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The Temple of Iconoclasts by J. Rodolfo Wilcock. Boston. 2014. David Godine/verba mundi. Translated by Lawrence Venuti. 5.5 × 8.5. 224 pages. October 2014. paperback. 9781567925302



9781567925302FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   ‘One of the greatest and strangest... writers of this century.’ – Roberto Bolaño. From an armchair in England, Rosenblum hatches a complicated plot to return the world to the year 1580—reintroducing ruffs, doublets, codpieces, and sundry period diseases. By sheer force of will, Littlefield discovers that he’s able to crystalize table salt into the shapes of ‘chickens and other small animals.’ Babson founds an international organization with the declared aim of annulling the law of gravity. These are only a few of the dozens of eccentrics, visionaries, and downright crackpots who populate the pages of Juan Rodolfo Wilcock’s charming fiction in the form of a biographical dictionary. Temple’s brief portraits blend mordant satire and profound imaginative sympathy, taking in the whole dazzling spectrum of human folly—including a handful of colors that only Wilcock’s Swiftian eye could possibly have perceived. ‘Rodolfo Wilcock is a legendary writer.... His greatest work, The Temple of Iconoclasts, is without a doubt one of the funniest, most joyful, irreverent, and most corrosive books of the twentieth century... a festive, laugh-out-loud read... a writer whom no good reader should miss.’ – Roberto Bolaño. ‘Fictitious histories so engaging as to seem true and true histories so amusing as to seem fictitious.’ – Roberto Calasso, author of The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony. ‘Compellingly whimsical, alienated, pseudo-scientific, bizarre: all these adjectives describe this fiction in the form of a short reference work, the first book by admired Argentinian-Italian novelist Wilcock to be published in English…Venuti renders Wilcock’s Italian into lucid, captivating English, and offers a biographical introduction. [Perfect for] lovers of postmodern mind games.’ – Publishers Weekly..

Wilcock Juan Rodolfo Born in Buenos Aires in 1919, Juan Rodolfo Wilcock was a member of the circle of innovative writers that included Borges and Bioy Casares. Self-exiled in Rome, he became a leading Italian writer, publishing numerous books of poetry, journalism, fiction, and translation.

Lawrence Venuti is a distinguished translator and historian. His recent translations include I.U. Tarchetti’s Gothic romance, Fosca, Antonia Pozzi’s Breath: Poems and Letters, and Ernest Farrés’s Edward Hopper: Poems, which won the Robert Fagles Translation Prize.




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Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf. New York. 1998. Signet/New American Library. Introduction By David Denby. 204 pages. January 1998. CE2665. paperback. Cover: Vanessa Bell. 0451526651




0451526651   The publication of Jacob's Room in 1922 marked a turning point in Virginia Woolf's career - and in the evolution of the English novel. Based on her own brother Thoby, who died in 1906, Jacob's Room follows the life of a fatherless boy, Jacob Flanders, from his childhood until his tragic death during World War I. Unlike her more traditional first novel, The Voyage Out, this novel is poetic, nearly plotless, and focuses on a flow of random impressions through the minds of its characters. A crab in a tidal pool, an unsuccessful dinner at a professor's house, a conversation about Greece, all become crucial reflections of human experience, revealing larger landscapes of sensibilities, values, and passions. So exquisitely crafted that both the universal qualities of youth and the uniqueness of one young man become powerfully fused, Jacob's Room is Woolf's first stream - of - consciousness novel - nonlinear, experimental, and possessing an ending that is among the most moving in all of English literature. E. M. Forster wrote that with Jacob's Room, 'a new type of fiction has swum into view.' It remains a pivotal work in the development of the novel form and a testament to Woolf's genius and literary daring. Cover painting: Vanessa Bell, Interior With Duncan Grant, 1934. Williamson Art Gallery & Museum.


Woolf VirginiaAdeline Virginia Woolf (25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941) was an English writer and one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century. During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One's Own (1929), with its famous dictum, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." Woolf suffered from severe bouts of mental illness throughout her life, thought to have been the result of what is now termed bipolar disorder, and committed suicide by drowning in 1941 at the age of 59.




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Night Roamers and Other Stories by Knut Hamsun. Seattle. 1992. Fjord Press. Translated from the Norwegian by Tiina Nunnally. 156 pages. hardcover. Cover painting by Edvard Munch, Evening on Karl Johan, 1892. Oil on canvas, 84.5 x 121 cm. Rasmus Meyer's Collections, Bergen; courtesy of Oslo Kommunes Kinstamlinger, Munch-Museet, Oslo. (original title: Livsfragmenter, 1988 - Gyldendal Norsk Forlag). 0940242249.





   Lesser-known stories by the Norwegian Nobel laureate. Hamsun explores familiar themes of spiritual hunger, youthful searching, madness, illness and death in turn-of-the-century Norway through protagonists whose experiences (and complaints) mirror his own.

Hamsun Knut KNUT HAMSUN was born in 1859 in the Gudbransdal Valley of central Norway, and died in 1952, at the age of ninety-three. In 1920 he was awarded the Nobel Prize.





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The Harder They Come by T. Coraghessan Boyle. New York. 2015. Ecco Press. 385 pages. March 2015. hardcover. Jacket art & design by Jim Tierney. 9780062349378.




Acclaimed New York Times bestselling author T.C. Boyle makes his Ecco debut with a powerful, gripping novel that explores the roots of violence and anti-authoritarianism inherent in the American character. Set in contemporary Northern California, The Harder They Come explores the volatile connections between three damaged people—an aging ex-Marine and Vietnam veteran, his psychologically unstable son, and the son's paranoid, much older lover—as they careen towards an explosive confrontation. On a vacation cruise to Central America with his wife, seventy-year-old Sten Stensen unflinchingly kills a gun-wielding robber menacing a busload of senior tourists. The reluctant hero is relieved to return home to Fort Bragg, California, after the ordeal—only to find that his delusional son, Adam, has spiraled out of control. Adam has become involved with Sara Hovarty Jennings, a hardened member of the Sovereign Citizens’ Movement, right-wing anarchists who refuse to acknowledge the laws and regulations of the state, considering them to be false and non-applicable. Adam’s senior by some fifteen years, Sara becomes his protector and inamorata. As Adam's mental state fractures, he becomes increasingly schizophrenic—a breakdown that leads him to shoot two people in separate instances. On the run, he takes to the woods, spurring the biggest manhunt in California history. As he explores a father’s legacy of violence and his powerlessness in relating to his equally violent son, T. C. Boyle offers unparalleled psychological insights into the American psyche. Inspired by a true story, The Harder They Come is a devastating and indelible novel from a modern master.

 Boyle T CoraghessanTom Coraghessan Boyle (born Thomas John Boyle; also known as T.C. Boyle; born December 2, 1948) is an American novelist and short story writer. Since the mid-1970s, he has published fourteen novels and more than 100 short stories. He won the PEN/Faulkner award in 1988, for his third novel, World's End, which recounts 300 years in upstate New York. He is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California.





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Pan: From Lieutenant Thomas Glahn’s papers by Knut Hamsun. New York. 1956. Noonday Press. Translated Form The Norwegian by James W. McFarlane. 192 pages. paperback.





   Of Knut Hamsun, Rebecca West has said, ‘Hamsun has the qualities that belong to the very great, the completest omniscience about human nature.’ These qualities are nowhere better exemplified than in the great novel of his youth, PAN. A startlingly dramatic story, set in the Northern wilderness, the book created a world sensation when it was first published in Denmark. It tells of the summer romance of Lieutenant Thomas Glahn, who is vacationing in the North, and Edvarda Mack, the spoiled young daughter of the wealthy man of the district. Edvarda’s coquetry acts upon Glahn’s perverse, destructive nature so as to turn what has, begun as an idyll into a tragedy. This, however, is the way of the forest, and, for Hamsun, Edvarda and Glahn become symbols of the irrational passions that motivate existence. This translation by James W. McFarlane has been widely praised: ‘An excellent new translation.’ - ARTHUR KOESTLER, Sunday Times. ‘A great improvement on the earlier one.’ - The Observer.

Hamsun Knut  KNUT HAMSUN was born in 1859 in the Gudbransdal Valley of central Norway, and died in 1952, at the age of ninety-three. In 1920 he was awarded the Nobel Prize.




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Night Journey by Maria Negroni. Princeton. 2002. Princeton University Press. Translated from the Spanish by Anne Twitty. Lockert Library of Poetry in Translation - Richard Howard, Series Editor. 144 pages. paperback. 069109098x.





   One of South America’s most celebrated contemporary poets takes us on a fantastic voyage to mysterious lands and seas, into the psyche, and to the heart of the poem itself. Night Journey is the English-language debut of the work that won María Negroni an Argentine National Book Award. It is a book of dreams—dreams she renders with surreal beauty that recalls the work of her compatriot Alejandra Pizarnik, with the penetrating subtlety of Borges and Calvino. In sixty-two tightly woven prose poems, Negroni deftly infuses haunting imagery with an ironic, personal spirituality. Effortlessly she navigates the nameless subject to the slopes of the Himalayas, to a bar in Buenos Aires, through war, from icy Scandinavian landscapes to the tropics, across seas, toward a cemetery in the wake of Napoleon’s hearse, by train, by taxis headed in unrequested directions, past mirrors and birds, between life and death. Night Journey reflects a mastery of a traditional form while brilliantly expressing a modern condition: the multicultural, multifaceted individual, ever in motion. Displacement abounds: a ‘medieval tabard’ where a pelvis should be, a ‘lipless grin,’ a ‘beach severed from the ocean.’ In one poem ‘nomadic cities’ whisk past. In another, smiling cockroaches loom in a visiting mother’s eyes. Anne Twitty, whose elegant translations are accompanied by the Spanish originals, remarks in her preface that the book’s ‘indomitable literary intelligence’ subdues an unspoken terror—helplessness. Yet, as observed by the angel Gabriel, the consoling voice of wisdom, only by accepting the journey for what it is can one discover its ‘hidden splendor,’ the ‘invisible center of the poem.’ As readers of this magnificent work will discover, this is a journey that, because its every fleeting image conjures a thousand words of fertile silence, can be savored again and again.



Negroni Maria  María Negroni was born October 9, 1951 in Rosario, Argentina. She has published eleven books of poetry, three collections of essays, and two novels, as well as works in translation from French and English. Her work has appeared internationally in literary journals, including Diario de Poesía, Página 12, The Paris Review, Circumference, and Bomb, among others. She has been awarded two Argentine National Book Awards, for her collection of essays Ciudad Gótica (1996) and her poetry collection Viaje de la noche (1997). Her book of poems Islandia, in Anne Twitty’s translation, received a PEN Translation Award in 2001. She has been a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Fundación Octavio Paz, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and others. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. Winner of the following awards - International Prize for Essay Writing from Siglo XXI, 2002 PEN Award for best book of poetry in translation, for Islandia, 2000-2001 Octavio Paz Fellowship for Poetry, 1997 Argentine National Book Award, for El viaje de la noche, 1994 Guggenheim Fellowships.






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From Guernica to Human Rights: Essays on the Spanish Civil War by Peter N. Carroll. Kent. 2015. Kent State University Press. 6 x 9. illustrations, notes, index. 216 pages. April 2015. hardcover. 9781606352380.




9781606352380FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The best essays by one of the leading experts on the Spanish Civil War. The Spanish Civil War, a military rebellion supported by Hitler and Mussolini, attracted the greatest writers of the age. Among them were Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, André Malraux, Arthur Koestler, Langston Hughes, and Martha Gellhorn. They returned to their homelands to warn the world about a war of fascist aggression looming on the horizon. Spain’s cause drew 35,000 volunteers from 52 countries, including 2,800 Americans who formed the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Eight hundred Americans lost their lives. Of them, Hemingway wrote, ‘no men entered earth more honorably than those who died in Spain.’ Writers and soldiers alike saw Spain as the first battlefield of World War II. In the title essay of this book, historian Peter N. Carroll traces the war’s legacy, from the shocking bombing of the Basque town of Guernica by German and Italian air forces to the attacks on civilians and displacement of refugees in later wars. Carroll’s work focuses on both the personal and political motives that led seemingly ordinary Americans to risk their lives in a foreign war. Based on extensive oral histories of surviving veterans and original archival work—including material in the once-secret Moscow archives—the essays, some never before published, present forty years of scholarship. A portrait of three American women illustrates the growing awareness of a fascist threat to our home front. Other pieces examine the role of ethnicity, race, and religion in prompting Americans to set off for war. Carroll also examines the lives of war survivors. Novelist Alvah Bessie became a screenwriter and emerged as one of the blacklisted ‘Hollywood Ten.’ Ralph Fasanella went from union organizing to becoming one of the country’s significant ‘outsider’ painters. Hank Rubin won fame as a food connoisseur and wine columnist. And one volunteer, the African American Sgt. Edward Carter, earned a Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism in World War II. Most famously, Ernest Hemingway wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls. His sharp criticism of the film version of the novel, in a series of private letters published here for the first time in book form, reveals his deep commitment to the antifascist cause. For those who witnessed the war in Spain, the defeat of democracy remained, in the words of Albert Camus, ‘a wound in the heart.’ From Guernica to Human Rights is essential reading for anyone interested in the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath.

