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Zeno’s (established 1983) is an online used and out-of-print bookstore specializing in the categories of: literature in translation, modern first editions, and hard-to-find books. We started as a mail order business. In 1992 we moved into a storefront, and then to a bigger location a couple of years later. Eventually we closed the physical store to go online as zenosbooks.com. We have been selling our own hand-picked eclectic selection of used, hard-to-find, and even rare books via the internet ever since.
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Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbø. New York. 2015. Knopf. 1st American Edition. Very Good In Dustjacket. Translated from the Norwegian by Neil Smith. 213 pages. April 2015. hardcover. Jacket design by Peter Mendelsund. 9780385354196
FROM THE PUBLISHER –
From the internationally acclaimed author of the Harry Hole novels—a fast, tight, darkly lyrical stand-alone novel that has at its center the perfectly sympathetic antihero: an Oslo contract killer who draws us into an unexpected meditation on death and love. This is the story of Olav: an extremely talented fixer for one of Oslo’s most powerful crime bosses. But Olav is also an unusually complicated fixer. He has a capacity for love that is as far-reaching as is his gift for murder. He is our straightforward, calm-in-the-face-of-crisis narrator with a storyteller’s hypnotic knack for fantasy. He has an innate talent for subordination but running through his veins is a virus born of the power over life and death. And while his latest job puts him at the pinnacle of his trade, it may be mutating into his greatest mistake.
Jo Nesbø’s books have sold more than twenty million copies worldwide, and have been translated into forty-seven languages. His Harry Hole novels include The Bat, The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil’s Star, The Redeemer, The Snowman, The Leopard, Phantom, and Police, and he is the author of Headhunters and several children’s books. He has received the Glass Key Award for best Nordic crime novel. He is also a musician, songwriter, and economist and lives in Oslo.
The Theory Of The Leisure Class: An Economic Study Of Institutions by Thorstein Veblen. New York/London. 1917. Macmillan. 404 pages. March 1917. hardcover.
FROM THE PUBLISHER –
‘It is the purpose of this inquiry to discuss the place and value of the leisure class as an economic factor in modern life, but it has been found impracticable to confine the discussion strictly within the limits so marked out. Some attention is perforce given to the origin and the line of derivation of the institution, as well as to features of social life that are not commonly classed as economic. At some points the discussion proceeds on grounds of economic theory or ethnological generalisation that may be in some degree unfamiliar. The introductory chapter indicates the nature of these theoretical premises sufficiently, it is hoped, to avoid obscurity. A more explicit statement of the theoretical position involved is made in a series of papers published in Volume IV of the American Journal of Sociology, on ‘The Instinct of Workmanship and the Irksomeness of Labour’, ‘The Beginnings of Ownership’, and ‘The Barbarian Status of Women.’ But the argument does not rest on these – in part novel - generalisations in such a way that it would altogether lose its possible value as a detail of economic theory in case these novel generalisations should, in the reader’s apprehension, fall away through being insufficiently backed by authority or data. Partly for reasons of convenience, and partly because there is less chance of misapprehending the sense of phenomena that are familiar to all men, the data employed to illustrate or enforce the argument have by preference been drawn from everyday life, by direct observation or through condition notoriety, rather than from more recondite sources at a farther remove. It is hoped that no one will find his sense of literary or scientific fitness offended by this recourse to homely facts, or by what may at times appear to be a callous freedom in handling vulgar phenomena or phenomena whose intimate place in men’s life has sometimes shielded them from the impact of economic discussion. Such premises and corroborative evidence as are drawn from remoter sources, as well as whatever articles of theory or inference are borrowed from ethnological science, are also of the more familiar and accessible kind and should be readily traceable to their source by fairly well-read persons. The usage of citing sources and authorities has therefore not been observed. Likewise the few quotations that have been introduced, chiefly by way of illustration, are also such as will commonly be recognised with sufficient facility without the guidance of citation.’ - from the Preface.
Laxdaela Saga by Thorstein Veblen (translator). New York. 1925. Huebsch. Translated from the Icelandic & With An Introduction by Thorstein Veblen. 302 pages. hardcover.
FROM THE PUBLISHER –
Of all the major Icelandic sagas, LAXDAELA SAGA has always stirred the European imagination the most profoundly. Composed by an unknown author (c. 1245) at a time when the Age of Chivalry was in its fullest flower in continental Europe, LAXDAELA SAGA is a dynastic chronicle that sweeps from generation to generation across 150 years of Iceland’s early history. It is best known for the story of Gudrun Osvif’s daughter, the imperious beauty forced to marry her lover’s best friend, who is enshrined forever in the gallery of great tragi-romantic heroines of world literature. LAXDAELA SAGA, the record of a land caught between the pioneering demands of settlement and the intellectual rigours of Christianity, bestows dignity and grandeur on this nation’s past.
Thorstein Bunde Veblen (born Torsten Bunde Veblen; July 30, 1857 – August 3, 1929) was an American economist and sociologist, and leader of the institutional economics movement. Veblen is credited for the main technical principle used by institutional economists, known as the Veblenian dichotomy. It is a distinction between what Veblen called 'institutions' and 'technology'. Besides his technical work, Veblen was a popular and witty critic of capitalism, as illustrated by his best-known book The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899). Veblen is famous in the history of economic thought for combining a Darwinian evolutionary perspective with his new institutionalist approach to economic analysis. He combined sociology with economics in his masterpiece, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), where he argued that there was a fundamental split in society between those who make their way via exploitation and those who make their way via industry. In hunter-gatherer societies, this was the difference between the hunter and the gatherer in the tribe, but in feudalism, it became the difference between the landed gentry and the indentured servant. In society's progressively modernized forms, those with the power to exploit are known as the 'leisure class', defined by a commitment to demonstrations of idleness and a lack of productive economic activity. Veblen maintains that as societies mature, conspicuous leisure gives way to 'conspicuous consumption'. Both are performed to demonstrate wealth or mark social status. While Veblen was sympathetic to state ownership of industry, he did not support labor movements of the time. Scholars mostly disagree about the extent to which Veblen's views are compatible with Marxism, socialism, or anarchism. Veblen believed that technological developments would eventually lead to a socialist economy, but his views on socialism and the nature of the evolutionary process of economics differed sharply from Karl Marx's. While Marx saw socialism as the immediate precursor to communism and the ultimate goal for civilization to be achieved by the working class, Veblen saw socialism as an intermediate phase in an ongoing evolutionary process in society that would arise due to natural decay of the business enterprise system. As a leading intellectual of the Progressive Era, Veblen made sweeping attacks on production for profit, and the emphasis on the wasteful role of consumption for status found within many of his works greatly influenced socialist thinkers and engineers who sought a non-Marxist critique of capitalism.
