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(12/20/2007) Embers by Sandor Marai. New York. 2001. Knopf. Translated From The Hungarian By Carol Brown Janeway. keywords: Literature Hungary Translated. 217 pages. Jacket painting by Alexandre Cabanel - Portrait of Countess de Keller, 1873. Jacket design by Susan Carroll. 0375407561. October 2001.

From Hungary, a rediscovered gem about friendship, betrayal, and revenge.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The rediscovery of a masterpiece of Central European literature originally published in Budapest in 1942 and known to modern readers until last year. An extraordinary novel about a triangular relationship, about love, friendship, and fidelity; about betrayal, pride, and true nobility. In a castle at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, an old aristocrat waits to greet the friend he has not seen for forty-one years. In the course of this one night, from dinner until dawn, the two men will fight a duel of words and silences, of stories, of accusations and evasions, that will encompass their entire lives and that of a third person, missing from the candlelit dining hall-the now dead chatelaine of the castle. The last time the three of them sat together was in this room, after a stag hunt in the forest, The year was 1900. No game was shot that day but the reverberations were cataclysmic. And the time of reckoning has finally arrived. Already a great international best-seller, EMBERS is a magnificent addition to world literature in the English language.

Sandor Marai was born in Kassa, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1900. He rose to fame as one of the leading literary novelists in Hungary in the 1930s. Profoundly antifascist, he survived World War II, but persecution by the Communists drove him from the country in 1948, first to Italy and then to the United States. Marai committed suicide in San Diego in 1989. He is the author of a significant body of work, which Knopf is translating into English.

 

 

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(12/19/2007) The Life Of The Party by Maureen Freely. New York. 1985. Simon & Schuster. keywords: Literature America Women Turkey. 416 pages. Jacket design by Fred Marcellino. 0671506145.

A novel of American expatriate life in Istanbul that is by turns funny and tragic, from the translator of Nobel Prize winner, Orhan Pamuk.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Hector Cabot was known to e the life of every party he attended in Istanbul: a famous rascal, an incorrigible womanizer, a good-for-nothing charmer, a loser of geese. That last attribute was commemorated each year on 'Hector Cabot Goosebuying Day' in honor of the famous binge in 1962 when he went downtown to buy a goose for Christmas dinner and returned three days later completely naked except for a Turkish flag. Hector taught at Woodrow College perched above the Bosphorus. Other members of the expatriate circle, though not quite as flamboyant as Hector, were avid spectators of, if not participants in, the decadence: Meredith Lacey, who stalked married men like wild game; her husband, Leslie, melancholy in his repressed homosexuality; Stella Ashe, lover of Hector and mother of his child; Stella's husband, Thomas, the quarry of Meredith Lacey. Those also featured in Maureen Freely's astonishing cast include Hector's demonic Greek mother, Aspasia, whose life is devoted to taunting her daughter-in-law, Amy, the long-suffering victim of Hector's philandering and hijinks; Emin Bey, the elegant and educated Turk who is friend and admirer of Hector; and his nephew Ismet, a secret policeman whose ambition leads him to invent dark secrets about the crowd of fast-living Westerners. Maureen Freely superbly portrays the expatriate party dwindling to its end against the backdrop of Turkeys own internal tensions. This is a marvelous, rich, funny book--full of life--peopled with engaging, sharply drawn characters, offering a sensitive portrait of the clash of cultures. Maureen Freely's vitality and precision as a writer, her ability to capture the niceties of social comedy and tragedy, make THE LIFE OF THE PARTY a novel of breathtaking assurance, wholly fulfilling the promise of her wickedly amusing first novel, MOTHER'S HELPER.

Maureen Freely was born in the US but grew up in Turkey, where her family still lives. She was educated at Radcliffe College (Harvard University) and has made her home in England for the past 22 years. She is the author of three works of non-fiction: PANDORA'S CLOCK (1993,) WHAT ABOUT US? (1995) AND THE PARENT TRAP (2000); AND SEVEN NOVELS: MOTHER'S HELPER (1979), THE LIFE OF THE PARTY (1985), THE STORK CLUB (1992), UNDER THE VULCANIA (1994), THE OTHER REBECCA (1996) and ENLIGHTENMENT (2007), which is set in Istanbul. She has been a regular contributor to The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent and The Sunday Times for two decades, writing on feminism, family and social policy, Turkish culture and politics, and contemporary writing. For the past ten years she has been the Deputy Director of the Writing Programme at the University of Warwick. She is perhaps best known for her translations of SNOW (2003), ISTANBUL: MEMORIES OF A CITY (2004) and THE BLACK BOOK (2005), by the Turkish novelist and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, and for her campaigning journalism after Pamuk and an estimated 80 other writers were prosecuted (and in the case of Hrant Dink, assassinated) for insulting Turkishness, state institutions, or the memory of Ataturk.

 

 

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(12/18/2007) Black Looks: Race & Representation by bell hooks. Boston. 1992. South End Press. keywords: Politics African American Women Sociology America. 200 pages. Cover design by Julie Ault and G. Watkins.

Any bell hooks book is worth a read. In this collection of 12 essays hooks takes on popular music, advertising, literature, television, historical narrative, and film in an exploration of race, representation, and resistance. Should be required reading for the planet. Her perspective is fresh and stimulating and definitely against the grain.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In these twelve new essays, feminist theorist and cultural critic bell hooks digs ever deeper into the personal and political consequences of contemporary representations of black women and men within our white supremacist culture. Taking on popular music, advertising, literature, television, historical narrative, and, most importantly, film, hooks consistently demonstrates the incisive intelligence and passion for justice that prompted Publishers Weekly to dub her 'one of the foremost black intellectuals in America today.' 

bell hooks is a writer and professor who speaks widely on issues of race, class, and gender. Her previous books include AIN'T I A WOMAN, FEMINIST THEORY, TALKING BACK, YEARNING, and most recently, with Cornel West, BREAKING BREAD: INSURGENT BLACK INTELLECTUAL LIFE.

 

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(12/17/2007) The Joke by Milan Kundera. New York. 1969. Coward McCann. Translated From The Czech By David Hamblyn & Oliver Stallybrass. keywords: Literature Czechoslovakia Translated.

Later translated From the Czech by Michael Henry Heim in 1982, and then fully revised by the author & newly translated again by Michael Henry Heim. The 1982 edition provides English-language readers an important further means toward revaluation of THE JOKE. For reasons he describes in his Author's Note to that edition, Milan Kundera devoted much time to creating a completely revised translation that reflects his original as closely as any translation possibly can: reflects it in its fidelity not only to the words and syntax but also to the characteristic dictions and tonalities of the novel's narrators. The result is nothing less than the restoration of a classic.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In 1992, a quarter century after THE JOKE was first published and several years after the collapse of the Soviet-imposed Czechoslovak regime, it becomes easier to put such implications into perspective in favor of valuing the book as what it truly is: great, stirring literature that sheds new light on the eternal themes of human existence. All too often, this brilliant novel of thwarted love and revenge miscarried has been read for its political implications. Now, a quarter century after THE JOKE was first published and several years after the collapse of the Soviet-imposed Czechoslovak regime, it becomes easier to put such implications into perspective in favor of valuing the book as what it truly is: great, stirring literature that sheds new light on the eternal themes of human existence. All too often, this brilliant novel of thwarted love and revenge miscarried has been read for its political implications.