 Carroll Peter N Peter N. Carroll has written several books about the Spanish Civil War, including The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade; Letters from the Spanish Civil War: A U.S. Volunteer Writes Home (edited with Fraser Ottanelli; The Kent State University Press, 2013); and War is Beautiful: An American Ambulance Driver in the Spanish Civil War by James Neugass (edited with Peter Glazer). He is Chair Emeritus of the Board of Governors of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives and editor of the quarterly The Volunteer. He teaches history at Stanford University.




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The Neverfield Poem by Nathalie Handal. Sausalito. 1999. Post-Apollo Press. 57 pages. paperback. Cover by The Set Up, London. 0942996356.




   ‘The Neverfield is a work which insists on itself. It is poetry of a shining quality from a poet whose voice is sure and unafraid.’ - Lucille Clifton. ‘The Neverfield is an epic journey, a passionate search for beauty and truth. If beauty is truth, and truth is beauty, the poems in this volume lead us once again to that realization. The Neverfield is an enchanting work, sharing with us a poet’s true vision.’ - Rudolfo Anaya. ‘Nathalie Handal’s poems in her collection The Neverfield are wide as breath, lyrically Linked as an elegantly stitched Palestinian bodice, and dreamily, deeply evocative as the stories that never leave us from the first time we hear them.’ - Naomi Shihab Nye. ‘As I turned the pages of this work, I was reminded of how vast the universe is. The Neverfield is everlasting by nature. After reading it, I breathed deeply and praised the word. This is a holistic piece of work.’ - Benjamin Zephaniah.

 Handal Nathalie Nathalie Handal (born 29 July 1969) is an American award-winning poet, writer, and playwright. Nathalie Handal was born in Haiti to parents of Palestinian descent, and grew up in Pétionville. Having also lived in Europe, the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean, the writer-poet-playwright is acutely aware of the commonality of the human experience and of the fact that ‘we don't exist in the jointed way that we should.’ She feels this most in the US's ‘material consumerist society,’ while in places like Africa and Latin America political unrest and a certain type of hardship forces you to look outside, beyond ourselves and the small space we live in. ‘Today I feel deeply connected to the world. Yes, I am Palestinian, but I am also French, Latina, and American.’ The cadence of Nathalie Handal’s voice resembles her nomadic life. ‘I don’t have a mother tongue. I grew up speaking many languages, and these different languages have slipped into my English. My English is cross-fertilized with French, Spanish, Arabic, Creole….I love the idea of a bridge of words, a bridge of poems connecting us….showing us what it’s like to be human,’ she says. Her voice has the mellifluous tinge of a French accent, due to her upbringing in her native Haiti where French is the official language, and maintained with her residence in Paris. She earned a MFA in Creative Writing from Bennington College, Vermont and a MPhil in English and Drama at Queen Mary University of London. She visited Bethlehem for the first time as a teenager. She became interested in the writing of Arab women in the 1990s. She has residences in both New York City and Paris. Handal is the author of four books of poetry, several plays and the editor of two anthologies. She is a Lannan Foundation Fellow, a Fundación Araguaney Fellow, recipient of the Alejo Zuloaga Order in Literature 2011, the AE Ventures Fellowship, an Honored Finalist for the 2009 Gift of Freedom Award, and was shortlisted for New London Writers Awards and The Arts Council of England Writers Awards. She has also been involved as a writer, director, or producer in over twelve theatrical or film productions. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines, such as The Guardian, World Literature Today, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Poetrywales, Ploughshares, Poetry New Zealand, Crab Orchard Review, and The Literary Review; and has been translated into more than fifteen languages. She was the featured poet in the PBS NewsHour on April 20, 2009. Her book The Lives of Rain was shortlisted for the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and received the Menada Literary Award. Her latest poetry book, Love and Strange Horses, is the winner of the 2011 Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY Award), and an Honorable Mention at the San Francisco Book Festival and the New England Book Festival. Poet in Andalucía (2012) consists of ‘poems of depth and weight, and the sorrowing song of longing and resolve.’ Handal has promoted international literature through translation and research, and edited The Poetry of Arab Women, an anthology that introduced several Arab women poets to a wider audience in the West and is used in university classes around the U.S. It was an Academy of American Poets bestseller and won the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award. She co-edited along with Tina Chang and Ravi Shankar the anthology Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond. She was Picador Guest Professor at Leipzig University, Germany, and is currently teaching a translation workshop at Columbia University and part of the Low-Residency MFA faculty at Sierra Nevada College. Handal wrote a blog in 2010 called ‘The City and The Writer’, for the online magazine Words Without Borders. She has also written a piece based upon a book of the King James Bible as part of the Bush Theatre's 2011 project Sixty-Six Books. Handal writes in English, but uses Arabic, French and Spanish phrases in conversation. Her story ‘Umm Kulthoum at Midnight’ was described as a ‘daring and sensual story about the hypocrisies underlying Arabic morals and traditions.’ In her collection Poet in Andalucía she goes back to Islamic Spain where she believes Christians, Jews, and Muslims lived in relative harmony and the fates of Jews and Muslims were similar. In an interview in 2001, Handal said that since ‘many Israelis and Palestinians interact on a daily basis’ this makes ‘them no longer strangers to each other. They know each other, even if often they do not agree with each other. There are many similarities between the two people.’ She continued, and said that ‘however, for many Jewish-Americans, Palestinians are ‘the Other.’ [Jewish-Americans] often do not realize how closely linked the two people are.’ Since January 12, 2010, Haiti has been an open wound. Her visit on February 21, 2011, 25 years since being in Haiti (except for two brief entrances), a young girl at the time was seemingly exempt from the turmoil that led to the overthrow of Baby Doc and the chaotic aftermath of his regime. Remembering her youth in Haiti brought up images of hopscotch in school courtyards, of school uniforms, of eating mangoes and drinking fresco (ice with flavored syrup) in Pétionville. A study by the Inter-American Development Bank reported that before the earthquake nearly half the school-age children did not go to school, only one-fifth of teachers had any pedagogical training, three-quarters of schools were unaccredited, and more than half lacked running water. The earthquake destroyed 5,213 schools (4,820 in the West, 154 in Nippes, and 239 in the South-East). Before the earthquake, Handal wrote a poem about her experience in Haiti entitled, The Cry of Flesh, where she writes about the island, its struggles but yet its rich culture and mentions musician Sweet Mickey dancing in the streets of Port-au-Prince, whose real name is Michel Martelly, the former compas musician and the current President of Haiti.




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Tales of Love & Loss by Knut Hamsun. London. 1997. Souvenir Press. Translated from the Norwegian by Robert Ferguson. 224 pages. paperback. 028563383x.




   These 20 short stories are fascinating companions to Hamsun’s classic novels and contain echoes of the greater works he would later write and for which he was ultimately awarded the Nobel Prize. Alive with humor, melancholy, tenderness, and lawlessness, as well as sparkling with psychological insights, these stories have never been published in the United States until now.

Hamsun Knut

 KNUT HAMSUN was born in 1859 in the Gudbransdal Valley of central Norway, and died in 1952, at the age of ninety-three. Among his best-known works are HUNGER, MYSTERIES, PAN, and GROWTH OF THE SOIL. In 1920 he was awarded the Nobel Prize.




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home to harlem no dw Home To Harlem by Claude McKay. New York. 1928. Harper & Brothers. 340 pages.




   Jake is on the run. After serving overseas with the U. S. Army, he goes AWOL and makes his own way back home to Harlem. Back to the life he had before. Back to the basement joints, pool rooms and rent parties. Back to brown breasts throbbing with love and brown lips full and pouted for sweet kissing. No hero's welcome awaits him. Only the same hard-drinking, hard-living scrabble for love and a home that he left behind. In this world of gamblers, loan sharks, lonely women and rivals in love, Jake seems to have it all. But the women of Harlem aren't the only ones keen to make this fine-looking soldier their man. Uncle Sam wants him too!.








McKay Claude Claude McKay was a Jamaican writer and communist. He was part of the Harlem Renaissance and wrote three novels: Home to Harlem, a best-seller which won the Harmon Gold Award for Literature, Banjo, and Banana Bottom McKay also authored a collection of short stories, Gingertown, and two autobiographical books, A Long Way from Home and Harlem: Negro Metropolis His book of poetry, Harlem Shadows was among the first books published during the Harlem Renaissance. His book of collected poems, Selected Poems, was published posthumously. Born in James Hill, Clarendon, Jamaica, McKay was the youngest in the family. His father, Thomas McKay, was a peasant, but had enough property to qualify to vote. Claude McKay came to the attention of Walter Jekyll, who helped him publish his first book of poems, Songs of Jamaica, in 1912. These were the first poems published in Patois He was educated by his elder brother. McKay's next volume, Constab Ballads, came out the same year and were based on his experience as a police officer in Jamaica. He also left for the U. S. that year, going to Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute. McKay was shocked by the intense racism he encountered in Charleston, South Carolina, where many public facilities were segregated. Disliking the 'semi-military, machinelike existence there', McKay quickly left to study at Kansas State University. His political involvement dates from these days. He also read W. E. B. Du Bois' Souls of Black Folk, which had a major impact on him. Despite doing well in exams, in 1914 McKay decided he did not want to be an agronomist and went to New York, where he married his childhood sweetheart Eulalie Lewars. However, she grew weary of life in New York and returned to Jamaica in six months. McKay had two poems published in 1917 in Seven Arts under the pseudonym Eli Edwards. However, McKay continued to work as a waiter on the railways. In 1919 he met Crystal and Max Eastman, who produced The Liberator It was here that he published one of his most famous poems, 'If We Must Die', during the 'Red Summer', a period of intense racial violence against black people in Anglo-American societies. This was among a page of his poetry which signaled the commencement of his life as a professional writer. During McKay's time with The Liberator, he had affairs with both men and women, including Waldo Frank and Edward Arlington Robinson. Details on his relationships are few. McKay became involved with a group of black radicals who were unhappy both with Marcus Garvey's nationalism and the middle class reformist NAACP. These included the African Caribbeans Cyril Briggs, Richard B. Moore and Wilfrid Domingo. They fought for black self-determination within the context of socialist revolution. Together they founded the semi-secret revolutionary organisation, the African Blood Brotherhood. McKay soon left for London, England. Hubert Harrison had asked McKay to write for Garvey's Negro World, but only a few copies of the paper have survived from this period, none of which contain any articles by McKay. He used to frequent a soldier's club in Drury Lane and the International Socialist Club in Shoreditch. It was during this period that McKay's commitment to socialism deepened and he read Marx assiduously. At the International Socialist Club, McKay met Shapurji Saklatvala, A. J. Cook, Guy Aldred, Jack Tanner, Arthur McManus, William Gallacher, Sylvia Pankhurst and George Lansbury. He was soon invited to write for the Workers' Dreadnought. In 1920 the Daily Herald, a socialist paper published by George Lansbury, included a racist article written by E. D. Morel. Entitled 'Black Scourge in Europe: Sexual Horror Let Loose by France on the Rhine', it insinuated gross hypersexuality on African people in general, but Lansbury refused to print McKay's response. This response then appeared in Workers' Dreadnought. This started his regular involvement with Workers' Dreadnought and the Workers' Socialist Federation, a Council Communist group active in the East End and which had a majority of women involved in it at all levels of the organisation. He became a paid journalist for the paper; some people claim he was the first black journalist in Britain. He attended the Communist Unity Conference which established the Communist Party of Great Britain. At this time he also had some of his poetry published in the Cambridge Magazine, edited by C. K. Ogden. When Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested under the Defence of the Realm Act for publishing articles 'calculated and likely to cause sedition amongst His Majesty's forces, in the Navy, and among the civilian population,' McKay had his rooms searched. He is likely to have been the author of 'The Yellow peril and the Dockers' attributed to Leon Lopez, which was one of the articles cited by the government in its case against the Workers' Dreadnought. In 1928 McKay published his most famous novel, Home to Harlem, which won the Harmon Gold Award for Literature. The novel, which depicted street life in Harlem, would have a major impact on black intellectuals in the Caribbean, West Africa, and Europe. Despite this, the book drew fire from one of McKay's heroes, W. E. B. Du Bois. To Du Bois, the novel's frank depictions of sexuality and the nightlife in Harlem only appealed to the 'prurient demand[s]' of white readers and publishers looking for portrayals of black 'licentiousness. ' As Du Bois said, 'Home to Harlem. for the most part nauseates me, and after the dirtier parts of its filth I feel distinctly like taking a bath. ' Modern critics now dismiss this criticism from Du Bois, who was more concerned with using art as propaganda in the struggle for African American political liberation than in the value of art to showcase the truth about the lives of black people. McKay's other novels were Banjo, and Banana Bottom McKay also authored a collection of short stories, Gingertown, and two autobiographical books, A Long Way from Home and Harlem: Negro Metropolis His book of collected poems, Selected Poems, was published posthumously. Becoming disillusioned with communism, McKay embraced the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and was baptized. He died from a heart attack at the age of 59.






Home To Harlem by Claude McKay. Boston. 1987. Northeastern University Press. paperback. 340 pages. Cover design by Ann Twombly. Cover illustration by Michael McCurdy. Foreword by Wayne F. Cooper. 1555530249.






