New and Noteworthy

Contemporary Review, June 2002 | Go to article overview

New and Noteworthy


W. W. NORTON has brought out several new titles and one revised edition in its 'Norton Critical Edition' series. The first is Melville's Short Stories ([pounds sterling]8.95) p.b.) edited by Professor Daniel McCall. Herman Melville wrote three short novels -- Bartleby, the Scrivner, Benito Cereno and Billy Budd, Sailor -- and this edition presents the three, profusely annotated, along with a wide selection of essays on them which is grouped into two sections: contexts and criticism. The second title is Seamus Heaney's highly praised Beowulf: A Verse Translation ([pounds sterling]7.95 p.b.) edited here by Daniel Donoghue who has provided the usual academic apparatus to help readers. Of the sixty translations of the epic this must stand as the most famous modern one. The third title is Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility ([pounds sterling]8.95 p.b.) edited by Professor Claudia Johnson. She points out that this has been the 'least appreciated' of Jane Austen's novels and one hopes this edition will help to remedy that. The final new title is Albert J. Rivero's edition of Jonathan Swift's famous satire, Gulliver's Travels ([pounds sterling]8.95 p.b.) which he bases on the October 1726 edition whilst taking account of others to provide what must become the definitive text. Norton has also published a second edition of Shelley's Poetry and Prose ([pounds sterling]10.95 p.b.) selected and edited by Donald H. Reiman and Neil Fraistat. This takes account of the 'renaissance' in Shelley studies since the first edition of 1977 and this is seen in the section devoted to Criticism. As one expects of this series, the scholarship is wide and helpful.

Among the most influential titles in the field of historiography has been E. H. Carr's What Is History? first published in 1961. PALGRAVE (formerly Macmillan Press and, in the U.S., St Martin's Press) has republished the short book at [pounds sterling]9.99. Its fame is somewhat mysterious because Carr was not an historian but first a civil servant and then a Professor of International Relations and journalist. Second, his pro-Communist bias, denounced in his time by Hugh Trevor-Roper, now Lord Dacre, skewed his view of history. However the book remains influential and this edition has a most useful extended introduction by Prof. Richard J. Evans.

Last September's atrocities in the United States have inevitably produced American books examining terrorism. Oxford's PUBLIC AFFAIRS has published How Did This Happen? Terrorism, and the New War edited by James F. Hoge, Jnr. And Gideon Rose ([pounds sterling]8.99). As we in the United Kingdom know all too well, an open society is particularly vulnerable to terrorist attack. This is a lesson which America, whose erstwhile President entertained Irish terrorists in the White House, has now learned. 'America', the editors write, 'is now at war'. The questions now facing America which these twenty-three essays examine are three-fold: how to fight back, how to reduce national vulnerability and how to 'engage the world' to reduce the chance of future attacks, particularly with reference to the Mohammedan world. The essays examine terrorism, American relations with the Middle East, the nature of Islam, Saudi Arabia's role, financial war against the Al Qaeda network, national security, the biological threat, the role of the military, economic repercussions and the changes in America's life and foreign relations which the atrocities will produce.

The second title, this time from LITTLE BROWN is Caleb Carr's The Lessons of Terror. A History of Warfare Against Civilians: Why It Has Always Failed, and Why it Will Fail Again ([pounds sterling]10.

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