Synopses & Reviews
The first full biography of the notorious spy
—and an X-ray of the British ruling class that produced him.
Once an untouchable member of England's establishment—a world-famous art historian and a man knighted by the Queen of England—in a single stroke Anthony Blunt became an object of universal hatred when, in 1979, Margaret Thatcher exposed him as a Soviet spy.
In Anthony Blunt: His Lives, Miranda Carter shows how one man lived out opposing trends of his century—first as a rebel against his class, then as its epitome—and yet embodied a deeper paradox. In the 1920s, Blunt was a member of the Bloomsbury circle; in the 1930s he was a left-wing intellectual; in the 50s and 60s he became a camouflaged member of the Establishment. Until his treachery was made public, Blunt was a world-famous art historian, recognized for his ground-breaking work on Poussin, Italian art, and old master drawings; at the Courtauld Institute he trained a whole generation of academics and curators. And yet even as he ascended from rebellion into outward conformity, he was a homosexual when homosexuality was a crime, and a traitor when the penalty was death.
How could one man contain so many contradictions? The layers of secrecy upon which Blunt's life depended are here stripped away for the first time, using testimony from those who knew Blunt well but have until now kept silent and documents from sealed Russian archives, including a secret autobiography Blunt wrote for his controllers. Miranda Carter's Anthony Blunt is the first full biography of the mythical Cold War warrior, and is at once an astonishing history of one the century's greatest deceits and a deeply nuanced account of fifty years in the British power elite, as experienced by one deep inside who wished to bring it down.
"A brimming metaphoric energy . . a buoyant vivacity of description . . . reflective humor . . . and an imaginative penetration . . . unequalled in contemporary critical prose." (Helen Vendler, The New Yorker)
"An extraordinary novel -- both in its scale but also in its timeliness . . . breathtaking in its scope and ambition . . . enthralling." (Maggie Pringle, Sunday Express [London])
"[Bail] shows a lively inventiveness in finding new forms." (The Times Literary Supplement)
"[Llosa's] ambition worthy of . . . masters . . . with a technical skill that brings him closer to the heirs of Flaubert and Henry James." (Suzanne Jill Levine, The New York Times Book Review)
"Desire, jealousy and envy . . . The Brothers deals with universal themes . . . Once you start reading you won't want to stop." (Mauricio Stycer, +poca)
“An incredible feat of unmasking and revelation; the result is a meticulous, judicious, and ultimately moving account of Blunts life....A profound study.”—Newsday
“[A] sympathetic, expertly paced and altogether enthralling biography...Astonishingly assured and accomplished. I havent enjoyed a biography so much since Judith Thurmans Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette. ” —The Washington Post Book World
“Shrewd...well and sympathetically told.” —The New York Review of Books
“[An] excellent case study...Blunts own evolution [as a spy]...is almost a caricature of the genre, and it is Carters achievement in Anthony Blunt: His Lives to have promoted it above the commonplace.” —The New York Times Book Review
“[An] insightful new biography.” —The Seattle Times
What's at stake in tomorrow's biotech revolution: a definitive assessment from "a superior mind at work" (Robert Kaplan, Los Angeles Times Book Review)
In 1989, Francis Fukuyama made his now-famous pronouncement that because "the major alternatives to liberal democracy had exhausted themselves," history as we knew it had reached its end. Ten years later, he revised his argument: we hadn't reached the end of history, he wrote, because we hadn't yet reached the end of science. Arguing that the greatest advances still to come will be in the life sciences, Fukuyama now asks how the ability to modify human behavior will affect liberal democracy.
To reorient contemporary debate, Fukuyama underlines man's changing understanding of human nature through history: from Plato and Aristotle's belief that man had "natural ends" to the ideals of utopians and dictators of the modern age who sought to remake mankind for ideological ends. Fukuyama persuasively argues that the ultimate prize of the biotechnology revolution -- intervention in the "germ-line," the ability to manipulate the DNA of all of one person's descendants -- will have profound, and potentially terrible, consequences for our political order, even if undertaken by ordinary parents seeking to "improve" their children.
In Our Posthuman Future, our greatest social philosopher begins to describe the potential effects of our exploration on the foundation of liberal democracy: the belief that human beings are equal by nature.
