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(06/22/2008) Hard Times by Charles Dickens. New York. 1961. Signet/New American Library. Afterword By Charles Shapiro. keywords: Signet Classic Paperback England Literature 19th Century. CP259. 301 pages. Cover art by Milton Glaser.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Murdering the Innocent! Facts, Facts, Facts. Teach these children facts, not fancies. Sense, not sentimentality. Conformity, not curiosity. Proof and demonstration, not poetry and drama. On this bleak tenet is run the Gradgrind model day school in HARD TIMES. No other work of Dickens presents so relentless an indictment against the callous greed of the Victorian industrial society and its misapplied utilitarian philosophy as this fiercest of his novels. With savage bitterness Dickens unmasks the hellish industries that imprisoned the bodies of the helpless labor class and the equally satanic institutions that shackled the development of their minds. 'Carlyle never voiced a more burning denunciation of the dismal science of classical economic theory.' - Edgar Johnson. 'This is Karl Marx, Carlyle, Ruskin, Morris, Carpenter, rising up against civilization itself as a disease.' - G. Bernard Shaw.

 

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(06/21/2008) Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy. Baltimore. 1974. Penguin Books. Translated From The Russian & With An Introduction By Rosemary Edmonds. keywords: Penguin Classic Paperback Translated Literature Russia 19th Century. 568 pages. The cover shows an illustration for Tolstoy's Resurrection, by Leonid Pasternak. 0140441840.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   A wealthy Russian prince, serving as a juror in a murder trial, recognizes in the accused a girl he has seduced in his youth. The novel that grows out of this tragic incident is, like WAR AND PEACE, a vast panorama of Russian life. But here it is the life, not of the aristocracy, but of the teeming underworld that Tolstoy reveals in all its diversity. Prince Nekhlyudov is one of Tolstoy's great self-portraits, and it is his mature vision of a society rotten at the heart that stands out in this, his last great novel.

 

 

 

 

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(06/20/2008) The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. New York. 1989. Viking Press. keywords: Literature India England. 549 pages. Jacket outline illustration shows a detail from 'Rustam Killing the White Demon' from a Clive Album in the Victoria and Albert Museum. 0670825379.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Just before dawn one winter's morning, a hijacked jumbo jet blows apart high above the English Channel Through the debris of limbs, drinks trolleys, memories, blankets, and oxygen masks, two figures fall toward the sea: Gibreel Farishta, India's legendary movie star, and Saladin Chamcha, the man of a thousand voices, self-made self and Anglophile supreme. Clinging to each other, singing rival songs, they plunge downward, and are finally washed up, alive, on the snow-covered sands of an English beach. Their survival is a miracle, but an ambiguous one, as Gibreel acquires a halo, while, to Saladin's dismay, his own legs grow hairier, his feet turn into hooves, and hornlike appendages appear at his temples. Gibreel and Saladin have been chosen as opponents in the eternal wrestling match between Good and Evil. But which is which? Can demons be angelic? Can angels be devils in disguise? As the two men tumble through time and space toward their final confrontation, we are witness to a cycle of tales of love and passion, of betrayal and faith: the story of Ayesha, the butterfly-shrouded visionary who leads an Indian village on an impossible pilgrimage; of Alleluia Cone, the mountain climber haunted by a ghost who urges her to attempt the ultimate feat - a solo ascent of Everest; and, centrally, the story of Mahound, the Prophet of Jahilia, the city of sand - Mahound, the recipient of the revelation in which satanic verses mingle with the divine. In this great wheel of a book, where the past and the future chase each other furiously, Salman Rushdie takes us on an epic journey of tears and laughter, of bewitching stories and astonishing flights of the imagination, a journey toward the evil and good that lie entwined within the hearts of women and of men. 'Abundant in enchanting narratives and amazingly peopled, THE SATANIC VERSES is both a philosophy and an Arabian nights entertainment. What wit, what real warmth in Rushdie's thousand-eyed perceptions of the inferno within us and the vainglory of our aspirations! His ambitions are huge, and his creativity triumphantly matches them. ' - Nadine Gordimer.

SALMAN RUSHDIE is the author of the novels GRIMUS, MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN, and SHAME, and of THE JAGUAR SMILE: A NICARAGUAN JOURNEY. Born in Bombay in 1947, he now lives in London. His books have been translated into twenty languages.

 

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(06/19/2008) The Future Of Nostalgia by Svetlana Boym. New York. 2001. Basic Books. keywords: Nostalgia Sociology Philosophy. 405 pages. Cover: Evgeny Khaldei-'Sebastopol, 1944'. 0465007074. March 2001.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Can one be nostalgic for the home one never had? Why is it that the age of globalization is accompanied by a no less global epidemic of nostalgia? Can we know what we are nostalgic for? In the seventeenth century, Swiss doctors believed that opium, leeches, and a trek through the Alps would cure nostalgia. In 1733 a Russian commander, disgusted with the debilitating homesickness rampant among his troops, buried a soldier alive as a deterrent to nostalgia. In her new book, Svetlana Boym develops a comprehensive approach to this elusive ailment. Combining personal memoir, philosophical essay, and historical analysis, Boym explores the spaces of collective nostalgia that connect national biography and personal self-fashioning in the twenty-first century. She guides us through the ruins and construction sites of post-communist cities--St. Petersburg, Moscow, Berlin, and Prague--and the imagined homelands of exiles--Benjamin, Nabokov, Mandelstam, and Brodsky. From JURASSIC PARK to the Totalitarian Sculpture Garden, from love letters on Kafka's grave to conversations with Hitler's impersonator, Boym unravels the threads of this global epidemic of longing and its antidotes.

 

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(06/17/2008) James Joyce by Richard Ellmann. Oxford. 1959. Oxford University Press. keywords: James Joyce Biography Ireland Literature. 842 pages. Jacket design By Frank Wilimczyk.

