A Writer's Life
Philip Larkin (1922–1985) was the ‘unofficial Poet Laureate’ whose approachable poems about ordinary life won popularity if not laurels: at his memorial service in 1986, Westminster Abbey was filled to overflowing with his admirers. In this authorized biography, Andrew Motion, one the poet’s two literary executors, draws on and quotes extensively from a huge amount of previously unpublished material – poems, letters, stories and unfinished novels – to set Larkin's work in context while charting the complex course of his life.
The Trip to Echo Spring
On Writers and Drinking
Having grown up in an alcoholic family, Olivia Laing felt drawn to investigate the link between drink and creativity through the lives and work of six great American authors: F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, John Cheever and Raymond Carver. In a journey across the USA that is both exploratory and redemptive, she asks whether writing and addiction are fuelled by the same inner dissatisfaction, and contemplates the possibility of recovery.
Shakespeare's Strangest Tales
Extraordinary but True Tales from 400 Years of Shakespearean Theatre
Spanning more than four centuries, this anthology of 90 stories related to the life and legacy of William Shakespeare considers such diverse topics as his passion for litigation, the company that stage silent performances of his plays and the Orson Welles'-directed production of Macbethset in Haiti.
A History of Despots Through Their Writing
From Mein Kampf to Mao’s Little Red Book, dictators have often sought to expound their ideology in print, while some have even turned their hand to creative writing. Starting with the Big Five of 20th-century tyranny – Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler and Mao – this study also examines the memoirs of Enver Hoxha, the poetry of Serb warlords, the historical fiction of Saddam Hussein and the speeches of Fidel Castro to provide a chilling insight into the despotic mindset.
Singing the New Song
Literacy and Liturgy in Late Medieval England
Starting with the medieval institution of the ‘song school’, Katherine Zieman presents a study of 14th- and early 15th-century liturgical practice and its relationship to literacy. Where many scholars have related increased literacy during this period to writing practices, Zieman focuses on the reading and singing of written liturgy, and argues that the performance of sacred texts played a vital role in learning and literacy.
The Portable Renaissance Reader
During the 15th and 16th centuries Europe rediscovered the ancient world and underwent a revolution in scientific knowledge. This classic anthology brings together selections from a range of Renaissance texts illustrating ‘characteristic tendencies, themes and seminal forms of the self-expression of the age’. It features the words of more than 100 writers including scientists and scholars (Erasmus, Copernicus), poets and artists (Petrarch, Michelangelo), and prelates and saints (Pius II, Teresa of Avila). Slightly off-mint and felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
The Best Minds of My Generation
A Literary History of the Beats
The poet Allen Ginsberg was a central figure in the ‘Beat Generation’ that revolutionized American literature in the 1950s. In the 1970s, he undertook a series of lectures on its history. Collected here, they form a discursive and revelatory first-hand account of the movement. Alongside Ginsberg’s thoughts on sex, politics, poetry and jazz are intimate portraits of the writers Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and Neal Cassady. Slightly off-mint.
The Essential Essays, 1968–2002
James’s commentaries on 20th-century culture include reactions to WH Auden’s death, the media response to Germaine Greer’s writing and his thoughts on MGM musicals. This collection, originally published as As of This Writing, contains 49 essays, with postscripts penned in 2003 reflecting upon his earlier views.
Cambridge Companion to European Modernism
Contributors to this study of Modernist literature were asked to consider what ‘this cosmopolitan movement in the arts can teach us about life as a citizen of Europe and of the world’. The 15 essays examine Modernism within national and regional literatures – including studies of the former Habsburg Empire and pre-revolutionary Russia – but also discuss the movement across borders of ideas and forms and of writers such as Rilke, Joyce, Svevo and Maiakovskii. Off-mint.
The Spirit of Self-Help
A Life of Samuel Smiles
A worldwide sensation following its publication in 1859, Smiles’ Self-Help still influences our thinking about ‘the search for happiness’ in everyday life. This first biography of the man behind a modern phenomenon draws on his many other writings to trace how his ideas developed throughout his long life. It provides insights into the Victorians’ responses to their fast-changing world but also highlights the relevance of Smiles’ perspectives to today’s pressing questions about progress and freedom.