Their surprising power to disturb, soothe, seduce or absorb give these quirky objects histories and meanings we rarely ponder. Yet we would be lost without them.
Take bags, for example. Why do most women carry handbags, while men rely on pockets? Why do so many houses have bags of bags? And why do we 'let the cat out the bag' or 'give someone the sack'? What significance do our bags hold for us?
In this highly imaginative and entertaining book, Steven Connor embarks on a historical, philosophical and linguistic journey that explores our relationships with the curious things with which we have a forgotten but daily intimacy.
The Book of Skin then probes into how skin has been such a powerfully symbolic terrain in photography, religious iconography, cinema, and literature. From the Turin shroud to Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man to plastic surgery, The Book of Skin expertly examines the role of skin in Western culture. A compelling read that penetrates well beyond skin-deep, The Book of Skin validates James Joyce’s declaration that “modern man has an epidermis rather than a soul.” “Richly conceived and elaborately thought out. No flicker of meaning has escaped Connor’s ferocious, all-seeing eye.”—Guardian
Fly explores the history of this much-maligned creature and then turns to examine its newfound redemption through science. The secrets of the fly’s versatile powers of flight, Steven Connor reveals, are only beginning to be understood and appreciated. Its eyes and wings, for instance, have evolved so perfectly that they provide inspiration for some of today’s most daring technological and scientific innovations. And the humble fruit fly, Connor demonstrates, stands at the center of revolutionary advances in genetic research.
Connor delights in tracking his lowly subject through myth, literature, poetry, painting, film, and biology. Humans live in close and intimate quarters with flies, but Fly is the first book to give these common creatures their due.
Beyond Words goes outside of linguistics and phonetics to focus on the popular conceptions of what language is, rather than what it actually is or how it works. From the moans and sobs of human grief to playful linguistic nonsense, Connor probes the fringes and limits of human language—and our definition of “voice” and meaning—to challenge our basic assumptions about what it is to communicate and where we find meaning in language. By engaging with vocal sounds and tics usually trivialized or ignored, Beyond Words presents a startling and fascinating new way to engage with language itself.
A Matter of Air investigates the meanings of air over the last three centuries, including our modern concern over emissions and climate change. Steven Connor looks at the human relationship with air, both positive and negative. His explorations include the dangers posed by radio atmospherics, poison gas, and haze as well as our continued fascination with effervescence and explosives. Drawing ideas from religion, science, art, literature, and philosophy, A Matter of Air creates a comprehensive history of the human perception of air. Thoroughly researched and written with wit and quirky enthusiasm, the book will appeal to a wide range of general readers interested in the environment, human history, and our most essential aspects of life.
* George Orwell
* William Golding
* Angela Carter
* Doris Lessing * Timothy Mo
* Hanif Kureishi
* Marina Warner
* Maggie Gee
Written by a foremost scholar of contemporary culture and theory, The English Novel in History, 1950 to the Present offers not only a survey but also a historical and cultural context to British literature produced in the second half of this century.