plimpton’s children’s book, The Rabbit’s Umbrella, is every bit as real as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny: that he might exist matters more than that he actually does. In this case, the rabbit, plus three robbers, shouting parrots, and a giant dog named Lump serve as bait... Read more

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  • The Bloater, by Rosemary Tonks (1968)

    The bloater of Rosemary Tonks’ title is an opera singer, and The Bloater itself is a bit like Così fan tutte updated for the Swinging Sixties. Min, married to George, who seems to have a bird on the side, is being pursued by the Bloater (he never gets a real name), while she contemplates if... Read more

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  • The Autobiography of Ethel Firebrace, by Gay Taylor and Malachi Whitaker (1937)

    In The Autobiography of Ethel Firebrace, Malachi Whitaker and Gay Taylor offered the world a feminine match for H. H. Bashford’s really good man, Augustus Carp, Esq. Lost now to literary history, Ethel Firebrace was prolific novelist of the early 20th century, churning out dozens and dozens of works such as Clothed in White Samite,... ...

  • The Well-Meaning Young Man, by Luise and Magdalen King-Hall (1930)

    I decided to read The Well Meaning Young Man after stumbling across this passage: Horatio Swann, the famous portrait painter, was at his wit’s end. Harry Ames, the well-known scene designer, was at his wit’s end. The Russian chauffeur, Boris, was lying upstairs under a neat check bedspread, in a bedroom of the inn, suffering... Read more

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