A Revolution of Feeling
The Decade that Forged the Modern Mind
In the 1790s Britain experienced what Edmund Burke called ‘a revolution in sentiments’: Hewitt shows how the French Revolution inspired British radicals to incorporate raw emotion into reformist ideals concerning sex, education, commerce and medicine. However, while this had enduring political effects, the aspirations of Enlightenment figures including Samuel Coleridge, William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft and Thomas Wedgwood went unfulfilled as the ensuing Terror led to political crackdowns in Britain.
Stranger in a Strange Land
Searching for Gerhom Scholem and Jerusalem
Gershom (born Gerhard) Scholem was one of the leading intellectuals of pre-war Germany, and a close friend of Walter Benjamin. In 1923 he emigrated to Palestine and became the world’s foremost scholar of the Kabbalah. This study traces the evolution of his ideas from his disillusionment with European materialism and his discovery of Jewish mysticism, to his unease at the politics of Israel, where he found himself ‘a stranger in a strange land’. Off-mint.
The Minister and the Murderer
A Book of Aftermaths
Should a self-confessed murderer be allowed to become a priest? In 1984 the Church of Scotland wrestled with this question when James Nelson, who had served a prison sentence for killing his mother, applied for ordination as a minister. Kelly uses this case as the starting-point for a history of the Church in Scotland, which also combines personal memoir, true-crime narrative and an exegesis of biblical and literary accounts of sin and forgiveness.
History is two things: event and report, which are not necessarily the same. In this provocative book, historian Simon Schama uses the techniques of fiction to explore the eccentric 19th-century Parkman family of Boston – and to interrogate the practice of his own profession.
Outlaws, Poets, Mystics, Murderers and a Coward in London's Great Forest
After 15 years in the music industry, Will Ashon experienced a ‘not hugely original’ mid-life crisis. Struggling to write, he took to walking in Epping Forest near his East London home, encountering filthy graffiti and terrifying dogs. The result was this unique work of non-fiction – part memoir, part cultural history, part landscape writing. Shot through with self-deprecating humour and political indignation, the book is a life-affirming exploration of our modern anxieties.
After a Funeral
Diana Athill had read Waguih Ghali’s novel, Beer in the Snooker Club, long before she met and fell in love with him. Love turned to friendship, and Ghali, or ‘Didi’, carried on living in her flat, where he ultimately took his own life. Published 13 years later, this is Athill’s honest account of the three years they spent together.
Have You Been Good?
The granddaughter of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, Vanessa Nicolson was born to an illustrious name and an unhappy marriage. In this brutally frank, bittersweet memoir, she chronicles her reckless childhood and disjointed youth, summer holidays at Sissinghurst Castle, and life at a liberal boarding school. Interlinked with her story is that of her daughter Rosa, who died at the age of 19. The result is a powerful meditation on love and loss, cultural privilege and emotional deprivation.
An Editor's Life
For half a century, Diana Athill edited, coaxed, nursed and, at times, coerced a succession of novelists from Jean Rhys to Timothy Mo into producing their finest work. Elegant, clear-sighted and self- deprecating, her memoirs offer a wise and often very funny account of a life in publishing; a life in which the parade of literary luminaries takes second place to Athill's sheer love of language and literature.
Living with a Wild God
A Non-Believer's Search for the Truth About Everything
In middle age, the acclaimed social commentator Barbara Ehrenreich rediscovered a journal she had kept as a teenager. It recorded an event so strange that she had never spoken or written about it: a mystical experience that rocked her steadfast rationalist convictions. In this profound reflection on science, religion and the human condition, she attempts to reconcile that cataclysmic moment with her secular understanding, challenging us to reassess our perceptions of life.