In the years leading up to 1606, Shakespeare’s great productivity had ebbed. But that year, at age forty-two, he found his footing again, finishing a play he had begun the previous autumn—King Lear—then writing two other great tragedies, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra.
It was a memorable year in England as well—a terrorist plot conceived by a small group of Catholic gentry had been uncovered at the last hour. The foiled Gunpowder Plot would have blown up the king and royal family along with the nation’s political and religious leadership. The aborted plot renewed anti-Catholic sentiment and laid bare divisions in the kingdom.
It was against this background that Shakespeare finished Lear, a play about a divided kingdom, then wrote a tragedy that turned on the murder of a Scottish king, Macbeth. He ended this astonishing year with a third masterpiece no less steeped in current events and concerns: Antony and Cleopatra.
“Exciting and sometimes revelatory, in The Year of Lear, James Shapiro takes a closer look at the political and social turmoil that contributed to the creation of three supreme masterpieces” (The Washington Post). He places them in the context of their times, while also allowing us greater insight into how Shakespeare was personally touched by such events as a terrible outbreak of plague and growing religious divisions. “His great gift is to make the plays seem at once more comprehensible and more staggering” (The New York Review of Books). For anyone interested in Shakespeare, this is an indispensable book.
As Contested Will makes clear, much more than proper attribution of Shakespeare’s plays is at stake in this authorship controversy. Underlying the arguments over whether Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, or the Earl of Oxford wrote Shakespeare’s plays are fundamental questions about literary genius, specifically about the relationship of life and art. Are the plays (and poems) of Shakespeare a sort of hidden autobiography? Do Hamlet, Macbeth, and the other great plays somehow reveal who wrote them?
Shapiro is the first Shakespeare scholar to examine the authorship controversy and its history in this way, explaining what it means, why it matters, and how it has persisted despite abundant evidence that William Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the plays attributed to him. This is a brilliant historical investigation that will delight anyone interested in Shakespeare and the literary imagination.
Montillo recounts how—at the intersection of the Romantic Age and the Industrial Revolution—Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein was inspired by actual scientists of the period: curious and daring iconoclasts who were obsessed with the inner workings of the human body and how it might be reanimated after death.
With true-life tales of grave robbers, ghoulish experiments, and the ultimate in macabre research—human reanimation—The Lady and Her Monsters is a brilliant exploration of the creation of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s horror classic.
Published as four short books in the famous Real Story series—What Uncle Sam Really Wants; The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many; Secrets, Lies and Democracy; and The Common Good—they’ve collectively sold almost 600,000 copies.
And they continue to sell year after year after year because Chomsky’s ideas become, if anything, more relevant as time goes by. For example, twenty years ago he pointed out that “in 1970, about 90% of international capital was used for trade and long-term investment—more or less productive things—and 10% for speculation. By 1990, those figures had reversed.” As we know, speculation continued to increase exponentially. We’re paying the price now for not heeding him them.
"How did you get on?" he asked.
"I think rather well. I think he will be a most interesting tutor to have."
"Interesting? Yes, he's certainly that," said the man, who I later learned was J. R. R. Tolkien. "You'll never get to the bottom of him."
Over the next twenty-nine years, author George Sayer's first impression about C. S. Lewis proved true. He was interesting; but he was more than just that. He was a devout Christian, gifted literary scholar, best-selling author, and brilliant apologist. Sayer draws from a variety of sources, including his close friendship with Lewis and the million-word diary of Lewis's brother, to paint a portrait of the man whose friends knew as Jack.
Offering glimpses into Lewis's extraordinary relationships and experiences, Jack details the great scholar's life at the Kilns; days at Magdalen College; meetings with the Inklings; marriage to Joy Davidman Gresham; and the creative process that produced such world-famous works as the classic Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, and The Screwtape Letters.
This book is an intimate account of the man who helped-and through his works, continues to help-generations hear and understand the heart of Christianity.
(This book has not been prepared, endorsed, or licensed by any person or entity that created, published, or produced the Harry Potter books or related properties.)
CliffsNotes on 1984 introduces you to the modern world as imagined by George Orwell, a place where humans have no control over their own lives, where nearly every positive feeling is squelched, and where people live in misery, fear, and repression.