Ironic Portraits of Young Artists, Old Masters, Middle Managers -- and Gods -- from "One of the Most Dazzling New Talents of Any Nationality" (San Francisco Chronicle)
In these wry, lyrical stories, men, women, children, and even gods try to maintain their dignity, and make sense of their lives, amid the jostling loneliness and cultural upheaval of post-post-independence India. Whether it's an embarrassed schoolboy standing up to the tyranny of disco, a conventional housewife inspired to write her memoirs, a businessman attending memorial rites for a young suicide, or two divorcees about to enter an arranged marriage, the portraits that Amit Chaudhuri draws from India's new middle class are studies in heartbreaking awkwardness and hard-won grace.
Here, too, are those whose vocation puts them at odds with the new India: a teenaged Calcutta poet introduced to Baudelaire by a lonely widower; a traditional singing teacher who finds himself the rage among Bombay's business elite; writers and painters whose high seriousness Chaudhuri treats with knowing irony and deep, elegiac respect.
Writing in The New York Times Book Review, Alice Truax called Chaudhuri "an immensely gifted writer who is less interested in one particular story than in all the bits and pieces of stories that make up ordinary life." This brilliantly nuanced first story collection, which ranges over thirty years of Indian life, is proof of his astonishing gifts.
Part science, part riveting historical adventure about one of the great scourges to afflict mankind.
Every year malaria kills 1.5 to 2.7 million people -- more than half of those deaths are children -- and 300 to 500 million people fall ill with the disease. As of yet, there is no cure. Malaria is a debilitating parasitical infection with a vicious ability to mutate; it has, over the centuries, changed the course of history as epidemics swept through countries and devastated armies.
Until the middle of the seventeenth century, little was understood about the nature of the disease or how to treat it. But there was a legend about a beautiful Spanish countess, the Condesa de Chinch=n, who was cured of malaria during her stay in Peru by drinking a medicine made from the bark of a miraculous tree. This is the story of the search for the elusive cinchona tree -- the only source of quinine -- and the trio of British explorers who were given the task of transporting it to the colonies. On a quest that was to absorb much of their lives, Spruce, Ledger, and Markham endeavored to rid the world of malaria.
But although quinine, and its chemical successors, managed to control malaria for a time, no treatment has been proven to be 100 percent effective. In laboratories and research facilities, the hunt continues -- this time for a vaccine.
The Fever Trail is a story of courage, of geopolitical rivalry, of the New World against the Old, of the fabled curse of the cinchona tree -- and of a disease that eludes all efforts to contain it.
Essays on fishing from "a great storyteller" (Newsweek), one of the "american originals" (The Washington Post Book World)
In The Fish's Eye: Essays About Angling and the Outdoors, Ian Frazier explores his lifelong passion for fishing, fish, and the acquatic world. He sees the angler's environment all around him -- in New York's Grand Central Terminal, in the cement-lined pond of a city park, in a shimmering bonefish flat in the Florida Keys, in the trout streams of the Rocky Mountains. He marvels at the fishing in the turbid Ohio River by downtown Cincinnati, where a good bait for catfish is half a White Castle french fry. The incidentals of the angling experience, the who and the where of it, interest him as much as what he catches and how. The essays (including the famous profile of master angler Jim Deren, late proprietor of New York's tackle store the Angler's Roost) contain sharply focused observations of the American outdoors, a place filled with human alterations and detritus that somehow remains defiantly unruined. Frazier's simple love of the sport lifts him to straight-ahead angling descriptions that are among the best contemporary writing on the subject. The Fish's Eye brings together twenty years of heartfelt, funny, and vivid essays on a timeless pursuit where so many mysteries, both human and natural, coincide.
The final book in Howard Norman's Canadian trilogy: a novel about spirit photographs, adultery, and greed.
It is 1927. Young Peter Duvett has accepted a job as an assistant to the elusive portraitist Vienna Linn, in the remote town of Churchill, Manitoba. Peter's life is about to change in ways he scarcely could have imagined. Across Canada, Linn has been arranging and photographing gruesome accidents for the private collection, in London, of a Mr. Radin Heur -- theirs is a macabre duet of art and violence.
After a strenuous journey, Peter arrives in Churchill on the very night of his employer's wedding only to fall under the spell of Vienna's brilliant and beautiful wife, Kala Murie. Several months later, the uneasy mTnage a trois moves to Peter's native Halifax. Peter is drawn more and more deeply to Kala as he reluctantly comes to share her obsession with "spirit pictures," photographs in which the faces of the long-dead or forgotten mysteriously appear -- and as he sees more and more terrifying scenes come to life in the darkroom.