The Judge and His Hangman by Friedrich Dürrenmatt. New York. 1955. Harper & Brothers. Translated from the German by Therese Pol. 153 pages. hardcover. Jacket design by Helen Borten.
FROM THE PUBLISHER –
The car was parked on the side of the highway, far above the valley. In the driver’s seat was a young policeman dead of a bullet wound, not by his own hand. In this fine, terse suspense story, the setting is Switzerland; the central figure, the aging, brilliant Police Commissioner Barlach of Berne. Slow-moving and fatally ill, though still possessed of his uncanny detective powers, Barlach could no longer do the legwork involved in tracking down the killer of one of his own men. But he made an inspired choice in assigning to the case a young policeman who had known the dead man well. Friedrich Dürrenmatt is a Swiss playwright and dramatist. This is his first book to be published in the United States. ‘Drawn with a great deal of verve and knowledgeability.’ - Georges Simenon. ‘An extraordinary story that holds the reader mesmerized from the first word to the last.’ – Kay Boyle.
Friedrich Dürrenmatt (January 5, 1921 – December 14, 1990) was a Swiss author and dramatist. He was a proponent of epic theater whose plays reflected the recent experiences of World War II. The politically active author gained fame largely due to his avant-garde dramas, philosophically deep crime novels, and often macabre satire. One of his leading sentences was: ‘A story is not finished, until it has taken the worst turn’. Dürrenmatt was a member of the Gruppe Olten. Dürrenmatt was born in Konolfingen, in the Emmental (canton of Bern), the son of a Protestant pastor. His grandfather Ulrich Dürrenmatt was a conservative politician. The family moved to Bern in 1935. Dürrenmatt began to study of philosophy and German language and literature at the University of Zurich in 1941, but moved to the University of Bern after one semester. In 1943 he decided to become an author and dramatist and dropped his academic career. In 1945-46, he wrote his first play ‘It is written’. On October 11 1946 he married the actress Lotti Geissler. She died on January 16 1983 and Dürrenmatt married again in 1984 to another actress, Charlotte Kerr. Dürrenmatt also some of his own works and his drawings were exhibited in Neuchâtel in 1976 and 1985, as well as in Zürich in 1978. Like Brecht, Dürrenmatt explored the dramatic possibilities of epic theater. His plays are meant to involve the audience in a theoretical debate, rather than as purely passive entertainment. When he was 26, his first play, It Is Written, premiered to great controversy. The story of the play revolves around a battle between a sensation-craving cynic and a religious fanatic who takes scripture literally, all of this taking place while the city they live in is under siege. The play’s opening night in April, 1947 caused fights and protests in the audience. His first major success was the play Romulus the Great. Set in the year 476 A.D., the play explores the last days of the Roman Empire, presided over, and brought about by its last emperor. The Visit (Der Besuch der alten Dame, 1956) which tells of a rich benefactor visiting her beneficiaries, is the work best known in the United States. The satirical drama The Physicists (Die Physiker, 1962) which deals with issues concerning science and its responsibility for dramatic and even dangerous changes to our world has also been presented in translation. Radio plays published in English include Hercules in the Augean Stables (Herkules und der Stall des Augias, 1954), Incident at Twilight (Abendstunde im Spätherbst, 1952) and The Mission of the Vega (Das Unternehmen der Wega, 1954). The two late works ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Turmbau zu Babel’ are a collection of unfinished ideas, stories, and philosophical thoughts. In 1990, he gave two famous speeches, one in honour of Václav Havel (Die Schweiz, ein Gefängnis? / Switzerland a Prison?), and the other in honour of Mikhail Gorbachev (Kants Hoffnung / Kant’s Hope). Dürrenmatt often compared the three Abrahamic religions and Marxism, which he also saw as a religion. Even if there are several parallels between Dürrenmatt and Brecht, Dürrenmatt never took a political position, but represented a pragmatic philosophy of life. In 1969, he traveled in the USA, in 1974 to Israel, and in 1990 to Auschwitz in Poland. Dürrenmatt died on December 14, 1990 in Neuchâtel.
Dark Laughter: The Satiric Art of Oliver W. Harrington by Oliver W. Harrington. Jackson. 1993. University Press of Mississippi. Edited, with an introduction by M. Thomas Inge. 116 pages. hardcover. Cover illustration courtesy of Walter O. Evans Collection of African-American Art. 0878056564.
FROM THE PUBLISHER –
It was none other than Langston Hughes who called Oliver Wendell Harrington America's greatest black cartoonist. Yet largely because he chose to live as an expatriate far from the American mainstream, he has been almost entirely overlooked by contemporary historians and scholars of African-American culture. Born in 1912 and a graduate of the Yale School of Fine Arts, he was a prolific contributor of humorous and editorial cartoons to the black press in the 1930s and 1940s, but he achieved fame for his creation of a cartoon panel called Dark Laughter, a satire of Harlem society and featuring Bootsie, a character in the tradition of the wise fool. Bootsie became widely known and loved wherever black newspapers appeared. For airing strong antiracist views Harrington was targeted during the McCarthy era, and in 1951 he was self-exiled in Paris. In 1961 he found himself trapped behind the Berlin Wall, but he chose to remain in East Germany. His powerful political cartoons were published in East German magazines and in the American Communist newspaper The Daily World. He became a favorite among students and intellectuals in the Eastern Bloc. In America he was mainly forgotten. Here, selected from the Walter O. Evans Collection of African-American Art, is an omnibus of Harrington's best cartoons from the past four decades. It highlights his exceptional talent, his potent impact with editorial comment and social criticism, and his deserving of acclaim in his native land.