Orwell's vision of the future may be grim, but your understanding of his novel can be bright thanks to detailed summaries and commentaries for every chapter. Other features that help you study includeCharacter analyses of major playersA character map that graphically illustrates the relationships among the charactersCritical essaysA review section that tests your knowledgeA Resource Center full of books, articles, films, and Internet sites
Classic literature or modern-day treasure—you'll understand it all with expert information and insight from CliffsNotes study guides.
In CliffsNotes on The Picture of Dorian Gray, you explore Oscar Wilde’s great works about narcissism, rife with symbolism and classic themes. Here, you meet Dorian Gray and discover his secret pact with the devil to stay young and handsome, and the subsequent destruction of his soul.
This study guide carefully walks you through Dorian’s story by providing summaries and critical analyses of each chapter of the novel. You'll also explore the life and background of the author, Oscar Wilde, and gain insight into how he came to write this novel. Other features that help you study includeA list of charactersGlossaries to define new and unfamiliar termsCritical essays about Oscar Wilde’s views and lifeA review section that tests your knowledgeA list of online resources for more study
Classic literature or modern-day treasure—you'll understand it all with expert information and insight from CliffsNotes study guides.
Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town when she first read George Eliot's Middlemarch, regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission to Oxford, and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. The novel, which Virginia Woolf famously described as "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people," offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not.
In this wise and revealing work of biography, reporting, and memoir, Rebecca Mead leads us into the life that the book made for her, as well as the many lives the novel has led since it was written. Employing a structure that deftly mirrors that of the novel, My Life in Middlemarch takes the themes of Eliot's masterpiece--the complexity of love, the meaning of marriage, the foundations of morality, and the drama of aspiration and failure--and brings them into our world. Offering both a fascinating reading of Eliot's biography and an exploration of the way aspects of Mead's life uncannily echo that of Eliot herself, My Life in Middlemarch is for every ardent lover of literature who cares about why we read books, and how they read us.
From the Hardcover edition.
This idea of cosmic order was one of the genuine ruling ideas of the Elizabethan Age, and perhaps the most characteristic. Such ideas, like our everyday manners, are the least disputed and the least paraded in the creative literature of the time. The province of this book is some of the notions about the world and man that were quite frequently taken for granted by the ordinary educated Elizabethan; the commonplaces too familiar for the poets to make detailed use of, except in explicitly educational passages, but essential as basic assumptions and invaluable at moments of high passion.
The objective of The Elizabethan World Picture is to extract and explain the most ordinary beliefs about the constitution of the world as pictured in the Elizabethan Age and through this exposition to help the ordinary reader to understand and to enjoy the great writers of the age. In attempting this, Tillyard has brought together a number of pieces of elementary lore. This classic text is a convenient factual aid to extant interpretations of some of Spenser, Donne, or Milton.
In The Narnia Code, Michael Ward takes the reader through each of the seven Narnia books and reveals how each story embodies and expresses the characteristics of one of the seven planets of medieval cosmology—Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Luna, Mercury, Venus and Saturn—planets which Lewis described as “spiritual symbols of permanent value.”
How does medieval cosmology relate to the Christian underpinnings of the series? How did it impact Lewis’s depiction of Aslan, the Christlike character at the heart of the books? And why did Lewis keep this planetary inspiration a secret? Originally a ground-breaking scholarly work called Planet Narnia, this more accessible adaptation will answer all the questions.
"[Auerbach] has seen more Hammer movies than I (or the monsters) have had steaming hot diners, encountered more bloodsuckers than you could shake a stick at, even a pair of crossed sticks, such as might deter a very sophisticated ogre, a hick from the Moldavian boonies....Auerbach has dissected and deconstructed them with the tender ruthlessness of a hungry chef, with cogency and wit."—Eric Korn, Times Literary Supplement
"This seductive work offers profound insights into many of the urgent concerns of our time and forces us to confront the serious meanings that we invest, and seek, in even the shadiest manifestations of the eroticism of death."—Wendy Doniger, The Nation
"A vigorous, witty look at the undead as cultural icons."—Kirkus Review
"In case anyone should think this book is merely a boring lit-crit exposition...Auerbach sets matters straight in her very first paragraph. 'What vampires are in any given generation,' she writes, 'is a part of what I am and what my times have become. This book is a history of Anglo-American culture through its mutating vampires.'...Her book really takes off."—Maureen Duffy, New York Times Book Review
As Nineteen Eighty-Four protagonist Winston Smith has admirers on the right, in the center, and on the left, the contributors similarly represent a wide range of political, literary, and moral viewpoints. The Cold War that has so often been linked to Orwell's novel ended with more of a whimper than a bang, but most of the issues of concern to him remain alive in some form today: censorship, scientific surveillance, power worship, the autonomy of art, the meaning of democracy, relations between men and women, and many others. The contributors bring a variety of insightful and contemporary perspectives to bear on these questions.
