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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Literature, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 2,002
26. Secret Wisdom of the Earth

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is a deep, lush novel with edge-of-seat excitement, emotional personal drama, and riveting scenes. Set in the beautiful mountains of Kentucky, Kevin befriends Buzzy Fink when he and his mom move in with his grandfather, Pops. Characters are vividly portrayed. A wonderful and amazing book! Pops gets my vote [...]

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27. A Little Life

A rich and detailed examination of four friends that meet in college. At the center is Jude, a lawyer with a past he doesn't talk about. He wears long sleeves in hot weather, walks with a limp, and lives with chronic pain. With steely compassion and an unflinching gaze, Yanagihara shows us how these friends [...]

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28. One in the Oven; or, Why You Should Suck It Up and Meet Your Favorite Author

At first, I was dead set against it. I would not try to meet Nicholson Baker while I was writing a book about Nicholson Baker. I had a good reason for this. I didn't want to meet Baker because Baker, in U and I, his fretful, hand-wringing account of his literary relationship with John Updike, [...]

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29. Claire Fuller: The Powells.com Interview

Our Endless Numbered Days tells the story of eight-year-old Peggy and her survivalist father, James, who inexplicably leave behind their London home and start a new life in an isolated cabin in the woods. Both stylistically rendered and deliberately paced, this book is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the ability [...]

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30. Erik Larson: The Powells.com Interview

I've been a fan of Erik Larson's riveting brand of narrative history for years, and his latest book, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, is his finest work yet. Suspenseful and expertly researched, Dead Wake transports the reader to the Atlantic theatre of WWI, where the luxury passenger liner Lusitania and a German [...]

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31. The two faces of Leo Tolstoy

Imagine that your local pub had a weekly, book themed quiz, consisting of questions like this: ‘Which writer concerned himself with religious toleration, explored vegetarianism, was fascinated (and sometimes repelled by) sexuality, and fretted over widening social inequalities, experienced urban poverty first hand while at the same time understanding the causes of man made famine?’

The post The two faces of Leo Tolstoy appeared first on OUPblog.

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32. Redeployment

Because we continue to go to war, we continue to need war stories, to share some tiny percentage of the experience of the soldier with the people back home they were protecting. This book continues in the tradition of The Things They Carried by bringing readers into the chaos of the lives of soldiers at [...]

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33. Trigger Warning

A delicious cornucopia of Gaiman's short fiction. Dip in and enjoy. There's a bit of everything here, from Doctor Who to an unpublished American Gods story. Once again, Gaiman waves his magician's wand and we are swept away to slightly disturbing and eerie lands. Books mentioned in this post Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and... Neil [...]

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34. Discontent and Its Civilizations

In this expansive book of essays, the author of How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia takes us deep into his world spanning New York, London, and Pakistan. Hamid explores the intersection of life, art, and politics in an age of increasing globalization, making for a unique, thought-provoking collection. Books mentioned in this post [...]

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35. The Buried Giant

In some ways, Ishiguro's latest is a classic hero's journey in a time of dragons and spirits and magical mists. But it is also a profoundly thought-provoking look at the timeless big things: love, marriage, death, and the unknowable and unavoidable consequences of all our actions, which always come back no matter what magic we [...]

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36. My Top 10 Talking Books

I have always been a reader, but eight years ago, strange circumstances conspired to make me totally book-dependent. I was stuck within four walls, desperate for distraction and a conduit to the world; but I had to live in total darkness, unable to see words on a page. So, from the small player in the [...]

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37. Free e-book for March: Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Brontë’s Grave

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Our free e-book for March is Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Brontë’s Grave by Simon Goldhill. Read more and download your copy below.


The Victorian era was the high point of literary tourism. Writers such as Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Sir Walter Scott became celebrities, and readers trekked far and wide for a glimpse of the places where their heroes wrote and thought, walked and talked. Even Shakespeare was roped in, as Victorian entrepreneurs transformed quiet Stratford-upon-Avon into a combination shrine and tourist trap.