 

 

 

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(12/16/2007) The Baron In The Trees by Italo Calvino. New York. 1959. Random House. Translated From The Italian By Archibald Colquhoun. keywords: Literature Translated Italy. 219 pages. Jacket design by George Salter.

The story of a young Baron who rebels against eating snails by taking to the trees... and he never comes down.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In 1767, when he was twelve years old, a rebellious Italian nobleman, Cosimo Piovasco di Rond?, reacted against his father's authoritarianism and the injustice of being forced to eat macabre dishes--beheaded snails among them--prepared by his diabolical sister Battista. He climbed a tree, as boys that age are wont to do. Unlike other boys, Cosimo never came down. THE BARON IN THE TREES is the wonderfully witty novel of Cosimo's unique arboreal existence. From the trees, Cosimo explained, he could see the earth more clearly. Free from the humdrum routine of an earthbound existence, the Baron had fantastic adventures with pirates, women and spies, and still had time to read, study, and ponder the deeper issues of the period. He corresponded with Diderot and Rousseau, became a military strategist, and outstared Napoleon when the Emperor paid him a visit. Dispensing truth and justice from wherever he might be, the Baron was friend to fruit thieves and noblemen alike. He converted the most feared bandit in the area into a dedicated bookworm, whose passion for literature led to his professional downfall. Women were quite willing to go out on a limb for Cosimo. The most daring of all was Viola, the exotic blonde whose love affair with Cosimo is one of the most intense and extraordinary in fiction. This beautifully written novel is a highly imaginative satire of eighteenth-century life and letters. Reminiscent of Voltaire's satirical romances, THE BARON IN THE TREES displays to dazzling effect Italo Calvino's sure sense of the sublime and the ridiculous.

Italo Calvino was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy, the Cosmicomics collection of short stories, and the novels Invisible Cities and If on a winter's night a traveler.

 

 

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(12/14/2007) Memed, My Hawk by Yashar Kemal. New York. 1961. Pantheon Books. Translated From The Turkish By Eduoard Roditi. keywords: Literature Translated Turkey. 371 pages. Jacket design by Richard Powers.

A tale of injustice and revenge from the Turkish master. If you like this book, be sure to read the sequel, THEY BURN THE THISTLES.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This stirring epic of modern Turkey-a tempestuous, romantic tale of rebellion against a still-existing feudal world-is told with the simplicity and awesome sweep of the great folk legends. The hero of the tale is Ince Memed, rebel, brigand, and adventurer. Born in a small village in the Taurus Mountains, where the peasants struggle in servitude to a rich Agha or lord, Memed as a boy tries to escape the hard life in the thistle-choked fields but is brought back to an existence even crueller in hardship than before. Years later he tries to escape again, this time with his lovely childhood sweetheart, Hatche, whom he wants to marry but who has been promised to the nephew of the Agha. The lovers are pursued, Memed kills the nephew and escapes, but Hatche is caught and thrown into prison. Memed now takes to the mountains and soon becomes the most famous bandit throughout the Taurus, helper of the poor and scourge of their oppressors. His chief goals, however, remain: to free Hatche from prison and to settle accounts with the Agha. The story of these exploits in the wild mountains and the wretched villages of the Taurus, peopled by poor farmers, strange and courageous outlaws, intriguing nomads-all under the shadow of the cruel and grasping Agha-rises to true epic proportions as Memed, the protector, the hawk, becomes the renowned avenger of his people.

YASHAR KEMAL himself has become something of a legendary figure in Turkey, where his great novel won for him Turkey’s first literary prize in 1956 and has been read by an unprecedented number of people among a population that is still largely illiterate. He was born in 1922 in a village in Southern Anatolia. At the age of five he witnessed the brutal murder of his father, who was kneeling beside him in prayer in a mosque. The shock of this experience left him with a severe stutter for years. He discovered he could overcome the speech defect by singing the songs of traveling folk singers. In time he became a master of the literature of this rich tradition, and its influence can found in the haunting balladlike quality of his novel. Kemal worked in a factory to earn money for his secondary education, and later held a variety of jobs, from cotton and rice picking to writing petitions for the illiterate poor on a hard-earned typewriter. In 1951 Kemal became a reporter for the leading newspaper in Istanbul. Shortly thereafter he won the prize for the best journalism of the year, and subsequently published a volume of short stories. The publication of MEMED, MY HAWK, plus his profound interest in the pressing problems of land reform and peasant life, has made him one of the most popular and influential writers in Turkey today. His work was a notable inspiration to the group that overthrew the Menderes regime.

 

 

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(12/13/2007) Jacques The Fatalist by Denis Diderot. New York. 1986. Penguin Books. Introduction and Notes by Martin Hall. Translated from the French by Michael Henry. keywords: Penguin Classic Paperback France Literature Translated 18th Century. 261 pages. The cover shows a portrait of Diderot by L. M. van Loo, in the Musee du Louvre, Paris (photo: Giraudon). 0140444726.

JACQUES THE FATALIST is a long, but thoroughly entertaining conversation that is constantly interrupted by one revelatory digression after another.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Denis Diderot is among the great writers of the Enlightenment and in Jacques the Fatalist he challenged the artificialities of the conventional French fiction of the period. The world of Jacques is not a fixed and settled one where events are easily assessed and interpreted; on the contrary, it is a world of dizzying variety and unpredictability. For nothing is quite as it seems and an alarming proliferation of anecdotes, characters and philosophical problems continues to spring up around the apparently central theme of the relationship between Jacques and his master, in a skilled and devastating assault on the supremacy of the stylized novel. ‘[A] feast of intelligence, humour and fantasy. Without Jacques le Fataliste the history of the novel remains obscure and incomplete. its true greatness is only perceptible when it is placed beside DON QUIXOTE, TOM JONES or ULYSSES’ - Milan Kundera.

DENIS DIDEROT was born at Langres in eastern France in 1713, the son of a master-cutler. He was originally destined for the Church, but rebelled and persuaded his father to allow him to complete his education in Paris. For most of his twenties and early thirties, Diderot remained nominally a law student, but in fact led a rather precarious and Bohemian existence. He read extensively during this period, and this is reflected in his early works such as the Pensées philosophiques (1746) and the Lettre sur les aveugles (1749) which show a keen interest in contemporary philosophical issues. During the early 1740s Diderot met three contemporaries of great future significance for himself and for the age: d’Alembert, Condillac and J. J. Rousseau. In 1747 Diderot embarked on the most important task of his life, the editorship of the Encyclopédie, whose publication he oversaw until its completion in 1773. Diderot’s boldest philosophical and scientific speculations are brilliantly summarized in a trilogy of dialogues collectively known as Le Réve de d’Alembert (1769). With Le Neveu de Rameau, begun in 1761, and Jacques le Fataliste, written between approximately 1755 and 1784, Diderot produced his greatest works of prose fiction, works which are highly original and daring, both in their form and in their content. Towards the end of his life, by now one of the most famous French writers, Diderot visited Saint Petersburg at the invitation of one of his most powerful admirers, the empress Catherine the Great, to whom he had promised his extensive library in return for her financial assistance. He died in 1784. This translation is based upon the text of JACQUES LE FATALISTE edited by S. Lecointre and J. Le Galliot, Editions Droz, Paris, 1977.