   First published in 1928 and long out of print, this classic novel gives voice to the alienation and frustration of urban blacks during an era when Harlem was in vogue. With sensual, often brutal accuracy, Claude McKay traces the parallel paths of two very different young men struggling to find their way through the suspicion and prejudice of American society in the early twentieth century. At the same time, this stark but moving story touches on the central themes of the Harlem Renaissance, including the urgent need for unity and identity among ordinary blacks - for a common thread even though ‘we ain’t nonetall the same.’ ‘A notable contribution, this, to American literature.’ - Chicago Daily Tribune. ‘Here is realism, stark, awful but somehow beautiful. McKay has left no stone unturned, no detail unmentioned in this telling of things as they are.’ - New York Herald Tribune. ‘Home to Harlem is a book to invoke pity and terror.’ – Bookman.




Claude McKay, one of the pioneers of the Harlem Renaissance, wrote several critically acclaimed works of poetry, fiction, and autobiography. Although he lived in New York City for much of his life, McKay produced many of his major books in Europe, the Soviet Union, and North Africa during the 1920s and early 1930s. He died penniless in a Chicago hospital in 1948.

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The Guermantes Way by Marcel Proust. New York. 2004. Viking Press. Newly Translated from the French by Mark Treharne. 619 pages. June 2004. hardcover. Jacket photograph by Ralph Gibson. 0670033170.







   Viking Press’s In Search of Lost Time is the first completely new translation of Proust’s masterwork since the 1920s. Under Christopher Prendergast’s general editorship, these superb editions bring us a more rich, comic, and lucid Proust than American readers have previously been able to enjoy. After the relative intimacy of the first two volumes of In Search of Lost Time, The Guermantes Way opens up a vast, dazzling landscape of fashionable Parisian life in the late nineteenth century as the narrator enters the brilliant, shallow world of the literary and aristocratic salons. Both a salute to and a devastating satire of a time, place, and culture, The Guermantes Way defines the great tradition of novels that follow the initiation of a young man into the ways of the world.





Proust MarcelMARCEL PROUST was born in Auteuil in 1871. In his twenties, following a year in the army, he became a conspicuous society figure, frequenting the most fashionable Paris salons of the day. After 1899, however, his chronic asthma, the death of his parents, and his growing disillusionment with humanity caused him to lead an increasingly retired life. From 1907 on, he rarely emerged from a cork-lined room in his apartment on boulevard Haussmann. There he insulated himself against the distractions of city life and the effects of trees and flowers-though he loved them, they brought on his attacks of asthma. He slept by day and worked by night, writing letters and devoting himself to the completion of In Search of Lost Time. He died in 1922.



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Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History; a Play in Three Acts by C. L. R. James. Durham. 2013. Duke University Press. Edited and introduced by Christian Høgsbjerg. With a foreword by Laurent Dubois. 224 pages. paperback. Cover: The British Library Board, ‘The Sketch’, 25 March 1936, pg 613. 9780822353140.


   In 1934 C. L. R. James, the widely known Trinidadian intellectual, writer, and political activist, wrote the play Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History, which was presumed lost until the rediscovery of a draft copy in 2005. The play's production, performed in 1936 at London's Westminster Theatre with a cast including the American star Paul Robeson, marked the first time black professional actors starred on the British stage in a play written by a black playwright. This edition includes the program, photographs, and reviews from that production, a contextual introduction and editorial notes on the play by Christian Hogsbjerg, and selected essays and letters by James and others. In Toussaint Louverture, James demonstrates the full tragedy and heroism of Louverture by showing how the Haitian revolutionary leader is caught in a dramatic conflict arising from the contradiction between the barbaric realities of New World slavery and the modern ideals of the Enlightenment. In his portrayal of the Haitian Revolution, James aspired to vindicate black accomplishments in the face of racism and to support the struggle for self-government in his native Caribbean. Toussaint Louverture is an indispensable companion work to The Black Jacobins (1938), James's classic account of Haiti's revolutionary struggle for liberation. This edition of Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History includes the program, photographs, and reviews from its 1936 production at London's Westminster Theatre, a contextual introduction and editorial notes on the play by Christian Hogsbjerg, and selected essays and letters by James and others.

James C L R Cyril Lionel Robert James (4 January 1901–19 May 1989) was an Afro-Trinidadian journalist, socialist theorist and writer. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, then a British Crown colony, James attended Queen’s Royal College in Port of Spain before becoming a cricket journalist, and also an author of fiction. He would later work as a school teacher, teaching among others the young Eric Williams. Together with Ralph de Boissière, Albert Gomes and Alfred Mendes, James was a member of the anti-colonialist Beacon Group, a circle of writers associated with The Beacon magazine.

Christian Høgsbjerg is a historian who lectures at Leeds Metropolitan University.



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Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans. Baltimore. 1959. Penguin Books. A new translation from the French by Robert Baldick. With An Introduction by Robert Baldick. 220 pages. L86. paperback.

penguin against nature l86FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   First published in 1884, Huysmans’ A Rebours caused a sensation. Oscar Wilde made it a textbook for Dorian Gray, observing: ‘It was the strangest book that he had ever read’. The novel recounts the exotic practices and perverse pleasures of Due Jean Floressas des Esseintes, a wealthy aesthete in search of an elusive ideal. In his neurotic sensibility, his passion for novelty, Des Esseintes foreshadows every unhappy, solitary hero of the twentieth century; he epitomizes the spiritual anguish of modern times. Robert Baldick’s translation preserves the richness and complexity of Huysmans’ style, making this unique work fascinating reading.

  Charles-Marie-Georges Huysmans (February 5, 1848 – May 12, 1907) was a French novelist who published his works as Joris-Karl Huysmans. He is most famous for the novel À rebours (1884, published in English as Against the Grain or Against Nature). He supported himself by a 30-year career in the French civil service. Huysmans' work is considered remarkable for its idiosyncratic use of the French language, large vocabulary, descriptions, satirical wit and far-ranging erudition. First considered part of Naturalism in literature, he became associated with the decadent movement with his publication of À rebours. His work expressed his deep Huysmans Joris Karlpessimism, which had led him to the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. In later years, his novels reflected his study of Catholicism, religious conversion, and becoming an oblate. He discussed the iconography of Christian architecture at length in La cathédrale (1898), set at Chartres and with its cathedral as the focus of the book. Là-bas (1891), En route (1895) and La cathédrale (1898) are a trilogy that feature Durtal, an autobiographical character whose spiritual progress is tracked and who converts to Catholicism. In the novel that follows, L'Oblat (1903), Durtal becomes an oblate in a monastery, as Huysmans himself was in the Benedictine Abbey at Ligugé, near Poitiers, in 1901. La cathédrale was his most commercially successful work. Its profits enabled Huysmans to retire from his civil service job and live on his royalties.




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The Sad End of Policarpo Quaresma by Lima Barreto. New York. 2014. Penguin Books. Translated from the Portuguese by Mark Carlyon. With an introduction by Lilia Moritz Schwarcz. 242 pages. paperback. Cover: detail from photograph by Harriet Chalmers Adams, c.1920. First published in Rio de Janeiro in 1911 as Triste Fim de Policarpo Quaresma. 9780141395708.


9780141395708    'The seed of madness exists in all of us and with no warning may attack, overpower, crush and bury us. .' Policarpo Quaresma - fastidious civil servant, dedicated patriot, self-styled visionary - is a defender of all things Brazilian, full of schemes to improve his beloved homeland. Yet somehow each of his ventures, whether it is petitioning for Brazil's national language to be changed, buying a farm to prove the richness and fertility of the land, or offering support to government forces as they suppress a military revolt - results in ridicule and disaster. Quixotic and hapless, Quaresma's dreams will eventually be his undoing. Funny, despairing, moving and absurd, Lima Barreto's masterpiece shows a man and a country caught in the violent clash between illusion and reality, hope and decline, sanity and madness.

Also published in England in 1978 by Rex Collins as The Patriot and translated from the Portuguese by Robert Scott-Buccleuch. 216 pages. hardcover. Jacket by Poty. 0860360601.


  THE PATRIOT (Triste fim de Policarpo Quaresma) is unquestionably Lima Barreto’s greatest work. It is not merely because of the unforgettable character he has created, but because it is written with restraint and good-humored tolerance that is scarcely to be found in any of his other novels, He has disciplined the passionate outbursts, curbed the bitterness of his satire and avoided personal attacks on his individuals, unless we so qualify his masterly portrait of the national hero, Floriano Peixoto. The novel embraces a great deal of Brazilian life, a great deal that is typically Brazilian, Some characters and incidents may appear grotesque and exaggerated, for example such incidents as the civilian bystander being allowed to fire a gun at the enemy; to Caldas trying to find his ship; to Quaresma’s petition to Congress. Alfonso Henriques de Lima Barreto was born of mulatto parents in 1881. His father, a master typesetter, sent him to one of the best schools in Rio de Janeiro and then to the polytechnic, determined that he should become an engineer. But before he could graduate his father went mad and Lima Barreto was forced to leave school in order to support the family. He took a job as a minor civil servant. Then began to write; publishing his first novel in Lisbon in 1909. This novel is Isaias Caminha was not well received in Rio-its bitter satire of established and easily recognizable figures was much resented. He aroused hostility in the literary and Bohemian circles of the capital, To escape from the indifference of his fellow writers and the drudgery of his work as a civil servant, he took increasingly to drink, becoming a hopeless alcoholic eventually-even spending two periods confined in an asylum. Drink ruined his health and he died in 1922 at the early age of 41. Whoever knows Brazil today knows that this is Brazil. Whoever knows Brazil today knows that Doctor Campos, General Albernaz, Ricardo Coracao dos Outros, Armando Borges, Genelicio and Policarpo Quaresma as well as all the others in this rich gallery are as alive today as they were half a century ago.

Barreto Lima  Afonso Henriques de Lima Barreto (May 13, 1881 - November 1, 1922) was a Brazilian novelist and journalist. A major figure on the Brazilian Pre-Modernism, he is famous for the novel Triste Fim de Policarpo Quaresma, a bitter satire of the first years of the República Velha in Brazil. Lima Barreto was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1881, to João Henriques de Lima Barreto and Amália Augusta. His father was a typographer and a monarchist who had close connections to Afonso Celso de Assis Figueiredo, the Viscount of Ouro Preto, who would later become Lima Barreto's godfather. Barreto's mother died when he was very young, and he was subsequently sent to study at a private school run by Teresa Pimentel do Amaral. Soon after, he entered at the Liceu Popular Niteroiense, after the Viscount of Ouro Preto decided to pay for his studies. He graduated in 1894, and in the following year, he would enter the famous Colégio Pedro II. Soon after he graduated, he entered the Escola Politécnica do Rio de Janeiro, but was forced to abandon it in 1904 in order to take care of his brothers, since his father's mental health was starting to deteriorate. Barreto used to write for newspapers since 1902, but he achieved fame in 1905, writing for the Correio da Manhã a series of articles regarding the demolition of Castle Hill. In 1911 he founded, alongside some friends, a periodical named Floreal. Although it only lasted for two issues, it received a warm reception by the critics. In 1909 he published his first novel, Recordações do Escrivão Isaías Caminha, a contundent and semi-autobiographical satire of the Brazilian society. However, his masterpiece was Triste Fim de Policarpo Quaresma, that was published in 1911, under feuilleton form, being re-released under hardcover form in 1915. During his last years of life, Barreto was attacked by heavy crisis of depression, which led him to alcoholism and many internations on different psychiatric hospitals and sanatoriums. He died of a heart attack in 1922.



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You Disappear by Christian Jungersen. New York. 2014. Doubleday. Translated from the Danish by Misha Hoekstra. 339 pages. hardcover. Jacket design by Michael J. Windsor. 9780385537254.


   A riveting psychological drama that challenges the way we understand others--and our own sense of self. Mia is a schoolteacher in Denmark. Her husband, Frederik, is the charismatic headmaster of a local private school. During a vacation on Majorca, they discover that a brain tumor has started to change Frederik's personality. As it becomes harder and harder for Mia to recognize him, she must protect herself and their teenage son from the strange, blunted being who now inhabits her husband's body--and with whom she must share her home, her son, and her bed. When millions of crowns go missing at the private school, Frederik is the obvious culprit, and Mia's private crisis quickly draws in the entire community. Frederick's new indifference and lack of inhibition rupture long-standing friendships, isolating Mia and making her question who Frederik really is. Was the tumor already affecting him during the years they had been so happy together? And does it excuse Frederik from fraud? Mia enlists the help of a lawyer named Bernhard, whom she meets in a support group for spouses of people with brain injuries. As they prepare Frederik's defense, the two of them wrestle with the latest brain research, the age-old question of free will--and their growing attraction to each other. Jungersen's lithe prose and unexpected plot twists will keep readers hooked until the very last page.