Why I Left America & Other Essays by Oliver W. Harrington. Jackson. 1993. University Press of Mississippi. 113 pages. hardcover. Photo of Oliver W. Harrington by Gerhard Kindt. 0878056556.
FROM THE PUBLISHER –
To American black newspapers of the 1930s and 1940s Ollie Harrington was a prolific contributor of humorous and editorial cartoons. He emerged as an artist during the Harlem Renaissance and created Bootsie, the popular cartoon figure that became a fixture in black newspapers. Langston Hughes praised Harrington as America’s greatest black cartoonist. After serving as a war correspondent in Italy, he returned to his homeland and the impediment of racism that pervaded American life. As director of public relations for the NAACP, he crusaded against America’s policies of institutionalized racism, openly supporting leftist reform leaders. Upon hearing in this era of red-baiting that he was targeted for investigation, Harrington left America. In the culturally rich American community on the Left Bank in Paris that would come to include Chester Himes, James Baldwin, and Richard Wright, he became a fixture. In 1961 he found himself trapped behind the Berlin Wall, but he chose to remain in East Germany. His cartoons appeared in East German magazines and in the American Communist newspaper The Daily World. Although he became a favorite with Eastern Bloc students and intellectuals, in America Harrington was mainly forgotten. The autobiographical pieces included in WHY I LEFT AMERICA AND OTHER ESSAYS, written mainly during the 1960s and 1970s, detail Oliver W. Harrington’s experiences as an African American artist in exile. One theme that persists in these writings and his cartoons is his intolerance of racism. Hence, as an artist, he has found it impossible not to be political. ‘Although I believe that ‘art for art’s sake’ has its merits,’ he says. ‘I personally feel that my art must be involved, and the most profound involvement must be with the Black liberation struggle.’ One essay, from Ebony magazine, fuels speculation about the mysterious circumstances in the death of his friend Richard Wright. In another piece Harrington details how he created the celebrated Bootsie. He writes in others of his life in New York during the Harlem Renaissance and in Paris with fellow black expatriate figures. Why did this African American choose to live in exile for over forty years? In an affectionate foreword to this volume Richard Wright’s daughter Julia gives clues to the answer. Her insights, along with M. Thomas Inge’s introductory essay about Harrington’s life and achievements, bring special focus to the experiences of an outstanding African American artist and social critic who has been virtually without recognition in his homeland.
Oliver Wendell 'Ollie' Harrington (February 14, 1912 – November 2, 1995) was an American cartoonist and an outspoken advocate against racism and for civil rights in the United States. Of multi-ethnic descent, Langston Hughes called him 'America's greatest African-American cartoonist'. Harrington requested political asylum in East Germany in 1961; he lived in Berlin for the last three decades of his life. Born to Herbert and Euzsenie Turat Harrington in Valhalla, New York, Harrington was the eldest of five children. He began cartooning to vent his frustrations about a viciously racist sixth grade teacher and graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in 1929. Immersing himself in the Harlem Renaissance, Harrington found employment when Ted Poston, city editor for the Amsterdam News became aware of Harrington's already considerable skills as a cartoonist and political satirist. In 1935, Harrington created Dark Laughter, a regular single panel cartoon, for that publication. The strip featured the debut of his most famous character, Bootsie, an ordinary African American dealing with racism in the U.S. Harrington described him as 'a jolly, rather well-fed but soulful character.' During this period, Harrington enrolled in Fine Arts at Yale University to complete his degree, but could not finish because of the United States entry into World War II). During World War II, the Pittsburgh Courier sent Harrington as a correspondent to Europe and North Africa. In Italy, he met Walter White, executive secretary of the NAACP. After the war, White hired Harrington to develop the organization's public relations department, where he became a visible and outspoken advocate for civil rights. In that capacity, Harrington published 'Terror in Tennessee,' a controversial expose of increased lynching violence in the post-W.W. II South. Given the publicity garnered by his sensational critique, Harrington was invited to debate with U.S. Attorney General Tom C. Clark on the topic of 'The Struggle for Justice as a World Force.' He confronted Clark for the U.S. government's failure to curb lynching and other racially motivated violence. In 1947 Harrington left the NAACP and returned to cartooning. In the postwar period his prominence and social activism brought him scrutiny from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the House Un-American Activities Committee. Hoping to avoid further government scrutiny, Harrington moved to Paris in 1951. In Paris, Harrington joined a thriving community of African-American expatriate writers and artists, including James Baldwin, Chester Himes, and Richard Wright, who became a close friend. Harrington was shaken by Wright's death in 1960, suspecting that he was assassinated. He thought that the American embassy had a deliberate campaign of harassment directed toward the expatriates. In 1961 he requested political asylum in East Germany. He spent the rest of his life in East Berlin, finding plentiful work and a cult following. He illustrated and contributed to publications such as Eulenspiegel, Das Magazine, and the Daily Worker.Harrington had four children. Two daughters are U.S. nationals; a third is a British national. All were born before Harrington emigrated to East Berlin. His youngest child, a son, was born several years after Harrington married Helma Richter, a German journalist. Publications: Dark Laughter: The Satiric Art of Oliver W. Harrington, ed. M. Thomas Inge (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1993); Why I Left America and Other Essays, ed. M. Thomas Inge (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1993); Laughing on the Outside: The Intelligent White Reader's Guide to Negro Tales and Humor (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1965). [With Philip Sterling and J. Saunders Redding]; Bootsie and Others: A Selection of Cartoons (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1958); Hezekiah Horton (Viking Press, 1955). [with Ellen Tarry]; Terror in Tennessee: The Truth about the Columbia Outrages (New York: 'Committee of 100', 1946). M. Thomas Inge is the Robert Emory Blackwell Professor of Humanities at Randolph-Macon College.
Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime by Immanuel Kant. Berkeley and Los Angeles. 1960. University of California Press. Translated from the German by John T. Goldthwait. 124 pages. paperback.