"I have been led into an exploration of the way the social form of Elizabethan holidays contributed to the dramatic form of festive comedy. To relate this drama to holiday has proved to be the most effective way to describe its character. And this historical interplay between social and artistic form has an interest of its own: we can see here, with more clarity of outline and detail than is usually possible, how art develops underlying configurations in the social life of a culture."--C. L. Barber, in the Introduction
This new edition includes a foreword by Stephen Greenblatt, who discusses Barber's influence on later scholars and the recent critical disagreements that Barber has inspired, showing that Shakespeare's Festive Comedy is as vital today as when it was originally published.
Finally reclaiming Narnia "for the rest of us," Miller casts the Chronicles as a profoundly literary creation, and the portal to a life-long adventure in books, art, and the imagination.
Characterization has long been a troubled and neglected problem within literary theory. Through close readings of such novels as Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, and Le Père Goriot, Woloch demonstrates that the representation of any character takes place within a shifting field of narrative attention and obscurity. Each individual--whether the central figure or a radically subordinated one--emerges as a character only through his or her distinct and contingent space within the narrative as a whole. The "character-space," as Woloch defines it, marks the dramatic interaction between an implied person and his or her delimited position within a narrative structure. The organization of, and clashes between, many character-spaces within a single narrative totality is essential to the novel's very achievement and concerns, striking at issues central to narrative poetics, the aesthetics of realism, and the dynamics of literary representation.
Woloch's discussion of character-space allows for a different history of the novel and a new definition of characterization itself. By making the implied person indispensable to our understanding of literary form, this book offers a forward-looking avenue for contemporary narrative theory.
Animal tracks, word magic, the speech of stones, the power of letters, and the taste of the wind all figure prominently in this intellectual tour de force that returns us to our senses and to the sensuous terrain that sustains us. This major work of ecological philosophy startles the senses out of habitual ways of perception.
For a thousand generations, human beings viewed themselves as part of the wider community of nature, and they carried on active relationships not only with other people with other animals, plants, and natural objects (including mountains, rivers, winds, and weather patters) that we have only lately come to think of as "inanimate." How, then, did humans come to sever their ancient reciprocity with the natural world? What will it take for us to recover a sustaining relation with the breathing earth?
In The Spell of the Sensuous David Abram draws on sources as diverse as the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty, Balinese shamanism, Apache storytelling, and his own experience as an accomplished sleight-of-hand of magician to reveal the subtle dependence of human cognition on the natural environment. He explores the character of perception and excavates the sensual foundations of language, which--even at its most abstract--echoes the calls and cries of the earth. On every page of this lyrical work, Abram weaves his arguments with a passion, a precision, and an intellectual daring that recall such writers as Loren Eisleley, Annie Dillard, and Barry Lopez.
A Wizard of Their Age began when the students in Cecilia Konchar Farr’s “Six Degrees of Harry Potter” course at St. Catherine University kept finding errors in the available scholarship. These students had been reading Harry Potter for their entire literate lives, and they demanded more attention to the details they found significant. “We can do better than this,” they said.
Konchar Farr, two undergraduate teaching assistants, and five student editors decided to test that hypothesis. After issuing a call for contributions, they selected fifteen thoughtful academic essays by students from across the country. These essays examine the Harry Potter books from a variety of perspectives, including literary, historical, cultural, gender, mythological, psychological, theological, and genetic—there is even a nursing care plan for Tom Riddle. Interspersed among the essays are brief vignettes entitled “My Harry Potter Story,” where students write about their personal encounters with the novels.