Howard Norman's The Haunting of L. is a chilling fable of moral blindness and artistic ambition, from a writer of "complexly tragic vision" (Richard Bernstein, The New York Times).
An engrossing look at the cultural consequences of technological change and globalization.
Space radar, infrared photography, carbon dating, DNA analysis, microfilm, digital databases -- we have better technology than ever for studying and preserving the past. And yet the by-products of technology threaten to destroy -- in one or two generations -- monuments, works of art, and ways of life that have survived thousands of years of hardship and war. This paradox is central to our age. We use the Internet to access and assess infinite amounts of information -- but understand less and less of its historical context. Globalization may eventually benefit countries around the world; it will also, almost certainly, lead to the disappearance of hundreds of regional dialects, languages, and whole societies.
In The Future of the Past, Alexander Stille takes us on a tour of the past as it exists today and weighs its prospects for tomorrow, from China to Somalia to Washington, D.C. Through incisive portraits of their protagonists, he describes high-tech struggles to save the Great Sphinx and the Ganges; efforts to preserve Latin within the Vatican; the digital glut inside the National Archives, which may have lost more information in the information age than ever before; an oral culture threatened by a "new" technology: writing itself. Wherever it takes him, Stille explores not just the past, but our ideas about the past, how they are changing -- and how they will have to change if our past is to have a future.
A refreshingly simple and free-spirited approach to making a garden for pure pleasure.
Of course you may say it is only a game: a game of lists. What plants would you choose to grow, given a blank slate of a garden, and given the stipulation that everything you grow in this garden must be raised by you from seed?
Forget "bones." Forget "structure." Forget trees, shrubs, and perennials. As James Fenton writes, "This is not a book about huge projects. It is about thinking your way towards the essential flower-garden, by the most traditional of routes: planting some seeds and seeing how they grow."
In this light-hearted, instructive, original "game of lists," Fenton selects one hundred plants he would choose to grow from seed. Flowers for color, size, and exotic interest; herbs and meadow flowers; climbing vines, tropical species -- Fenton describes one hundred readily available varieties, and tells how to acquire and grow them.
Here is a happy, stylish, unpretentious, and thought-provoking gardening book that will beguile and inspire both novice and expert alike.
A fresh triumph from an exciting new novelist who "writes like a haunted angel" (The Times [London])
When a man dies and leaves behind a wife and a mistress, we expect certain responses to follow. But as the narrator of Salley Vickers's second novel explains, "this is not an account of feminine jealousy, or even revenge, and not all human beings (not even women) conform to the attitudes generally expected." Indeed, in this ironic and witty novel nothing is quite as we expect to find it. Telling the story of Bridget Hansome and Frances Slater, Vickers brings to life a loving marriage and a love affair that exist side by side for years -- and continue to reverberate after secretive, generous, sexually prodigal Peter Hansome dies suddenly in a car accident, on his way home from an assignation with yet another lover, about whom neither woman knows.
While Frances, a London art dealer and sometime artists' model, gradually makes friends with the older, Shakespeare-loving Bridget, these two unconventional women start to learn the whole truth (or almost the whole truth) about the man whose death brought them together and whose ghost watches over them still.
Wise, wry, and intellectually playful, Instances of the Number 3 explores the mysterious power of triangles in love, art, and theology. It confirms Salley Vickers as one of the most intelligent new voices in British fiction.
Becoming a writer -- the hard way.
In the summer of 1971, Jack Gantos was an aspiring author desperate for adventure, college cash, and a way out of a dead-end job. For ten thousand dollars, he recklessly agreed to help sail a sixty-foot yacht loaded with hashish from the Virgin Islands to New York City, where he and his partners sold the drug until federal agents finally caught up with them in a bust at the Chelsea Hotel. For his part in the conspiracy, the twenty-year-old Gantos was sentenced to serve up to six years in a federal prison.
In Hole in My Life, this prizewinning author of over thirty books for young people confronts the period of struggle and confinement that marked the end of his own youth. On the surface, the narrative tumbles from one crazed moment to the next as Gantos pieces together the story of his restless final year of high school, his short-lived career as a criminal, and his time in prison. But running just beneath the action is the story of how Gantos -- once he was locked up in a small, yellow-walled cell -- moved from wanting to be a writer to writing, and how his newfound dedication helped him endure the worst experience of his life.
