New and Noteworthy

Contemporary Review, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

New and Noteworthy

EVERYMAN LIBRARY is among the most prolific producers of fine, hardback editions of titles in the literary canon. Recent issues include Paul Scott's famous Raj Quartet in two volumes. These popular novels were first published between 1966 and 1975. The first volume contains The Jewel in the Crown and The Day of the Scorpion while the second has The Towers of Silence and A Division of the Spoils. Each volume is priced at [pounds sterling]15.00 and each has a most useful introduction by Hilary Spurling, Scott's biographer. She has no doubt that he is 'one of the most powerful and perceptive novelists of the twentieth century' because of the honesty of his insight, an honesty which is captured in these four volumes, based as they were on his own travels and war-time experience in India. The volumes also contain detailed chronologies that will prove useful to readers unfamiliar with the history of this period.

Also from Everyman Library Classics we have more volumes in their complete edition of P.G. Wodehouse's works: Sam the Sudden ([pounds sterling]10.00), an early example (1925) of Wodehouse's use of the 'special relationship' and how it interacts with the criminal world; Big Money ([pounds sterling]10.99) which demonstrates Wodehouse's genius for creating wonderful plots; and, finally, The Best of Wodehouse: An Anthology ([pounds sterling]12.99) which has an introduction by John Mortimer. The text contains two novels, The Code of the Woosters, the novel which introduced Wodehouse's most famous characters, Bertie Wooster and his man-servant, Jeeves, and Uncle Fred in the Springtime. In addition there are fourteen short stories as well as a most useful extract from the novelist's autobiography, Over Seventy. As always there is a useful chronology.

PEARSON LONGMAN has brought out a new title in its Longman Annotated English Poets series, Dryden: Selected Poems ([pounds sterling]19.99 p.b.) edited by Professors Paul Hammond and David Hopkins. This latest volume conforms to the format laid out when the series began in the 1960s: the text has been modernised; poems are published in the order in which they were written (or in this case, published) and the poems have been annotated. The selected texts, taken from Longman's Annotated English Poets edition of Dryden's verse, are composed of his most important historical, satirical, political, and religious poems of the 1660s-1680s along with a sampling of his best verse translations and occasional verses from the 1680s and 1690s. The excellent annotations are taken from the Annotated English Poets edition but new material has been added to make sense of cross-references to texts that are not included. The editors have wisely included the whole of Mac Flecknoe, Absalom and Achitophel, Religio Laici and The Hind and the Panther. This selection will make Dryden's poetry more accessible without losing any of the rigorous scholarship which underlay the Annotated English Poets edition.

The works of the late Sir John Betjeman are distributed among a variety of publishers and in recent months we have had two new additions. The first, which comes from JOHN MURRAY, is Tennis Whites and Teacakes ([pounds sterling]16.99) edited by Stephen Games who was also responsible for the earlier, Trains and Buttered Toast. This new collection is a pot pourri of the Poet Laureate's prose and poetry from 1927 to 1979, organised along various themes, e.g. childhood, Oxford, Englishness, the Seaside, London, the Second World War, churches, clergy and faith. The aim is to paint a picture of this wonderful man through his own words and it succeeds admirably. Changing publishers, but not editors, we also have the third of Stephen Games' anthologies, Sweet Songs of Zion: Selected Radio Talks ([pounds sterling]14.99) published by HODDER & STOUGHTON. This selection differs in being concentrated on one field of historical interest and one dear to Betjeman's heart, English hymnology. …

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