The first complete biography of Joyce written since his death.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   It presents Joyce as son, lover, husband, and father-but always as writer. Although the author's method is ostensibly chronological, it is also thematic: each chapter is a spot of time and a state of mind by narrative, by reports of conversation, by many unpublished as well as published letters, by anecdote, and by comment, Mr. Ellmann captures the personality of the most elusive of contemporary artists. In the process of creating this masterpiece of literary biography, the author obtained access in many countries to unexpected new Joyce material. His search took him to Dublin, London, Zurich, Trieste, Paris, and other cities in Europe as well as to many parts of this continent. In his travels he talked to such people as Joyce's son George, Joyce's brother Stanislaus, his three sisters, Mrs. Joyce's sister, Dr. Carl Jung, and an old blind man who knew all the turnings in Dublin. Mr. Ellmann's literary detective work discovered, among other things, the actual woman who inspired the character of Molly Bloom, and the old man in a junk shop on the quays who in part was the model for Hugh Boy Ian in ULYSSES. He uncovers the raw material in Joyce's waits and shows how Joyce converted it into fiction. The book gives a fascinating account of literary life in Europe in Joyce's lifetime, telling of his relations with Yeats, Shaw, Eliot, Hemingway, Proust, and Pound, among others, and paints an altogether fresh picture of Joyce's acquaintances - writes, artists, and musicians. It reveals new details of Joyce's meeting with his future wife Nora Barnacle, of their life together, and of her quizzical attitude toward his writings. Light is thrown on his break with the Roman Catholic Church, and on his relationship with his emotionally disturbed daughter, Lucia. Altogether, the book presents Joyce dramatically and completely, good and bad combined. It shows that Joyce the man and Joyce the artist were products of the same central energy. The biographer's point of view is unobtrusive, but in the end the reader is persuaded into an understanding of Joyce and his works. Mr. Ellmann's scholarly odyssey also turned up many photographs which have never before been published in a book. A rare picture of Joyce and Nora Barnacle on their wedding day is included in the 16 pages of half-tone illustrations.

Richard Ellmann, whose discoveries will delight all Joyce enthusiasts and fascinate everyone interested in the search for literary sources, was Professor of English at Northwestern University. He was co-editor of THE CRITICAL WRITINGS OF JAMES JOYCE, editor of MY BROTHER'S KEEPER by Stanislaus Joyce and editor of LETTERS OF JAMES JOYCE. His other books include THE IDENTITY OF YEATS and YEATS: THE MAN AND THE MASKS.

 

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(06/15/2008) A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man by James Joyce. New York. 1991. Signet/New American Library. Introduction By Hugh Kenner. keywords: Signet Classic Paperback Literature Ireland 20th Century. CE2544. 282 pages. June 1991.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   First published in 1916, A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN is one of the masterpieces of modern fiction. James Joyce's semi-autobiographical first novel, this is the story of Stephen Dedalus, a sensitive and creative youth who rebels against his family his education, and his country by committing himself to the artistic life. Joyce's brilliant rendering of the impressions and experiences of childhood broke new ground in the use of language and in the structure of the novel. As the coming-of-age story of an extraordinary young man, James Joyce's modern classic has become one of the twentieth century's most popular works of fiction. As a bold literary experiment, it has had an important and lasting influence on the contemporary novel. With an Introduction by Hugh Kenner.

 

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(06/14/2008) Who Killed Palomino Molero? by Mario Vargas Llosa. New York. 1987. Farrar Straus Giroux. Translated From The Spanish By Alfred Mc Adam. keywords: Literature Translated Peru Latin America Mystery. 151 pages. Jacket design 1987 by Honi Werner. Author photo 1987 by Jerry Bauer. 0374289786. June 1987.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In WHO KILLED PALOMINO MOLERO? Mario Vargas Llosa has turned to detective fiction. The setting is Peru in the nineteen-fifties. Near an Air Force base in the northern deserts, a young airman is found tortured and murdered. Two local policemen, Lieutenant Silva and Officer Lituma, set out to investigate. They are not glamorous detectives with modern resources at their disposal; they don't even have a squad car and have to cajole a local cabdriver to take them out to the scene of the crime. Not that anyone seems to care very much if Silva and Lituma capture Palomino Molero's killer. The commanding officer of the air base seems to do everything he can to impede their investigations, and their own superior officers are, at best, indifferent. But Silva and Lituma persevere, and, in the end, uncover the truth. WHO KILLED PALOMINO MOLERO? is an entertaining and brilliantly plotted mystery. It is also, as might be expected of any work by Mario Vargas Llosa, serious fiction. Deftly, unobtrusively, the book takes up some of the great themes of all of Vargas Llosa's novels: guilt and innocence, and despair at how difficult it is to be an honest man in a society based on the corruption both of motives and of feelings.

Mario Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian writer who is one of Latin America's leading novelists and essayists.

 

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(06/13/2008) The Golden Ass by Apuleius. New York. 1951. Farrar Straus & Young. Translated From The Latin By Robert Graves. keywords: Classics Literature Roman Latin Translated. 293 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In all literature there are few books with the vitality of THE GOLDEN ASS. Boccaccio borrowed freely from it; and later it served both to amuse and instruct Cervantes, Fielding, and Smollett. T. E. Lawrence carried it, in its original Latin, in his saddlebags with him all through the Arab Revolt, and it was Lawrence who first introduced the book to his friend Robert Graves. Mr. Graves has now freed the story from the archaic language with which it was encrusted, and at last the modern reader may, for the first time, appreciate for himself the lusty incident, curious adventure, and bawdy wit in which THE GOLDEN ASS abounds. The story is about Lucious Apuleius, a young man of good birth, who, while disporting himself in the cities and along the roads of Thessally, encountered many diverting and strange adventures. Not the least of these was that Apuleius offended a priestess of the White Goddess and for his offense suffered the indignity of being turned into an ass. How Apuleius supported his misfortune and how he contrived at last to appease the Goddess and resume his human form make up the body of the tale. Robert Graves has obviously enjoyed his labors on the story, for he writes: 'It is not strictly speaking the first modern novel, because Petronius' incomplete SATYRICON antedates it by a century, but it is the most amusing, the most terrifying, and most sincere. ' To which the publishers can only add, in the words of both Robert Graves and Apuleius, 'Now read on and enjoy yourselves!'