 

 

 

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(12/12/2007) Paul Celan: Selections by Paul Celan. Berkeley. 2005. University of California Press. Various Translators From The German. Editied & With An Introduction by Pierre Joris. Poets For The Millenium. keywords: Literature Poetry Germany Translated. 231 pages. 0520241681.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The best introduction to the work of Paul Celan, this anthology offers a broad collection of his writing in unsurpassed English translations along with a wealth of commentaries by major writers and philosophers. The present selection is based on Celan’s own 1968 selected poems, though enlarged to include both earlier and later poems, as well as two prose works, The Meridian, Celan’s core statement on poetics, and the narrative Conversation in the Mountains. This volume also includes letters to Celan’s wife, the artist Gisèle Celan-Lestrange; to his friend Erich Einhorn; and to René Char and Jean-Paul Sartre--all appearing here for the first time in English. CONTENTS - Introduction: ‘Polysemy without mask’; Key to Translators; I. POEMS - from Romanian Prose Poems (c. 1947); from Mohn und Gedächtnis/Poppy and Memory (1952); from Von Schwelle zu Schwelle/From Threshold to Threshold (1955); from Sprachgitter/Speech-Grille (1959); from Die Niemandsrose/The Noonesrose (1963); from Atemwende/Breathturn (1967); from Fadensonnen/Threadsuns (1968); from Lichtzwang/Lightduress (1970); from Schneepart/Snowpart (1971); from Zeitgehöft/Timehalo (1976); II. PROSES - Conversation in the Mountains (1959); The Meridian (1960); III. DOCUMENTS - from the Correspondence - Letter #1: To Gisèle Celan-Lestrange (1952); Letter #2: To Gisèle Celan-Lestrange (1952); Letter #3: To René Char (unsent) (1962); Letter #4: To Erich Einhorn (1962); Letter #5: To Jean-Paul Sartre (unsent) (1962); Letter #6: To Erich Einhorn (1962); Letter #7: To Gisèle Celan-Lestrange (1965); Letter #8: To Eric Celan (1968); Letter #9: From Gisèle Celan-Lestrange to Paul (1969); Letter #10: To Gisèle Celan-Lestrange (1970); Das Stundenglass, tief (facsimile); Uber dich hinaus (facsimile; Es wird etwas sein, später (facsimile); IV. ON PAUL CELAN - Paul Celan and Language-Jacques Derrida; Encounters with Paul Celan-E.M. Cioran; For Paul Celan-Andrea Zanzotto; On Paul Celan in Neuchâtel-Friedrich Dürrenmatt; The Memory of Words-Edmond Jabès; Selected Bibliography.

Paul Celan (November 23, 1920 – approximately April 20, 1970) was the most frequently used pseudonym of Paul Antschel, one of the major poets of the post-World War II era. Celan was born in 1920 into a German-speaking Jewish family in Cernauti, Bukovina, then part of Romania (now part of Ukraine). His father, Leo Antschel, was a Zionist who advocated his son’s education in Hebrew at Safah Ivriah, an institution previously convinced of the wisdom of assimilation into Austrian culture, and one which favourably received Chaim Weizmann of the World Zionist Organization in 1927. His mother, Fritzi, was an avid reader of German literature who insisted German be the language of the house. After his Bar Mitzvah in 1933, Celan abandoned Zionism (at least to some extent) and terminated his formal Hebrew education, instead becoming active in Jewish Socialist organizations and fostering support for the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War. His earliest known poem, titled Mother’s Day 1938 was an earnest, if sentimental, profession of love. In 1938, Celan travelled to Tours, France to study medicine (the newly-imposed Jewish quota in Romanian universities and the Anschluss precluded Bucharest and Vienna), but returned to Cernauti in 1939 to study literature and Romance languages. His journey to France took him through Berlin as the events of Kristallnacht unfolded, and also introduced him to his uncle, Bruno Schrager, who later was among the French detainees who died at Birkenau. The Soviet occupation in June 1940 deprived Celan of any lingering illusions about Stalinism and Soviet Communism stemming from his earlier socialist engagements; the Soviets quickly imposed bureaucratic reforms on the university where he was studying Romance philology, and the Red Army brought deportations to Siberia, just as Nazi Germany and Romania brought ghettos, internment, and forced labour a year later. On arrival in July 1941 the German SS Einsatzkommando and their Romanian allies burned down the city’s six-hundred-year-old Great Synagogue. In October, the Romanians deported a large number of Jews after forcing them into a ghetto, where Celan translated William Shakespeare’s Sonnets and continued to write his own poetry, all the while being exposed to traditional Yiddish songs and culture. Before the ghetto was dissolved in the fall of that year, Celan was pressed into labor, first clearing the debris of a demolished post office, and then gathering and destroying Russian books. The local mayor strove to mitigate the harsh circumstances until the governor of Bukovina had the Jews rounded up and deported, starting on a Saturday night in June 1942. Accounts of his whereabouts on that evening vary, but it is certain that Celan was not with his parents when they were taken from their home on June 21 and sent by train to an internment camp in Transnistria, where two-thirds of the deportees perished. Celan’s parents were taken across the Southern Bug and handed over to the Germans, where his father likely perished of typhus and his mother was shot dead after being exhausted by forced labour. Later on, after having himself been taken to the labour camps in the Old Kingdom, Celan would receive reports of his parents’ deaths earlier that year. Celan remained in these labour camps until February 1944, when the Red Army’s advance forced the Romanians to abandon them, whereupon he returned to Cernauti shortly before the Soviets returned to reassert their control. There, he worked briefly as a nurse in the mental hospital. Early versions of Todesfuge were circulated at this time, a poem that clearly relied on accounts coming from the now-liberated camps in Poland. Friends from this period recall expression of immense guilt over his separation from his parents, whom he had tried to convince to go into hiding prior to the deportations, shortly before their death. Considering emigration to Palestine and wary of widespread Soviet antisemitism, Celan left Soviet-occupied territory in 1945 for Bucharest, where he remained until 1947. He was active in the Jewish literary community as both a translator of Russian literature into Romanian, and as a poet, publishing his work under a variety of pseudonyms. The literary scene of the time was richly populated with surrealists — Gellu Naum, Ilarie Voronca, Gherasim Luca, Paul Paun, and Dolfi Trost —, and it was in this period that Celan developed pseudonyms both for himself and his friends, including the one he took as his pen name. A version of Todesfuge appeared as Tangoul Mortii (‘Death Tango‘) in a Romanian translation of May 1947. The surrealist ferment of the time was such that additional remarks had to be published explaining that the dancing and musical performances of the poem were realities of the extermination camp life. Night and Fog, another poem from that era, includes a description of the Auschwitz Orchestra, an institution organized by the SS to assemble and play selections of German dances and popular songs. (The SS man interviewed by Claude Lanzmann for his film Shoah, who rehearsed the songs prisoners were made to sing in the death camp, remarked that no Jews taught the song survived. As Romanian autonomy became increasingly tenuous in the course of that year, Celan fled Romania for Vienna, Austria. It was there that he befriended Ingeborg Bachmann, who had just completed a dissertation on Martin Heidegger. Facing a city divided between occupying powers and with little resemblance to the mythic city it once was, which had harboured the then-shattered Austro-Hungarian Jewish community, he moved to Paris in 1948, where he found a publisher for his first poetry collection, Der Sand aus den Urnen (‘Sand from the Urns’). His first few years in Paris were marked by intense feelings of loneliness and isolation, as expressed in letters to his colleagues, including his longtime friend from Cernauti, Petre Solomon. It was also during this time that he exchanged many letters with Diet Kloos, a Dutch chanteuse. She visited him twice in Paris between 1949 and 1951. In a published edition of these letters, near the end of the exchange, Celan seems to be entertaining an amorous interest in her. In 1952 Celan received an invitation to the semiannual meetings of Group 47. At a 1953 meeting he read his poem Todesfuge (‘Death Fugue’), a depiction of concentration camp life. His reading style, which was based on Hungarian folk poems, was off-putting to the German audience. His poetry was sharply criticized. When Ingeborg Bachmann, with whom Celan had an affair, won the Group’s prize for her collection Die gestundete Zeit (The Extended Hours), Celan (whose work had received only six votes) said ‘After the meeting, only six people remembered my name’. He was not invited again. In November 1951, he met the graphic artist Gisèle Lestrange, in Paris. He would send her many wonderful love letters, influenced by Franz Kafka’s correspondence with Milena Jesenska and Felice Bauer. They married on December 21, 1952 despite the opposition of her aristocratic family, and during the following 18 years they wrote over 700 letters, including a very active exchange with Siegfried Lenz and his wife, Hanna. He made his living as a translator and lecturer in German at the École Normale Supérieure. He was also a pen friend of Nelly Sachs, who later won the Nobel Prize for literature. Celan became a French citizen in 1955 and lived in Paris. Celan’s sense of persecution increased after the widow of his friend the French-German poet Yvan Goll accused him of plagiarising her husband’s work. Celan committed suicide by drowning in the Seine river in late April 1970.

