New and Noteworthy. (Reviews)

Contemporary Review, March 2003 | Go to article overview

New and Noteworthy. (Reviews)


On 30 January HAUS PUBLISHING, a new publishing venture, was launched in London, The brain-child of Dr Barbara Schwepcke, the new publisher is inspired in part by Rowohlts' successful monograph series in her native Germany. This has been transformed into the Haus' first series which is called 'Life and Times'. Short biographies meet a definite need in the market, as seen by Weidenfeld and Nicolson's Lives series and Haus' new collection is both far-reaching and well presented in low-priced hardback and paperback versions with good paper and lots of photographs. The firm, which will publish a 'mix of new commissions and translations ... of key Rowohit titles' plans to bring out biographies covering a wide field in the arts, history, science and popular entertainment priced at [pounds sterling]12.99 (hardback) and [pounds sterling]8.99 (paperback): Curie, Einstein, Kafka, Orwell, Bach, Verdi, Wilde, Sir Roger Casement and Marlene Dietrich are all scheduled to appear by June to be followed by De Gaulle, De Valer a, Brahms, Britten, Dostoevsky, Mosley, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Guevara, Kurt Weill and Louis Armstrong. Faber and Faber are handling sales. The first three titles, all translations from the Rowohlt list, are: Martin Geck's Beethoven, Thomas Schipperges' Prokofiev and Sebastian Haffner's Churchill. The Churchill book was first published in 1996 and is here introduced by Prof. Peter Hennessy. In his controversial biography the author's passion for verve sometimes led him into rather groundless assertions but, as Prof. Hennessy writes in the Introduction, the text can be read 'with great pleasure, profit and speed'. One can only wish the new venture the best of British luck.

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS continues its series of companions with two new collections of essays. The first, The Cambridge Companion to the Brontes is edited by Heather Glen, a Fellow of New Hall, Cambridge. The ten essays, introduced by Miss Glen, look at the works of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte, at the world in which they lived and at the history of their fiction. After essays on life in the Haworth parsonage, the sisters' juvenile writings and their poetry, there are specific essays on The Professor, Agnes Grey, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Shirley and Villette. These are followed by contributions on 'ideology, personality and the Bronte characters', the importance of religion, the problems faced by 'independently minded women' in the Bronte sisters' fiction and the Bronte Myth'. As the editor puts it, the Brontes works are deceptively easy for modem readers but 'to see the Brontes clearly we must see them in their cultural difference. . . [in] a world as foreign as it is familiar'. The second new volume is The Cambridge Companion to William Blake edited by Prof. Morris Eaves, a leading expert on the poet and engraver. This collection of thirteen essays is divided into two parts. The first, 'perspectives', will help students to understand Blake with essays on the artistic world in which he lived, illuminated printing, his use of language, his work as a painter, the political nature of his works and the historical background to his politics. The second part concentrates on Blake's written works with essays on his early productions, the period from America to The Four Zoas, Milton, and finally, Jerusalem and his final verse. Because of the peculiar nature of Blake's writing the three appendices -- a glossary of terms, names and concepts in his writing, a guide to further reading and 'seeing Blake's art in person' are especially useful. …

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