 

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(06/12/2008) Flaubert In Egypt: A Sensibilty On Tour by Gustave Flaubert. Boston. 1972. Atlantic/Little Brown. Translated From The French & Edited By Francis Steegmuller. A Narrative Drawn From Gustave Flaubert's Travel Notes & Letters. keywords: Literature Translated France Travel. 232 pages. Cover design by Elna Rapp. 0316812153.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In the autumn of 1849, at the age of twenty-seven, accompanied by his wealthier and worldlier friend, Maxime du Camp, Flaubert set off on a long tour of the 'Orient' - the Near East -- a region that had long haunted his young imagination. He kept a diary, much of whose exotic and erotic detail has hitherto remained unpublished, even in France. He also wrote vivid letters to his mother, and splendidly frank letters to his friend Louis Bouilhet, important passages of which have been published in France only recently by skillfully amalgamating the material that deals with the Egyptian part of the journey, and providing an informative introduction and linking commentary, Mr. Steegmuller has enabled us to enjoy for the first time an extraordinary account of a remarkable 'sensibility on tour. ' What emerges is a combination of a travel book written by a great writer - romantic, sensual, preternaturally observant -- and a commentary on an important period in the writer's life by a masterly biographer. Whether Flaubert is writing of architectural splendors or the cudgeling of a beggar, the colors of sky and desert, a Bedouin dance, or a memorable night with a prostitute, his descriptions glow with the excitement of discovery. Maxime du Camp also published accounts of the trip drawn from his diary. His racy contributions complement those of his more famous companion; indeed, when each tells the same story, the contrast can be instructive and amusing. It is not surprising that upon his return to France, du Camp became the owner and editor of a magazine, and an active journalist; or that Flaubert, with his exotic experiences behind him, should sit down to create MADAME BOVARY. One of our most admired men of letters,.

Francis Steegmuller was a biographer, a novelist, an essayist, a critic, and a translator. Among his many books are FLAUBERT AND MADAME BOVARY, MAUPASSANT: A LION IN THE PATH, THE GRAND MADEMOISELLE, THE TWO WORLDS OF JAMES JACKSON JARVES, APOLLINAIRE: POET AMONG THE PAINTERS, LE HIBOU ET LA POUSSIQUETTE, COCTEAU: A BIOGRAPHY - the 1971 National Book Award Winner -- and STORIES AND TRUE STORIES. Mr. Steegmuller was also a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur. He lived in New York City with his wife, the novelist Shirley Hazzard.

 

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(06/11/2008) Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert. Baltimore. 1975. Penguin Books. Translated From The French & With An Introduction By Robert Baldick. keywords: Penguin Classic Paperback France Literature Translated 19th Century. 430 pages. The cover shows a detail from Courbet's 'Man with Leather Belt', in the Louvre. 0140441417.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   'I now nothing more noble', wrote Flaubert, 'than the contemplation of the world. ' His acceptance of all the realities of life principally recommends what many regard as a more mature work than MADAME BOVARY, if not the greatest French novel of the last century. In Robert Baldick's new translation of this story of a young man's romantic attachment to an older woman, the modern English reader can appreciate the accuracy, the artistry and the insight with which Flaubert reconstructed in one masterpiece the very fibre of his times.

 

 

 

 

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(06/10/2008) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. New York. 1992. Penguin Books. Translated From The French & With An Introduction By Geoffrey Wall. keywords: Penguin Classic Paperback France Literature Translated 19th Century. 292 pages. The cover shows a detail from Interior by Edgar Degas in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, collection Henry P. Mcllhenny. 0140445269.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   MADAME BOVARY is Flaubert's masterpiece, initially a succes de scandale and now a landmark in European literature. He took for his subject French bourgeois life in all its inglorious banality, and invented a paradoxically original and wholly modern style to match. His heroine is Emma, a bored provincial housewife who abandons her husband Charles Bovary to pursue the libertine Rodolphe in a desperate love affair. 'Emma Bovary is the first in a procession of troubled and insubordinate young wives; the model for those adulterous bourgeois heroines. Therese Raquin, Anna Karenin, Hedda Gabbler, Sue Bridehead, Ursula Brangwen and Molly Bloom,' writes Geoffrey Wall in the introduction to his illuminating new translation. ' We are drawn, with great skill, into a sustained imaginative contact with Emma. We feel that we are inside her head, under her skin, as we read.'

 

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(06/09/2008) The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford. New York. 1951. 1st Borzoi Edition. 256 pages. With An Interpretation by Mark Schorer. keywords: Literature England 20th Century.

A brilliant novel of deceit and tragic intensity.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Ford Madox Ford has been among the neglected writers of the first quarter of this century. His tragic novel, THE GOOD SOLDIER, in which he portrays, in the stoical but fallible figure of Edward Ashburnham, an example of the English landed gentry at its best, was written just before the First World War. This unembittered story of deceit and hatred was readily termed 'great', 'a piece of art and therefore an enlightenment', and 'beautiful and moving' by contemporary reviewers. A more modern estimate of its worth is expressed by Walter Allen in Tradition and Dream: 'Ford's finest novel is probably THE GOOD SOLDIER, as formally perfect a novel as any in English and an amazingly subtle account, by one of them, of the lives of four people who appear to live in harmony and friendship.'

