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Hans Fallada is probably the greatest German author you've never heard of. Stained by an unwanted association with the Nazi party, Fallada's reputation suffered in the west as all but one of his books were largely forgotten. But a new translation of his last work may help to restore his simple but beautiful novels to popular consciousness. Read more...
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Thanksgiving, a holiday that ought to start us thinking about the early history of our country, is upon us this week, and to put us in the holiday spirit, or at least my quirky version of it, I'd like to remember Captain John Smith, or at least a passage in one of his books, for Smith is sometimes called "the first American hero," though A. L. Rowse has observed that he earned this status not simple for his deeds but for his ability to "write himself up. This," Rowse continues, "he did to great effect; no one can say that he did not impose upon posterity. An acutely personal writer, he is a much better known figure than many who were far more important in his day and accomplished more; he provides us with an outstanding example that the pen can be mightier than the sword." Read more...
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Most of those who will remember Huxley will remember him, unless some shift in social consciousness turns future readers' attention onto one of his many other books, as the author of Brave New World, a book that has been upstaged by another novel that imagines a dystopian future, that is, Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, the apparently superior vision of the future that awaits us, if not in 1984 perhaps in 2084. But Huxley may have been more correct than those in the twentieth century realized. Read more...
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One of the great friendships of literary history began in the middle of November 1574. Philip Sidney and Fulke Greville, Sidney's distant relation, entered Shrewsbury School that month and began a life-long friendship. Greville's love for Sidney has often overshadowed Greville's own literary work, but I'd like to turn our attention to Greville's poetry, specifically Sonnet XXXIX of the sonnet sequence Caelica . . . and a particular verb that Greville coins that shows something of his imaginative abilities Read more...
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"The portion due to me from Mr. Powell, my former wife's father, I leave to the unkind children I had by her, having received no part of it: but my meaning is, they shall have no other benefit of my estate than the said portion, and what I have besides done for them; .they having been very undutiful to me. All the residue of my estate I leave to the disposal of Elizabeth my loving wife." Read more...
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On October 30, 1811, around six weeks shy of her 36th birthday, Jane Austen anonymously published her first novel, Sense and Sensibility. . . . Austen would go on to publish three other novels during her life, and others would appear after her death in 1817. What interests me at the moment is not what might seem her late foray into a literary life--thirty-six doesn't really seem as old to me now as it did some twenty odd year ago when I was first introduced to Austen--but her early start, for Sense and Sensibility, besides being a revised and improved version of "Elinor and Marianne," a novel begun in 1795, has its precursor in Austen's "Love and an Freindship," the latter word in the title often being spelled in modern editions as the young Austen, as well as others at the time, spelled it. Read more...
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Some years ago, I came across in one book or another Dante Rossetti's illustration for the frontispiece of Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market" (1862) or rather a blown-up image of the circle in the corner--something that is suggested by what I expected to find and what I found when I went looking for the illustrations again this week, as Rosseti's larger illustrations look nothing like what appears in the circle--and had one of those moments of recognition that we all sometimes have. I thought, "That's Where the Wild Things Are," a book I had read over and over as a child. I quickly moved on to other issues, as my interests, perhaps unfortunately, have never brought me to study children's literature, but I never forgot that moment of recognition. Read more...
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When it comes to a work of art, however, does it really matter that the story we are reading is true or imagined? I'm inclined to think not and believe cummings would have agreed. After all, his first book, The Enormous Room (1922), the material for which was developed out of cumming's incarceration in France during the First World War, was marketed during cummings' life, and continues to be marketed, as both a memoir and a novel, and cummings seems to have fostered the confusion. Read more...
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"Come, . . . while our masters are away and their flocks in our charge are grazing, we may here look about us" Read more...
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A few months ago there was a discussion on this blog about the Living Rights of Dead Authors that dealt with the issue of honoring an author's wishes with regard to his or her work. This week, I'd like to return to that issue in relation to W. H. Auden, who died on September 29, 1973, an event that was memorably recorded by the poet Helen Bevington in her journal in the following terms: "Auden died in a Vienna hotel at sixty-six. He found America too perilous to live in, fearful of dying one day in a New York apartment and being discovered a week later by the mailman. He moved back to Christ Church, Oxford, in his carpet slippers, to a mother college's protection." Read more...
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About Unabashedly Bookish: The BN Community Blog
Unabashedly Bookish features new articles every day from the Book Clubs staff, guest authors, and friends on hot topics in the world of books, language, writing, and publishing. From trends in the publishing business to updates on genre fiction fan communities, from fun lessons on grammar to reflections on literature in our personal lives, this blog is the best source for your daily dose of all things bookish.

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