Stratford continues to lure the tourists today, as do many other sites of literary pilgrimage throughout Britain. And our modern age could have no better guide to such places than Simon Goldhill. In Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Brontë’s Grave, Goldhill makes a pilgrimage to Sir Walter Scott’s baronial mansion, Wordsworth’s cottage in the Lake District, the Brontë parsonage, Shakespeare’s birthplace, and Freud’s office in Hampstead. Traveling, as much as possible, by methods available to Victorians—and gamely negotiating distractions ranging from broken bicycles to a flock of giggling Japanese schoolgirls—he tries to discern what our forebears were looking for at these sites, as well as what they have to say to the modern mind. What does it matter that Emily Brontë’s hidden passions burned in this specific room? What does it mean, especially now that his fame has faded, that Scott self-consciously built an extravagant castle suitable for Ivanhoe—and star-struck tourists visited it while he was still living there? Or that Freud’s meticulous recreation of his Vienna office is now a meticulously preserved museum of itself? Or that Shakespeare’s birthplace features student actors declaiming snippets of his plays . . . in the garden of a house where he almost certainly never wrote a single line?

Goldhill brings to these inquiries his trademark wry humor and a lifetime’s engagement with literature. The result is a travel book like no other, a reminder that even today, the writing life still has the power to inspire.

To download a copy, click here.


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38. Emily Brontë, narrative, and nature

Catherine’s removal from the plot (other than as a haunting presence in the background, much less potent hereafter than the waif-like child ghost whose wrist Lockwood rubs back and forth across the broken window glass till the blood runs freely (p. 21)) has seemed to some readers to weaken the second half of the novel. One modern critic has suggested, indeed, that the whole of the second-generation narrative was an afterthought.

The post Emily Brontë, narrative, and nature appeared first on OUPblog.

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39. Wolf Hall: count up the bodies

Historians should be banned from watching movies or TV set in their area of expertise. We usually bore and irritate friends and family with pedantic interjections about minor factual errors and chronological mix-ups. With Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, and the sumptuous BBC series based on them, this pleasure is denied us. The series is as ferociously well researched as it is superbly acted and directed. Cranmer probably didn’t have a beard in 1533, but, honestly, that’s about the best I can do.

The post Wolf Hall: count up the bodies appeared first on OUPblog.

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40. Kazuo Ishiguro’s Playlist for The Buried Giant

The eight songs on this playlist didn't "inspire" The Buried Giant, nor did I play them out loud while writing. And with the notable exception of the Arvo Part, the visual landscapes conjured up by these tracks are unlikely to match the setting of the novel. But each of them relates in some significant way [...]

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41. Why we should read Dante as well as Shakespeare

Dante can seem overwhelming. T.S. Eliot’s peremptory declaration that ‘Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them: there is no third’ is more likely to be off-putting these days than inspiring. Shakespeare’s plays are constantly being staged and filmed, and in all sorts of ways, with big names in the big parts, and when we see them we can connect with the characters and the issues with not too much effort.

The post Why we should read Dante as well as Shakespeare appeared first on OUPblog.

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42. Salon.com on a “rediscovered stash” of fairy tales

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43. 2015 PROSE Awards


Now in their 39th year, the PROSE Awards honor “the very best in professional and scholarly publishing by bringing attention to distinguished books, journals, and electronic content in over 40 categories,” as determined by a jury of peer publishers, librarians, and medical professionals.

As is the usual case with this kind of acknowledgement, we are honored and delighted to share several University of Chicago Press books that were singled-out in their respective categories as winners or runners-up for the 2015 PROSE Awards.



Kurt Schwitters: Space, Image, Exile
By Megan R. Luke
Art History, Honorable Mention



House of Debt: How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession, and How We Can Prevent It from Happening Again
By Atif Mian and Amir Sufi
Economics, Honorable Mention



American School Reform: What Works, What Fails, and Why
By Joseph P. McDonald
Winner, Education Practice



The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools
By Christopher A. Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski
Winner, Education Theory



Earth’s Deep History: How It Was Discovered and Why It Matters
By Martin J. S. Rudwick
Honorable Mention, History of STM



The Selected Poetry of Pier Paolo Pasolini: A Bilingual Edition
By Pier Paolo Pasolini
Edited and translated by Stephen Sartarelli
Honorable Mention, Literature



How Should We Live?: A Practical Approach to Everyday Morality
By John Kekes
Honorable Mention, Philosophy


Congrats to all of the winners, honorable mentions, and nominees!

To read more about the PROSE Awards, click here.

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44. Avarice in the late French Renaissance

Greed (avarice, avaritia) has never gone out of fashion. In every age, we find no shortage of candidates for the unenviable epithet, “avaricious.” Nowadays, investment bankers and tax-dodging multinationals head the list. In the past, money-lenders, tax collectors, and lawyers were routinely denounced, although there was a strong feeling that any person, male or female, could succumb to avarice if they did not take the appropriate moral precautions.