Jungersen Christian  Christian Jungersen (born 10 July 1962 in Copenhagen) is a Danish novelist whose works have been translated into 18 languages. He has published three novels in Danish – Krat (1999), Undtagelsen (2004, published as The Exception in 2006), and Du Forsvinder (2012, scheduled to be published as You Disappear in 2014). Jungersen earned a master’s in communication and social science from Roskilde University. Before publishing his first novel, he taught film at Folkeuniversitetet, an open university in Copenhagen. He also worked as an advertising copywriter, a manuscript consultant, and a TV screenwriter. Over the past decade he has divided his time among the US, Ireland, Denmark, and Malta. Krat (“Undergrowth”) depicts the intense relationship between two men over the course of nearly 70 years. While they begin as bosom buddies in an upper-class suburb of Copenhagen during the 1920s, they end as retirees who, despite not having spoken in decades, remain just as consumed with each other – but now as mortal enemies. Krat was on the Danish bestseller list for three months when it came out in 1999. It won Bogforum’s Debutant Prize and was nominated for Weekendavisen’s literary prize. When the Danish Arts Foundation awarded Jungersen a three-year fellowship in 2000, it was the first time in 20 years that the foundation had given the honor to a debut novelist. A psychological thriller, The Exception ("Undtagelsen") is told in turn by four women who work for the dysfunctional Danish Center for Genocide Information. When two of them receive death threats, it is unclear whether the threats have been sent by an exposed war criminal or a coworker. Drawing on recent work on the nature of evil, the book makes the case that the same dark impulses that lead to genocide may underlie the bullying that plagues the center's office – and be present in all human beings. The novel was on the bestseller list for a year and a half in Denmark, where it won the P2 Novel Prize and De Gyldne Laurbær ("The Golden Laurels"). In 2009, readers of Denmark's largest newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, voted The Exception the second best Danish novel of the past 25 years, and in 2010 it won another readers' poll of the best Danish novel of the preceding decade. The Exception has been published in 18 countries. It was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, as well as being shortlisted for the Duncan Lawrie Dagger in the United Kingdom, the Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle in France, and the Martin Beck Award in Sweden. In the US, both The New York Times and Amazon designated the novel as an editor's choice. Jungersen's latest novel, You Disappear ("Du Forsvinder"), is narrated by Mia, whose husband Frederik undergoes radical personality changes due to a slowly growing brain tumor that leaves his intellect, speech and motor control intact. Their lives change even more when it comes out that, in the year before his diagnosis, he embezzled 12 million crowns from the private Copenhagen school where he is headmaster. But was the tumor already determining his actions at the time, absolving him, or should he go to jail? In preparing Frederik's defense, Mia immerses herself in the latest brain research, the emerging neurological portrait of human nature, and the classic metaphysical question of free will. Her reading profoundly affects how she responds to Frederik – and to her own passionate impulses. You Disappear has been both a critical and a commercial success in Denmark since being published there in March 2012. Library and newspaper readers awarded it the Læsernes Bogpris, and it was nominated for two other major honors, Politiken's Literature Prize and the Martha Prize, while staying on the top-10 list of bestselling fiction for an entire year. You Disappear is scheduled to be published in an additional 10 countries in 2013 and 2014, with US publication slated for January 2014 from Nan A. Talese/Doubleday. The American translation by Misha Hoekstra won the Leif & Inger Sjöberg Prize from the American-Scandinavian Foundation.




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The Discreet Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa. New York. 2015. Farrar Straus Giroux. Translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman. 326 pages. hardcover. Jacket design by Alex Merto. 9780374146740.

9780374146740FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The latest masterpiece--perceptive, funny, insightful, affecting--from the Nobel Prize-winning author Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa's newest novel, "The Discreet Hero," follows two fascinating characters whose lives are destined to intersect: neat, endearing Felicito Yanaque, a small businessman in Piura, Peru, who finds himself the victim of blackmail; and Ismael Carrera, a successful owner of an insurance company in Lima, who cooks up a plan to avenge himself against the two lazy sons who want him dead. Felicito and Ismael are, each in his own way, quiet, discreet rebels: honorable men trying to seize control of their destinies in a social and political climate where all can seem set in stone, predetermined. They are hardly vigilantes, but each is determined to live according to his own personal ideals and desires--which means forcibly rising above the pettiness of their surroundings. "The Discreet Hero" is also a chance to revisit some of our favorite players from previous Vargas Llosa novels: Sergeant Lituma, Don Rigoberto, Dona Lucrecia, and Fonchito are all here in a prosperous Peru. Vargas Llosa sketches Piura and Lima vividly--and the cities become not merely physical spaces but realms of the imagination populated by his vivid characters. A novel whose humor and pathos shine through in Edith Grossman's masterly translation, "The Discreet Hero" is another remarkable achievement from the finest Latin American novelist at work today."


Vargas Llosa Mario  Mario Vargas Llosa was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010. Peru's foremost writer, he has been awarded the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world's most distinguished literary honor, and the Jerusalem Prize. His many works include THE FEAST OF THE GOAT, THE BAD GIRL, AUNT JULIA AND THE SCRIPTWRITER, THE WAR OF THE END OF THE WORLD, and THE STORYTELLER. He lives in London.





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Swann's Way by Marcel Proust. New York. 2003. Viking Press. Newly Translated from the French by Lydia Davis. 468 pages. September 2003. hardcover. Jacket design by Mark Melnick.Jacket photograph by Ralph Gibson, of a piece from the collection of Charles Fermin-Didot, Paris. 067003245x.


   ‘MY GREATEST ADVENTURE WAS UNDOUBTEDLY PROUST. WHAT IS THERE LEFT TO WRITE AFTER THAT?’ - VIRGINIA WOOLF. Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time is one of the most entertaining reading experiences in any language and arguably the finest novel of the twentieth century. But since its original prewar translation there has been no completely new version in English. Now, Viking Press brings Proust’s masterpiece to new audiences throughout the world, beginning with Lydia Davis’s internationally acclaimed translation of the first volume, SWANN’S WAY. SWANN’S WAY is one of the preeminent novels of childhood - a sensitive boy’s impressions of his family and neighbors, all brought dazzlingly back to life years later by the famous taste of a madeleine. It also enfolds the short novel ‘Swann in Love,’ an incomparable study of sexual jealousy that becomes a crucial part of the vast, unfolding structure of In Search of Lost Time. The first volume of the work that established Proust as one of the finest voices of the modern age - satirical, skeptical, confiding, and endlessly varied in his response to the human condition - SWANN’S WAY also stands on its own as a perfect rendering of a life in art, of the past recreated through memory.

  Proust MarcelMARCEL PROUST was born in Auteuil in 1871. In his twenties, following a year in the army, he became a conspicuous society figure, frequenting the most fashionable Paris salons of the day. After 1899, however, his chronic asthma, the death of his parents, and his growing disillusionment with humanity caused him to lead an increasingly retired life. From 1907 on, he rarely emerged from a cork-lined room in his apartment on boulevard Haussmann. There he insulated himself against the distractions of city life and the effects of trees and flowers-though he loved them, they brought on his attacks of asthma. He slept by day and worked by night, writing letters and devoting himself to the completion of In Search of Lost Time. He died in 1922.


 Davis Lydia LYDIA DAVIS is the author of one novel and three volumes of short fiction, the latest of which is Samuel Johnson is Indignant. She is also the translator of numerous works from the French by, among others, Maurice Blanchot, Pierre Jean Jouve, and Michel Leiris, and was recently named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government.



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In The Shadow Of Young Girls In Flower by Marcel Proust. New York. 2004. Viking Press. Newly Translated from the French by James Grieve. 558 pages. February 2004. hardcover. Jacket design by Mark Melnick. Originally published in French as A l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs. 0670032778.


   Readers and reviewers in the United Kingdom have hailed the new translations of Proust as a major literary event. Soon to appear in the United States, Swann’s Way, along with the second volume of In Search of Lost Time, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, will introduce a new century of American readers to the literary riches of Proust. These superb editions - the first completely new translation of Proust’s novel since the 1920s - bring us a more comic and lucid Proust than English readers have previously been able to enjoy. In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower is a spectacular dissection of male and female adolescence, charged with the narrator’s memories of Paris and the Normandy seaside. In it, Proust introduces some of his greatest comic inventions. As a meditation on different forms of love, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower has no equal.

Proust MarcelMARCEL PROUST was born in Auteuil in 1871. In his twenties, following a year in the army, he became a conspicuous society figure, frequenting the most fashionable Paris salons of the day. After 1899, however, his chronic asthma, the death of his parents, and his growing disillusionment with humanity caused him to lead an increasingly retired life. From 1907 on, he rarely emerged from a cork-lined room in his apartment on boulevard Haussmann. There he insulated himself against the distractions of city life and the effects of trees and flowers-though he loved them, they brought on his attacks of asthma. He slept by day and worked by night, writing letters and devoting himself to the completion of In Search of Lost Time. He died in 1922.




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Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust. New York. 2004. Viking Press. Newly Translated from the French by John Sturrock. 557 pages. October 2004. hardcover. Jacket photograph by Ra;ph Gibson. 0670033480.


   Like its predecessors, this wonderful new translation is certain to be hailed as a literary event, bringing us a more rich, comic, and lucid Proust than American readers have previously been able to enjoy. In this fourth volume, Proust’s novel takes up for the first time the theme of homosexual love and examines how destructive sexual jealousy can be for those who suffer it. Sodom and Gomorrah is also an unforgiving analysis of both the decadent high society of Paris and the rise of a philistine bourgeoisie that will inevitably supplant it.


Proust Marcel MARCEL PROUST was born in Auteuil in 1871. In his twenties, following a year in the army, he became a conspicuous society figure, frequenting the most fashionable Paris salons of the day. After 1899, however, his chronic asthma, the death of his parents, and his growing disillusionment with humanity caused him to lead an increasingly retired life. From 1907 on, he rarely emerged from a cork-lined room in his apartment on boulevard Haussmann. There he insulated himself against the distractions of city life and the effects of trees and flowers-though he loved them, they brought on his attacks of asthma. He slept by day and worked by night, writing letters and devoting himself to the completion of In Search of Lost Time. He died in 1922.





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The Prisoner and The Fugitive: In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. London. 2003. Penguin Books. Newly Translated from the French by Carol Calrk and Peter Collier. 693 pages. paperback. 9780141180359.


   The Prisoner and The Fugitive fulfill Swann’s much earlier warning to Marcel: ‘Though the subjection of the woman may briefly allay the jealousy of the man, it eventually makes it even more demanding’, as Marcel and Albertine are locked in a cycle of mistrust that threatens both their identities. But these are also novels of great lyrical excitement and beauty - in the Parisian street cries, the Vinteuil concert and Proust’s virtuoso description of Venice. Above all, these two works deal with the theme of the impact of memory that runs throughout In Search of Lost Time. ‘Proust redefined the terms of fiction. a profound and often very witty masterpiece’ – Guardian.


Proust MarcelMARCEL PROUST was born in Auteuil in 1871. In his twenties, following a year in the army, he became a conspicuous society figure, frequenting the most fashionable Paris salons of the day. After 1899, however, his chronic asthma, the death of his parents, and his growing disillusionment with humanity caused him to lead an increasingly retired life. From 1907 on, he rarely emerged from a cork-lined room in his apartment on boulevard Haussmann. There he insulated himself against the distractions of city life and the effects of trees and flowers-though he loved them, they brought on his attacks of asthma. He slept by day and worked by night, writing letters and devoting himself to the completion of In Search of Lost Time. He died in 1922.




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Finding Time Again: In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. London. 2003. Penguin Books. Newly Translated from the French by Ian Patterson. 374 pages. paperback. 9780141180366.


   In Finding Time Again, Marcel discovers his world destroyed by war and those he knew transformed by the march of time. A superb picture of France in the throes of the First World War, and containing, in the Bal des tetes sequence, one of Proust’s most devastating set-pieces, Finding Time Again triumphantly describes the paradox of facing mortality yet overcoming it through the act of writing. As Marcel rediscovers his vocation, he realizes that he can live on by writing down the story of his own memories and of his search to recapture the past. ‘One of the cornerstones of the Western literary canon’ - The Times.


Proust MarcelMARCEL PROUST was born in Auteuil in 1871. In his twenties, following a year in the army, he became a conspicuous society figure, frequenting the most fashionable Paris salons of the day. After 1899, however, his chronic asthma, the death of his parents, and his growing disillusionment with humanity caused him to lead an increasingly retired life. From 1907 on, he rarely emerged from a cork-lined room in his apartment on boulevard Haussmann. There he insulated himself against the distractions of city life and the effects of trees and flowers-though he loved them, they brought on his attacks of asthma. He slept by day and worked by night, writing letters and devoting himself to the completion of In Search of Lost Time. He died in 1922.






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Chasing Lost Time: The Life of C. K. Scott Moncrieff - Soldier, Spy, and Translator by Jean Findlay. New York. 2015. Farrar Straus Giroux. Jacket design based on a 1940s edition of Remembrance of Things Past published by Chatto & Windus. 351 pages. hardcover. 9780374119270.



9780374119270FROM THE PUBLISHER -


   'And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little crumb of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before church-time), when I went to say good day to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me.' With these words, Marcel Proust’s narrator is plunged back into the past. Since 1922, English-language readers have been able to take this leap with him thanks to translator C. K. Scott Moncrieff, who wrestled with Proust’s seven-volume masterpiece - published as Remembrance of Things Past - until his death in 1930. While Scott Moncrieff’s work has shaped our understanding of one of the finest novels of the twentieth century, he has remained hidden behind the genius of the man whose reputation he helped build. Now, in this biography - the first ever of the celebrated translator - Scott Moncrieff’s great-great-niece, Jean Findlay, reveals a fascinating, tangled life. Catholic and homosexual; a partygoer who was lonely deep down; secretly a spy in Mussolini’s Italy and publicly a debonair man of letters; a war hero described as “offensively brave,” whose letters from the front are remarkably cheerful - Scott Moncrieff was a man of his moment, thriving on paradoxes and extremes. In Chasing Lost Time, Findlay gives us a vibrant, moving portrait of the brilliant Scott Moncrieff, and of the era - changing fast and forever - in which he shone.