A major new biography of Rudyard Kipling.
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was a unique figure in British history, a great writer as well as an imperial icon whose life trajectory matched that of the British Empire from its zenith to its final decades. Kipling was in his early twenties when his first stories about Anglo-Indian life vaulted him into celebrity. He went on to be awarded the Nobel Prize, and to add more phrases to the language than any man since Shakespeare, but his conservative views and advocacy of imperialism damaged his critical reputation -- while at the same time making him all the more popular with a general readership. By the time he died, the man who incarnated an era for millions was almost forgotten, and new generations must come to terms in their own way with his enduring but mysterious powers.
Previous works on Kipling have focused exclusively on his writing and on his domestic life. Here, the distinguished biographer David Gilmour not only explains how and why Kipling wrote, but also explores the themes of his complicated life, his ideas, his relationships, and his views on the Empire and the future. Gilmour is the first writer to explore Kipling's public role, his influence on the way Britons saw themselves and their Empire. His fascinating new book, based on extensive research (especially in the underexplored archives of the United States), is a groundbreaking study of a great and misunderstood writer.
From our most eminent psychologist, a wise new book on the function and meaning of narrative.
We all tell stories and we all listen to them -- true or false, real or make-believe. Indeed, we seem intuitively so adept at narrative that we can scarcely ascertain the means by which we might understand its purpose or effect. In Making Stories, Jerome Bruner examines this elusive aspect of human nature and suggests some of the ways that narrative makes sense of our lives. He has many new proposals for rethinking our old ideas -- about how we create a sense of self, tell our stories, interpret people's lives; how literature alters our idea of what a story is; what the law tells us about our expectations of narrative. His masterly synthesis of material from literature, the law, anthropology, psychology, and philosophy sparkles with provocative originality.
When he wrote his groundbreaking book On Knowing: Essays for the Left Hand (1962), Bruner believed, he says, "that the scientific method could tame ordinary narrative into testable hypotheses." Now, he concedes, "I think I was profoundly mistaken." Making Stories offers his new view that science's well-defined narratives about verifiable facts are inextricably woven in with culture's "darkly challenging" stories -- the autobiographical, literary, and legal material in which metaphorically rich, morally instructive narratives teach us who we are and who we can become.
A magical short novel that weaves together two stories, two couples, two different times, and two grand passions.
In one of the narratives that comprise this superb new novel from Carlos Fuentes, we are introduced to Gabriel Atlan-Ferrara, a fabled orchestral conductor, and his great love Inez Prada, a renowned singer. In the other, Fuentes memorably delineates the very first encounter in human history between a man and a woman. In one, the intense drama of Berlioz's music for The Damnation of Faust informs the action; in the other, we watch as a slowly emergent love shapes the nature and character of the two protagonists. A beautiful crystal seal -- the meaning of which is a mystery that obsesses Atlan-Ferrara, who owns it -- unites these two narratives; the magical seal allows one to read unknown languages and hear impossible music, and it is the symbol of a shared love.
The duality of Carlos Fuentes's brilliant new novel mirrors two eras, one in the deepest remote time and one in a time to come, but the passions evoked in both, reflected against each other like two sides of a crystal seal, break the limits of time and space and unite in one story. And, like the light refracted through the seal, it begins in prehistory and spirals out into infinity . . .
In Inez, we find Carlos Fuentes at the height of his magical and realist powers. This profound and beautiful work confirms his standing as Mexico's pre-eminent novelist.
A great writer's lush, panoramic new novel: the story of an ordinary man, his century, and his home.
Jamaica Kincaid's first obsession, the island of Antigua, comes vibrantly to life under the gaze of Mr. Potter, an illiterate taxi chauffeur who makes his living along the wide, open roads that pass the only towns he has ever seen and the graveyard where he will be buried. The sun shines squarely overhead, the ocean lies on every side, and suppressed passion fills the air.
Misery infects the unstudied, slow pace of this island and of Mr. Potter's days. As Kincaid's narrative unfolds in linked vignettes, his story becomes the story of a vital, crippled community. Kincaid strings together a moving picture of Mr. Potter's ancestors -- beginning with memories of his father, a poor fisherman, and his mother, who committed suicide -- and the outside world that presses in on his life, in the form of his Lebanese employer and, later, a couple fleeing World War II. Within these surroundings, Mr. Potter struggles to live at ease: to purchase a car, to have girlfriends, to shake off the encumbrance of his daughters -- one of whom will return to Antigua after he dies, and will tell his story with equal measures of distance and sympathy.