Pierre Joris is the author of many books of poetry as well as a range of anthologies and translations; he recently published A Nomad Poetics, a volume of essays. In 2003 he was Berlin Prize fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. He is Professor of English at the State University of New York, Albany.

 

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(12/11/2007) Buddenbrooks: 2 Volumes by Thomas Mann. New York. 1924. Knopf. Translated From The German By H. T. Lowe-Porter. keywords: Literature Germany Translated. 748 pages.

BUDDENBROOKS may not always receive its proper due since it inevitably must dwell in the shadow of Mann’s masterwork, THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN. It is however an engrossing tale of the decline in fortunes of a middle-class German family in the early 20th century.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   BUDDENBROOKS, first published in Germany in 1900, when Mann was only twenty-five, has become a classic of modern literature - the story of four generations of a wealthy bourgeois family in northern Germany. With consummate skill, Mann draws a rounded picture of middle- class life: births and christenings; marriages, divorces, and deaths; successes and failures. These commonplace occurrences, intrinsically the same, vary slightly as they recur in each succeeding generation. Yet as the Buddenbrooks family eventually succumbs to the seductions of modernity - seductions that are at variance with its own traditions - its downfall becomes certain. In immensity of scope, richness of detail, and fullness of humanity, BUDDENBROOKS surpasses all other modern family chronicles; it has, indeed, proved a model for most of them. Judged as the greatest of Mann’s novels by some critics, it is ranked as among the greatest by all. THOMAS MANN was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1929.

 

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(12/10/2007) The Hills Were Joyful Together by Roger Mais. London. 1953. Jonathan Cape. keywords: Literature Caribbean Jamaica Black. 288 pages. Jacket design from a painting by the author. The Author: from a Self-Portrait in Oils.

Roger Mais writes of poor people in Jamaica. His tales are moving and unforgettable. Don’t miss THE HILLS WERE JOYFUL TOGETHER, his 1st novel.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The author is a Jamaican and his novel is set in Jamaica. Its characters, who belong to the submerged nine-tenths of the population, are strangers to writers of books for tourists and to the tourists themselves, but not to the police nor to politicians at election times. Roger Mais, having lived and worked among them for most of his 47 years, knows them intimately; and his story, concerned with a small community of the industrious, the shiftless, the pious and the lawless, is as close to reality as art can depict it. Naive and savage, generous and cunning, sensitive and gross, their violence repels while their simple tenderness attracts. Their high spirits, their humour, their love of singing and dancing, are here contrasted with their primitive barbarity in scenes which evoke terror and pity, tears and laughter. In a style that soars into lyrical beauty and plumbs the depths of squalid tragedy, this is a novel of great power by a writer whose sincerity is not to be denied.

ROGER MAIS was born at Kingston, Jamaica, in 1905. One of his great-grandfathers was sentenced to the stocks for harbouring runaway slaves. His education was sketchy and unorthodox, but liberal. He is unmarried, and is a painter, as well as a writer, and THE HILLS WERE JOYFUL TOGETHER is his first novel. His recreations are reading, the theatre and music. He says that his most interesting experience was going to jail for six months under Defence Regulations, for writing an article which was considered adverse to the War Effort, but was really only asking for a more liberal constitution (and got it). He wrote this first novel, he says, very quickly, and because he had to; ‘it had been gestating for years.'

 

 

 

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(12/07/2007) Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes. New York. 2003. Ecco Press. Translated From The Spanish By Edith Grossman. Introduction By Harold Bloom. keywords: Literature Translated Spain. Jacket design & photograph by David High & Ralph Del Pozzo, High Design, NYC. 0060188707. November 2003.

I will admit that I made a couple of passes at DON QUIXOTE over the years before I finally acquired the stamina to tackle it in earnest. This translation became available at just the right time for me.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Edith Grossman’s definitive English translation of the Spanish masterpiece. Widely regarded as the world’s first modern novel, and one of the funniest and most tragic books ever written, Don Quixote chronicles the famous picaresque adventures of the noble knight-errant Don Quixote of La Mancha and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, as they travel through sixteenth-century Spain. Unless you read Spanish, you’ve never read DON QUIXOTE. ‘Though there have been many valuable English translations of Don Quixote, I would commend Edith Grossman’s version for the extraordinarily high quality of her prose. The Knight and Sancho are so eloquently rendered by Grossman that the vitality of their characterization is more clearly conveyed than ever before. There is also an astonishing contextualization of Don Quixote and Sancho in Grossman’s translation that I believe has not been achieved before. The spiritual atmosphere of a Spain already in steep decline can be felt throughout, thanks to her heightened quality of diction. Grossman might be called the Glenn Gould of translators, because she, too, articulates every note. Reading her amazing mode of finding equivalents in English for Cervantes’s darkening vision is an entrance into a further understanding of why this great book contains within itself all the novels that have followed in its sublime wake. ’ - From the Introduction by Harold Bloom.

Miguel de Cervantes was born on September 29, 1547, in Alcala de Henares, Spain. At twenty-three he enlisted in the Spanish militia and in 1571 fought against the Turks in the battle of Lepanto, where a gunshot wound permanently crippled his left hand. He spent four more years at sea and then another five as a slave after being captured by Barbary pirates. Ransomed by his family, he returned to Madrid but his disability hampered him; it was in debtor’s prison that he began to write DON QUIXOTE. Cervantes wrote many other works, including poems and plays, but he remains best known as the author of DON QUIXOTE. He died on April 23, 1616.

