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The Oxford Companion to English Literature

The Oxford Companion to English Literature has long been established as the leading reference resource for students, teachers, scholars, and general readers of English literature. It provides unrivalled coverage of all aspects of English literature – from writers, their works, and the historical and cultural context in which they wrote, to critics, literary theory, and allusions. For the seventh edition, the Companion has been thoroughly revised and updated to meet the needs and concerns of today’s students and general readers. Over 1,000 new entries have been added, ranging from new writers – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Patrick Marber, David Mitchell, Arundhati Roy – to increased coverage of writers and literary movements from around the world. Coverage of American literature has been substantially increased, with new entries on writers such as Cormac McCarthy and Amy Tan and on movements and publications. Contextual and historical coverage has also been expanded, with new entries on European history and culture, post-colonial literature, as well as writers and literary movements from around the world that have influenced English literature. The Companion has always been a quick and dependable source of reference for students, and the new edition confirms its pre-eminent role as the go-to resource of first choice. All entries have been reviewed, and details of new works, biographies, and criticism have been brought right up to date. So also has coverage of the themes, approaches and concepts encountered by students today, from terms to articles on literary theory and theorists. There is increased coverage of writers from around the world, as well as from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and of contextual topics, including film and television, music, and art. Cross-referencing has been thoroughly updated, with stronger linking from writers to thematic and conceptual entries. Meanwhile coverage of popular genres such as children’s literature, science fiction, biography, reportage, crime fiction, fantasy or travel literature has been increased substantially, with new entries on writers from Philip Pullman to Anne Frank and from Anais Nin to Douglas Adams. The seventh edition of this classic Companion – now under the editorship of Dinah Birch, assisted by a team of 28 distinguished associate editors, and over 150 contributors – ensures that it retains its status as the most authoritative, informative, and accessible guide to literature available.

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Modernism and Colonialism

This collection of essays by renowned literary scholars offers a sustained and comprehensive account of the relation of British and Irish literary modernism to colonialism. Bringing postcolonial studies into dialogue with modernist studies, the contributors move beyond depoliticized appreciations of modernist aesthetics as well as the dismissal of literary modernism as irredeemably complicit in the evils of colonialism. They demonstrate that the modernists were not unapologetic supporters of empire. Many were avowedly and vociferously opposed to colonialism, and all of the writers considered in this volume were concerned with the political and cultural significance of colonialism, including its negative consequences for both the colonizer and the colonized.

Ranging over poetry, fiction, and criticism, the essays provide fresh appraisals of Joseph Conrad, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, Wyndham Lewis, E. M. Forster, W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, Elizabeth Bowen, Hugh MacDiarmid, and Evelyn Waugh, as well as Robert Louis Stevenson and H. Rider Haggard. The essays that bookend the collection connect the modernists to their Victorian precursors, to postwar literary critics, and to postcolonial poets. The rest treat major works written or published between 1899 and 1939, the boom years of literary modernism and the period during which the British empire reached its greatest geographic expanse. Among the essays are explorations of how primitivism figured in the fiction of Lawrence and Lewis; how, in Ulysses, Joyce used modernist techniques toward anticolonial ends; and how British imperialism inspired Conrad, Woolf, and Eliot to seek new aesthetic forms appropriate to the sense of dislocation they associated with empire.

Contributors. Nicholas Allen, Rita Barnard, Richard Begam, Nicholas Daly, Maria DiBattista, Ian Duncan, Jed Esty, Andrzej Gąsiorek, Declan Kiberd, Brian May, Michael Valdez Moses, Jahan Ramazani, Vincent Sherry

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Romances of the Archive in Contemporary British Fiction

Romances of the Archive in Contemporary British Fiction is a lively discussion of the debates about the uses of the past contained in British fiction since the Falklands crisis. Drawing on a diverse and original body of work, Suzanne Keen provides a detailed examination of the range of contemporary ‘romances of the archive,’ a genre in which British novelists both deal with the loss of Empire and a nostalgia for the past, and react to the postimperial condition of Great Britain. Keen identifies the genre and explains its literary sources from Edmund Spenser to H.P. Lovecraft and John LeCarre. She also accounts for the rise in popularity of the archival romance and provides a context for understanding the British postimperial preoccupation with history and heritage.

Avoiding a narrow focus on postmodernist fiction alone, Keen treats archival romances from A.S. Byatt’s Booker Prize-winning Possession to the paperback thrillers of popular novelists. Using the work of Peter Ackroyd, Julian Barnes, Lindsay Clarke, Stevie Davies, Peter Dickinson, Alan Hollinghurst, P.D. James, Graham Swift, and others, Keen shows how archival romances insist that there is a truth and that it can be found. By characterizing the researcher who investigates, then learns the joys, costs, and consequences of discovery, Romances of the Archive persistently questions the purposes of historical knowledge and the kind of reading that directs the imagination to conceive the past.

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The Marble Collector

A box of possessions.
A father with no memory.
A daughter with just one day to piece together the past.

When Sabrina Boggs stumbles upon a mysterious collection of her father’s belongings, her seemingly uneventful life suddenly alters and shifts.

In the single day she has to search for answers about the man she thought she knew, a man who can no longer remember his own story, Sabrina uncovers far bigger secrets than she could have imagined. And discovers that sometimes it’s the people closest to us that we know the least.

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The Spinning Heart

Winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2013
Shortlisted for the Dublin IMPAC Literary Award 2014
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013
Winner of Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2012

“My father still lives back the road past the weir in the cottage I was reared in. I go there every day to see is he dead and every day he lets me down. He hasn’t yet missed a day of letting me down.”