Findlay Jean Jean Findlay was born in Edinburgh and studied Law and French at Edinburgh University, then theatre in Cracow with Tadeusz Kantor. She ran a theatre company, writing and producing plays in Berlin, Bonn, Dublin, Rotterdam, and the Pompidou Centre in Paris. She has written for the Scotsman, the Independent, Time Out and Performance magazine and lives in Edinburgh with her husband and three children. She is the great-great-niece of C K Scott Moncrieff.





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Islandia: A Poem by Maria Negroni. Barrytown. 2001. Station Hill Press/Barrytown Ltd. Translated from the Spanish by Anne Twitty. Bilingual Edition. 171 pages. paperback. 1886449155.


 ‘Islandia is an extraordinary cycle of poems written in two very different and contrasting forms - the Nordic, masculine, epic style of the prose poems, and the Mediterranean, feminine, mannered lyric style of the others. Anne Twitty’s translation of this masterful cycle has itself been carried out with great mastery.’ - Esther Allen, translator of Octavio Paz, Rosario Castellanos, and Jorge Luis Borges. ‘The saga of Scandinavians, who - in flight or exile - founded Islandia, is counterpointed by the ironic verses of a female speaker who is also a shipwreck, a fugitive, and a seeker-inventor of islands. In this work, destinies cross—that of vehement navigators among the whales and mists, and that of a writer who, telling the saga of others, assumes and discards a sumptuous mask.’ - Julio E. Miranda, Domingo Hoy, Caracas. ‘With remarkable beauty, a major poet deciphers a landscape and a language embedded in the most profound Latin American tradition.’ - Tomás Eloy MartInez, author of Santa Evita. ‘A female voice brilliantly deconstructs the masculine constellation: epic/adventure/war. A severely wrought patina makes for a sense of excavation, out of which rises a different, female, spirit of adventure. In the words of the H.D. epigraph: ‘We are discoverers / of the not-known / the unrecorded; we have no maps.’ - Rosmarie Waidrop, author of The Reproduction of Profiles. ‘It is not easy to find a form for journey… for there is no poetry without cost.’ So say the ongoing voices in Maria Negroni’s remarkable and innovative book-length poem. It is a compelling work, deftly connecting embodied experience to history and a cornucopia of language.’ - Sophie Cabot Black, author of The Misunderstanding of Nature.


Negroni MariaMaría Negroni was born October 9, 1951 in Rosario, Argentina. She has published eleven books of poetry, three collections of essays, and two novels, as well as works in translation from French and English. Her work has appeared internationally in literary journals, including Diario de Poesía, Página 12, The Paris Review, Circumference, and Bomb, among others. She has been awarded two Argentine National Book Awards, for her collection of essays Ciudad Gótica (1996) and her poetry collection Viaje de la noche (1997). Her book of poems Islandia, in Anne Twitty’s translation, received a PEN Translation Award in 2001. She has been a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Fundación Octavio Paz, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and others. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. Winner of the following awards - International Prize for Essay Writing from Siglo XXI, 2002 PEN Award for best book of poetry in translation, for Islandia, 2000-2001 Octavio Paz Fellowship for Poetry, 1997 Argentine National Book Award, for El viaje de la noche, 1994 Guggenheim Fellowships. Anne Twitty is a writer, interpreter and translator who lives in New York City. She was for some years editor of the Epicycle section of Parabola Magazine, where some of her essays were published. Anne Twitty’s translations of selections from Maria Negroni’s works have appeared in Hopscotch, Mandorla, The Paris Review and on-line at www.archipelago.org. Her translation of Night Journey (El viaje de la noché) appeared in a bilingual edition published by Princeton University Press in 2002. 



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Caviar and Cabbage: Selected Columns by Melvin B. Tolson from the Washington Tribune, 1937-1944. Columbia. 1982. April 1982. University of Missouri Press. 9780826203489. Edited and with an introduction by Robert M. Farnsworth. 288 pages. hardcover.



9780826203489FROM THE PUBLISHER -


 Melvin B. Tolson is best known as the poet who wrote The Harlem Gallery and Libretto for the Republic of Liberia. He received national acclaim only toward the end of his life, but early in his career he achieved considerable recognition as a challenging speaker and activist within the black American community. Tolson wrote a weekly column for the Washington Tribune from October 9, 1937, to June 24, 1944, entitled "Caviar and Cabbage." As the title suggests, the subjects he treated were various. He perceived the problems of the black world of the late thirties and early forties with the insight of an intellectual and the verbal richness and rhythms of a poet heavily influenced by a strong pulpit tradition. This combination makes the columns valuable both as literature and as cultural history. Robert Farnsworth has selected and edited these columns. His introduction describes their cultural and biographical context. He has arranged the columns according to subject: "Christ and Radicalism," "Race and Class," "World War II," "Random Shots," "Writers and Readings," and "Reminiscences." The background material and the arrangement of the works underline their significance. 






 Tolson Melvin B  MELVIN B. TOLSON (February 6, 1898 – August 29, 1966) was an American Modernist poet, educator, columnist, and politician. His work concentrated on the experience of African Americans and includes several long historical poems. His work was influenced by his study of the Harlem Renaissance, although he spent nearly all of his career in Texas and Oklahoma. Tolson is the protagonist of the 2007 biopic The Great Debaters. The film, produced by Oprah Winfrey, is based on his work with students at predominantly-black Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, and their debate with University of Southern California(USC). Tolson is portrayed by Denzel Washington, who also directed the film. Born in Moberly, Missouri, Tolson was one of four children of Reverend Alonzo Tolson, a Methodist minister, and Lera (Hurt) Tolson, a seamstress of African-Creek ancestry. Alonzo Tolson was also of mixed race, the son of an enslaved woman and her white master. He served at various churches in the Missouri and Iowa area until settling longer in Kansas City. Reverend Tolson studied throughout his life to add to the limited education he had first received, even taking Latin, Greek and Hebrew by correspondence courses.[1] Both parents emphasized education for their children. Melvin Tolson graduated from Lincoln High School in Kansas City in 1919. He enrolled at Fisk University but transferred to Lincoln University, Pennsylvania the next year for financial reasons. Tolson graduated with honors in 1924. In 1922, Melvin Tolson married Ruth Southall of Charlottesville, Virginia, whom he had met as a student at Lincoln University. Their first child was Melvin Beaunorus Tolson, Jr., who, as an adult, became a professor at the University of Oklahoma. He was followed by Arthur Lincoln, who as an adult became a professor at Southern University; Wiley Wilson; and Ruth Marie Tolson. All children were born by 1928. In 1930-31 Tolson took a leave of absence from teaching to study for a Master's degree at Columbia University. His thesis project, "The Harlem Group of Negro Writers", was based on his extensive interviews with members of the Harlem Renaissance. His poetry was strongly influenced by his time in New York. He completed his work and was awarded the master's degree in 1940. After graduation, Tolson and his wife moved to Marshall, Texas, where he taught speech and English at Wiley College (1924–1947). The small, historically black Methodist Episcopal college had a high reputation among blacks in the South and Tolson became one of its stars. In addition to teaching English, Tolson used his high energies in several directions at Wiley. He built an award-winning debate team, the Wiley Forensic Society. During their tour in 1935, they broke through the color barrier and competed against the University of Southern California, which they defeated. There he also co-founded the black intercollegiate Southern Association of Dramatic and Speech Arts, and directed the theater club. In addition, he coached the junior varsity football team. Tolson mentored students such as James L. Farmer, Jr. and Heman Sweatt, who later became civil rights activists. He encouraged his students not only to be well-rounded people but also to stand up for their rights. This was a controversial position in the segregated U.S. South of the early and mid-20th century. In 1947 Tolson began teaching at Langston University, a historically black college in Langston, Oklahoma, where he worked for the next 17 years. He was a dramatist and director of the Dust Bowl Theater at the university. One of his students at Langston was Nathan Hare, the black studies pioneer who became the founding publisher of the journal The Black Scholar. In 1947 Liberia appointed Tolson its Poet Laureate. In 1953 he completed a major epic poem in honor of the nation's centennial, the Libretto for the Republic of Liberia. Tolson entered local politics and served three terms as mayor of Langston from 1954 to 1960. In 1947, Tolson was accused of having been active in organizing farm laborers and tenant farmers during the late 1930s (though the nature of his activities is unclear) and of having radical leftist associations. The film, The Great Debaters, portrays him as having been a possible Communist. In the film, Tolson's arrest for union organizing galvanizes the black community of the town of Marshall, Texas. Tolson was a man of impressive intellect who created poetry that was “funny, witty, humoristic, slapstick, rude, cruel, bitter, and hilarious,” as reviewer Karl Shapiro described the Harlem Gallery. In 1965, Tolson was appointed to a two-year term at Tuskegee Institute, where he was Avalon Poet. He died after cancer surgery in Dallas, Texas, on August 29, 1966. He was buried in Guthrie, Oklahoma. From 1930 on, Tolson began writing poetry. He also wrote two plays by 1937, although he did not continue to work in this genre. In 1941, he published his poem "Dark Symphony" in Atlantic Monthly. Some critics believe it is his greatest work, in which he compared and contrasted African-American and European-American history. In 1944 Tolson published his first poetry collection Rendezvous with America, which includes Dark Symphony. He was especially interested in historic events which had fallen into obscurity. In the late 1940s, after he left his teaching position at Wiley, The Washington Tribune hired Tolson to write a weekly column, which he called "Cabbage and Caviar". Tolson's Libretto for the Republic of Liberia (1953), another major work, is in the form of an epic poem in an eight-part, rhapsodic sequence. It is considered a major modernist work. Tolson's final work to appear in his lifetime, the long poem Harlem Gallery, was published in 1965. The poem consists of several sections, each beginning with a letter of the Greek alphabet. The poem concentrates on African-American life. It was a striking change from his first works, and was composed in a jazz style with quick changes and intellectually dense, rich allusions. In 1979 a collection of Tolson's poetry was published posthumously, entitled A Gallery of Harlem Portraits. These were poems written during his year in New York. They represented a mixture of various styles, including short narratives in free verse. This collection was influenced by the loose form of Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology. An urban, racially diverse and culturally rich community is presented in A Gallery of Harlem Portraits. With increasing interest in Tolson and his literary period, in 1999 the University of Virginia published a collection of his poetry entitled Harlem Gallery and Other Poems of Melvin B. Tolson, edited by Raymond Nelson.  Robert M. Farnsworth is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and an author in the genres of biography and literary criticism. He has written about prominent literary figures and civil rights activists including Melvin Tolson and Leon Jordan. Farnsworth was born in 1929 in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan and earned a PhD from Tulane University in 1957. Farnsworth wrote a biography of assassinated civil rights leader Leon Jordan. Jordan had helped to found a political organization known as Freedom, Inc. before his long-unsolved murder. Farnsworth had met Jordan in 1961 and said he was "in awe of him." He also wrote a biography of poet Melvin B. Tolson titled Melvin B. Tolson, 1898-1966: Plain and Poetic Prophecy. The book was reviewed in World Literature Today. In Rhetoric at the Margins: Revising the History of Writing Instruction in American Colleges, 1873-1947, author David Gold wrote, "Robert M. Farnsworth's finely balanced and carefully researched biography does little worse than suggest that Tolson's love for argumentation may have intimidated his children, who nonetheless respected him and loved him dearly." Farnsworth also edited Caviar and Cabbage: Selected Columns by Melvin B. Tolson from the Washington Tribune, 1937-1944. The book included selections from a weekly newspaper column on black culture that Tolson had written for seven years. He authored a biography of journalist Edgar Snow titled From Vagabond to Journalist: Edgar Snow in Asia, 1928--1941. The work was described in Kirkus Reviews as a "resonant briefing on an American who bore eloquent witness to a turning point in Asian history." The book was one of two Snow biographies published in 1996. Farnsworth is an emeritus professor of English at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.





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An African in Imperial London: The Indomitable Life of A.B.C. Merriman-Labor by Danell Jones. London. 2018. September 2018. Hurst. 9781849049603. 320 pages. hardcover.





In a world dominated by the British Empire, and at a time when many Europeans considered black people inferior, Sierra Leonean writer A. B. C. Merriman-Labor claimed his right to describe the world as he found it. He looked at the Empire's great capital and laughed. In this first biography of Merriman-Labor, Danell Jones describes the tragic spiral that pulled him down the social ladder from writer and barrister to munitions worker, from witty observer of the social order to patient in a state-run hospital for the poor. In restoring this extraordinary man to the pantheon of African observers of colonialism, she opens a window onto racial attitudes in Edwardian London. An African in Imperial London is a rich portrait of a great metropolis, writhing its way into a new century of appalling social inequity, world-transforming inventions, and unprecedented demands for civil rights.









 Jones Danell  Danell Jones is a writer and scholar whose works have appeared in a wide variety of publications, from British academic journals to small presses. She has a PhD in literature from Columbia University and is the author of The Virginia Woolf Writers' Workshop and Desert Elegy.