 

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(12/05/2007) Minty Alley by C. L. R. James. London. 1936. Secker & Warburg. keywords: Literature Caribbean Black Trinidad. 320 pages.

Reading MINTY ALLEY makes one wish that C. L. R. James had spent a little more time writing fiction.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In this Trinidadian West Indian novel, Haynes, a young middle-class man trying to save money, moves into cheaper lodgings at No. 2 Minty Alley. He is determined to keep his distance from the other colorful inhabitants of Minty Alley, but gradually becomes part of its rich cultural life, discovering a great deal about the various lodgers and at the same time, about himself. The characters of Maisie, Haynes, Mrs. Rouse, and Benoit are unforgettable for both Haynes and the reader. The book is also an interesting exploration of the 'mutually impoverishing alienation of the educated West Indian from the mainstream. '. MINTY ALLEY is an early classic of modern Caribbean writing in English. It is the only novel written by C. L. R. James and belongs to the ‘Beacon period’ of Caribbean literature in the late 20s and 30s of this century. C. L. R. James promised another novel after MINTY ALLEY, first published in 1936, but that novel never emerged. MINTY ALLEY and James’s short stories establish the compassionate creative imagination that was to illuminate a brilliant social, political and historical analysis of the Caribbean and the world at large. They also underline a special dimension of the spirit behind his creative critical writing. C. L. R. JAMES’s works include THE BLACK JACOBINS, HISTORY OF PAN AFRICAN REVOLT, BEYOND A BOUNDARY, FACING REALITY; PARTY POLITICS IN THE WEST INDIES, MARINERS RENEGADES AND CASTAWAYS, WORLD REVOLUTION, and others.