FROM THE PUBLISHER –
This is the first complete English translation since 1799 of Kant’s early work on aesthetics, Beobachtungen über das Gefühl des Schönen und Erhabenen. Published in 1764, the Observations antedates the first of the three great Critiques by seventeen years, and may be said to epitomize Kant as man and thinker in his much neglected pre-Critical period. The treatise consists of four sections. In the first, Kant outlines his purpose, sets himself limits, and introduces the two concepts he treats, the beautiful and the sublime. In the second section, he explains how these characteristics are exhibited by men in general. In the third and fourth, he examines them as they appear in the two sexes and in the different nations. More a literary than a strictly philosophical work, the Observations reflects Kant as a man of feeling as contrasted with the traditional rationalistic stereotype—a dry creature of reason alone - which too exclusive preoccupation with the three Critiques has perpetuated. In his introduction, Goldthwait contrasts Kant’s pre- Critical and Critical thought, examines the Observations in detail for both explicit and implicit content, places it in its historical context, and compares it with the Critique of Judgment, Kant’s major work in aesthetics.
Immanuel Kant (22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher who is widely considered to be a central figure of modern philosophy. He argued that fundamental concepts structure human experience, and that reason is the source of morality. His thought continues to have a major influence in contemporary thought, especially the fields of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics. Kant's major work, the Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft, 1781), aimed to explain the relationship between reason and human experience. With this project, he hoped to move beyond what he took to be failures of traditional philosophy and metaphysics. He attempted to put an end to what he considered an era of futile and speculative theories of human experience, while resisting the skepticism of thinkers such as David Hume. Kant argued that our experiences are structured by necessary features of our minds. In his view, the mind shapes and structures experience so that, on an abstract level, all human experience shares certain essential structural features. Among other things, Kant believed that the concepts of space and time are integral to all human experience, as are our concepts of cause and effect. One important consequence of this view is that one never has direct experience of things, the so-called noumenal world, and that what we do experience is the phenomenal world as conveyed by our senses. These claims summarize Kant's views upon the subject–object problem. Kant published other important works on ethics, religion, law, aesthetics, astronomy, and history. These included the Critique of Practical Reason (Kritik der praktischen Vernunft, 1788), the Metaphysics of Morals (Die Metaphysik der Sitten, 1797), which dealt with ethics, and the Critique of Judgment (Kritik der Urteilskraft, 1790), which looks at aesthetics and teleology. Kant aimed to resolve disputes between empirical and rationalist approaches. The former asserted that all knowledge comes through experience; the latter maintained that reason and innate ideas were prior. Kant argued that experience is purely subjective without first being processed by pure reason. He also said that using reason without applying it to experience only leads to theoretical illusions. The free and proper exercise of reason by the individual was a theme both of the Age of Enlightenment, and of Kant's approaches to the various problems of philosophy. His ideas influenced many thinkers in Germany during his lifetime, and he moved philosophy beyond the debate between the rationalists and empiricists. Kant is seen as a major figure in the history and development of philosophy.
Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael, West. New York. 1933. Collector’s Reprints. 213 pages. hardcover.
FROM THE PUBLISHER –
Somehow or other I seem to have slipped in between all the 'schools,' observed Nathanael West the year before his untimely death in 1940. 'My books meet no needs except my own, their circulation is practically private and I'm lucky to be published.' Yet today, West is widely recognized as a prophetic writer whose dark and comic vision of a society obsessed with mass-produced fantasies foretold much of what was to come in American life. Miss Lonelyhearts (1933), which West envisioned as 'a novel in the form of a comic strip,' tells of an advice-to-the-lovelorn columnist who becomes tragically embroiled in the desperate lives of his readers. MISS LONELYHEARTS by Nathanael West – Born New York, New York, October 1 7, 1903; Died El Centro, California, December 22, 1940. ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Liveright, Inc. PUBLICATION DATE: April 8, 1933. ORIGINAL RETAIL PRICE: $2.00. ORIGINAL PRINTING: 2, 200 copies. In the spring of 1929 the humorist S.J. Perleman took West along to dinner in New York with a newspaper acquaintance responsible for an advice column in the Brooklyn Eagle. Perleman had the idea that the letters sent to the pseudonymous ‘Susan Chester’ might provide him with comic material. Instead, the letters riveted West. In the cry and the response between those lonely hearts and what was no more than a promotion to build circulation, West grasped something of the numbness that seemed to accompany the onset of a mass society. That night he came away with the title and the structural frame of the novel that he worked on over the next four years. ISSUE POINTS: Of the 2,200 copies printed for Liveright only several hundred were actually released before the publisher declared a bankruptcy of questionable necessity and its printer impounded the stock of Miss Lonelyhearts. At publication date, with favorable reviews appearing, there were few books for the stores. Eventually West was able to get control of the rights and transferred them to Harcourt Brace & Co. Harcourt used the Liveright plates, substituting its name and logo, and printed its own edition. The publishing scandal prompted the Author’s League to change its generic contract so that in cases of publisher bankruptcy the rights to the work would immediately revert to the author. The basis for the text is a privately owned copy. The dust jacket is taken from a copy in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. THE BOOK AND ITS AUDIENCE: Through the years West worked on the novel he supported himself as the night manager of the comfortable Sutton Club Hotel on East 56th Street in Manhattan. Business was slow at the Sutton and West filled its empty rooms with his own circle of literary and needy friends. His ‘guests’ included Edmund Wilson, Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman, James T. Farrell, Erksine Caldwell as well as Perleman, now married to West’s sister, Laura. Outside, on the streets of New York the misery of the Depression was inescapable. To West the suffering he saw and described was not only economic but spiritual — a result of the combination of uprootedness, anonymity, commercialism, loss of ancient faith and rapid change. How to novelize the urban society of the thirties which was organized around the flickering stimuli of the newspapers, radio and the movies was a significant challenge to the writer. The critic Henry Seidel Canby stated that it was folly to suppose that it could be done ‘by the old time story teller who assumed that a character was an independent personality instead of a consciousness floating on a stream of impressions.’ This is what West achieved in the character of Miss Lonelyhearts — the consciousness of the age floating on a stream of impressions in a crushing struggle to find ultimate value. It was an achievement that brought West no material gain in his lifetime. However, as it was recognized by a growing number of champions including William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, the novel has built a readership and a place among the handful of the finest American novels of the century.