 

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(06/08/2008) The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories by Herodotus. New York. 2007. Pantheon Books. Edited by Robert B. Strassler. A New Translation By Andrea L. Purvis. Introduction by Rosalind Thomas. keywords: History Ancient Greece World Classics. 959 pages. Jacket design by Kim Llewellyn. Jacket map by Edward Wells from 'A New Set of Maps'. 9780375421099. November 2007.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   From the editor of the widely praised The Landmark Thucydides, a new Landmark Edition of The Histories by Herodotus, the greatest classical work of history ever written. Herodotus was a Greek historian living in Ionia during the fifth century BCE. He traveled extensively through the lands of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea and collected stories, and then recounted his experiences with the varied people and cultures he encountered. Cicero called him 'the father of history,' and his only work, The Histories, is considered the first true piece of historical writing in Western literature. With lucid prose that harks back to the time of oral tradition, Herodotus set a standard for narrative nonfiction that continues to this day. In The Histories, Herodotus chronicles the rise of the Persian Empire and its dramatic war with the Greek city-states. Within that story he includes rich veins of anthropology, ethnography, geology, and geography, pioneering these fields of study, and explores such universal themes as the nature of freedom, the role of religion, the human costs of war, and the dangers of absolute power. Ten years in the making, The Landmark Herodotus gives us a new, dazzling translation by Andrea L. Purvis that makes this remarkable work of literature more accessible than ever before. Illustrated, annotated, and filled with maps, this edition also includes an introduction by Rosalind Thomas and twenty-one appendices written by scholars at the top of their fields, covering such topics as Athenian government, Egypt, Scythia, Persian arms and tactics, the Spartan state, oracles, religion, tyranny, and women. Like The Landmark Thucydides before it, The Landmark Herodotus is destined to be the most readable and comprehensively useful edition of The Histories available.

Robert B. Strassler is an independent scholar whose articles have appeared in the Journal of Hellenic Studies. He holds an honorary doctorate of humanities and letters from Bard College and is chairman of the Aston Magna Foundation for Music and the Humanities. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts. Andrea L. Purvis holds a Ph. D. in classical studies from Duke University and has taught in Duke University's department of classical studies. She is author of Singular Dedications: Founders and Innovators of Private Cults in Classical Greece and coauthor of Four Island Utopias. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.

 

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(06/07/2008) The Histories by Herodotus. New York. 1996. Penguin Books. Translated From The Ancient Greek By Aubrey de Selincourt. Revised With An Introduction & Notes By John M. Marincola. keywords: Ancient History Literature Classic. 622 pages. The cover shows an Oiriochoe depicting a Greek fighting a Persian, c. 500 BC, in the Louvre, Paris. 0140446389.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Herodotus' HISTORIES, the first masterpiece of European prose, is built around the great struggle between Greek freedom and oriental despotism. During the early fifth century BC, a small and quarrelsome band of Greek city-states united to repel a mighty Persian army. While the story of this heroic drama forms the main theme of Herodotus' narrative, the author's curiosity fleshes out the text with dozens of digressions. He describes, for example, the monuments, crocodile-hunters and natural wonders of Egypt, the warriors of the Sudan, the northern nomads and fake-dwellers of Europe. Endlessly entertaining, he recounts many superb stories and folk tales about amazing escapes, ambiguous prophecies, gold-digging ants and dog-headed men. And he conveys vividly the fragility of wealth and happiness, and the unexpected moral patterns in our lives. This edition is a revised version of Aubrey de Selincourt's celebrated translation and includes a new introduction, additional notes, glossary, chronology and bibliography.

 

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(06/06/2008) I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King Jr. by Michael Eric Dyson. New York. 2000. Free Press. keywords: Martin Luther King Jr. Black America Politics Biography History. 404 pages. Jacket photograph by Charles Blackstar. 0684867761. January 2000.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   So much has changed since the glory days of the civil rights movement-and so much has stayed the same. African Americans command their place at every level of society, from the lunch counter to the college campus to the corporate boardroom-yet the gap between the American middle class and the black poor is as wide as ever. Hollywood casts a black actor as president of the United States without provoking a word of protest, but a black man is savagely dragged to his death because of the color of his skin. The hip-hop culture that springs from the imaginations of urban black youth sweeps across the malls and high schools of suburbia, yet black students still sit together, apart, in the cafeteria. Where can we turn to find the vision that will guide us through these strange and difficult times? Michael Eric Dyson helps us find the answer in our recent past, by resurrecting the true Martin Luther King, Jr. A private citizen who transformed the world around him, King was arguably the greatest American who ever lived. Yet, as Dyson so poignantly reveals, Martin Luther King, Jr. has disappeared in plain sight. Despite the federal holiday, the postage stamps, and the required reference in history textbooks, King's vitality and complexity have faded from view. Young people do not learn how radical he was, liberals forget that he despaired of whites even as he loved them, and contemporary black leaders tend to ignore the powerful forces that shaped him-the black church, language, and sexuality-thereby obscuring his relevance to black youth and hip-hop culture. Instead, King's legacy has become a battlefield on which various forces wage war-whether it is conservatives who appropriate his words to combat affirmative action, or the King family themselves, who want to control use of the great man's words for a fee. Former welfare dad, Princeton Ph. D. , and Baptist preacher, Michael Eric Dyson sets out to find the man who was assassinated when Dyson himself was a nine-year-old boy living in downtown Detroit. And in his quest to unravel the meaning of King, Dyson discovers that the very contradictions embodied in the slain leader's life make him a man for our times. He returns to us a man as radical in his view of social injustice as Malcolm X, who still won the support of the white establishment; a man dedicated to the common good, who gave in to his own appetites; a master of language and rhetoric, who 'sampled' the words and ideas of others; a man who despised the unjust distribution of wealth and used its fruits to feed his own people. Dyson rescues from history a Martin Luther King, Jr. who matters today: a man who has as much in common with rap artist Tupac Shakur as he does with the Reverend Ralph Abernathy. Unafraid to confront King's personal life, determined to defend King from the sanitizing forces of historical amnesia, Michael Eric Dyson challenges us to embrace the man who said, prophetically, on the eve of his death, 'I May Not Get There With You,' and to make him our partner in our ongoing struggle to get to the Promised Land.