In Mr. Potter, her most luminous, ambitious work to date, Kincaid breathes life into a figure unlike any in contemporary fiction, an individual consciousness emerging gloriously out of an unexamined life.
The life and times of the great French novelist.
A blond giant of a man with green eyes and a resonant actor's voice, Gustave Flaubert, perhaps the finest French writer of the nineteenth century, lived quietly in the provinces with his widowed mother, composing his incomparable novels at a rate of five words an hour. He detested his respectable neighbors, and they, in turn, helped to ensure his infamy as a writer of immoral books. Geoffrey Wall's remarkable new biography weaves together the inner dramas of Flaubert's provincial life with the social intrigues of his regular escapes to Paris, where he became a friend to Turgenev and was praised by the emperor, and the flamboyant excitements of his travels throughout the Mediterranean, on which he kept company with courtesans, acrobats, gypsies, and simpletons.
Flaubert's contradictory experiences nurtured his peerless novels and stories, and Wall's dynamic interpretation of them gives us a new understanding of his sometimes pitiable, always unforgettable characters: an Egyptian hermit tormented by voluptuous visions, a melancholy doctor's wife eating arsenic to escape debt and despair, an old country woman who worships a stuffed parrot.
Wall's is the first full-fledged modern biography of this immeasurably talented and influential artist. Flaubert brilliantly re-creates the life and times of a writer who wrote to within an inch of his life and whose importance will never diminish.
A wryly humorous, sensitively observed novel about the capriciousness of love.
Omar Razaghi posts a letter on September 13, 1995, that will change the course of his life forever. A doctoral student at the University of Kansas, he writes to the estate of the Latin American author Jules Gund, requesting permission to write Gund's authorized biography. His request is refused, but Omar has already accepted a fellowship from the university, and with his girlfriend's vehement encouragement, he goes in person to Uruguay to petition Gund's three executors. Although Caroline Gund, Jules's wife, and Arden Langdon, Jules's mistress and the mother of his child, are initially opposed to the idea of a biography, Omar has the support of Adam, Jules's older brother, and hopes to be able to persuade the two women. Omar's unexpected arrival in Uruguay reverberates through this odd and isolated little family group, and his stay in the languid, dreamy Ochos Rios makes him question his former life in Kansas and his ability, even his desire, to write an "authorized" life.
A novel about the random nature of love and the ways in which we confront or avoid life's choices, The City of Your Final Destination is a touching, clever, and wonderfully comic fourth novel from Peter Cameron.
Four enthralling tales about chance, by the author of Psalm at Journey's End.
Tales of Protection is a novel about people in different places in different epochs -- contemporary Norway, nineteenth-century Sweden, and Renaissance Italy -- whose stories are bound together by the author's original and searching inquiry into why things happen the way they do.
As the book opens, a dead man lies in his coffin reflecting on the past. Bolt was an eccentric scientist who devoted his old age to a vast research undertaking -- collecting random incidents from the history of the species and finding the underlying pattern that connects them. This kind of hindsight, after all, must be a kind of heaven -- or a kind of hell.
His reveries lead him to tell two other tales -- the tale of a doomed lighthouse keeper on a Swedish island and the tale of rivalry among Renaissance artists -- and finally to tell a startling tale from his own early manhood. All of the tales, in his exquisitely suspenseful narration, demonstrate his theory of "seriality," which is the opposite of causality.
Erik Fosnes Hansen's Psalm at Journey's End was acclaimed as one of the most original works yet about the sinking of the Titanic. In Norway, Tales of Protection has been called a "Blixenesque" masterpiece; it is a major new work of world literature, and a great leap forward for this gifted young writer.
Room XIX of the Museum of Albion doesn't usually have many visitors. But when a huge crowd of dispossessed immigrants and homeless gather to see a mummy that has recently been moved, political pressure mounts, and the curator must reveal the mystery behind the locked door. To the passionate young man who has adopted the once secret mummy as a figurehead, the curator explains that it is actually a bundle of intriguing documents about an unknown woman named Leto. Marina Warner's magical new novel weaves together the legend of this ancient goddess with the drama of the curator, her new friend, and all the others whose lives will be transformed by the Leto Bundle.