Nathanael West, born Nathan Weinstein (October 17, 1903 – December 22, 1940), was an American author, screenwriter and satirist. Nathanael West was born Nathan Weinstein in New York City, the first child of Ashkenazi Jewish parents, Anna (née Wallenstein, 1878—1935) and Max (Morduch) Weinstein (1878—1932), from Kovno, Russia (now in Lithuania), who maintained an upper middle class household in a Jewish neighborhood on the Upper West Side. West displayed little ambition in academics, dropping out of high school and only gaining admission into Tufts College by forging his high school transcript. After being expelled from Tufts, West got into Brown University by appropriating the transcript of a fellow Tufts student who was also named Nathan Weinstein. Although West did little schoolwork at Brown, he read extensively. He ignored the realist fiction of his American contemporaries in favor of French surrealists and British and Irish poets of the 1890s, in particular Oscar Wilde. West's interests focused on unusual literary style as well as unusual content. He became interested in Christianity and mysticism, as experienced or expressed through literature and art. West's classmates at Brown ironically nicknamed him 'Pep' after a school trip where after only a few minutes of walking he quickly ran out of breath. West himself acknowledged and made fun of his lack of physical prowess in recounting the story of a baseball game where he cost his team the game. Wells Root, a close friend of West, remembers hearing this tale half a dozen times, recalling that everyone had placed bets on the game, which came down to the final inning with the score tied and the enemy at bat with two outs. At that point the batter hit a long fly towards West: 'He put his hands up to catch it and for some inexplicable reason didn’t hold them close together. The ball tore through, hit him in the forehead, and bounced into some brush. There was a roar from the crowd and [West] took one look and turned tail. To a man, the crowd had risen, gathered bats, sticks, stones, and anything they could lay hands on and were in hot pursuit. He vanished into some woods and didn’t emerge until nightfall. In telling the story he was convinced that if they had caught him they would have killed him.' It is unclear whether this ever actually happened, but West later re-imagined this in his short story 'Western Union Boy'. Since Jewish students were not allowed to join most fraternities, his main friend was his future brother-in-law S. J. Perelman, who was to become one of America's most erudite comic writers. (Perelman married West's sister Laura.) West barely finished at Brown with a degree. He then went to Paris for three months, and it was at this point that he changed his name to Nathanael West. West's family, who had supported him thus far, ran into financial difficulties in the late 1920s. West returned home and worked sporadically in construction for his father, eventually finding a job as the night manager of the Hotel Kenmore Hall on East 23rd Street in Manhattan. One of West's real-life experiences at the hotel inspired the incident between Romola Martin and Homer Simpson that would later appear in The Day of the Locust (1939). Although West had been working on his writing since college, it was not until his quiet night job at the hotel that he found the time to put his novel together. It was at this time that West wrote what would eventually become Miss Lonelyhearts (1933). Maxim Lieber served as his literary agent in 1933. In 1931, however, two years before he completed Miss Lonelyhearts, West published The Dream Life of Balso Snell, a novel he had conceived of in college. By this time, West was within a group of writers working in and around New York that included William Carlos Williams and Dashiell Hammett. In 1933, West bought a farm in eastern Pennsylvania but soon got a job as a contract scriptwriter for Columbia Pictures and moved to Hollywood. He published a third novel, A Cool Million, in 1934. None of West's three works sold well, however, so he spent the mid-1930s in financial difficulty, sporadically collaborating on screenplays. Many of the films he worked on were B-movies, such as Five Came Back (1939). It was at this time that West wrote The Day of the Locust. West took many of the settings and minor characters of his novel directly from his experience living in a hotel on Hollywood Boulevard. In November 1939, West was hired as a screenwriter by RKO Radio Pictures, where he collaborated with Boris Ingster on a film adaptation of the novel Before the Fact (1932) by Francis Iles. West and Ingster wrote the screenplay in seven weeks, with West focusing on characterization and dialogue and Ingster focusing on the narrative structure. RKO assigned the film, eventually released as Suspicion (1941), to Alfred Hitchcock; but Hitchcock already had his own, substantially different, screenplay. Hitchcock's screenplay was written by Samson Raphaelson, Joan Harrison (Hitchcock's secretary), and Alma Reville (Hitchcock's wife). West and Ingster's screenplay was abandoned, but the text can be found in the Library of America's edition of West's collected works. On December 22, 1940, West and his wife Eileen McKenney were returning to Los Angeles from a hunting trip in Mexico. West ran a stop sign in El Centro, California, resulting in a collision in which he and McKenney were both killed. McKenney had been the inspiration for the title character in the Broadway play My Sister Eileen, and she and West had been scheduled to fly to New York City for the Broadway opening on December 26. West was buried in Mount Zion Cemetery in Queens, New York, with his wife's ashes placed in his coffin. Although West was not widely known during his life, his reputation grew after his death, especially with the publication of his collected novels by New Directions in 1957. Miss Lonelyhearts is widely regarded as West's masterpiece. Day of the Locust was made into a film which came out in 1975 starring Donald Sutherland and Karen Black. Likewise Miss Lonelyhearts (1933) saw production in film (1933, 1958, 1983), stage (1957), and operatic (2006) versions; and the character 'Miss Lonelyhearts' in Hitchcock's film Rear Window has parallels to West's work.