 

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(06/05/2008) The War Of The End Of The World by Mario Vargas Llosa. New York. 1984. Farrar Straus Giroux. Translated From The Spanish By Helen R. Lane. keywords: Literature Translated Peru Latin America. 568 pages. Jacket design by Paul Bacon Studio. Author photograph by Thomas Victor. 0374286515. September 1984. Originally published in Spanish, La guerra del fin del mundo, by Editorial Seix Barral, S. A. , Spain.

Mario Vargas Llosa's WAR AND PEACE and my favorite of his novels.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Mario Vargas Llosa is one of the world's great storytellers. His novel CONVERSATION IN THE CATHEDRAL is a classic narrative of tyranny and filial love, while his ribald tale AUNT JULIA AND THE SCRIPTWRITER is a comic masterpiece. The War of the End of the World, Vargas Llosa's new work, brings together all of its author's superb gifts in an epic historical novel, a realistic panorama of Tolstoyan sweep that is at once a magnificent literary accomplishment and an enthralling story. To compare THE WAR OF THE END OF THE WORLD with the great historical novels of a Tolstoy or a Stendhal is no hyperbole. Vargas Llosa has chosen to retell one of the crucial events of Latin America: the uprising in the Brazilian backlands that almost reversed the history of the continent. It is the story of an apocalyptic prophet and the state he created - Canudos, home to all the damned of the earth, to prostitutes, bandits, beggars, and their like. In Canudos, history and civilization are turned on their ears. There is no money, property, marriage, no income tax, decimal system, or census. Canudos is the revolutionary spirit in its purest and most apocalyptic form-a state which promises to be a libertarian paradise but which the forces of the modern world and of the nation-state cannot tolerate. The International Herald Tribune has described this novel as 'at one and the same time a major literary work, an adventure story, a historical drama, and an inquiry into ideological fanaticism and 'utopian' violence in Latin America'. ' Vargas Llosa has described it as his most ambitious novel to date; it will unquestionably be called his most successful.  

 

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(06/04/2008) The Buccaneers Of America by Alexander O. Exquemelin. Baltimore. 1969. Penguin Books. Translated From The Dutch By Alexis Brown. With An Introduction By Jack Beeching. keywords: History Bucaneers Pirates Atlantic. L212. 233 pages. The cover shows a detail from 'Battle at Sea' by Jan Peeters.

A terrific first-hand account of pirate life during the 17th century.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   There are few accounts of piracy to equal the book published in Holland by Alexander Exquemelin in 1678. His eye-witness record of the feats of the English, French, and Dutch sea-rovers who ravaged shipping arid terrorized Caribbean settlements in the seventeenth century makes a vivid story of courage, endurance, and inhuman cruelty. And if any figure stands out in this gallery of unhung rogues, it is that of the infamous, romantic Welshman, Sir Henry Morgan, whose exploits were crowned by his impudent seizure of Panama.

 

 

 

 

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(06/03/2008) Tobias Smollett: Doctor Of Men & Manners by Lewis Mansfield Knapp. Princeton. 1949. Princeton University Press. keywords: Literature England Biography 18th Century. 362 pages.  

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   With the single exception of the great Cham of Literature, there was from 1745 to 1771 no literary personality as independent, colorful, and versatile as Dr. Tobias Smollett. Before his untimely death, this Scottish doctor of men and manners had won wide acclaim as translator, historian, book reviewer, writer of travel literature, social satirist, and, above all, as one of the four leading novelists of his period. During the turbulent half-century after Smollett died in Italy, he was very widely read, not only in the British Isles, but also on the Continent and in America. In the Victorian era, of course, his vogue declined, along with that of other eighteenth-century luminaries. But in the past few decades, his reputation has increased. This is not to be wondered at, for all who enjoy the spirit of a dynamic personality and relish hilarious comedy, memorable characters, and incisive satire, may find in Smollett a goodly realm of gold. Moved by these considerations, I was attracted some twenty years ago by the challenge of building a definitive biography commensurate with Smollett's stature as a man and as a writer. I shall not detail here my adventures in this exacting undertaking. I must only assert that the vexations and drudgery involved in it have been far outweighed by the satisfactions with which I have been rewarded. In this preface, it is proper to summarize the central objectives and contributions of this biography. One obvious purpose has been to rectify factual and interpretative inaccuracies in former accounts of Smollett. What is more important, I have tried to be accurate in presenting and evaluating whatever new material is brought to light. Furthermore, I have made every effort to project a living personality vitalized by facts rather than by specious fictions. In significant respects a new portrait of Smollett is here unveiled, one considerably more complete, and, I believe more pleasing than former sketches have been. I have sought the truth about Smollett, an activity which necessitates the avoiding, as far as possible, of partial prepossessions and wishful thinking. The result is, I hope, what constitutes a more reliable likeness and a portrait freed from Victorian distortions. In general, the result is a rehabilitation of Smollett's personality. Finally, in the concluding chapter devoted to his contribution to the English novel, I have stressed what I consider to be his most enduring merits as a creative writer.' - from the preface by Lewis Mansfield Knapp.