In the aftermath of Ireland’s financial collapse, dangerous tensions surface in an Irish town. As violence flares, the characters face a battle between public persona and inner desires. Through a chorus of unique voices, each struggling to tell their own kind of truth, a single authentic tale unfolds.

The Spinning Heart speaks for contemporary Ireland like no other novel. Wry, vulnerable, all-too human, it captures the language and spirit of rural Ireland and with uncanny perception articulates the words and thoughts of a generation. Technically daring and evocative of Patrick McCabe and J.M. Synge, this novel of small-town life is witty, dark and sweetly poignant.

Donal Ryan’s brilliantly realized debut announces a stunning new voice in literary fiction.

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The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry

The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry features the work of three Nobel laureates – W. B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney – as well as Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Moore, Patrick Kavanagh, Louis MacNeice, Eavan Boland and James Joyce. It also includes epigrams, traditional verses and Old Irish songs, with 250 new English translations by the greatest poets currently working, including Seamus Heaney and Ciarán Carson.

Reflecting everything from Ireland’s rich history of writing about the land, to its untypical prominence of women in and writing its poetry, and the abundance of oppositions that have preoccupied its verse through the ages (from Christian and pre-Christian attitudes, to Gaels and Vikings, Nationalism and Unionism, Catholicism and Protestantism, the Irish and English languages) this is an inclusive and masterfully arranged collection of Irish verse. The Penguin Book of Irish Poetryis an indispensable and important guide to the country’s unparalleled literary culture.

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The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period

During the four centuries when printed paper was the only means by which texts could be carried across time and distance, everyone engaged in politics, education, religion, and literature believed that reading helped to shape the minds, opinions, attitudes, and ultimately the actions, of readers. In this 2004 book, William St Clair investigates how the national culture can be understood through a quantitative study of the books that were actually read. Centred on the Romantic period in the English-speaking world, but ranging across the whole print era, it reaches startling conclusions about the forces that determined how ideas were carried, through print, into wider society. St Clair provides an in-depth investigation of information, made available here for the first time, on prices, print runs, intellectual property, and readerships gathered from over fifty publishing and printing archives. He offers a picture of the past very different from those presented by traditional approaches. Indispensable to students of English literature, book history, and the history of ideas, the study’s conclusions and explanatory models are highly relevant to the issues we face in the age of the internet.

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We Are Not Ourselves

SHORTLISTED FOR THE JAMES TAIT BLACK PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE GUARDIAN FIRST BOOK AWARD
NOMINATED FOR THE FOLIO PRIZE
NAMED A NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES

A stunning, heartbreaking debut – ‘We Are Not Ourselves’ is both the intimate story of a family and an epic of the American Century.

The product of a stormy upbringing in an Irish Catholic enclave of New York City, Eileen craves stability. Coming of age in the early Sixties, she meets and marries a young scientist named Edmund Leary.

But while Eileen wants more for her family, Ed won’t give up teaching for a better-paid job. Inadvertently Eileen starts to climb her own career ladder in nursing. She pushes Ed into finding a new home, but it becomes clear that his resistance is part of a deeply troubling psychological shift.

In this masterful debut, Matthew Thomas paints a sprawling, profoundly sympathetic portrait of a family coping with slow-burning tragedy. ‘We Are Not Ourselves’ is a grand testament to our deepest hopes and most human frailties.

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The Oxford Handbook of the Eighteenth-Century Novel

Although the emergence of the English novel is generally regarded as an eighteenth-century phenomenon, this is the first book to be published professing to cover the ‘eighteenth-century English novel’ in its entirety. This Handbook surveys the development of the English novel during the ‘long’ eighteenth century-in other words, from the later seventeenth century right through to the first three decades of the nineteenth century when, with the publication of the novels of Jane Austen and Walter Scott, ‘the novel’ finally gained critical acceptance and assumed the position of cultural hegemony it enjoyed for over a century. By situating the novels of the period which are still read today against the background of the hundreds published between 1660 and 1830, this Handbook not only covers those ‘masters and mistresses’ of early prose fiction-such as Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, Sterne, Burney, Scott and Austen-who are still acknowledged to be seminal figures in the emergence and development of the English novel, but also the significant number of recently-rediscovered novelists who were popular in their own day. At the same time, its comprehensive coverage of cultural contexts not considered by any existing study, but which are central to the emergence of the novel, such as the book trade and the mechanics of book production, copyright and censorship, the growth of the reading public, the economics of culture both in London and in the provinces, and the re-printing of popular fiction after 1774, offers unique insight into the making of the English novel.

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Anansi Boys

Fat Charlie Nancy is not actually fat. He was fat once but he is definitely not fat now. No, right now Fat Charlie Nancy is angry, confused and more than a little scared – right now his life is spinning out of control, and it is all his dad’s fault.

If his rotter of an estranged father hadn’t dropped dead at a karaoke night, Charlie would still be blissfully unaware that his dad was Anansi the spider god. He would have no idea that he has a brother called Spider, who is also a god. And there would be no chance that said brother would be trying to take over his life, flat and fiancée, or, to make matters worse, be doing a much better job of it than him. Desperate to reclaim his life, Charlie enlists the help of four more-than-slightly eccentric old ladies and their unique brand of voodoo – and between them they unleash a bitter and twisted force to get rid of Spider. But as darkness descends and badness begins is Fat Charlie Nancy going to get his life back in one piece or is he about to enter a whole netherworld of pain?