Cyril Lionel Robert James (4 January 1901–19 May 1989) was an Afro-Trinidadian journalist, socialist theorist and writer. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, then a British Crown colony, James attended Queen’s Royal College in Port of Spain before becoming a cricket journalist, and also an author of fiction. He would later work as a school teacher, teaching among others the young Eric Williams. Together with Ralph de Boissière, Albert Gomes and Alfred Mendes, James was a member of the anti-colonialist Beacon Group, a circle of writers associated with The Beacon magazine. In 1932, he moved to Nelson in Lancashire, England in the hope of furthering his literary career. There he worked for the Manchester Guardian and helped the cricketer Learie Constantine write his autobiography. In 1933, James moved to London. James had begun to campaign for the independence of the West Indies while in Trinidad, and his Life of Captain Cipriani and the pamphlet The Case for West-Indian Self Government were his first important published works, but now he became a leading champion of Pan-African agitation and the Chair of the International African Friends of Abyssinia, formed in 1935 in response to Fascist Italy’s invasion of what is now Ethiopia. He then became a leading figure in the International African Service Bureau, led by his childhood friend George Padmore, to whom he later introduced Kwame Nkrumah. In Britain, he also became a leading Marxist theorist. He had joined the Labour Party, but in the midst of the Great Depression he became a Trotskyist. By 1934, James was a member of an entrist Trotskyist group inside the Independent Labour Party. In this period, amid his frantic political activity, James wrote a play about Toussaint L’Ouverture, which was staged in the West End in 1936 and starred Paul Robeson and Robert Adams. That same year saw the publication in London of James’s only novel, Minty Alley, which he had brought with him in manuscript from Trinidad; it was the first novel to be published by a black Caribbean author in the UK. He also wrote what are perhaps his best-known works of non-fiction: World Revolution (1937), a history of the rise and fall of the Communist International, which was critically praised by Leon Trotsky, and The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (1938), a widely acclaimed history of the Haitian revolution, which would later be seen as a seminal text in the study of the African diaspora. In 1936, James and his Trotskyist Marxist Group left the Independent Labour Party to form an open party. In 1938, this new group took part in several mergers to form the Revolutionary Socialist League. The RSL was a highly factionalised organisation and when James was invited to tour the United States by the leadership of the Socialist Workers’ Party, then the US section of the Fourth International, in order to facilitate its work among black workers, he was encouraged to leave by one such factional opponent, John Archer, in the hope of removing a rival. James moved to the USA in late 1938, and after a tour sponsored by the SWP stayed on for over twenty years. But by 1940 he had developed severe doubts about Trotsky’s analysis of the Soviet Union as a degenerated workers state and left the SWP along with Max Shachtman, who formed the Workers’ Party. Within the WP he formed the Johnson-Forest Tendency with Raya Dunayevskaya (his pseudonym being Johnson and Dunayevskaya’s Forest) and Grace Lee (later Grace Lee Boggs) in order to spread their views within the new party. While within the WP the views of the J-F tendency underwent considerable development and by the end of the Second World War they had definitively rejected Trotsky’s theory of Russia as a degenerated workers state, instead analysing it as being state capitalist. This political evolution was shared by other Trotskyists of their generation, most notably Tony Cliff. Unlike Cliff, they were increasingly looking towards the autonomous movements of oppressed minorities, a theoretical development already visible in James’ thought in his discussions with Leon Trotsky which took place in 1939. An interest in such autonomous struggles came to take centre stage for the tendency. After 1945 the WP saw the prospects for a revolutionary upsurge as receding. The J-F Tendency, by contrast, were more enthused by prospects for mass struggles and came to the conclusion that the SWP, which they considered more proletarian than the WP, thought similarly to themselves about such prospects. Therefore, after a short few months as an independent group when they published a great deal of material for a small group, the J-F tendency joined the SWP in 1947. James would still describe himself as a Leninist, despite his rejection of Lenin’s conception of the vanguard role of the revolutionary party, and argue for socialists to support the emerging black nationalist movements. By 1949, he came to reject the idea of a vanguard party. This led his tendency to leave the Trotskyist movement and rename itself the Correspondence Publishing Committee. In 1955, nearly half the membership of Committee would leave under the leadership of Raya Dunayevskaya to form a separate tendency of Marxist-humanism and found the organization, News and Letters Committees. Whether Raya Dunayevskaya’s faction constituted a majority or minority seems to be a matter of dispute. Historian Kent Worcester claims that Dunayevskaya’s supporters formed a majority of the pre-split Correspondence Publishing Committee but Martin Glaberman has claimed in New Politics that the faction loyal to James had a majority. The Committee split again in 1962 as Grace Lee Boggs and James Boggs, two key activists, left to pursue a more Third Worldist approach. The remaining Johnsonites, including leading member Martin Glaberman reconstituted themselves as Facing Reality, which James advised from Britain until the group dissolved, against James’ advice, in 1970. James’s writings were influential in the development of Autonomist Marxism as a current within Marxist thought, though he himself saw his life’s work as developing the theory and practice of Leninism. In 1953, James was forced to leave the US under threat of deportation for having overstayed his visa by over ten years. In his attempt to remain in the USA, James wrote a study of Herman Melville, Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live In, and had copies of the privately published work sent to every member of the Senate. He wrote the book while being detained on Ellis Island. He returned back to England and then, in 1958 returned to Trinidad, where he edited The Nation newspaper for the pro-independence People’s National Movement (PNM) party. He also had become involved again in the Pan-African movement, believing that the Ghana revolution showed that decolonisation was the most important inspiration for international revolutionaries. James also advocated the West Indies Federation, and it was over this that he fell out with the PNM leadership. He returned to Britain, then to the USA in 1968, where he taught at the University of the District of Columbia. Ultimately, he returned to Britain and spent his last years in Brixton, London. In the 1970s and 1980s, a number of books by James were republished or reissued by Allison and Busby, including four volumes of selected writings: The Future In the Present, Spheres of Existence, At the Rendezvous of Victory and Cricket. In 1983, a short British film featuring James in dialogue with the famous historian E. P. Thompson was made. A public library in Hackney, London is named in his honor; in 2005 a reception there to mark its 20th anniversary was attended by his widow, Selma James. C. L. R. James is widely known as a writer on cricket, especially for his autobiographical 1963 book, Beyond a Boundary. This is considered a seminal work of cricket writing, and is often named as the best single book on cricket (or even the best book on any sport) ever written. The book’s key question, which is frequently quoted by modern journalists and essayists, is inspired by Rudyard Kipling and asks: What do they know of cricket who only cricket know? James uses this challenge as the basis for describing cricket in an historical and social context, the strong influence cricket had on his life, and how it meshed with his role in politics and his understanding of issues of class and race. The literary quality of the writing attracts cricketers of all political views. While editor of The Nation, he led the successful campaign in 1960 to have Frank Worrell appointed as the first black captain of the West Indies cricket team. In 1938, this new group took part in several mergers to form the Revolutionary Socialist League. The RSL was a highly factionalised organisation and when James was invited to tour the United States by the leadership of the Socialist Workers’ Party, then the US section of the Fourth International, in order to facilitate its work among black workers, he was encouraged to leave by one such factional opponent, John Archer, in the hope of removing a rival. James moved to the USA in late 1938, and after a tour sponsored by the SWP stayed on for over twenty years. But by 1940 he had developed severe doubts about Trotsky’s analysis of the Soviet Union as a degenerated workers state and left the SWP along with Max Shachtman, who formed the Workers’ Party. Within the WP he formed the Johnson-Forest Tendency with Raya Dunayevskaya and Grace Lee in order to spread their views within the new party. While within the WP the views of the J-F tendency underwent considerable development and by the end of the Second World War they had definitively rejected Trotsky’s theory of Russia as a degenerated workers state, instead analysing it as being state capitalist. This political evolution was shared by other Trotskyists of their generation, most notably Tony Cliff. Unlike Cliff, they were increasingly looking towards the autonomous movements of oppressed minorities, a theoretical development already visible in James’ thought in his discussions with Leon Trotsky which took place in 1939. An interest in such autonomous struggles came to take centre stage for the tendency. After 1945 the WP saw the prospects for a revolutionary upsurge as receding. The J-F Tendency, by contrast, were more enthused by prospects for mass struggles and came to the conclusion that the SWP, which they considered more proletarian than the WP, thought similarly to themselves about such prospects. Therefore, after a short few months as an independent group when they published a great deal of material for a small group, the J-F tendency joined the SWP in 1947. James would still describe himself as a Leninist, despite his rejection of Lenin’s conception of the vanguard role of the revolutionary party, and argue for socialists to support the emerging black nationalist movements by 1949, he came to reject the idea of a vanguard party. This led his tendency to leave the Trotskyist movement and rename itself the Correspondence Publishing Committee. In 1955, nearly half the membership of Committee would leave under the leadership of Raya Dunayevskaya to form a separate tendency of Marxist-humanism and found the organization, News and Letters Committees. Whether Raya Dunayevskaya’s faction constituted a majority or minority seems to be a matter of dispute. Historian Kent Worcester claims that Dunayevskaya’s supporters formed a majority of the pre-split Correspondence Publishing Committee but Martin Glaberman has claimed in New Politics that the faction loyal to James had a majority. The Committee split again in 1962 as Grace Lee Boggs and James Boggs, two key activists, left to pursue a more Third Worldist approach. The remaining Johnsonites, including leading member Martin Glaberman reconstituted themselves as Facing Reality, which James advised from Britain until the group dissolved, against James’ advice, in 1970. James’s writings were influential in the development of Autonomist Marxism as a current within Marxist thought, though he himself saw his life’s work as developing the theory and practice of Leninism. In 1953, James was forced to leave the US under threat of deportation for having overstayed his visa by over ten years. In his attempt to remain in the USA, James wrote a study of Herman Melville, Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live In, and had copies of the privately published work sent to every member of the Senate. He wrote the book while being detained on Ellis Island. He returned back to England and then, in 1958 returned to Trinidad, where he edited The Nation newspaper for the pro-independence People’s National Movement party. He also had become involved again in the Pan-African movement, believing that the Ghana revolution showed that decolonisation was the most important inspiration for international revolutionaries. James also advocated the West Indies Federation, and it was over this that he fell out with the PNM leadership. He returned to Britain, then to the USA in 1968, where he taught at the University of the District of Columbia. Ultimately, he returned to Britain and spent his last years in Brixton, London. In the 1970s and 1980s, a number of books by James were republished or reissued by Allison and Busby, including four volumes of selected writings: The Future In the Present, Spheres of Existence, At the Rendezvous of Victory and Cricket. In 1983, a short British film featuring James in dialogue with the famous historian E. P. Thompson was made. A public library in Hackney, London is named in his honor; in 2005 a reception there to mark its 20th anniversary was attended by his widow, Selma James. C. L. R. James is widely known as a writer on cricket, especially for his autobiographical 1963 book, Beyond a Boundary. This is considered a seminal work of cricket writing, and is often named as the best single book on cricket ever written. The book’s key question, which is frequently quoted by modern journalists and essayists, is inspired by Rudyard Kipling and asks: What do they know of cricket who only cricket know? James uses this challenge as the basis for describing cricket in an historical and social context, the strong influence cricket had on his life, and how it meshed with his role in politics and his understanding of issues of class and race. The literary quality of the writing attracts cricketers of all political views. While editor of The Nation, he led the successful campaign in 1960 to have Frank Worrell appointed as the first black captain of the West Indies cricket team.

 

 

 

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(12/03/2007) The Marriage by Witold Gombrowicz. New York. 1969. Grove Press. Translated from the Polish by Louis Iribarne. Introduction by Jan Kott. Paperback Original. keywords: Literature Translated Poland Eastern Europe Drama. E-482. 158 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This is a play about the shifting relationship between reality and imagination. Henry, a soldier stationed in northern France during World War II, has a dream about his father, mother, sweetheart, and best friend; the dream constitutes the action of the play. In the dream, Henry’s imagination transforms himself and the other characters into players of multiple roles — Father and King, Mother and Queen, Servant and Princess, Son and Prince, Friend and Courtier. The author explores the kind of transformations which occur in human relationships and which allow a father to be elevated to kingship and then deposed, the lost chastity of a young woman to be restored by a respectable marriage, and one’s character and relationship to others to be built totally through one’s individual perception. To some extent, THE MARRIAGE parodies Shakespearean convention, for the type of complication of plot and character provides a plausible and flexible context for Gombrowicz’s ideas, and a dramatic exploration of the nature of the absolute reality of form in relation to the always changing reality of self and imagination.