Testimony by Charles Reznikoff. Boston, 2015. David Godine/Black Sparrow. Introduction by Eliot Weinberger. Paperback. 6 × 9. 480 pages. 9781567925319
FROM THE PUBLISHER -
A major work by an essential American poet, published in full for the first time. Available again for the first time since 1978—and complete in one volume for the first time ever— Charles Reznikoff ’s Testimony is a lost masterpiece, a legendary book that stands alongside Louis Zukofsky’s ‘A’ and William Carlos Williams’s Paterson as a milestone of modern American poetry. Taking as its raw material the voices of witnesses, victims, and perpetrators discovered by the author in criminal court transcripts, Reznikoff ’s book sets forth a stark panorama of late19th- and early 20th-century America—the underside of the Gilded Age, beset by racism and casual violence, poverty and disease—in a radically stripped-down language of almost unbearable intensity. This edition also includes Reznikoff ’s prose studies for the poem, unavailable to readers since the 1930s, and a new introduction by essayist Eliot Weinberger. ‘[Testimony] is perhaps Reznikoff’s most important achievement as a poet. A quietly astonishing work . . . at once a kaleidoscope vision of American life and the ultimate test of Reznikoff ’s poetic principles . . .’ – Paul Auster. ‘Reznikoff ’s astonishingly engaging and quietly powerful work has been steadily gaining a passionate following. . . . Testimony is a chronicle of industrial accidents, domestic violence, racism. It tells the story of America’s forgotten, those who suffer without redress, without name, without hope; yet the soul of these States is found in books like this; the acknowledgment of these peripheral stories turns a waste land into holy ground.’ – Charles Bernstein.
Charles Reznikoff was born in Brooklyn in 1894. He graduated from law school and was admitted to the bar, but never practiced, instead pursuing his writing. Between 1918 and 1961 he published twenty-three books of poetry and prose, gaining a wider readership in 1962, when New Directions published By the Waters of Manhattan: Selected Verse; a second selection, By the Well of Living and Seeing, was published by Black Sparrow in 1974, followed by the Complete Poems and Holocaust. Reznikoff died in 1975, at the age of eighty-one. Eliot Weinberger is an acclaimed essayist, translator, and editor. His essays are collected in Karmic Traces, An Elemental Thing, Oranges & Peanuts for Sale, Outside Stories, Works On Paper, and What Happened Here: Bush Chronicles (all available from New Directions). His writing appears frequently in The New York Review of Books and The London Review of Books.
Swedish Cops: From Sjöwall & Wahlöö to Steigh Larsson by Michael Tapper. Bristol and Chicago. 2014. Intellect. 377 pages. paperback. Cover design by Stephanie Sarlos. 9781783201884
FROM THE PUBLISHER -
SWEDISH COPS is a history of Swedish culture and ideas in an international context, as expressed in crime fiction from 1965 to 2012. It argues that, from being feared and despised, the police emerged as heroes and part of the social project of the welfare state after World War II. Establishing themselves artistically and commercially at the forefront of the genre, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö constructed a model for using the police novel as an instrument for social and political criticism. With varying political affiliations, their model has been adapted by authors such as Leif G. W. Persson, Jan Guillou, Henning Mankell, Håkan Nesser, Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström, and Stieg Larsson, as well as film series such as Beck and Wallander. SWEDISH COPS is the first book of its kind, and it is as thrilling as the novels and films it analyzes.
Michael Tapper teaches film at Lund University. He has been a contributor to the Swedish National Encyclopaedia since 1989 and has served as film critic at the daily Sydsvenska Dagbladet in Malmö, Sweden, since 1999.
The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth. New York. 1953. Ballantine Books. 181 pages. paperback. Cover art by Richard Powers.
FROM THE PUBLISHER -
How would you like to live in a future world where Congress is made up of senators from large corporations,’ where armed warfare occurs between advertising agencies and where one of those agencies gets the job of ‘selling’ the idea of emigration to Venus? Mitch Courtenay, ace copywriter (or Copysmith Star Class) is given the job of convincing people that they ought to emigrate to Venus. Ranged against him are a rival agency, an underground organization, and his wife. This book crackles with action, drama - and ideas. You’ll be arguing about it (pro or con) for weeks.
Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (November 26, 1919 – September 2, 2013) was an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning more than seventy-five years—from his first published work, the 1937 poem ‘Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna’, to the 2011 novel All the Lives He Led and articles and essays published in 2012. From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy and its sister magazine If; the latter won three successive annual Hugo Awards as the year's best professional magazine. His 1977 novel Gateway won four ‘year's best novel’ awards: the Hugo voted by convention participants, the Locus voted by magazine subscribers, the Nebula voted by American science fiction writers, and the juried academic John W. Campbell Memorial Award. He won the Campbell Memorial Award again for the 1984 collection of novellas Years of the City, one of two repeat winners during the first forty years. For his 1979 novel Jem, Pohl won a U.S. National Book Award in the one-year category Science Fiction. It was a finalist for three other years' best novel awards. He won four Hugo and three Nebula Awards. The Science Fiction Writers of America named Pohl its 12th recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993 and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998, its third class of two dead and two living writers. Pohl won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2010, for his blog, ‘The Way the Future Blogs’.
Cyril M. Kornbluth (July 2, 1923 – March 21, 1958) was an American science fiction author and a notable member of the Futurians. He used a variety of pen-names, including Cecil Corwin, S. D. Gottesman, Edward J. Bellin, Kenneth Falconer, Walter C. Davies, Simon Eisner, Jordan Park, Arthur Cooke, Paul Dennis Lavond and Scott Mariner. The ‘M’ in Kornbluth's name may have been in tribute to his wife, Mary Byers; Kornbluth's colleague and collaborator Frederik Pohl confirmed Kornbluth's lack of any actual middle name in at least one interview.
The 826 Quarterly: Volume 19 - Spring 2014 by Molly Parent (editor). San Francisco. 2014. 826 Valencia. paperback. Poetry, Fiction, & Essays by Authors 6 to 18. 137 pages. 9781934750452.
FROM THE PUBLISHER –
This edition of the 826 Quarterly contains fiction, non-fiction, and poetry written by authors ages 6-18. The pieces are selected from all the 826 programs (drop-in tutoring, workshops, in-schools, projects, field trips) and at-large submissions. Pieces are chosen in a traditional literary journal style by an editorial board comprised of students and volunteer tutors. This issue includes a hard-hitting investigation into what one 11 year old writer calls the hipster epidemic, poetry about real ships that are sunken under the streets of San Francisco, introspective personal essays on group identity, and short fiction about zoo animals who learn to embrace democracy. It's a wild ride with something to make readers of all ages smile and think. 1st trade appearance of work by Zora Rosenberg - ‘Siren’s Call’, excerpt of the unpublished short story by the same name.