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The Wings of Atalanta: Essays Written along the Color Line by Mark Richardson. Rochester. 2018. June 2018. Camden House. 9781571132390. Studies in American Literature and Culture. 2 black and white. 400 pages. hardcover.






This book springs from two premises. The first is that, with a nod toward Marianne Moore, America is - has always been - an imaginary place with real people living in it. The second is that slavery and its legacies explain how and why this is the case. The second premise assumes that slavery - and, after that fell, white supremacy generally - have been necessary adjuncts to American capitalism. Mark Richardson registers these two premises at the level of style and rhetoric - in the texture as much as in the "arguments" of the books he engages. His book is written to appeal to a general reader. It begins with Frederick Douglass, continues with W. E. B. Du Bois, Charles Chesnutt, and Richard Wright, and treats works by writers not often discussed in books concerning race in American literature - for example, Stephen Crane and Jack Kerouac. It brings to bear on such books as Douglass's My Bondage and My Freedom, Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk, and Crane's The Red Badge of Courage a degree and quality of attention one usually associates with the study of lyric poetry. The book offers a general framework within which to read African-American (and American) literature.




 Richardson Mark




   Mark Richardson is Professor of English at Doshisha University, Japan. He is co-editor of The Letters of Robert Frost (Harvard University Press).









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Ice by Anna Kavan. Garden City. 1970. Doubleday. Introduction by Brian W. Aldiss.. 176 pages. hardcover. Jacket by Alan Peckolick.


ice doubleday 1970



Earth was doomed. Slowly and inexorably the world was entering a new and cataclysmic ice age. Like a plodding giant, walls of ice were covering the earth leaving in its wake total annihilation of life. And this great natural horror had been caused by the world's most brilliant scientists—one too many nuclear bombs had been released and the balance of nature had been irreparably altered. And where ice and snow hadn't knifed their way into the land, ravaging and brutal wars were taking their toll. Through this surrealistic nightmare of ice and ultimate death, two men search for a strangely elusive girl. One, referred to only as the Warden, becomes a military power in his own right when the wars begin. A cruel, sadistic, merciless man he seems the total personification of Man's negative qualities. The narrator is the other man, and while he searches and nearly dies in pursuit of his quarry, he is never quite sure what it is that drives him to her. For those few times when he does locate her, she escapes his grasp explaining that she would rather die than be with either him or the Warden. A deceptively simple plot becomes a chilling tour de force in the capable hands of Miss Kavan as she comments on the human condition both today and tomorrow. And her thoughts are all the more harrowing because of the basic truths they reveal.





 Kavan Anna  Anna Kavan (10 April 1901-5 December 1968; born Helen Emily Woods) was a British novelist, short story writer and painter. Kavan was addicted to heroin for most of her adult life, a dependency which was generally undetected by her associates, and for which she made no apologies. She is popularly supposed to have died of a heroin overdose. In fact she died of heart failure, though she had attempted suicide several times during her life. An inveterate traveler, Kavan spent twenty-two months of World War II in New Zealand, and it was that country's proximity to the inhospitable frozen landscape of Antarctica that inspired the writing of ICE. This post-apocalyptic novel brought critical acclaim, earning Kavan the Brian Aldiss Science Fiction Book of the Year award in 1967, the year before Kavan's death. She died at her home in Kensington on 5 December 1968.






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New American Library’s Signet Classics


  I pretty much grew up in the book business. While in high school I worked at a local used bookstore after school, on weekends, and during holidays. Mostly, I stocked and re-stocked paperbacks, helped customers, looked up titles in a 10 pound copy of Books in Print that the owner of the store had managed to pick up somewhere, and put mylar covers on hardcover dustjackets.  I didn’t make much - $1.65/hour - but I enjoyed the work. The fact is, most of the money I made went back into buying books. 

alphabooks pay stub


I remember marveling at the fact that customers would buy hardcover books when perfectly adequate paperback editions were available. I didn’t really have much of an appreciation at the time for any kind of notion of a “first edition” either.

I worked at Alphabooks for years off and on before eventually finding myself employed by what was then the B. Dalton/Pickwick chain first in El Cajon, CA and later in Encino, CA. From there I got a job in the general book department of the UCLA Bookstore, and after moving to San Francisco I wound up at the retail chain Crown Books (“Books Cost Too Much”).

Thankfully a job opened up with the mass market publisher Pocket Books in the Bay Area. The Pocket regional manager remembered me as a buyer at UCLA (he had actually been my sales rep and sold me books). I lasted a little more than a year at Pocket, during which time there were 2 or 3 major management changes, pretty typical for those days. At one point the Pocket reps even got a new name. We were rechristened "The Simon and Schuster Mass Merchandise Sale Force." That of course did not last long, and the yahoos who initiated that rebranding were gone from the company even before I was.

At the American Booksellers Association convention (the precursor to the Book Expo of America - BEA) in San Francisco in 1985 the big commercial books that year were James Michener's TEXAS, Harold Robbins’ JOE CROWN, Cynthia Freeman’s SEASONS OF THE HEART, Charles Schulz’s YOU DON'T LOOK 35, CHARLIE BROWN!, Jean Auel’s THE MAMMOTH HUNTERS, George Burns’ DEAR GEORGE, and Howard Fast’s IMMIGRANT'S DAUGHTER. Carl Sagan had two book offerings for the Fall of 1985 - a nonfiction book from Random House entitled COMET, and CONTACT, a novel from Simon & Schuster.

New American Library had recently purchased hardcover publisher E. P. Dutton,  the Wheatland Corporation (controlled by Ann Getty and George Weidenfeld) now owned Grove Press, Random House bought  Times Books, Simon & Schuster purchased Prentice-Hall, Macmillan in a feeding frenzy bought Scribner's, Atheneum, and Rawson Associates, in addition to the remains of Bobbs-Merrill, which it liquidated as quickly as it could. The consolidation of publishing was in full swing. 

Bill Targ, former editor for World Publishing Company and G. P. Putnam’s  Sons described the new corporate masters of American publishing as “megalomaniacs and wheeler-dealers” and “market analysts with slide rules up their arses and a power glint in their eyes.”

It was at the ABA convention in San Francisco that I was courted by the regional sales manager for New American Library, a man named Allan Wolfe. He wanted to hire me away from Pocket Books. I was thrilled at the prospect. I might have a chance to sell the Signet Classics. I had grown up with those books, and even though I was at the time a bit of a Penguin Classics snob, I strongly appreciated the Signet Classic line and was excited that I might have the opportunity to sell it into bookstores.

Of course, I made the jump to NAL, and of course they did not offer me anything additional in terms of salary to do so (NAL was always cheap). I knew I was a sucker, but I didn’t care. I was out of Pocket and into classics.

The widespread use of computers was not yet upon us, but the numbers on the printouts that came from the computer room were akin to gospel, so I would have to say that by the time that I came to NAL as a sales rep in 1985, the only change that I would have to make to Targ’s description of new corporate masters of American publishing cited earlier would be to substitute “slide rules” with “computer printouts.” The sales force in those days still consisted of a lot of old-timers, many of whom had worked on the ID (Independent Distributor, those who handled mostly magazine distribution) side of the business. Those fellows (and they all men) had lots of stories to share with anyone who wanted to listen (and even for those who didn’t) about drinking, wheeling and dealing, and the challenges of dealing with the colorful and difficult personalities who populated the ID side of the business. The stories sounded more like Mafia tales than anything connected to bookselling. I remember one ID sales rep who used to bring a gun to sales conference and sleep with it under his pillow. When his roommate came in late one night (in those days, only the big job title “position” folks got their own rooms, the rest of us were forced to share a room, with whomever the company decided to pair us with), he was greeted with the barrel of a gun in his face.

It was my good fortune to come into the industry as a sales rep at the exact time when the sales at drugstores and other non-book outlets were in decline. While still with Pocket Books I did have the exquisite pleasure of servicing a number of variety stores, including Woolworth’s. This would involve me writing an order, adding up both the retail and net dollar totals on an adding machine, and then submitting that order. No buyer was required, but I did have to come back when the order arrived and place the books on the racks. When I made my return trip to "rack" the books, I would generally move all of the Dell books to the bottom of the wire rack and put my books at the top. When the Dell rep came in he would do the same to my books. The trick was to figure out when the Dell rep made an appearance and then come in as soon as I could after that. I was thankful when that part of the business dried up, especially after I came into conflict with a Woolworth’s manager who wanted to know why I did not wear a tie when I called on them. I had to tell him that it was not my custom to wear a tie when I called on Woolworth’s. That did not go over well. I was lucky though, because had this been a few years earlier, I likely faced more serious reprecussions from my employers. By the time I got to NAL, this part of the business was on its way out.

signet mark twain bookmark


While at NAL, I sold a lot of Signet Classics. In my used book travels (used books have always been my first love in the book world), I would seek out old edition of Signet Classics, particularly those that did not exist as such anymore, titles like:

Adventures In The Skin Trade by Dylan Thomas

The Duel and Selected Stories by Alexander Kuprin

The Queen of Spades and Other Tales by Alexander Pushkin

Specimen Days by Walt Whitman

The Golovlovs by M. Saltykov-Shchedrin

The Golden Serpent by Ciro Alegria

The Celtic Twilight and A Selection of Early Poems by W.B. Yeats

The Marquis of O-- and Other Stories by Heinrich von Kleist

The Restlessness of Shanti Andia and Selected Stories by Pio Baroja

La Salle and The Discovery of The Great West by Francis Parkman

Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man by Thomas Mann

Burmese Days by George Orwell

Lyubka The Cossack and Other Stories by Isaac Babel

The Merry-Go-Round of Love and Selected Stories by Luigi Pirandello

Selected Prose and Poetry of Giacomo Leopardi


signet classics23    


Can you imagine a mass market publisher doing these books today?

It was not long before I had amassed a small collection of these gems, but then I had to wonder – what about any that I might not know about?  Of course, that led to me creating a listing in series number order of every Signet Classics that I could find.

My list was missing a lot of information, so I contacted Gayle Greeno in the NAL office. At the time I believe that she had something to do with educational sales. She went on to become a best-selling DAW fantasy author. Gayle thought I was crazy, but she was kind enough to provide me with a printout of the entire Signet Classics list, numbers 1 through 1000. That was like the Holy Grail for me. I used the information from the printout to build a more comprehensive list.

After a time I left NAL, which had since become Penguin in the continuing series of publishing purchases/mergers. Periodically though, I updated my listing of Signet Classics, and eventually included more descriptive material, and even images. It still amazes me that the Signet Classics line managed to publish so many terrific books in a business environment that could not always have been very hospitable to such a project, particularly after the early days of the series. I can only imagine the history of the project as that of a few truly visionary individuals somehow getting their projects past the “money” men of the company to achieve something really revolutionary in paperback publishing.        

Reclam Bucher As early as 1836 British companies were producing cheap “yellowback” books, mostly reprints, for a mass audience of readers as literary rates rose in England. Publishers in Germany, mostly notably Reclam of Leipzig, created their own cheap paper reprint editions with their Universal-Bibliothek mass market series in 1867. Reclam also became the first company to introduce book vending machines to Germany.

While the 19th century brought numerous improvements in the printing, publishing and book-distribution processes, particularly with the introduction of such technology as the steam-powered printing presses, pulp mills, automatic type-setting, and a network of railways, it wasn’t until the German publisher Albatross Books streamlined the paperback format in 1931 that the real seeds of a 20th century paperback revolution were truly sown. Albatross came up with a new standardized size (181 x 111 mm), and used sans-serif fonts designed by British typographer Stanley Morison. They also color-coded their titles by according to genre. The series was very successful for Albatross Books until the advent of World War II put an end to their publishing experiment. In 1935 however, Penguin Books adopted many of Albatross' innovations, including a conspicuous logo and color-coded covers for different genres. British publisher Allen Lane launched the Penguin Books imprint in 1935 with only ten reprint titles and began a paperback revolution in the English-language book-market. Lane’s ambition was to produce inexpensive books and sell a lot of them.


After purchasing paperback rights from publishers, Lane would do what were then large print runs, sometimes as many as 20,000 copies of a book. It was all part of his strategy to keep his unit cost low. Booksellers were a little skeptical of the new format a first, so Lane explored non-traditional market, like department stores, including Woolworth’s. It didn’t take long for the idea to catch on and as bookstores began carrying Lane’s books, "Penguin" became closely associated with the word "paperback.”

Robert de Graaf created Pocket Books in partnership with Simon & Schuster in 1939 and “pocket book” synonymous with the paperback in the United States.  The biggest difference of substance between Penguin and Pocket Books was probably their different approach to cover treatments. De Graaf also aimed for a broad appeal and utilized the magazine and newspaper distribution networks to reach that audience.


penguin logoBritish Penguins opened an office in New York in July of 1939, tasked with importing Penguins and Pelicans to the United States. They started with 100 British Penguin, a staff of two, and hired a young American to direct the branch named Ian Ballantine.

Given that the imports first needed to come from England to New York, and then be distributed to American booksellers, the American Penguin office found themselves at a serious disadvantage in terms of getting and keeping the right titles in stock to fill demand. They needed an effective system of distribution akin to what Pocket Books had already created. It was necessary to choose titles carefully when it came to importing.