 

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(06/01/2008) Kiss Of The Spider Woman by Manuel Puig. New York. 1979. Knopf. Translated From The Spanish By Thomas Colchie. keywords: Literature Translated Argentina Latin America. 282 pages. Front of jacket based on a design by Josef Hotmann. 039450366. April 1979. Originally published in 1976 in Spain as El Beco de la Mujer Arana.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   From the celebrated author of BETRAYED BY RITA HAYWORTH -an intensely moving novel about love and victimization. Two men are cellmates in an Argentine prison. Molina is a window dresser, homosexual, sentenced to eight years for 'corruption of minors'; Valentin is a Marxist student, held without trial for three years for inciting 'disturbances' at an auto factory. Molina is self-obsessed, self-denigrating, but charming, too-he entertains himself by telling Valentin, in elegant detail, the plots of his favorite romantic Hollywood movies. Trapped in naive enslavement to an idea of men as powerful and responsible and strong, he sees himself as dependent, fragile, vulnerable; he identifies with the heroines of his films. Molina is haunted by the fear that his mother will die of heart disease before he is released, but he is still full of siy humor, brio, delight in life. Valentin is articulate, dogmatic, filled with revolutionary fervor, suppressing in shame his occasional spasms of longing for the ordinary comforts he has renounced and for the memory of a girl he left because she loved him more than politics, a girl 'with class. ' Their guarded but growing friendship - which is all they have and which slowly transfigures them - is threatened as prison officials try to enlist one of them to betray the other. As they live through crisis, caught in the tyranny of politics over feelings, caught in a profound test of human loyalty and in the corruption of their world - what happens to them is conveyed with extraordinary grace and power.

Manuel Puig was an Argentinian author. Among his best known novels are La traicion de Rita Hayworth, Boquitas pintadas, and El beso de la mujer arana, which was made into a film by the Argentine-Brazilian Director, Hector Babenco and in 1993 into a Broadway musical. He was born in General Villegas After unsuccessfully studying architecture in the Universidad de Buenos Aires, he began working as a film archivist and editor in Buenos Aires and later, in Italy after winning a scholarship from the Italian Institute of Buenos Aires. Puig's dream was to become a screenwriter to write TV shows and movies. His career as a screenwriter never took off, however. In the 1960s, he moved back to Buenos Aires, where he penned his first major novel, a Traicion de Rita Hayworth. Because he had leftist political tendencies also foresaw a rightist wave in Argentina, Puig moved to Mexico in 1973, where he wrote his later works Much of Puig's work can be seen as pop art. Perhaps due to his work in film and television, Puig managed to create a writing style that incorporated elements of these mediums, such as montage and the use of multiple points of view. He also made much use of popular culture in his works. In Latin American literary histories, he is presented as a writer who belongs to the Postboom and Post-modernist schools. Puig lived in exile throughout most of his life. In 1989 Puig moved from Mexico City to Cuernavaca, Mexico, where he died in 1990. In the official biography, his close friend Suzanne Jill Levine, Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman: His Life and Fiction writes that Puig had been in pain for a few days prior to being admitted to a hospital, where he was told that his gallbladder was inflamed and would have to be taken out. After the surgery, while Puig was recovering, he began to choke and gasp. The medical team were unable to help Puig. His lungs had filled with fluid, and he died of a heart attack at 4:55am on July 22,1990.  

 

 

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(05/31/2008) Written Lives by Javier Marias. New York. 2006. New Directions. Translated From The Spanish By Margaret Jull Costa. keywords: Literature Spain Translated. 200 pages. Jacket art detail of a photograph of Rudyard Kipling courtesy of the author. Design by Semadar Megged. 081121611x.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In addition to his own busy career as 'one of Europe's most intriguing contemporary writers', Javier Marias is also the translator into Spanish of works by Hardy, Stevenson, Conrad, Faulkner, Nabokov, and Laurence Sterne. His love for these authors is the touchstone of WRITTEN LIVES. Collected here are twenty pieces recounting great writers' lives, 'or, more precisely, snippets of writers' lives.' Thomas Mann, Rilke, Arthur Conan Doyle, Turgenev, Djuna Barnes, Emily Bronte, Malcolm Lowry, and Kipling appear, and 'almost nothing' in his stories is invented. Like Isak Dinesen, Marias has a sharp eye. Nabokov is here, making 'the highly improbable assertion that he is 'as American as April in Arizona,' as is Oscar Wilde, who, in debt on his deathbed, ordered up champagne, remarking cheerfully, 'I am dying beyond my means.' Faulkner, we find, when fired from his post office job, explained that he was not prepared 'to be beholden to any son-of-a-bitch who had two cents to buy a stamp.' Affection glows in the pages of WRITTEN LIVES, evidence, as Marias remarks, that 'although I have enjoyed writing all my books, this was the one with which I had the most fun.'

Javier Marias was born in Madrid, Spain, in 1951, into a very literary family. He earned his first paycheck at age twenty translating Dracula scripts into Spanish for his uncle, the movie director Jesus Franco. Today his own work is translated into thirty-four languages, and four and a half million copies of his books have sold worldwide. His many prizes include the prestigious IMPAC Dublin International Literary award for A Heart So White. He currently lives in Madrid.

 

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(05/30/2008) Twelve Who Ruled: The Year of the Terror In The French Revolution by R. R. Palmer. Princeton. 1958. Princeton University Press. keywords: History France French Revolution. 417 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   In its fifth year, the French Revolution faced a multifaceted crisis that threatened to overwhelm the Republic. In response the government instituted a revolutionary dictatorship and a 'reign of terror,' with a Committee of Public Safety at its head. R. R. Palmer's fascinating narrative follows the Committee's deputies individually and collectively, recounting and assessing their tumultuous struggles in Paris and their repressive missions in the provinces.

R. R. Palmer was Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University and a guest scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study.