As Leto moves westward across the map from her first home, she slips through time, reappearing in different guises and ever on the run: she gives birth to twins during a far-off era of civil strife, shelters with wolves, stows away on a ship, works as a chambermaid in a war-torn city, and, in a bombing attack, saves her daughter but loses her son. The novel sweeps from prehistory to the Middle Ages, to Victorian Europe, and then to the present day, when Leto reappears, still searching for her long-lost son.
In The Leto Bundle, the eternal story of the refugee becomes a powerful modern novel of huge scope and imaginative force.
One of the most eagerly awaited biographies of recent years: A searching life of the great Italian writer and witness to the Holocaust.
Perhaps the most important writer to emerge from the death camps, Primo Levi spent sixty-five of his sixty-seven years in Turin, Italy, where he worked as a chemist by day and wrote at night in a study that had been his childhood bedroom. Thanks to his memoirs, which include Survival in Auschwitz, The Reawakening, and the classic The Periodic Table, he became widely known and loved as a supremely moral man, one who had transmuted the agonies of persecution into understanding and clarity. The whole world was shocked when he died in 1987, apparently having thrown himself into the stairwell of the house in which he had been born.
Carole Angier has spent nearly ten years writing this meticulously researched, vivid, and moving biography, which illuminates the design of Levi's interior life: how he lived as a man divided, not only between chemistry and writing but also between hope and despair, and how the duty to testify released him to communicate, which was his deepest need.
Collected short fiction by "a magnificent writer and a hilarious observer of human folly." (Newsweek)
One of the most celebrated writers of our time, Josef kvorecký has been internationally honored for his passion, wry humor, insight into human and political frailty, and breathtaking style. When Eve Was Naked is kvorecký's autobiography told in stories. Collected here in a chronological sweep, they take the reader through the stages of a most remarkable life, and bear witness to some of the twentieth century's most eventful and tragic times -- from the innocence of prewar Prague through the horrors of the Nazi occupation and World War II. Many of these are narrated by the tenderhearted cynic Danny Smiricky. In the title story, "Eve Was Naked," seven-year-old Danny falls in love for the first time; at sixteen he hides in a railway station and watches as his Jewish teacher is herded onto a train and taken away. In 1968, as Russian tanks rolled into Prague, Skvorecky fled Czechoslovakia, taking Danny with him. In the collection's final stories Danny begins his tenure as Professor Smiricky at Edenvale -- a Canadian university -- and attempts to come to terms with the politically innocent and self-centered youth that flock to his courses.
Masterfully written, humorous, and wise, When Eve Was Naked is a remarkably revealing work of fiction.
The English debut of one of Spain's most dazzling younger writers -- a postmodern murder mystery set in ancient Greece.
In this brilliant, highly entertaining, and intriguing novel, JosT Carlos Somoza intertwines two darkly compelling riddles, forcing us to confront the ways in which we interpret reality.
In ancient Athens, one of the pupils of Plato's Academy is found dead. His idealistic teacher Diagoras is convinced the pupil's death is not as accidental as it appears, and asks the famous Heracles Pontor, the "Decipherer of Enigmas," to investigate. As the death toll rises, the two men find themselves drawn into the dangerous underworld of the Athenian aristocracy, risking their own lives to solve the riddle of these young men's deaths. Simultaneously, a second plot unfolds: that of the modern-day translator of the ancient text, who, as he proceeds with his work, becomes convinced that the original author has hidden a second meaning in the text, one that can be interpreted through certain repeated words and images. As the story advances, however, the translator is alarmed to discover references to himself, which seem to address him personally in an increasingly menacing fashion.
An original and unsettling literary mystery, The Athenian Murders introduces a beguiling new talent to an American readership.
Introduction by Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland.
Two monks in conversation about the meaning of life and the nature of solitude.
Thomas Merton, the American Trappist monk who wrote The Seven Storey Mountain, spent his entire literary career (1948- 68) in a cloistered monastery in Kentucky. His great counterpart, the French Benedictine monk Jean Leclercq, spent those years traveling relentlessly to and from monasteries worldwide, trying to bring about a long-needed reform and renewal of Catholic religious life.