Witold Marian Gombrowicz (August 4, 1904 in Maloszyce, near Kielce, Congress Poland, Russian Empire - July 24, 1969 in Vence, near Nice, France) was a Polish novelist and dramatist. His works are characterized by deep psychological analysis, a certain sense of paradox and an absurd, anti-nationalist flavor. In 1937 he published his first novel, Ferdydurke, which presented many of his usual themes: the problems of immaturity and youth, the creation of identity in interactions with others, and an ironic, critical examination of class roles in Polish society and culture. He gained fame only during the last years of his life but is now considered one of the foremost figures of Polish literature. Gombrowicz was born in Maloszyce, in Congress Poland, Russian Empire to a wealthy gentry family. He was the youngest of four children of Jan and Antonina (née Kotkowska.) In 1911 his family moved to Warsaw. After completing his education at Saint Stanislaus Kostka’s Gymnasium in 1922, he studied law at Warsaw University (in 1927 he obtained a master’s degree in law.) He spent a year in Paris where, he studied at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Internationales. He was less than diligent in his studies, but his time in France brought him in constant contact with other young intellectuals. He also visited the Mediterranean. When he returned to Poland he began applying for legal positions with little success. In the 1920s he started writing, but soon rejected the legendary novel, whose form and subject matter were supposed to manifest his ‘worse’ and darker side of nature. Similarly, his attempt to write a popular novel in collaboration with Tadeusz Kepinski turned out to be a failure. At the turn of the 20’s and 30’s he started to write short stories, which were later printed under the title Memoirs Of A Time Of Immaturity. From the moment of this literary debut, his reviews and columns started appearing in the press, mainly in the ‘Kurier Poranny (Morning Courier). He met with other young writers and intellectuals forming an artistic café society in ‘Zodiak’ and ‘Ziemianska’, both in Warsaw. The publication of Ferdydurke, his first novel, brought him acclaim in literary circles. Just before the outbreak of the Second World War, Gombrowicz took part in the maiden voyage of the famous Polish cruise liner, Chrobry, to South America. When he found out about the outbreak of war in Europe, he decided to wait in Buenos Aires till the war was over but was actually to stay there until 1963 - often, especially during the war, in great poverty. At the end of the 40s Gombrowicz was trying to gain a position among Argentine literary circles by publishing articles, giving lectures in Fray Mocho café, and finally, by publishing in 1947, a Spanish translation of Ferdydurke written with the help of Gombrowicz’s friends. Today, this version of the novel is considered to be a significant literary event in the history of Argentine literature; however, when published it did not bring any great renown to the author, nor did the publication of Gombrowicz’s drama ‘Slub’ in Spanish (‘The Wedding’, ‘El Casamiento’) in 1948. From December 1947 to May 1955 Gombrowicz worked as a bank clerk in Banco Polaco, the Argentine branch of PeKaO SA Bank. In 1950 he started exchanging letters with Jerzy Giedroyc and from 1951 he started having works published in the Parisian journal ‘Culture,’ where, in 1953, fragments of ‘Dziennik’ (‘Diaries’) appeared. In the same year he published a volume of work which included the drama ‘Slub’ (‘The Wedding’) and the novel ‘Trans-Atlantyk’, where the subject of national identity on emigration was controversially raised. After October 1956 four books written by Gombrowicz appeared in Poland and they brought him great renown despite the fact that the authorities did not allow the publication of ‘Dziennik’ (‘Diaries’), and later organized a slanderous campaign against Gombrowicz in 1963 who was then staying in West Berlin. In the 1960s Gombrowicz became recognized globally and many of his works were translated, including ‘Pornografia’ (‘Pornography’) and ‘Kosmos’ (‘Cosmos’.) His dramas were staged in many theatres all around the world, especially in France, Germany and Sweden. In 1963 he returned to Europe, where he received a scholarship from the Ford Foundation during his stay in Berlin, and in 1964 he spent three months in Royaumont abbey near Paris, where he employed Rita Labrosse, a Canadian from Montreal who studied contemporary literature, as his secretary. In 1964 he moved to Vence near Nice in the south of France, where he spent the rest of his life. There he enjoyed the fame which culminated in May 1967 with the International Publishers Prize (Prix Formentor) and six months before his death, married Rita Labrosse. Gombrowicz wrote in Polish, however, in view of his decision not to allow his works to be published in his native country until the ban on the unabridged version of ‘Dziennik’, in which he described the Polish authorities slanderous attacks on him, was lifted he remained a largely unknown figure to the general reading public until the first half of the 1970s. Despite this, his works were printed in Polish by the Paris Literary Institute of Jerzy Giedroyc and translated into more than 30 languages. Morover, his dramas were repeatedly staged in the most important theatres in the whole world by the prominent directors such as: Jorge Lavelli, Alf Sjoeberg, Ingmar Bergman along with Jerzy Jarocki and Jerzy Grzegorzewski in Poland.

 

 

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(12/02/2007) Vanity Fair - 3 Volumes by William Makepeace Thackeray. New York. 1865. Harper & Brothers. There are 40 plates and numerous text illustrations, all done by Thackeray himself. keywords: Literature England 19th Century. 350 pages, 354 pages, 346 pages.

VANITY FAIR follows the adventures of Becky Sharp, beautiful, resourceful, driven, and completely amoral. Becky makes full use of her connections after leaving finishing-school to secure a job as a governess in a seedy household with an established family. She goes on to win the hearts of young and old, provided of course that they have something to offer her. Ultimately, Becky becomes a courtesan on the Continent, living well beyond her means. This, Thackeray's greatest novel, is a delightful journey through the world of early nineteenth-century English manners. Thackeray is a master at pointing out the folly of the good-at-heart and the evil of those with grace and wit. The novels of Thackeray, particularly VANITY FAIR, were great obsessions of C. L. R. James, the Trinidadian author, who was reportedly reading Thackeray at eight years old. I love Thackeray for his sharp satire of the petty pretensions of middle-class British society at the time. A good, sound, vintage set, containing a great treasure on the inside - There are 40 plates and numerous text illustrations, all done by Thackeray himself.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   VANITY FAIR is the story of Becky Sharp, one of the most beautiful, willful, and resourcefully charming pleasure-seekers in literature. With finishing- school credentials and proper connections, Becky begins as a governess, wins the hearts of the moneyed young and old, and, in the light of presentation at court and calculated scandals, emerges a full-fledged courtesan on the Continent, living surprisingly well beyond her means. Thackeray’s greatest novel is a moral tapestry of early nineteenth-century English manners, and his persistent theme is the folly of the good-at-heart, the evil of those endowed with grace and wit. Anthony Trollope called Thackeray ‘. one of the recognized stars of the literary heaven. ’ V. S. Pritchett finds Thackeray ‘. the first of our novelists to catch life visually and actually as it passes in fragments before us. he is above all a superb impressionist-perhaps our greatest.’

 

 

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(12/01/2007) Against The Current by Isaiah Berlin. New York. 1980. Viking Press. Edited By Henry Hardy. keywords: Philosophy History. 394 pages. Jacket design by Tony Pollicino. 0670109444. February 1980.