The late French Renaissance (c.1540–1615) provides telling evidence of such fears. This period has long been recognised by historians as an era of religious, political, and social turbulence in France. What is less well known is that amid these upheavals, France underwent its first major inflationary crisis. Financial hardship was a biting reality for many – but by no means all. Those who managed to get rich and better themselves without benefitting others were readily condemned as unjust profiteers. In an unruly age, avarice was believed to be everywhere. It was often alleged as the root cause of – or at least partially responsible for – rising prices, the relaxing of usury laws, pillaging during the Wars of Religion, nepotism at the royal court, and venality within the judiciary, Church, and financial institutions. Avarice was the bane of landowners seeking to run their estates fairly and profitably. And whilst it was regularly discussed in daily affairs, it was also recognised and even savoured as a timeless theme of literature and culture. As in the past, the miserly old man and the greedy courtesan made notable appearances in comic theatre and in the gender wars of the querelle des femmes. Yet this was merely the tip of the iceberg: literary engagement with avarice flourished in the late Renaissance across fictional prose narratives, dialogues, poetry, paradoxical encomia, and essays.

To understand the remarkable cultural breadth of avarice in early modern France, one might draw attention to the instrumental significance of the words avarice, avare, and avaricieux in shaping wider debates on gender, enrichment, and status. In recent years, language-based approaches to conceptual history have come into their own – witness the ground-breaking scholarship of Richard Newhauser (on avarice), Neil Kenny (on curiosity), and Richard Scholar (on the je-ne-sais-quoi), whose work has taken forward methodological innovations in the history of ideas stemming from Germanic Begriffsgeschichte as practised by the likes of Reinhart Koselleck. By approaching the subject of avarice through its period vocabulary and concepts, it is possible to engage simultaneously with different intellectual-historical perspectives. The relevance of the Christian tradition condemning idolatrous worship of riches may be ascertained alongside Greco-Roman moral teachings against excessive gain and deficient giving. But what also comes to light – particularly in writings by late Renaissance French jurists – is the odd departure from these traditions, in favour of downplaying the heinousness of avarice within a limited range of circumstances. Rhetorical re-description (as studied by Quentin Skinner) plays an important role here, as does personal experience. The likes of Michel de Montaigne and Antoine Hotman tentatively explored ways in which an avaricious disposition might be downgraded from mortal sin to something less corrosive: legitimate enrichment or prudent withholding of wealth, as exhibited by a bon mesnager (one who is good at “husbanding” or managing his personal resources).

Nevertheless, it is important not to overstate the extent of these daring departures from normative morality in late Renaissance France. In the medium term, stereotypical representations of avarice largely prevailed, as may be judged from Molière’s famous play, L’Avare (1668). If carefully scrutinized, Molière’s depiction of Harpagon in his miserly interactions with others reveals residual traces of late Renaissance discourses on gender, enrichment, and status. Collectively, these traces might be read as a ‘pre-history’ (to adopt Terence Cave’s term) of L’Avare. Yet, critically, one must also recognise that Molière largely bypasses an important mode of Renaissance thinking about avarice: an ability to distinguish extreme, caricatural avares from more ambivalent cases of allegedly greedy behaviour. Such thinking foreshadows – but only faintly – patterns identified by Albert Hirschman in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thought, whereby avaricious conduct lost its openly sinful edge. No French writer a hundred years earlier would go quite this far.

A final note to those interested in greed from a theological perspective. The position of avarice in intellectual history has frequently been deduced from scholarship on the Seven Deadly Sins (in the medieval period) or on the ‘Protestant Ethic’ (in the early modern period). Intriguingly, neither phenomenon greatly manifests itself in the humanistic texts of the late French Renaissance. Confessional differences in late Renaissance French writing on avarice are only marked in sermons and moral treatises. Yet much theological common ground may be identified here, whereas traces of the medieval heptad are scant (even in Catholic sources). If Catholics and Protestants saw greed in the other – and they certainly did – they also spoke through the same biblical commonplaces to denounce the wider social damage and moral corruption attributed to l’avarice, the common enemy of peace and godly prosperity. In the twentieth century it became academic orthodoxy to restate Max Weber’s views that the Protestant tradition eventually legitimated material prosperity to the point of moral leniency towards an overtly money-making disposition formerly denounced as avarice. Yet in the French Renaissance, at least, there are few indicators to uphold such a theory rigorously. Regarding the French context, one should note, therefore, that those who went furthest from traditional views on avarice – namely Antoine Hotman and Michel de Montaigne – were Catholics, not Protestants. In light of these findings, it is worth reiterating the need for caution when reflecting on the history of avarice vis-à-vis theological identity and social practice.

