Literary Criticism



Fyodor Dostoevsky, Walker Percy, and the Age of Suicide

John F. Desmond
Fyodor Dostoevsky, Walker Percy, and the Age of Suicide is a study of the phenomenon of suicide in modern and post-modern society as represented in the major fictional works of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Walker Percy. In his study, suicide is understood in both a literal and spiritual sense as referring to both the actual suicides in their works and to the broader social malaise of spiritual suicide, or despair. In the 19th century Dostoevsky called suicide "the terrible...

Made Under Pressure

Natalia Kamovnikova
During the Cold War, determined translators and publishers based in the Soviet Union worked together to increase the number of foreign literary texts available in Russian, despite fluctuating government restrictions. Based on extensive interviews with literary translators, Made Under Pressure offers an insider's look at Soviet censorship and the role translators played in promoting foreign authors—including figures like John Fowles, George Orwell, Kurt...

Jade Mountains and Cinnabar Pools

James M. Hargett, hD
First-hand accounts of travel provide windows into places unknown to the reader, or new ways of seeing familiar places. In Jade Mountains and Cinnabar Pools, the first book-length treatment in English of Chinese travel literature (youji), James M. Hargett identifies and examines core works in the genre, from the Six Dynasties period (220–581), when its essential characteristics emerged, to its florescence in the late Ming dynasty...

The Politics of Richard Wright

Jane Anna Gordon
A pillar of African American literature, Richard Wright is one of the most celebrated and controversial authors in American history. His work championed intellectual freedom amid social and political chaos. Despite the popular and critical success of books such as Uncle Tom's Children (1938), Black Boy (1945), and Native Son (1941), Wright faced staunch criticism and even censorship throughout his career for the graphic sexuality, intense violence, and communist themes in his...

Virtues of Renewal

Jeffrey Bilbro
For over fifty years, Wendell Berry has argued that our most pressing ecological and cultural need is a renewed formal intelligence—a mode of thinking and acting that fosters the health of the earth and its beings. Yet the present industrial economy prioritizes a technical, self-centered way of relating to the world that often demands and rewards busyness over thoughtful observation, independence over relationships, and replacing over repairing. Such a system is both...

Books for Idle Hours

Donna Harrington-Lueker
The publishing phenomenon of summer reading, often focused on novels set in vacation destinations, started in the nineteenth century, as both print culture and tourist culture expanded in the United States. As an emerging middle class increasingly embraced summer leisure as a marker of social status, book publishers sought new market opportunities, authors discovered a growing readership, and more readers indulged in lighter fare. Drawing...

Modernist Time Ecology

Jesse Matz
Do our fictions transform time? Do they cultivate the temporal environment? Such was the hope—or the fantasy—at work in many modernist novels for which time was not only the major subject but also an object of reparative aspiration. Aimed at a kind of stewardship of time, these fictions constitute a practice of modernist time ecology: an effort to restore those landscapes of time that have been thrown into crisis by modernity. In Modernist Time Ecology, Jesse Matz redefines temporal experimentation in central...

The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation

Trevor Owens
Many people believe that what is on the Internet will be around forever. At the same time, warnings of an impending "digital dark age"—where records of the recent past become completely lost or inaccessible—appear with regular frequency in the popular press. It’s as if we need a system to safeguard our digital records for future scholars and researchers. Digital preservation experts, however, suggest this is an illusory dream not worth chasing. Ensuring long-term access to digital...

Love's Quarrels

Evan Gurney
Early modern English writers often complained that "charity had grown cold," lamenting the dissolution of society's communal bonds. But far from diminishing in scope or influence, charity generated heated debates, animated by social, political, and religious changes that prompted urgent questions about the virtue's powers and functions. Charity was as much a problem as it was a solution, a sure sign of trouble even when invoked on behalf of peace and community. Love's Quarrels...

In Search of Russian Modernism

Leonid Livak
The writing and teaching of Russian literary and cultural history has changed little since the 1980s. In Search of Russian Modernism challenges the basic premises of Russian modernist studies, removing the aura of certainty surrounding the analytical tools at our disposal and suggesting audacious alternatives to the conventional ways of thinking and speaking about Russian and transnational modernism. Drawing on methodological breakthroughs in Anglo-American new modernist studies, Leonid Livak explores...