 

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(05/29/2008) One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. New York. 1970. Harper & Row. Translated From The Spanish By Gregory Rabassa. keywords: Literature Colombia Translated Latin America. 422 pages. Jacket design by Guy Fleming.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   A best seller and critical success in Latin America, Europe, and the United States, ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendia family. It is a rich and brilliant chronicle of life and death and the tragicomedy of man. In the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the Buendia family one sees all mankind, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo one sees all of Latin America. Love and lust, war and revolution, riches and poverty, youth and senility-the variety of life, the endlessness of death, the search for peace and truth-these, the universal themes, dominate the novel. Whether lie is describing an affair of passion or the voracity of capitalism and the corruption of government, Garcia Marquez always writes with the simplicity, ease, and purity that are the mark of a master. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad, alive with unforgettable men and women, and with a truth and understanding that strike the soul, ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE is a masterpiece of the art of fiction.

 

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(05/28/2008) Diary, Volume Three: 1961-66 by Witold Gombrowicz. Evanston. 1993. Northwestern University Press. Translated From The Polish By Lillian Vallee. keywords: Literature Translated Poland Eastern Europe Autobiography. 215 pages. Cover art by Andrzej Dudzinski. 081910718x.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This is the first English translation of the DIARY, the most Polish and the most universal of Witold Gombrowicz’s work. Gombrowicz (1904-1969), who left Poland at thirty-five and never returned, whose writings have been partly or totally banned in his own country - the DIARY was published in Poland for the first time in 1986 - has had an impact on Polish literature unlike any of his contemporaries. In the editions smuggled into Poland from the West, he was read by his own generation and by the generations that followed. He was read and imitated. But Gombrowicz changed more than the image of Polish literature. If literature cannot influence national character, it can at least influence the national image, its understanding and evaluation of itself. That is what Gombrowicz changed: the image and stereotype of the Pole. Volume Three of the DIARY records the years from 1961 through 1966 as Gombrowicz leaves Argentina for Europe, spends a year in Berlin, and finally settles in a small town on the French Riviera. It contains sections on Gombrowicz’s friendship with Bruno Schulz; extends his reflection on die nature of pain in Dante’s Divine Comedy, a work he describes as ‘the most monstrous poem at world literature’; and records his responses to (he work of his literary contemporaries and his meditations on his own place among men. This volume also includes diary entries from 1967 and 1968 not published in the original and provided by Gombrowicz’s widow, Rita Gombrowicz. The DIARY reveals the moral and visceral core of a great writer’s sensibility and demonstrates what is most concrete and universal in his experience.

 

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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(05/27/2008) Diary, Volume Two: 1957-61 by Witold Gombrowicz. Evanston. 1989. Northwestern University Press. Translated From the Polish By Lillian Vallee. keywords: Literature Translated Poland Eastern Europe Autobiography. 239 pages. Cover art by Andrzej Dudzinski. 0810107163.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This is the first English translation of the DIARY, the most Polish and the most universal of Witold Gombrowicz's work. Gombrowicz, who left Poland at thirty-five and never returned, whose writings have been partly or totally banned in his own country - the DIARY was published in Poland for the first time in 1986 - has had an impact on Polish literature unlike any of his contemporaries. In the editions smuggled into Poland from the West, he was read by his own generation and by the generations that followed. He was read and imitated. But Gombrowicz changed more than the image of Polish literature. If literature cannot influence national character, it can at least influence the national image, its understanding and evaluation of itself. That is what Gombrowicz changed: the image and stereotype of the Pole. Volume Two of the DIARY explores a more personal and intimate side of Gombrowicz in his adopted country of Argentina. Here Gombrowicz takes the reader into salons, private homes, encounters in restaurants and theaters, dramatizing and self-dramatizing, turning the Diary into a work blending techniques of fiction and theater. His sustained analysis of the nature of pain and his dramatization of the cruel paradox of freedom rank with the greatest accomplishments of contemporary literature.

Witold Marian Gombrowicz 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 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 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 He met with other young writers and intellectuals forming an artistic cafe 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 cafe, 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 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' appeared. In the same year he published a volume of work which included the drama 'Slub' 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', 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' and 'Kosmos' 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 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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(05/26/2008) Diary, Volume One: 1953-56 by Witold Gombrowicz. Evanston. 1988. Northwestern University Press. Translated From The Polish By Lillian Vallee. keywords: Literature Translated Poland Eastern Europe Autobiography. 232 pages. Cover art by Andrzej Dudzinski. 0810107147.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This is the first English translation of the DIARY, the most Polish and the most universal of Witold Gombrowicz's work. Gombrowicz, who left Poland at thirty-five and never returned, whose writings have been partly or totally banned in his own country - the DIARY was published in Poland for the first time in 1986 - has had an impact on Polish literature unlike any of his contemporaries. In the editions smuggled into Poland from the West, he was read by his own generation and by the generations that followed. He was read and imitated. But Gombrowicz changed more than the image of Polish literature. If literature cannot influence national character, it can at least influence the national image, its understanding and evaluation of itself. That is what Gombrowicz changed: the image and stereotype of the Pole. The Gombrowicz Me with which the Diary begins is what is most fascinating in this work and makes it great literature; through this Me Gombrowicz presents the universality of the most personal experience in its concreteness and mixture of Gombrowiczian categories: the high and the low, maturity and immaturity, purity and impurity, joy and pain, aggression and transgression in all human relations. This volume addresses the debt of literature to pain, the tyranny of form, the terrible link between beauty and inferiority, the allure of ideology. Here is the moral and visceral core of a great writer's sensibility.

Witold Marian Gombrowicz 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 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 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 He met with other young writers and intellectuals forming an artistic cafe 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 cafe, 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 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' appeared. In the same year he published a volume of work which included the drama 'Slub' 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', 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' and 'Kosmos' 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 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.