Their correspondence over twenty years is a fascinating record of the common yearnings of two ambitious, holy men. "What is a monk?" is the question at the center of their correspondence, and in these 120 letters they answer it with great aplomb, touching on the role of ancient texts and modern conveniences; the advantages of hermit life and community life; the fierce Catholicism of the monastic past and the new openness to the approaches of other traditions; the monastery's impulse toward survival and the monk's calling to prophecy. Full of learning, human insight, and self-deprecating wit, these letters capture the excitement of the Catholic Church during the run-up to the Second Vatican Council, full of wisdom, full of promise.
A literary apprenticeship in eleven letters, by the internationally acclaimed master of the novel.
In the tradition of Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, Mario Vargas Llosa condenses a lifetime of writing, reading, and thought into an essential manual for aspiring writers, revealing in the process his deepest beliefs about our common literary endeavor. A writer, in his view, is a being seized by an insatiable appetite for creation, a rebel, and a dreamer. But dreams, when set down on paper, require disciplined development, and so Vargas Llosa undertakes to supply the tools of transformation. Drawing on the stories and novels of writers from around the globe -- Borges, Bierce, CTline, Cortázar, Faulkner, Kafka, Robbe-Grillet -- he lays bare the inner workings of fiction, examining time, space, style, and structure, all the while urging young novelists not to lose touch with the elemental urge to create. Conversational, eloquent, and effortlessly erudite, this little book is destined to be read and reread by young writers, old writers, would-be writers, and all those with a stake in the world of letters.
A unique and compelling eyewitness account of Germany between the wars.
A huge bestseller in Germany, Defying Hitler is a memoir about the rise of Nazism in Germany and the lives of ordinary German citizens between the wars. This fresh and astute account offers a unique perspective on this era of twentieth-century history.
Covering the years from 1907 to 1933, Haffner's personal memories form the basis for questioning, analyzing, and interpreting much of Germany's history. His eyewitness account of groups such as the First Free Corps -- the right-wing voluntary military force set up to suppress communism during the revolution of 1918 -- which would provide training for many of the later Nazi storm troopers; the Hitler Youth movement, which swept the nation; the apocalyptic year of 1923 when inflation crippled the country; the peaceful Stresemann years; and Hitler's coming to power all contribute to the portrait of a country in a constant state of flux. Sebastian Haffner elucidates how the educated average German grappled with a rapidly changing society, while chronicling day-to-day changes in attitudes, beliefs, politics, and prejudices.
Available for the first time in English, this highly illuminating work is a unique portrait of a time, a place, and a people.
A stirring reappraisal of the brilliant, maligned psychoanalytic thinker.
Robert S. Corrington offers the first thorough reconsideration of Wilhelm Reich's life and work since Reich's death in 1957.
Reich was seventeen years old at the outbreak of World War I and had already witnessed the suicides of his mother and father. A native of Vienna, he became a disciple of Freud; but by his late twenties, having already written his classic The Function of the Orgasm, he fled the Third Reich and departed, too, from Freudian psychoanalysis.
In The Mass Psychology of Fascism, Reich first took the now classic position that social behavior has its every root in sexual behavior and repression. But the psychoanalytic community was made uncomfortable by this claim, and it was said -- by the time of Reich's death in an American prison on dubious charges brought by the federal government -- that Reich had squandered his prodigal genius and surrendered to his own paranoia and psychosis, an opinion still responsible for the neglect and misconception of Reich's contribution to psychology.
In this transfixing psychobiography, Corrington illuminates the themes and obsessions that unify Reich's work and reports on Reich's fascinating, unrelenting one-man quest to probe the ultimate structures of self, world, and cosmos.
From the bestselling author of The Metaphysical Club, brilliant illuminations of America yesterday and today.
At each step of this journey through American cultural history, Louis Menand has an original point to make: he explains the real significance of William James's nervous breakdown, and of the anti-Semitism in T. S. Eliot's writing. He reveals the reasons for the remarkable commercial successes of William Shawn's New Yorker and William Paley's CBS. He uncovers the connection between Larry Flynt's Hustler and Jerry Falwell's evangelism, between the atom bomb and the Scholastic Aptitude Test. He locates the importance of Richard Wright, Norman Mailer, Pauline Kael, Christopher Lasch, and Rolling Stone magazine. And he lends an ear to Al Gore in the White House as the Starr Report is finally presented to the public.