Penguin grew slowly, a little too slowly for Allen Lane, the head of British Penguin, who was not entirely impressed with Ballantine’s results. He reached out to Kurt Enoch, who had escaped the Nazis in Germany, and made him the vie-president of Penguin Books, Inc.  In 1943 Enoch hired Gobin Stair to oversee production and design. Stair in turn hired a number of illustrators like H. Lawrence Hoffman and Lester Kohs to produce cover of good taste and relative modesty, but still different than the British Penguin which at the time consisted exclusively of typographical styled covers. These new cover treatments did not please Allen Lane, who thought the cover art perhaps a little too garish. The true is that nearly all of the other paperback publishers at the time were producing covers with more innovative artwork, and Ballantine and Enoch did not think that the strictly typographical cover had a chance of selling in the States. They were simply too different from their competition, and not in a good way. A split with Penguin in England was inevitable. Enoch had hired a cover artist named Robert Jonas, who designed the cover of Erskine Caldwell’s TROUBLE IN JULY in 1945. Jonas had strong beliefs about balancing social consciousness with art and had an enormous impact on the artwork of the American Penguins of that time.

Also in 1945, Ian Ballantine left the American branch of Penguin to start Bantam Books and Victor Weybright became part of Penguin’s management. While the relationship with British Penguin was a decent one, Kurt Enoch and Victor Weybright decided in 1948 start their own publishing company, the New American Library of World Literature, Inc. (NAL), and Signet books made their first appearance in the summer of 1948.


Kurt Enoch and Victor Weybright

Kurt Enoch and Victor Weybright in 1958


 They broke their ties with British Penguin and after a short period where a few “Penguin Signets” and “Penguin Mentors” still appeared, dropped “Penguin” from the imprint names altogether. Mentor Books, as a quality line of nonfiction (their slogan "Good Reading for the Millions."), was most certainly an outgrowth of Pelican in the UK, as the Signet Classics line became the American version of the Penguin Classic.

Victor Weybright had his fans and his detractors. He no doubt had vision. Andre Schiffren called him “ a flamboyant man who gloried in his snobberies and pretensions,” who managed to surround himself with talented editors. Schiffrin also noted Weybright’s “unmitigated anti-Semitism” in his THE BUSINESS OF BOOKS published in 2000 by Verso. E. L. Doctorow, when a NAL editor, had this to say regarding Weybright – “He had a good restless mind and loved to wheel and deal.” On the other hand Weybright was in his estimation susceptible to people who knew that Weybright had aspirations to “be one of the ‘big boys’.”

Kurt Enoch received better treatment by Schiffren, perhaps because Enoch was the one who actually hired Schiffren. Enoch was described as a “small, trim, very shy, and a model German intellectual,” who had an early understanding of the importance of the paperback, perhaps because he had been one of the founders of Albatross in Germany

Weybright clearly had a good editorial eye. In addition to bringing Mickey Spillane and Ian Fleming’s James Bond books to NAL’s and insuring the company’s commercial position in the industry, his decision to publish a number of African-American authors of the day , including William Motley, Richard Wright, William Gardener Smith, Chester Himes, Ann Petry, and Ralph Ellison, was visionary.

   signet african american titles

The Signet list was not only a commercial success. They received critical praise for the list of important author that they had assembled, including works by William Faulkner, James T. Farrell, George Orwell, Arthur Koestler, D. H. Lawrence, Jack Kerouac, Ayn Rand, Ken Kesey, Sinclair Lewis, Margaret Mead, John Kenneth Galbraith, Paul Bowles, Curzio Malaparte, Alberto Moravia, and J. D. Salinger. All this and they still produced plenty of westerns and other genre titles too. 

   signet literature

   At one point Robert Jonas, designer and artist, stopped illustrating Signet Westerns and started producing most of the covers (more than 95% through the 1950s) of the Mentor covers. He was also responsible for the typography of the Signet covers. By the mid-1950s both Signet and Mentor covers had been given a more modern look under the direction of Bill Gregory, who replaced John Legakes as art director in 1961. It was Gregory who would produce new colophons and brought a brand new look to New American Library’s line of Signet Classics with launched in 1959.

signet colophon

By 1960 most of the paperback publishing house were producing public domain classic geared to a school audience, both secondary and college. Many of these lines were clearly influenced by the British Penguin and Pelicans, and cover artists like Edward Gorey (Anchor) and Leonard Baskin (Vintage) were highly sought after.

signet classics24 The Signet Classics line had a reputation for success with their cover illustrations by employing a variety of artists, many of whom had never illustrated book covers before, but were well known as illustrators. Milton Glaser designed the Signet Classics Shakespeare series and received a number of awards for his cover artwork.   

When the first Signet Classics were published, NAL was at a peak of their financial success. Even though both Bantam and Pocket Books had their own lines of classics, the Signet Classics line quickly became the dominant mass market publisher of classics.

signet classic logo


Before starting at Pantheon, the small publisher that his father Jacques Schiffrin had started, Andre Schiffrin worked for New American Library. According to Andre Schiffren in his book THE BUSINESS OF BOOKS, it was a memo that he wrote to editor Arabel Porter suggesting possibilities for the first Signet Classics that helped to spark a favorable response to the idea and led to the publishing of the series.


mentor new world writing  Arabel Porter was considered something of a “high priestess among young writers,” and was described as a quiet and unpretentious intellectual. She was the force behind New American Library’s New World Writing literary magazine, published between 1952 and 1959, which was  modeled partly on John Lehmann’s Penguin New Writing , published in England from 1940-1950.   New World Writing was published in fifteen biannual issues and featured works of fiction, drama, essays, and poetry by new and leading writers from around the world. Contributors included Gore Vidal, Flannery O’Connor, Jack Kerouac, W. H. Auden, James Baldwin, Samuel Beckett, Saul Bellow, Jorge Luis Borges, Bertolt Brecht, E. E. Cummings, Jean Genet, André Gide, Christopher Isherwood, Norman Mailer, Pablo Picasso, Kenneth Rexroth, William Carlos Williams, Upton Sinclair, Wallace Stevens, Eugène Ionesco, Octavio Paz and Tennessee Williams. The corrected typescript of "Catch-18" by Joseph Heller, which eventually became the first chapter of Catch-22,  was originally published in issue #7. According to her boss, Victor Weybright, Arabel J. Porter was ‘a Bohemian Quakeress, with inspired eyes and ears which seem to see and hear all the significant manifestations of the literary, dramatic and graphic arts.’ Marc Jaffe referred to her thusly – “She was a very warm person,” and he added that she was sensitive to the words on a page.




sc adolpheConsidering that the very first Signet Classic turned out to be a book that Schiffren proposed, the 19th century French classic Adolphe and the Red Notebook by Benjamin Constant (CD1), I would say that Andre Schiffren can indeed lay claim to being a major player in the creation of the Classics series.

“In these two remarkable works, a brilliant, vain, long - suffering Frenchman describes the first twenty years of his life and their culmination in a tortured love affair with an older, possessive woman of the world. Benjamin Constant attempted to conceal the fact that these two books were autobiographical. But to his familiars, it was clear that he himself was Adolphe. And in the intimate account of his strange liaison with Ellénore, he may well have been protesting against his inexorable bondage to his fiery, demanding mistress, Madame de Staël. Constant was an able parliamentarian, a champion of liberalism and the author of the History of Religion. But posterity remembers him as the man who bared the anatomy of a destructive passion in the story of Adolphe.”

NAL also published new editions of classic works — for example, a Shakespeare series — which featured renowned scholars, editors, and translators; many of these editions were oriented toward high school and college readership. Even before the acquisition by Times Mirror, Victor Weybright had been interested in creating a well-edited series of Shakespeare’s plays. He contacted Sylvan Barnet of Tufts University and over a bowl of corn flakes and coffee they came up with a tentative deal where Barnet would serve as the general editor of the Signet Classics Shakespeare series and find other specific editors for each individual volume. There is little doubt that the Signet Classics Shakespeare series was created partly to directly compete with Pocket’s Folger Library editions of Shakespeare’s plays.


signet classics shakespeare

Signet even at one point had plans to publish a Signet Classic edition of CATCHER IN THE RYE by J. D. Salinger, but that wound up getting scuttled due to Salinger’s displeasure with deliberations over the paperback cover of the book. He also didn’t want a foreword or an afterword, even if it was by a notable critic. It didn’t help that such an amazingly popular author refused to allow his picture on earlier paperback editions. There was even a suggestion to have a line drawing made of Salinger much like the author portraits that appeared on the front free endpaper accompanying a short biographical piece of each Signet Classic, particularly in the earlier editions. That wasn’t going to fly with Salinger. An internal memo from August 17, 1959) signed by both Truman Talley and Peter Gruenthal settled it, “Please drop Catcher in the Rye from the February, 1960 list of Signet Classics. This title will probably not reappear on future Signet Classic lists due to unusual author-trade publisher-NAL relationship.” Coincidentally, that same month saw the publication of the inaugural batch of the Signet Classics line. Salinger went on to Bantam who publishes him to this day. The rather nondescript typographical covers of the Bantam edition were of course designed by Salinger himself.

In 1959, paperbacks were distributed to the 4,000 bookstore covering the United States at the time and through what were called ID (Independent Distributors) wholesalers, to the many non-bookstore accounts across the country – newsstands, drug stores, grocery stores, etc., numbering over 70,000 outlets. The ID wholesalers grew out of the old magazine distribution network that had come into being during Prohibition to distribute racing forms, and quite possibly alcohol itself. They started with magazines, but as the paperback revolution took hold, they began distributing books as well. Returns were high with the IDs though, so the risk was great even though the payoff could be substantial when a title worked for them.    

With Kurt Enoch devoting himself to the business end of NAL – production, sales, and distribution – and Victor Weybright focusing on the editorial aspects, NAL was not only receiving the praise for readers, critics, and educators, they had become a very profitable publisher. NAL had achieved that balance between commercialism and editorial excellence, and by the late 1950s NAL had grown to be the largest paperback house in the country. 

To secure NAL’s future Enoch and Weybright decided that the best way was for the company to go public. They made overtures to Times Mirror, and a final agreement between the two parties went into effect on March 24, 1960. The merger had positive results for Times Mirror immediately, meaning that their stock rose. Unfortunately though, tensions between Enoch and Weybright increased, leading to Weybright’s eventual resignation from NAL.   

The continual corporate interference in matters editorial however led both Victor Weybright and Truman Talley to leave the company in 1966. Publishing had entered the era of the corporate manager. Many of the most talented of the NAL editorial staff wound up leaving as a result – E. L. Doctorow to Dial press, Arabel Porter to Houghton Mifflin, and Marc Jaffe to Bantam.

New American Library changed ownership hands three times over a period of 27 years. In 1960 Times Mirror of Los Angeles owned by the Chandler family and publishers of the Los Angeles Times, bought NAL (at the time the second ranking paperback publisher in size and power). Although NAL supposedly operated autonomously within the Mirror Company structure, and NAL's management remained unchanged, they were soon to become just another mass market line. In the 1970s President of New American Library Herbert K. Schnall said that “it almost doesn’t pay to buy something for under $100,000,” reflecting a more corporate mentality towards acquisitions.

In 1983 Odyssey Partners and Ira J. Hechler bought NAL from the Times Mirror Company for over $50 million. In 1987, the NAL was reintegrated by purchase into the Penguin Publishing Company, its original parent company. On February 22, 1985 NAL announced its purchase of E. P. Dutton, and in 1986 Peter Mayer, chief executive officer of Penguin Publishing announced Penguin’s purchase of NAL. As NAL’s CEO, Robert Diforio said in a speech to the sales force at the time, “We’ve come home again.” It sounded about as corny as much of what came out of Bob Diforio’s mouth when he was on stage, but he was right.



Sources cited –




Baines, Phil. Penguin By Design: A Cover Story 1935-2005. New York. 2005. Penguin Books. 255 pages. 9780141024233

 9780141024233 The extraordinary story of Penguin coven and their rich and diverse design heritage. Ever since the creation of the first Penguin paperbacks in 1935, their jackets have become a constantly evolving part of Britain’s culture and design history. Rich with stunning illustrations and filled with details of individual titles, designers and even the changing size and shape of the Penguin logo itself, this book shows how covers become in design classics. By looking back at seventy years of Penguin paperbacks, Phil Baines charts the development of British publishing, book-cover design and the role of artists and designers in creating and defining the Penguin look. Coupling in-depth analysis of designers - from Jan Tschichold to Romek Marber - with a broad survey of the range of series and titles published - from early Penguins and Pelicans, to wartime and 1960s Specials, Classics, fiction and reference - this is a distinctive picture of how Penguin has consistently established its identity through its covers, influenced by – and influencing - the wider development of graphic design and the changing fashions in typography, photography, illustration and printing techniques. Filled with inspiring images, PENGUIN BY DESIGN demonstrates just how difficult it is not to judge a book by its cover. Phil Baines was born in Kendal, Westmorland, in 1958. He graduated from St Martin’s School of Art in 1985 and the Royal College of Art in 1987, and has been a Senior Lecturer at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design since 1991. He is author and designer of TYPE & TYPOGRAPHY (with Andrew Haslam, 2002) and SIGNS: LETTERING IN THE ENVIRONMENT (with Catherine Dixon, 2003), both published by Laurence King. He is also a freelance graphic designer whose clients have included the Crafts Council, Goethe-Institut London, Matt’s Gallery and Monotype Typography. His work often includes the use of his own typefaces, three of which have been released for general use: Can You? (1991) and Ushaw (1994) by Fuse,and Vere Dignum by Linotype in 2003.