Although a quick Internet search yields a dazzling number of books about Harry Potter, few are as deeply invested or insightful as A Wizard of Their Age. Written and edited by—and for—members of the Harry Potter generation, these essays demonstrate this generation’s passionate engagement with the Harry Potter phenomenon and provide numerous critical insights into the individual novels and the series as a whole.
Even if you've never read the novels and have only seen the films, you know that the world of Middle-earth is a complicated one. Tolkien took great care in representing this world, from creating new languages to including very particular cultural details that add to the richness of the world's fabric. Many other books have been written about Tolkien and his works, but none have come close to providing the kind of reference needed to comprehend the world of Middle-earth. That's what veteran Dummies author and unabashed Tolkien fan Greg Harvey attempts to do in The Origins of Tolkien's Middle-earth For Dummies.
As the author says in his introduction to the book, this is not an encyclopedia or quick guide to all the diverse beings, languages, and history that make up Tolkien's Middle-earth. Nor is it a set of plot outlines for the novels. Rather, what you'll find in The Origins of Tolkien's Middle-earth For Dummies is a basic guide to some of the possible linguistic and mythological origins of Middle-earth, plus a rudimentary analysis of its many themes and lessons for our world. This book can help enrich your reading (or re-reading) of Tolkien's novels, and it will challenge you to think about the themes inherent in Tolkien's Middle-earth and their implications in your own life.
Here's just a sampling of the topics you'll find covered in The Origins of Tolkien's Middle-earth For Dummies:Exploring the main themes in Tolkien's works, including immortality and death; the heroic quest; love; fate and free will; and faith and redemption Investigating the diverse lands of Middle-earth – including the Shire, Gondor, and Mordor – and their significance Examining the different cultures of Middle-earth, such as Hobbits, Elves, Men, and those wily Wizards Touring the history of Middle-earth Understanding Tolkien's creation of new languages to enrich the story of Middle-earth Top Ten lists on the battles in the War of the Ring, online resources, and the ways the films differ from the novels
So, whether you're reading Tolkien's novels or watching the films for the first time, or you've been a fan for many years and are looking for a new take on Tolkien's works, The Origins of Tolkien's Middle-earth For Dummies can help you enhance your reading or viewing experience for years to come.
In CliffsNotes on Silas Marner, you explore the life of Silas Marner, a weaver who has been outcast from his original home and lives a lonely, miserable existence until his gold is stolen and a child comes into his life to replace it. This memorable novel is George Eliot's most well-known and admired work—one that strives to present realistic human relationships and address the function of religion in society.
Chapter summaries and commentaries take you through Silas Marner's journey, and critical essays help you understand the plot, structure, characterization, themes, and use of symbolism in the novel. Other features that help you study includeAnalyses of each of the main charactersA section on the life and background of George EliotA section of review questionsA selected bibliographyA genealogy chart to help you understand the complex relationships of the novel
Classic literature or modern-day treasure—you'll understand it all with expert information and insight from CliffsNotes study guides.
Pipes looks at the Rushdie affair in both its political and cultural aspects and shows in considerable detail what the fundamentalists perceived as so offensive in The Satanic Verses as against what Rushdie's novel actually said. Pipes explains how the book created a new crisis between Iran and the West at the time--disrupting international diplomacy, billions of dollars in trade, and prospects for the release of Western hostages in Lebanon.
Pipes maps out the long-term implications of the crisis. If the Ayatollah so easily intimidated the West, can others do the same? Can millions of fundamentalist Muslims now living in the United States and Europe possibly be assimilated into a culture so alien to them? Insightful and brilliantly written, this volume provides a full understanding of one of the most significant events in recent years. Koenraad Elst's postscript reviews the enduring impact of the Rushdie affair.
"The Rushdie Affair is a lucid, balanced often startling and ultimately convincing analysis....scrupulously fair, respectful of Islam yet unintimidated by the flood of threats and invective."--Mark Caldwell, Philadelphia Inquirer
"[A] work of impeccable scholarship.Pipes offers a number of conclusions that merit attention at all levels."--Amir Tahiri, Los Angeles Times
Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and a columnist for the New York Post and the Jerusalem Post. Among his books are The Long Shadow: Culture and Politics in the Middle East, In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power (both published by Transaction), Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition, and Friendly Tyrants: An American Dilemma.