Writing in Public

Trevor Ross
Building upon his previous work on the emergence of "literature," Trevor Ross offers a history of how the public function of literature changed as a result of developing press freedoms during the period from 1760 to 1810. Writing in Public examines the laws of copyright, defamation, and seditious libel to show what happened to literary writing once certain forms of discourse came to be perceived as public and entitled to freedom from state or...

Irish Writers in the Irish American Press, 1882-1964

Stephen G. Butler
Literary anthologies feature many of Ireland's most well-known authors, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, J. M. Synge, George Bernard Shaw, Seán O'Casey, James Joyce, and Brendan Behan among them. While a number of notable scholars have contended that middle-class Irish Americans rejected or ignored this rebellious group of poets, playwrights, and novelists in favor of a conservative Catholic subculture brought over with the mass migration of the mid-nineteenth century,...

What Are the Gospels?, Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition

Richard A. Burridge
The publication of Richard Burridge's What Are the Gospels? in 1992 inaugurated a transformation in Gospel studies by overturning the previous consensus about Gospel uniqueness. Burridge argued convincingly for an understanding of the Gospels as biographies, a ubiquitous genre in the Graeco-Roman world. To establish this claim, Burridge compared each of the four canonical Gospels to the many extant Graeco-Roman biographies. Drawing on insights from literary...

People in a Magazine

Joseph Goodrich
Playwright, biographer, screenwriter, and critic S. N. Behrman (1893–1973) characterized the years he spent writing for The New Yorker as a time defined by "feverish contact with great theatre stars, rich people and social people at posh hotels, at parties, in mansions and great estates." While he hobnobbed with the likes of Mary McCarthy, Elia Kazan, and Greta Garbo and was one of Broadway's leading luminaries, Behrman would later...

The Digital Literary Sphere

Simone Murray
Reports of the book’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Books are flourishing in the Internet era—widely discussed and reviewed in online readers’ forums and publicized through book trailers and author blog tours. But over the past twenty-five years, digital media platforms have undeniably transformed book culture. Since Amazon’s founding in 1994, the whole way in which books are created, marketed, publicized, sold, reviewed, showcased, consumed,...

Let There Be Enlightenment

edited by Anton M. Matytsin and Dan Edelstein
According to most scholars, the Enlightenment was a rational awakening, a radical break from a past dominated by religion and superstition. But in Let There Be Enlightenment, Anton M. Matytsin, Dan Edelstein, and the contributors they have assembled deftly undermine this simplistic narrative. Emphasizing the ways in which religious beliefs and motivations shaped philosophical perspectives, essays in this book highlight...

Five Hard Pieces

Diana Lewis Burgin
Diana Lewis Burgin, noted scholar and internationally known translator of Russian prose and poetry, offers her original English verse translations of five long poems by Marina Tsvetaeva, widely acclaimed as one of the greatest twentieth-century Russian poets. Burgin's translations, the majority of which appear in print here for the first time, aim at total fidelity to the challenging meter, rhythm, and meaning as well as some of the rhyme of the...

Massachusetts Treasures

Chuck D'Imperio
Well known for its world-renowned art museums—from the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston—Massachusetts is also home to numerous institutions with more eclectic collections and, oftentimes, lower profiles. These include Mansfield's National Black Doll Museum of History and Culture, Watertown's Plumbing Museum, and Granville's Noble and Cooley Center for Historic Preservation. In Massachusetts Treasures, Chuck D'Imperio explores...

Williamstown and Williams College

Dustin Griffin
Nestled in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, Williamstown is home to one of the most prestigious liberal arts colleges in the country, Williams College. In this engrossing and entertaining book, Dustin Griffin offers fourteen vignettes that detail the local history of this ideal New England college town. Each chapter focuses on the stories behind a single feature that visitors to present-day Williamstown and Williams College might encounter, including a...

The Hymnal

Christopher N. Phillips
It stands barely three inches high, a small brick of a book. The pages are skewed a bit, and evidence of a small handprint remains on the worn, cheap leather covers that don’t quite close. The book bears the marks of considerable use. But why—and for whom—was it made? Christopher N. Phillips’s The Hymnal is the first study to reconstruct the practices of reading and using hymnals, which were virtually everywhere in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Isaac Watts invented a small, words-only hymnal...