New and Noteworthy. (Review)

Contemporary Review, July 2003 | Go to article overview
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New and Noteworthy. (Review)


CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS continues its series of companions with The Cambridge Companion to Simone de Beauvoir ([pounds sterling45.00]) edited by Prof. Claudia Card of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. This collection of fourteen essays is mainly focused on Beauvoir's philosophical writings, especially her works on ethics. There are essays on her place in the history of philosophy, on philosophy in her fiction, and on her relations with Heidegger and Bergson. Her work as a writer of novels and stories and her contribution to French feminism are not overlooked, however, with contributions on her most famous philosophical work, The Second Sex, her writing on de Sade, her attitudes towards evil, her memoirs and her contributions to the history of feminism. She remains, par excellence, the philosopher of ambiguity and, as many students of philosophy in Britain and America lack the European grounding required to read Beauvoir, this collection aims at exploring Beauvoir 'in relation to post-Kantian German a nd postCartesian French traditions'. A second new reference work comes from ROUTLEDGE: Geoffrey Harvey's The Complete Critical Guide to Thomas Hardy ([pounds sterling45.00]). As with other volumes in this series, Mr Harvey has divided his text into three parts. The first, 'Life and Contexts', gives readers a short biography which charts Hardy's rise from obscurity as a Dorset architect to fame as a writer, poet and grand old man of English letters. The second part, 'Work', looks at Hardy's major and lesser novels, at his short stories and poetry, at his epic verse-drama, The Dynasts, and at his 1933 autobiography published as The Life of Thomas Hardy with his wife described as the author. The final section, 'Criticism', takes readers through the various angles from which Hardy has been criticised, both during his lifetime and after his death. If those who study or those who enjoy Hardy end up on a desert island with only one reference work, this is the one they should take with them.

Among connoisseurs of obituaries, those in the Daily Telegraph have of late gained considerable attention. It is appropriate then for CONTINUUM to bring out the latest collection, in Priests and Prelates: The Daily Telegraph Clerical Obituaries ([pounds srterling]l6.99) compiled by the Rev.Trevor Beeson, formerly the Dean of Westminster, who is himself a writer of obituaries for the paper. The obituaries selected cover the years 1987-2002 and do not just concern themselves with bishops, deans, canons and archbishops. There are many 'average' priests, men who labour with little earthly reward. As Mr Beeson writes, 'a healthy society, including a healthy Church, requires wider recognition of the central place of the sacrificial in human experience, and in the obituaries that follow there is ample evidence of its creative power'. This collection will not only instruct, inform and, in some cases, amuse but it will prove a valuable source for future historians.

The debate over the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 continues to fascinate historians. From CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS we have a new collection of essays, mainly by American historians, The Origins of World War I edited by Richard F. Hamilton and Holger H. Herwig ([pounds sterling]45.00 and US$60.00). The volume begins with an introduction by the two editors in which they justify yet another book on this over-written area by saying that several 'key elements' have been missed by earlier writers. The next entry is a survey of Europe's wars between Waterloo and 1914, after which there are eleven contributions, each devoted to a particular nation, Empire or group of nations (Bulgaria, Roumania and Greece). The penultimate essay, 'Why Did It Happen?' is by Prof. Herwig who argues that if one wants a single key, it was the fear in Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia and France that each country was in decline or at least threatened. War was the only way out of the dilemma.

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