The World of Paperbacks

Contemporary Review, Autumn 2008 | Go to article overview

The World of Paperbacks


PENGUIN BOOKS have brought out an impressive range of titles devoted to recent history. First we have Prof. Sir Ian Kershaw's Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed the World 1940-1941 ([pounds sterling]9.99), an examination of the decisions taken which would determine European and to an extent, world, history for the next four years. Second there is Tim Blanning's The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815 ([pounds sterling]10.99), part of The Penguin History of Europe series and masterful handling of a long and involved part of European history. Our third title is John Nichol and Tony Rennell's Home Run: Escape from Nazi Europe ([pounds sterling]8.99), a moving account of British troops who escaped imprisonment and one enlivened by personal interviews. Finally we have Scotland: The Autobiography ([pounds sterling]10.99) edited by Rosemary Goring. In the past this would have been called an anthology but whatever the title it gives readers a wide-ranging selection of first-hand observations. Also from Penguin we have Linda Lear's Beatrix Potter: The Extraordinary Life of a Victorian Genius ([pounds sterling]8.99) which shows that the novels were but one part of Beatrix Potter's life.

In the Penguin Classic series we have four new titles in its collection of Henry James' novels: The Europeans ([pounds sterling]7.99), here edited and introduced by Mr Andrew Taylor, The Wings of the Dove ([pounds sterling]8.99), edited by Prof. Millicent Bell, The Figure in the Carpet and Other Stories (10.99), edited and introduced by Sir Frank Kermode (a reissue of the 1986 edition), and The Ambassadors ([pounds sterling]8.99). In the first, second and fourth cases the texts were based on the New York Edition but for The Wings of the Dove the editor has used the Osgood first US printing. Other new editions include George Eliot's Adam Bede ([pounds sterling]7.99), introduced, edited and noted by Margaret Reynolds and Alexis de Tocqueville's The Ancien Regime and the Revolution ([pounds sterling]10.99). This is a new translation by Gerald Began who has also edited the text. Prof. Hugh Brogan, who published a highly praised biography of Tocqueville in 2006, has provided an introduction.

THAMES & HUDSON have published a paperback edition of Elizabeth Cowling's Visiting Picasso: The Notebooks and Letters of Roland Penrose ([pounds sterling]16.95) in which the author has made excellent use of the Penrose Archives in Edinburgh to shed much new light into the relationship between Sir Roland and the Spanish artist. A second and equally impressive art title is Virginia Chieffo Raguin's The History of Stained Glass: The Art of Light Medieval to Contemporary ([pounds sterling]19.95), an impressive, erudite and beautifully illustrated history.

Among the new titles from OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS we have a wide range of titles and groups. On the reference side we have a fifth edition of Prof. Jerome Murphy-O'Connor's widely respected guide. The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide ([pounds sterling]18.99), first published in 1980. As Prof. Murphy-O'Connot writes, 'archaeology in Israel never stops' so this edition has revised and expanded that of 1998 to reflect recent work. Also on the biblical front we have from O.U.P. New York, a paperback edition of the Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies ([pounds sterling]27.50) edited by J.W. Rogerson and Judith M. Lieu and first published in 2006. The 45 essays cover the entire range of biblical research including archaeological, linguistic, and historical approaches while also examining the Bible's composition, interpretation, and authority as well as the various methods of study, from text to social criticism. It is good to have this stimulating collection in paperback format. We also have a third edition of The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms ([pounds sterling]9.99) edited by Chris Baldick. The volume's 1200 terms, arranged alphabetically, range from 'abjection' to 'zeugma'.

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