The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934–1960 by Lawrence P. Jackson. Princeton. 2010. Princeton University Press. hardcover. Jacket illustration - Harlem Quarterly cover 1950. Billops-Hatch Collection, courtesy of the Manuscript Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University. Jacket design by Leslie Flis. 65 halftones. 579 pages. 9780691141350.
FROM THE PUBLISHER –
A COMPREHENSIVE HISTORY OF AN IMPORTANT—YET NEGLECTED—ERA IN AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE. ‘This is a landmark work in the history of African American Studies and American intellectual history. Writing with verve, Jackson brings to life a large cast of characters and traces an ongoing conversation among the writers and critics of this period. This book is likely to become a model for a new generation of scholars, both for the breadth of its engagement and the depth of its archival research.’ —Werner Sollors, Harvard University. The Indignant Generation is the first narrative history of the neglected but essential period of African American literature between the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Era. The years between these two indispensable epochs saw the communal rise of Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ralph Ellison, Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, and many other influential black writers. While these individuals have been duly celebrated, little attention has been paid to the political and artistic milieu in which they produced their greatest works. With this commanding study, Lawrence Jackson recalls the lost history of a crucial era. Looking at the tumultuous decades surrounding World War II, Jackson restores the ‘indignant’ quality to a generation of African American writers shaped by Jim Crow segregation, the Great Depression, the growth of American Communism, and an international wave of decolonization. He also reveals how artistic collectives in New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC, fostered a sense of destiny and belonging among diverse and disenchanted peoples. As Jackson shows through contemporary documents, the years that brought us Their Eyes Were Watching God, Native Son, and Invisible Man also saw the rise of African American literary criticism—by both black and white critics. Fully exploring the cadre of key African American writers who triumphed in spite of segregation, The Indignant Generation paints a vivid portrait of American intellectual and artistic life in the mid-twentieth century..
Lawrence P. Jackson teaches English and African American studies at Emory University. He is the author of Ralph Ellison: Emergence of a Genius and a forthcoming biography of Chester Himes.
Coup D’Etat: The Technique of Revolution by Curzio Malaparte. New York. 1932. Dutton. hardcover. 251 pages. Translated from the Italian by Sylvia Saunders.
FROM THE PUBLISHER -
Here is the handbook for the modern revolutionist, from the pen of a man who has seen many of Europe’s post-war insurrections at first hand. The nineteenth-century Napoleonic model of the coup d’etat, which dramatically seized the emblems of government, is dead. It has been superseded by a cold, efficient Marxian technique, first and most brilliantly used by Trotsky in 1917. The October Revolution of the Bolsheviks has rendered useless all the traditional methods of safeguarding the modern state from overthrow: it has changed insurrection from a picturesque drama to a machine. Such is the thesis of Signor Malaparte’s book, which is at the same time a brilliant account of modern dictators - Lenin, Trotsky, Mussolini, Pilsudski, Primo de Rivera - and the means by which they came to power. The book closes with a caustic analysis of Adolph Hitler, present aspirant to dictatorship in Germany, and restates the problems of internal security for a modern government. It is a volume which inevitably recalls Machiavelli’s PRINCE, as a realistic and ruthless account of modern statecraft.
Curzio Malaparte (9 June 1898 – 19 July 1957), born Kurt Erich Suckert, was an Italian journalist, dramatist, short-story writer, novelist and diplomat. His chosen surname, which he used from 1925, means ‘evil/wrong side’ and is a play on Napoleon's family name ‘Bonaparte‘ which means, in Italian, ‘good side’. Born in Prato, Tuscany, to a Lombard mother and a German father, he was educated at Collegio Cicognini and at the La Sapienza University of Rome. In 1918 he started his career as a journalist. Malaparte fought in World War I, earning a captaincy in the Fifth Alpine Regiment and several decorations for valor, and in 1922 took part in Benito Mussolini's March on Rome. In 1924, he founded the Roman periodical La Conquista dello Stato (‘The Conquest of the State’, a title that would inspire Ramiro Ledesma Ramos' La Conquista del Estado). As a member of the Partito Nazionale Fascista, he founded several periodicals and contributed essays and articles to others, as well as writing numerous books, starting from the early 1920s, and directing two metropolitan newspapers. In 1926 he founded with Massimo Bontempelli (1878–1960) the literary quarterly ‘900’. Later he became a co-editor of Fiera Letteraria (1928–31), and an editor of La Stampa in Turin. His polemical war novel-essay, Viva Caporetto! (1921), criticized corrupt Rome and the Italian upper classes as the real enemy (the book was forbidden because it offended the Regio Esercito). In Tecnica del Colpo di Stato (1931) Malaparte attacked both Adolf Hitler and Mussolini. This led to Malaparte being stripped of his National Fascist Party membership and sent to internal exile from 1933 to 1938 on the island of Lipari. He was freed on the personal intervention of Mussolini's son-in-law and heir apparent Galeazzo Ciano. Mussolini's regime arrested Malaparte again in 1938, 1939, 1941, and 1943 and imprisoned him in Rome's infamous jail Regina Coeli. During that time (1938–41) he built a house, known as the Casa Malaparte, on Capo Massullo, on the Isle of Capri. Shortly after his time in jail he published books of magical realist autobiographical short stories, which culminated in the stylistic prose of Donna Come Me (WOMAN LIKE ME) (1940). His remarkable knowledge of Europe and its leaders is based upon his experience as a correspondent and in the Italian diplomatic service. In 1941 he was sent to cover the Eastern Front as a correspondent for Corriere della Sera. The articles he sent back from the Ukrainian Fronts, many of which were suppressed, were collected in 1943 and brought out under the title Il Volga nasce in Europa (‘The Volga Rises in Europe’). Also, this experience provided the basis for his two most famous books, KAPUTT (1944) and THE SKIN (1949). KAPUTT, his novelistic account of the war, surreptitiously written, presents the conflict from the point of view of those doomed to lose it. From November 1943 to March 1946 he was attached to the American High Command in Italy as an Italian Liaison Officer. Articles by Curzio Malaparte have appeared in many literary periodicals of note in France, the United Kingdom, Italy and the United States. After the war, Malaparte's political sympathies veered to the left, and he became member of the Italian Communist Party. In 1947 Malaparte settled in Paris and wrote dramas without much success. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Malaparte became interested in the Maoist version of Communism, but his journey to China was cut short by illness, and he was flown back to Rome. Io in Russia e in Cina, his journal of the events, was published posthumously in 1958. Malaparte's final book, Maledetti Toscani, his attack on bourgeois culture, appeared in 1956. Shortly after the publication of this book, he became a Catholic. He died from lung cancer on 19 July 1957.