Koenraad Elst is a Belgium-based writer on comparative religion, Indian history, and Hindu-Muslim relations.
"Very highly recommended for anyone seeking a better understanding of contemporary Islam in general, and this defining controversy in particular."--Wisconsin Bookwatch
CliffsNotes on Great Expectations explores Charles Dickens's renowned work, a novel that gives you plots that twist and turn, themes of good and evil, and people who want for means to make sense of their lives.
Following the story of an orphaned boy whose first-person take on the world around him gives readers a detailed picture of Victorian England, this study guide provides summaries and critical commentaries for each chapter within the novel. Other features that help you figure out this important work includePersonal background on the authorIntroduction to and synopsis of the bookIn-depth character analysesCritical essays on topics of interestReview section that features interactive questions and suggested essay topics and practice projectsResource Center with books, films, and websites that can help round out your knowledge
“How lucky the young poet who discovers this wisest and most lighthearted of manuals.”—James Merrill
“Marvelously comprehensive, clarifying and useful, and a delight to read.”—John Reardon, Los Angeles Times Book Review
“A virtuoso performance and a mandatory text for poetry readers and practioners alike.”—ALA Booklist
To introduce readers to Joyce and his work, the volume begins with a short biography and a survey of the importance and cultural impact of Ulysses. Most beginning readers find it difficult to follow Joyce's plot, and so they abandon the text in frustration. Thus the book includes the most detailed available plot summary of Joyce's novel. The chapters that follow overview the novel's publication history; its historical and cultural contexts, including Modernism, Irish literature and history, and political and social trends; major themes and issues; Joyce's narrative art, including his character development, language, images, and style; and the academic and critical response to the work. The volume closes with a bibliographical essay.
In this classic, the world's expert on language and mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution. The Language Instinct received the William James Book Prize from the American Psychological Association and the Public Interest Award from the Linguistics Society of America. This edition includes an update on advances in the science of language since The Language Instinct was first published.
Following a literary analysis, historical documents trace the European powers' partition of Africa and the creation and colonization of Nigeria, home of the Igbo people. Several chapters on Igbo cultural harmony feature materials that explain the Igbo view of the world of humans and the world of the spirits, Igbo language, and traditional Igbo religion and material customs. Selections on the African novelists' novel place Things Fall Apart in the context of African literature and emphasize the difference between African and Western elements of fiction. A concluding chapter examines the debate on writing African novels in ex-colonizers' languages. This casebook will greatly enhance the reader's appreciation of the novel and understanding of Igbo history, society, culture, and civilization.
From Germaine Greer to Marilyn Monroe, from the nature of celebrity to German culpability for the Holocaust, Reliable Essays is an unmissable collection from one of the best writers of our time.
Language is mankind's greatest invention-except, of course, that it was never invented." So begins linguist Guy Deutscher's enthralling investigation into the genesis and evolution of language. If we started off with rudimentary utterances on the level of "man throw spear," how did we end up with sophisticated grammars, enormous vocabularies, and intricately nuanced degrees of meaning?
Drawing on recent groundbreaking discoveries in modern linguistics, Deutscher exposes the elusive forces of creation at work in human communication, giving us fresh insight into how language emerges, evolves, and decays. He traces the evolution of linguistic complexity from an early "Me Tarzan" stage to such elaborate single-word constructions as the Turkish sehirlilestiremediklerimizdensiniz ("you are one of those whom we couldn't turn into a town dweller"). Arguing that destruction and creation in language are intimately entwined, Deutscher shows how these processes are continuously in operation, generating new words, new structures, and new meanings.
As entertaining as it is erudite, The Unfolding of Language moves nimbly from ancient Babylonian to American idiom, from the central role of metaphor to the staggering triumph of design that is the Semitic verb, to tell the dramatic story and explain the genius behind a uniquely human faculty.
In this updated edition of Lakoff and Johnson's influential book, the authors supply an afterword surveying how their theory of metaphor has developed within the cognitive sciences to become central to the contemporary understanding of how we think and how we express our thoughts in language.