Bonn, Thomas L. Heavy Traffic & High Culture: New American Library as Literary Gatekeeper in the Paperback Revolution. Carbondale. 1989. Southern Illinois University Press. 241 pages. 0809314789

0809314789   This is a book about the magical names in literature, about the literary heritage of a nation balanced against a backdrop of big business; it is the story of New American library from 1946 to 1961 and of Victor Weybright, the publisher whose talismanic phrase, ‘luster and lucre,’ characterizes both the cultural and financial formu1a that guided this giant paperback house. The book is based on the editorial correspondence at NAL from the company’s beginning in 1945 until just after its purchase by the Times-Mirror Company. Generally ignoring financial, marketing, and production records, the files that form the core of this book concentrate on interoffice memoranda to and from editorial staff and feature letters to and from authors, agents, publishers, and readers. Bonn shows how Weybright and copublisher Kurt Enoch advanced NAL from a poor, scarcely tolerated relation - as were all paperback reprinters - in the publishing family to a prestigious, even proprietary publisher, initiating contracts and discovering new talent. By the middle of the l950s, many hardcover publishing houses were accepting original manuscripts based on their anticipated mass market paperback sales. Bonn employs the ‘gatekeeper’ theory of communication to account for much of NAL’s success, citing Weybright as chief gatekeeper. Explaining this theory as Weybright applied it, Bonn notes that ‘the tension on the gate’s spring is created by the cultural contribution the work is likely to make tempered by its projected balance sheet.’ Weybright brought harmony to the conflicting interests of culture vs. commerce; his goal was ‘heavy traffic, high culture’ or John Steinbeck, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway and others at the dimly remembered 25 cents per copy. Bonn focuses on Weybright’s dealings with Bennett Cerf and Random House, Charles Scribner’s Sons, Alfred A. Knopf, and other hardback houses to show how NAL acquired titles. In this book, notable for its previously unpublished correspondence by major figures, Bonn scores another triumph by examining the phenomenon of paperback abridgment. These letters reveal the reactions of James M. Cain, James Jones, and Robert Penn Warren when paperback economics killed as many as half of their words. Well-founded fear of censorship, these files reveal, consumed much money and time, yet of all of the books on the NAL list, only Erskine Caldwell’s God’s Little Acre was judged obscene in a courtroom. The works of James M. Cain were challenged, as were those of Faulkner, until he won his 1950 Nobel Prize. Weybright also faced a continuing battle with certain authors over paperback covers. The editor’s views as to what would sell books frequently conflicted with the opinions of his authors. William Styron acquiesced to Weybright with some grace, but the cover conflict between NAL and James T. Farrell was bitter; the rift between NAL and J. D. Salinger over covers for The Catcher in the Rye and Nine Stories grew so acrimonious that both sides lost when Salinger severed his relationship with the company. NAL published the great—William Faulkner, Norman Mailer, J. D. Salinger - and the big money-makers - Erskine Caldwell, Ian Fleming, Mickey Spillane. This ideal arrangement enabled the innovative paperback publishing company to make a profit even as it made a gigantic cultural contribution.


Bonn, Thomas L. Under Cover: An Illustrated History of American Mass Market Paperbacks. New York. 1982. Penguin Books. 144 pages. 0140060715

0140060715 Following the evolution of mass market publishing - cover to cover to cover - in this delightful celebration of paperback books. From the wonderfully lurid covers of the forties and fifties (featuring ‘fleshy female victims of mayhem and murder’) to today’s specialized genre styles, this fascinating history focuses on paperback covers - the crucial factor in catching the eye and selling the book. The splendid illustrations and the odd facts, colorful anecdotes, and insider’s insights make Under Cover a rare treat for pop-culture buffs, designers, collectors, and book people of all kinds.

Thomas L. Bonn, Librarian at the State University of New York, College at Cortland, is the author of Paperback Primer: A Guide for Collectors and Under Cover: An Illustrated History of American Mass Market Paperbacks.




Coser, Lewis A. / Kadushin, Charles / Powell, Walter W.. Books: The Culture & Commerce Of Publishing. New York. 1982. Basic Books. 411 pages. 0465007457

0465007457 In an industry perilously poised between the world of culture and the demands of commerce, who decides what America reads? Editors, media packagers, the heads of large corporations, or the intellectual community? This major work by a team of distinguished socio1ogists provides the first comprehensive examinations of book publishing in America - the people, the organizations, and the network of information and gossip - nor only for trade books and blockbusters, but for college texts, scholarly and monograph publishing, and university presses. Based on extensive field research in a variety of houses and on hundreds of interviews with editors, publishers, authors, agents, marketing and sales staffs, booksellers and book reviewers, BOOKS discusses the inside operation of publishing house and shows how key outsiders – literary agents, reviewers, and book chains as well as independent booksellers – can make or break a book’s (and an author’s) fortunes. The authors explode widely held publishing myths, explain editorial career paths, reveal the anomalous position of secretaries and assistants, and explore the role of women and their changing status. Special attention is paid to the deteriorating quality of author-publisher relations, and to whether authors can do anything about it. Presenting the big picture of the industry, BOOKS analyzes the mixed effects of the recent wave of publishing mergers. Though a historic al review suggests that publishers have always cared about the bottom line, the difference today is that editors no longer make all the key decisions. BOOKS is required reading for everyone interested in the book industry - as well as an exciting contribution to the sociology of ideas and organizations.  ‘A pioneering sociological panorama of American world of books, presented with unmistakable touch of its accomplished authors.’ - ROBERT K. MERTON, University Professor Emeritus and Special Service Professor, Department of Sociology, Columbia University. LEWIS A. COSER is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at SUNY, Stony Brook. He is the author of many hooks, including Men of ideas (1965), Greedy institutions (1974), and Masters of Sociological Thought (1979). CHARLES KADUSHIN- is Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and the author of several books, including The American Intellectual Elite (1974). WALTER W. POWELL is Assistant Profess or in the School of Organization and Management and Department of Sociology, Yale University, and the author of the forthcoming Getting into Print: The Decision Making Process in Scholarly Publishing (1982). He is also affiliated with Yale’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies, where he is studyi ng the financing of public television.


Davis, Kenneth C.. Two-Bit Culture: The Paperbacking Of America. Boston. 1984. Houghton Mifflin. 430 pages. 0395343984

0395343984 Dr. Spock, Betty Freidan, J. D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, John F. Kennedy, William Golding, D. H. Lawrence, J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert Rimmer, Kate Millett, Joseph Heller, Henry Miller - What is the single innovation in mass media that gave all these writers the ability to profoundly influence modern American culture? The paperback. Since their modest beginnings at the outset of World War II, inexpensive paperback books have grown into an eight-hundred-million-dollar-a-year industry and now overflow the country’s newsstands and bookshelves. From intellectually respectable classics such a Waiting for Godot, Lord of the Flies, and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich to trendy novels like Peyton Place Love Story and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, paperbacks have had an unparalleled ability to shape the tastes and opinions of literate America. Kenneth C. Davis’s Two-Bit Culture chronicles the Paperback Revolution - the men and the women, the companies and the characters, that enabled American writers to find American readers by the millions.  Crammed with facts as well as gossip, Two-Bit Culture not only brings to life the history of the paperback but examines its present state and predicts where this fascinating business may be heading. ‘Must reading for anyone who wants to understand American publishing and popular culture since World War II. A sterling achievement.’ -  Marc Jaffe.


Schiffrin, Andre. The Business of Books: How International Conglomerates Took Over Publishing & Changed The Way We Read. New York. 2000. Verso. 181 pages. 1859847633

1859847633 Postwar American publishing has been ruthlessly transformed since André Schiffrin joined its ranks in 1956. Gone is a plethora of small but prestigious houses that often put ideas before profit in their publishing decisions, sometimes even deliberately. Now six behemoths share 80% of the market and profit margin is all. André Schiffrin can write about these changes with authority because he witnessed them from inside a conglomerate, as head of Pantheon, co-founded by his father bought (and sold) by Random House. And he can write about them with candor because he is no longer on the inside, having quit corporate publishing in disgust to setup a flourishing independent house, the New Press. Schiffrin’s evident affection for his authors sparkles throughout a story woven around publishing the work of those such as Studs Terkel, Noam Chomsky, Gunnar Myrdal, George Kennan, Juliet Mitchell, R.D.Laing, Eric Hobsbawm and E.P. Thompson. Part-memoir, part-history, here is an account of the collapsing standards of contemporary publishing that is irascible, acute and passionate. An engaging counterpoint to recent, celebratory memoirs of the industry written by those with more stock options and fewer scruples than Schiffrin, The Business of Books warns of the danger to adventurous, intelligent publishing in the bullring of today’s marketplace. André Schiffrin was, for thirty years, Publisher at Pantheon. He is the Director of the New Press, which he founded in 1993. He contributes a regular column on publishing to the Chronicle of Higher Education.


Schreuders, Piet. Paperbacks, U. S. A.: A Graphic History, 1939-1959 (Translated from the Dutch by Josh Pachter). San Diego. 1981. Blue Dolphin Enterprises. 259 pages.

paperbacks usa In this informative and entertaining description of the first 20 years of paperback history, the emphasis is on the way these early books looked, and especially on their covers: who made them, how they were produced, and how they changed over two decades. Piet Schreuders, editor and designer of two popular Dutch magazines (Furore and the Poezenkrant), spent five years researching the roots of this cultural phenomenon and found, besides shameless plagiarism, amateurish drawings and commercially-bred bad taste, a wealth of sensitive, human, original and unique design and art.





Weybright, Victor. The Making of a Publisher: A Life in the 20th Century Book Revolution. New York. 1967. Reynal & Company. 360 pages.


making of a publisher ‘When the story of The Paperback Revolution in America is one day told, it will be Victor Weybright’s THE MAKING OF A PUBLISHER that will serve as primary source material. Mr. Weybright was at the forefront of the rebellion to bring reading to everyone. And here, for the first time, performing as a Pepys of the paperback world, he opens locked doors and tells what went on inside the nobility, the pettiness, the triumphs, the failures, the Name publishers and authors one man’s truth about the movement to perpetuate the printed word against the forces of television and the machine. I recommend this memoir to everyone interested in books - publishers, editors, instructors, students - and Constant Readers.’ - Irving Wallace. This is the life story of a man who grew up in the Maryland countryside and whose zeal for learning and literature enabled him to become a leader in today’s book revolution. Although paperback books originally consisted largely of popular titles, he introduced books of genuine quality through The New American Library and changed the character and impact of low-priced publishing. One of the early influences in Mr. Weybright’s life was his experience at Hull House. During the war years he served in the American Embassy in London where he became well known in literary as well as political and social circles. After the war he returned to found his hugely successful publishing house. Throughout his life he has traveled widely and has come to know people of importance on both sides of the Atlantic who occupy a large part of this highly readable and always informative book. ‘I have read this with particular interest. Nobody has deserved better of the republic of letters than has Victor, a man who has combined a continuing sense of social responsibility with inventiveness in the book world, considerable daring in the discovery and promotion of young talent, and services to his government and to the Western world over and beyond the call of duty. I have read the book with a combination of interest and sorrow. The interest arises from the revelations of publishing history it contains nobody can ask a better introduction to the history of the paperback book revolution — and sorrow about its ending.’ - Howard Mumford Jones.






Signet Classic FACEBOOK page



Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century by Mark Mazower. New York. 1999. January 1999. Knopf.  0679438092.  491 pages. hardcover. Jacket photograph: Halifax, 1948, by Bill Brandt. Jacket design by Archie Ferguson.




DARK CONTINENT is a searching history of Europe’s most brutal century. Stripping away the comforting myths and illusions that we have grown up with since the Second World War, Mark Mazower presents an unflinching account of a continent locked in a finely balanced struggle between tolerance and racial extermination, imperial ambition and national self-determination, liberty and the tyrannies of Right and Left. It is an attempt to trace the origins of ‘Western values’ - the ideological terms we now live by - and to ask what remains of the struggles of previous generations. Instead of seeing Europe as the natural home of freedom and democracy, Mazower argues that it was a frequently nightmarish laboratory for social and political engineering, inventing and reinventing itself through war, revolution and ideological competition. Fascism and communism should be regarded not as exceptions to the general rule of democracy, but as alternative forms of government that attracted many Europeans by offering different solutions to the challenges of the modern world. By 1940 the prospects for democratic government looked bleak, and Europe’s future seemed to lie in Hitler’s hands. Yet freedom was given another chance with the defeat of the Nazi New Order, and it prevailed decades later across the continent with the collapse of the Iron Curtain. Mazower’s extraordinarily skilled and insightful analysis provides us with a new perspective on events of the century now drawing to a close. From the beginnings of the First World War to the establishment of the European Union, he depicts a battle for hearts and minds that reached more deeply than ever before into the daily lives of ordinary people. Vividly written and vigorously argued, DARK CONTINENT presents both a comprehensive history of twentieth-century Europe and a provocative vision of its future.



Mazower MarkMark Mazower is Reader in History at the University of Sussex. He is the author of the prizewinning INSIDE HITLER’S GREECE: THE EXPERIENCE OF OCCUPATION, 1941-44. He writes and broadcasts regularly on current developments in the Balkans.






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