Image Credit: “Avaritia (Mosaic, Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourviere).” Photo by Rartat. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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45. Q&A: Kelly Link, Holly Black, and Cassandra Clare

[Kelly Link will be at Powell's City of Books for a reading on Wednesday, February 18, at 7:30 p.m. Click here for details.] In a joint social media call-out, authors Kelly Link, Holly Black, and Cassandra Clare invited readers to ask them anything they wanted. Below are some of those questions and responses. Q: Where [...]

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46. Discussion questions for Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights

Last week we announced the launch of the Oxford World’s Classics Reading Group, and the first book, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. Helen Small, editor of the Oxford World’s Classics edition of the book, has put together some helpful discussion questions that will help you gain a deeper understanding of the text as you read it and when you finish it.

1. Even the early critics who were revolted or dismayed by the violence of Wuthering Heights admitted the ‘power’ of the novel. What seems to you to be the best explanation of that power?

2. How ‘moral’ a story is Wuthering Heights? More specifically, is moral justice a concern in the shaping of the story and its characters?

3. Catherine Earnshaw comes across as many things: passionate, rebellious, full of laughter and of scorn for others, driven by social ambition but careless of social expectations, self-seeking but ultimately self-destructive (willing herself to die). Is it a problem for our reading of her that we never hear her voice unmediated? How far did you feel inclined to trust what you are told of her by others?

4. One critic has speculated that the ‘second generation’ story was an afterthought, written to fill the gap created in a three volume set (Wuthering Heights, Charlotte’s The Professor, Anne’s Agnes Grey) after Charlotte withdrew. How cogently does the Catherine/Linton/Hareton narrative seem to you to fit with the first half of the novel?

5. Does Heathcliff’s story hold the novel together? Does it make sense to read it as, in its own fashion, a Bildungsroman (telling the story of the building of a character over time, through education and experience)?

6. Wuthering Heights is in many respects lawless, but it is also a novel in which the law (and what people do with it) is crucial to the plot. What do you make of its interest in, especially, property law? How does it compare with other Victorian novels you may have read (Dickens? Trollope?) which have an interest in how the law seeks to regulate ownership of land, houses, even people (wives and children)?

7. This is a famously difficult book to place within any wider story about the development of the English novel. Does it seem to you a ‘bookish’ work or primarily an oral tale?

8. How important is supernaturalism to the novel’s effects? And how closely tied to religion is the supernaturalism explored here?

Heading image: Top Withens by John Robinson. CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The post Discussion questions for Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights appeared first on OUPblog.

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47. Be Happy, Be Cheerful, Be Joyful, Be Anything But Gay

My new novel, Welcome to Braggsville, is a satire about four college kids who perform an "intervention" at a Civil War reenactment, and quickly discover that even the best of intentions can cause a world of hurt as they find themselves caught between the academic theories that have stoked their indignation and the harsh realities [...]

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48. Family Life

Sharma has written a simple, shattering book about tragedy that takes you so completely on a journey that by the final line, Ajay (the narrator) is your avatar and the three-minute disaster that has shaped his life is your disaster. Family Life is one of those beautiful novels that tilts your perception of the world [...]

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49. “You said I killed you — haunt me, then!” An extract from Wuthering Heights

Are you part of the Oxford World's Classics Readfing Group? The following is an extract from the current selection, Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë, taken from volume II, chapter II, pages 147-148 in the Oxford World's Classics edition.

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50. Fairy tales explained badly

What are the strange undercurrents to fairy tales like 'Hansel and Gretel' or 'Little Red Riding Hood'? In November 2014, we launched a #fairytalesexplainedbadly hashtag campaign that tied in to the release of Marina Warner’s Once Upon a Time: A Short History of the Fairy Tale. Hundreds of people engaged with the #fairytalesexplainedbadly hashtag on Twitter, sparking a fun conversation on the different ways in which fairy tale stories could be perceived.

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