Black Skies: An Inspector Erlendur Novel by Arnaldur Indridason. New York. 2014. Minotaur Books/St Martin's. hardcover. 330 pages. September 2013. Jacket design by Ervin Serrano. Jacket photograph by Tim Robinson./Arcangel Images. Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb. 9781250000392.
FROM THE PUBLISHER –
Arnaldur Indridason, whom The Sunday Times calls 'one of the most brilliant crime writers of his generation,' has thrilled readers around the world with his series set in Reykjavik. In Black Skies, Indridason further cements his position as one of today's top international crime writers. A man is making a crude leather mask with an iron spike fixed in the middle of the forehead. It is a 'death mask,' once used by Icelandic farmers to slaughter calves, and he has revenge in mind. Meanwhile, a school reunion has left Inspector Erlendur's colleague Sigurdur Óli unhappy with life in the police force. While Iceland is enjoying an economic boom, Óli's relationship is on the rocks and soon even his position in the department is compromised. When a favor to a friend goes wrong and a woman dies before his eyes, Oli has a murder investigation on his hands. From the villas of Reykjavík's banking elite to a sordid basement flat, Black Skies is a superb story of greed, pride, and murder from one of Europe's most successful crime writers.
ARNALDUR INDRIDASON won the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Silence of the Grave and is the only author to win the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel two years in a row. The film of Jar City was Iceland’s entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, and the film Silence of the Grave is in production with the same director. The film Contraband, starring Mark Wahlberg, was based on an Icelandic film written by Indridason, who lives in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Last of the Conquerors by William Gardner Smith. New York. 1948. Farrar Straus & Company. hardcover. 262 pages. August 1948.
FROM THE PUBLISHER –
‘William Gardner Smith has the two great qualities, simplicity and bitternes. One is a divine gift, and the other, a tragic acquisition.’ - Christopher Morley. Some people will read this novel with indignation, some with shame. Many will be shocked. It is the story of a young man who learned for the first time - in an enemy country - how it feels to be treated as a human being. It is the story of Hayes Dawkins, Negro soldier in the Army of Occupation, who found himself accepted as an equal by the Germans and looked upon as an inferior by his white comrades in arms. In Berlin Hayes discovered a new world in which he could go where he pleased, face any man, love any woman. When a change of station brought him to a post where he was again a Negro, a second-class human being, the shock and hurt were almost too great to bear. It was then he knew why Negroes would rather stay in Germany than go home, why some even deserted to the Russian zone. Caught in a current of injustice and hatred, Hayes was faced with an almost impossible decision - a choice between two worlds. In portraying Hayes Dawkins, William Gardner Smith has drawn a moving picture of a young man caught between two worlds unable to decide which he should make his own. LAST OF THE CONQUERORS is a first novel of promise and distinction.
Born in 1927, William Gardner Smith was only twenty when he finished LAST OF THE CONQUERORS, his first novel. Born and brought up in Philadelphia, he has been a reporter for the Pittsburgh Courier in that city for five years. After spending a year in Germany in the Army of Occupation, he attended Temple University.
Two very different versions of Horacio Quiroga’s Cuentos de la Selva:
Jungle Tales by Horacio Quiroga. New York. 2012. Self-Published by Jeff Zorilla and Natalia Cortesi. 88 pages. Paperback. Cover illustration by Bert van Wijk. Translated from the Spanish by Jeff Zorrilla. Illustrations by Bert van Wijk. 9780615708072
South American Jungle Tales by Horacio Quiroga. New York. 1922. Duffield & Company. 166 pages. Hardcover. Illustrated by A. L. Ripley. Translated from the Spanish by Arthur Livingston.
JUNGLE TALES (Cuentos de la Selva - published originally in 1918) is a collection of eight short stories in which Quiroga captures the magic of the Misiones rainforest of Argentina, which is the scene of exciting adventures illuminated by nature in all it’s splendor. A place where snakes throw glamorous parties with flamingos, stingrays join forces to fight off man-eating jaguars, and a giant tortoise carries a wounded man on its shell for hundreds of kilometers to bring him to safety. Horacio Quiroga dedicated this book to his children, who accompanied him during that rough period of poverty in a damp basement.
Journalist, teacher, carpenter, cotton farmer, justice of the peace, film critic and one of Latin America’s best short story writers, Horacio Quiroga (born on December 31, 1878 in Salto, Uruguay – died on February 19, 1937 in Buenos Aires, Argentina) was an Uruguayan playwright, poet, and short story writer, and is one of the most fascinating characters in Latin American literature. He wrote stories which, in their jungle settings, use the supernatural and the bizarre to show the struggle of man and animal to survive. He also excelled in portraying mental illness and hallucinatory states. Some of his most famous works include Cuentos de la selva (1918; Jungle Tales), Cuentos de amor de locura y de muerte (1917; Stories of love madness and death) and Anaconda (1921). He’s written over 200 pieces of fiction and has often been compared to Rudyard Kipling, Jack London and Edgar Allan Poe. Roberto Bolaño mentions Quiroga as one of the must-read authors in his famous ‘Consejos sobre el arte de escribir cuentos’ (‘Advice on the Art of Writing Short Stories’). His influence can be seen in the Latin American magic realism of Gabriel García Márquez and the postmodern surrealism of Julio Cortázar.
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