Like his critically acclaimed bestseller, The Metaphysical Club, American Studies is intellectual and cultural history at its best: game and detached, with a strong curiosity about the political underpinnings of ideas and about the reasons successful ideas insinuate themselves into the culture at large. From one of our leading thinkers and critics, known both for his "sly wit and reportorial high-jinks [and] clarity and rigor" (The Nation), these essays are incisive, surprising, and impossible to put down.
A startling novel by the leading writer of the new South Africa.
In The Heart of Redness -- shortlisted for the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize -- Zakes Mda sets a story of South African village life against a notorious episode from the country's past. The result is a novel of great scope and deep human feeling, of passion and reconciliation.
As the novel opens Camugu, who left for America during apartheid, has returned to Johannesburg. Disillusioned by the problems of the new democracy, he follows his "famous lust" to Qolorha on the remote Eastern Cape. There in the nineteenth century a teenage prophetess named Nonqawuse commanded the Xhosa people to kill their cattle and burn their crops, promising that once they did so the spirits of their ancestors would rise and drive the occupying English into the ocean. The failed prophecy split the Xhosa into Believers and Unbelievers, dividing brother from brother, wife from husband, with devastating consequences.
One hundred fifty years later, the two groups' decendants are at odds over plans to build a vast casino and tourist resort in the village, and Camugu is soon drawn into their heritage and their future -- and into a bizarre love triangle as well.
The Heart of Redness is a seamless weave of history, myth, and realist fiction. It is, arguably, the first great novel of the new South Africa -- a triumph of imaginative and historical writing.
A passionate personal journey through two cultures in conflict.
Shortly after militant Islamic terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center, Tamim Ansary of San Francisco sent an e-mail to twenty friends, telling how the threatened U.S. reprisals against Afghanistan looked to him as an Afghan American. The message spread, and in a few days it had reached, and affected, millions of people -- Afghans and Americans, soldiers and pacifists, conservative Christians and talk-show hosts; for the message, written in twenty minutes, was one Ansary had been writing all his life.
West of Kabul, East of New York is an urgent communiquT by an American with "an Afghan soul still inside me," who has lived in the very different worlds of Islam and the secular West. The son of an Afghan man and the first American woman to live as an Afghan, Ansary grew up in the intimate world of Afghan family life, one never seen by outsiders. No sooner had he emigrated to San Francisco than he was drawn into the community of Afghan expatriates sustained by the dream of returning to their country -- and then drawn back to the Islamic world himself to discover the nascent phenomenon of militant religious fundamentalism.
Tamim Ansary has emerged as one of the most eloquent voices on the conflict between Islam and the West. His book is a deeply personal account of the struggle to reconcile two great civilizations and to find some point in the imagination where they might meet.
The first full biography of the notorious spy -- and an X ray of the British ruling class that produced him.
For decades a luminary of English high society -- and the international art world -- Sir Anthony Blunt became an object of popular hatred when, in 1979, Margaret Thatcher exposed him as a Soviet spy.
In Anthony Blunt: His Lives, Miranda Carter traces Blunt's transformations, from young member of the Bloomsbury circle, to left-wing intellectual, to a camouflaged member of the establishment. Until his treachery was made public, Blunt was celebrated for his groundbreaking work on Poussin, Italian art, and Old Master drawings; at the Courtauld Institute he trained a whole generation of curators. And yet even as he ascended from rebellion into outward conformity, he was a homosexual when homosexuality was a crime, and a traitor when the penalty was death.
The layers of secrecy upon which Blunt's life depended are stripped away with testimony from those who knew Blunt well but have until now kept silent, and documents from Russian archives, including a secret autobiography Blunt wrote for his controllers. Anthony Blunt is the first full biography of the mythical cold warrior, at once a deeply nuanced account of fifty years in the British power elite and an astonishing history of one of the century's greatest deceits.
This brilliant psychological examination of the infamous Cambridge art-historian-turned-spy reveals the multiple masks worn by the Cold Wars most notorious traitor. From young member of the Bloomsbury circle to left-wing intellectual, from closeted homosexual ascending to the Establishment to object of public denunciation by Margaret Thatcher, the arc of Blunts life is at once a deeply nuanced account of fifty years in the British power elite and an astonishing history of one of the centurys greatest deceits.
About the Author
Josef kvorecký is the author of The Bass Saxophone and The Engineer of Human Souls, among other works. He is the recipient of the Neustadt International Prize in Literature and Canada's Governor General's Award for Fiction. He lives in Toronto and Venice, Florida.