Isaiah Berlin was a master of the philosophical essay. In fact, nearly all of his literary output comes to us in this form. His essays are timeless, mentally stimulating, and simply a pleasure to read. He is one of those authors whose works inevitably lead one to other authors, usually the classics. His point of view is fresh and his writing is engaging. Don’t miss out on the experience of reading Isaiah Berlin.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   For most of Sir Isaiah Berlin’s life, the history of ideas has been the focal point of his interest and work and the background against which he has forged his own eloquent and deeply felt opposition to the fanaticism of the singleminded. His main theme in Against the Current is the importance in the history of thought of dissenters whose ideas still challenge conventional wisdom; Machiavelli, Vico, Montesquieu, Hamann, Herzen, and Georges Sorel are central examples. He is especially concerned with the phenomenon of originality, with the unpredictable capacity of men with exceptional minds to battle against the current of their times and contribute something entirely new to our intellectual heritage. This book is a celebration of some of the most original and influential, misunderstood, or neglected thinkers of the Western world. It is essential reading for anyone responsive to the force of ideas in history. ‘Berlin expounds the ideas of half-forgotten thinkers with luminous clarity and imaginative empathy. [These essays] are exhilarating to read. ’ - The Observer.

ISAIAH BERLIN, O. M. , B. C. E. , president of Wolfson College, Oxford from 1966 to 1975, is a Fellow of All Souls. He was a Fellow of New College from 1938 to 1950 and professor of social and political theory in Oxford from 1957 to 1967. He was president of the British Academy from 1974 to 1978 and is an Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters. For his writings on the freedom of the individual in society he was awarded the 1979 Jerusalem Prize.

HENRY HARDY, editor of the four-volume series of Sir Isaiah’s collected essays, took his B. Phil, and D. Phil, from Wolfson College, and is now an editor and publisher. His edition of selected writings by Arnold Mallinson, Quinquagesimo Anno, was published under his own imprint in 1974. ROGER HAUSHEER is a member of Wolfson College, Oxford, and is studying the philosophy of J. G. Fichte. At present he is also Lecturer in British Studies at the University of Giessen, West Germany.

 

 

 

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(11/30/2007) The Known World by Edward P. Jones. New York. 2003. Amistad Press. keywords: Literature America Black History Slavery. 389 pages. JACKET PHOTOGRAPH (c) 1989 BY EUDORA WELTY. PATCHWORK (c) COLLIER CAMPBELL LIFEWORKS/CORBIS. AUTHOR PHOTOGRAPH BY JERRY BAUER. JACKET DESIGN BY LAURA BLOST. 0060557540. September 2003.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Henry Townsend, a black farmer, bootmaker, and former slave, has a fondness for Paradise Lost and an unusual mentor - William Robbins, perhaps the most powerful man in antebellum Virginia’s Manchester County. Under Robbins’s Tutelage, Henry becomes proprietor of his own plantation - as well as of his own slaves. When he dies, his widow, Caldonia, succumbs to profound grief, and things begin to fall apart at their plantation: slaves take to escaping under the cover of night, and families who had once found love beneath the weight of slavery begin to betray one another. Beyond the Townsend estate, the known world also unravels: low-paid white patrollers stand watch as slave ‘speculators’ sell free black people into slavery, and rumors of slave rebellions set white families against slaves who have served them for years. An ambitious, luminously written novel that ranges seamlessly between the past and future and back again to the present. THE KNOWN WORLD weaves together the lives of freed and enslaved blacks, whites, and Indians - and all of us a deeper understanding of the enduring multidimensional world created by the institution of slavery.

EDWARD P. JONES won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was a finalist for the national Book Award for his debut collection of stories, LOST IN THE CITY. A recipient of the Lannan Foundation Grant, Mr. Jones currently resides in Arlington, Virginia. THE KNOWN WORLD is his first novel.

 

 

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The Neglected Books Page

17 November 2018

www.NeglectedBooks.com: Where forgotten books are remembered
  • The Unspeakable Scot, by T. H. W. Crosland (1902)

    “This book is for Englishmen,” T. H. W. Crosland writes in his introduction to The Unspeakable Scotsman. “It is also in the nature of a broad hint for Scotchmen,” he adds, and the hint is a none-too-subtle invitation to back in their place, which Crosland defines as intrinsically inferior to that of any Englishman. He... Read more

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  • Shade of Eden, by Kathleen Sully (1960)

    I wrote in my post on Kathleen Sully’s Canaille that she was an unstudied novelist — sometimes clumsy in her prose and style but also free of many of the conventions of more mainstream writers. In Shade of Eden, she amply demonstrates that one set of conventions she felt free to ignore was that of... Read more

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  • Once Around the Sun, by Brooks Atkinson (1951)

    January 5th For seventeen years, seven days a week, Joe Berman has efficiently presided over his newsstand at the corner of Eighty-sixth Street and Broadway. He opens it before five in the morning. Mrs. Berman, wearing a smart hair-do and a Persian lamb coat, relieves him for an hour at breakfast and for two hours... Read more

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  • Canaille, by Kathleen Sully (1956)

    In his Observer review of Canaille, Kathleen Sully’s second book, John Wain wrote, “one never knows what she will do from one page to the next, only that it will probably be something surprising.” After reading over a dozen of Sully’s novels, I can say that truer words have rarely been written. Canaille (French for... Read more

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  • Red Salvia!, from The Tribulations of a Baronet, by Timothy Eden (1933)

    He turns his attention to the head gardener, who has been hovering in the background. They go through the houses — orchids, gardenias — a whole house full of these — a purple lasiandra climbing against a grey wall, the cool malmaisons, where he picks himself a button-hole, cherry-pie, verbena, sweet-scented geranium, and so out... ...

  • The Tribulations of a Baronet, by Timothy Eden (1933)

    I first mentioned The Tribulations of a Baronet in a post derived from an article titled “Out of Print” from the TLS in 1961. At the time, I wrote that it “appears to be a bit like Joe Gould’s Secret, another masterful portrait of a man of great promise and much disappointment.” Having since read... Read more

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  • Complete eTexts of Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage Now Available

    As faithful readers of this site (both of them) know, I devoted nearly two months’ reading and writing back in 2016 to Dorothy Richardson’s 13-volume masterpiece, Pilgrimage, and it remains perhaps the most profoundly revealing experience in by reading life. I personally think that all self-respecting adult males should be required to read Pilgrimage, as... ...

  • “To my Daughter on her Birthday,” from Yorkshire Lyrics, collected by John Hartley

    To my Daughter on her Birthday Darling child, to thee I owe, More than others here will know; Thou hast cheered my weary days, With thy coy and winsome ways. When my heart has been most sad, Smile of thine has made me glad; In return, I wish for thee, Health and sweet felicity. May... Read more

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  • Luxury Cruise, by Joseph Bennett (1962)

    Reading Luxury Cruise is a bit like thumbing through issues of Holiday magazine, the glossy travel magazine of the 1950s. The look, the ads, the content — they all spell “M,000,000,000Ney.” The passengers aboard the Olympic have paid at least $14,000 each for their berths on this round-the-world cruise. That’s over $120,000 in today’s dollars,... Read

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  • Appius and Virginia, by G. E. Trevelyan (1933)

    I’ll admit that I bought G. E. Trevelyan’s novel, Appius and Virginia, on the briefest of descriptions: “A story of a spinster who raises an ape in isolation in hopes of turning him into a man.” It seemed to promise another His Monkey Wife, John Collier’s sublime account of … well, as the title says.... Read more

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