Lillian Vallee has translated Czeslaw Milosz and Jan Kott as well as Jan Mur's JOURNAL OF A POLISH CAMP INTERNEE In 1978 she won the translation prize of the Poetry Society of America.

Jan Kott is the author of SHAKESPEARE OUR CONTEMPORARY, as well as THE THEATER OF ESSENCE and THE BOTTOM TRANSLATION.

 

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(05/25/2008) Selected Stories by Benny Andersen. Willimantic. 1983. Curbstone Press. One Of Denmark's Most Recognized Contemporary Authors. Various Translators. Paperback Original. keywords: Literature Translated Denmark Scandinavia. 97 pages. 0915306255.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   These six stories, one of which is a key chapter from his recently published novel, On The Bridge, constitute a representative cross-section of Andersen's narrative works to date. The author's sense of humor, which often borders on the grotesque, his acute observation of social dynamics, and his psychological insight into the human personality are combined in a sharp' focus on the dark side of human conduct.

 

 

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(05/24/2008) A Childhood by Harry Crews. New York. 1978. Harper & Row. keywords: Literature Autobiography America. 171 pages. Jacket design by Honi Werner. 0060109327. October 1978.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   A CHILDHOOD is the unforgettable memoir of Harry Crews's earliest years, a sharply remembered portrait of the people, locales, and circumstances that shaped him - and destined him to be a storyteller. Crews was born in the middle of the Great Depression, in a one-room sharecropper's cabin at the end of a dirt road in rural south Georgia. If Bacon County was a place of grinding poverty, poor soil, and blood feuds, it was also a deeply mystical place, where snakes talked, birds could possess a small boy by spitting in his mouth, and faith healers and conjure women kept ghosts and devils at bay. At once shocking and elegiac, heartrending and comical, A CHILDHOOD not only recalls the transforming events of Crews's youth but conveys his growing sense of self in a world 'in which survival depended on raw courage, a courage born out of desperation and sustained by a lack of alternatives.'

 

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(05/23/2008) The Hedgehog & The Fox by Isaiah Berlin. New York. 1957. New American Library/Mentor. keywords: Literature History Philosophy. M198. 128 pages. May 1957.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Man's Fate. Is man the captain of his destiny or is he the victim of inexorable forces which combine to crush his individuality? Does any man -- or woman -- really mold history? These pertinent questions which plagued the author of WAR AND PEACE are now brilliantly examined by the noted English scholar and philosopher, Isaiah Berlin, the editor of THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT: THE 18TH CENTURY PHILOSOPHERS.

 

 

 

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(05/22/2008) War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy. New York. 2007. Knopf. Translated From The Russian By Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky. keywords: Literature Russia Translated. 1273 pages. Jacket image: Cathedral Square in the Kremlin by Fyodor Alexeyev. October 2007.

Tolstoy's epic masterpiece in a new translation.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   From Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the best-selling, award-winning translators of ANNA KARENINA and THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, comes a brilliant, engaging, and eminently readable translation of Leo Tolstoy's master epic. WAR AND PEACE centers broadly on Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812, and follows three of the best-known characters in literature: Pierre Bezukhov, the illegitimate son of a count, who is fighting for his inheritance and yearning for spiritual fulfillment; Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, who leaves behind his family to fight in the war against Napoleon; and Natasha Rostov, the beautiful young daughter of a nobleman, who intrigues both men. As Napoleon's army invades, Tolstoy vividly follows characters from diverse backgrounds - peasants and nobility, civilians and soldiers - as they struggle with the problems unique to their era, their history, and their culture. And as the novel progresses, these characters transcend their specificity, becoming some of the most moving - and human - figures in world literature. Pevear and Volokhonsky have brought us this classic novel in a translation remarkable for its fidelity to Tolstoy's style and cadence and for its energetic, accessible prose. With stunning grace and precision, this new version of War and Peace is set to become the definitive English edition.

COUNT LEO TOLSTOY was born in central Russia. After serving in the Crimean War, he retired to his estate and devoted himself to writing, fanning, and raising his large family. His novels and outspoken social polemics brought him world fame.

Together, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have translated works by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and Gogol. They were twice awarded the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize, and their translation of Dostoevsky's DEMONS was one of three nominees for the same prize. They are married and live in France.

 

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(05/21/2008) Hotel Honolulu by Paul Theroux. Boston. 2001. Houghton Mifflin. keywords: Literature America Hawaii Honolulu. 424 pages. Jacket design by John Gall. Jacket photograph by Tommy Steele. 0618095012. May 2001.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Welcome to the Hotel Honolulu, a down-at-the-heels tourist place on a back street two blocks from the beach at Waikiki, where middle America stays and dreams. Like the Canterbury pilgrims, every guest in this eighty-room hotel has come in search of something - sun, love, happiness, unnamable longing - and everyone has a story. Honeymooners, vacationers, wanderers, mythomaniacs, soldiers, and families all land at the Hotel Honolulu. But the hotel is as suited to being a crime scene as a love nest. Fortunately, our keen-eyed narrator, a writer down on his luck, is there to relate all the comings and goings. He's lost money, friends, house, and family, and he has no experience running a hotel. But all that doesn't stop Buddy, the boozy owner of the place - the last of a dying breed - from signing him on as manager. It isn't long before the hotel expands to encompass the narrator's whole universe. His original plan of escape from a life of the mind becomes something altogether different: a way to return to the world he left, the world of imagined life. No one but Paul Theroux could write this romp of a book, with its acutely drawn characters and canny insights into a place that is often viewed as a simple island paradise. In this unforgettable novel, Theroux shows us a funny, languid floating world, island style. This is the essence of Hawaii as it has never been depicted, and it is also the heart of America.

 

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