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Month: July 2016

Lindsay O’Neill. The Opened Letter: Networking in the Early Modern British World / Diana G. Barnes. Epistolary Community in Print, 1580-1664

Lindsay O’Neill. The Opened Letter: Networking in the Early Modern British World. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015. viii, 264p. ill. ISBN 9780812246483. US $47.50 (hardback).

Diana G. Barnes. Epistolary Community in Print, 1580-1664Material Readings in Early Modern Culture. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2013. xii, 250p., 11 ill. ISBN 9781409445357. US $99.95 (hardback).

The myriad of personal papers surviving outside the archives of official power, in homes, in the forms of diaries and letters, have informed historical, cultural, social and literary works over the recent years. Part of this resurgent interest, particularly for the early modern period and the eighteenth century, was a particular attentiveness to the materiality of letters, on the one hand, and on the other, the importance of epistolary networks.

Mikhail Panteleevich Lepekhin. Zdobnov and His History of Russian Bibliography

Mikhail Panteleevich Lepekhin. Zdobnov and His History of Russian Bibliography. Edited and translated by William E. Butler. Idyllwild, CA: Charles Schlacks, 2014. viii, 198p. ISBN 1884445837. US $20.00 (paperback).

Not only is Nikolai Vasil’evich Zdobnov (1888-1942) a leading figure in the history and study of Russian bibliography, but the author of this study, Mikhail Panteleevich Lepekhin (a senior research associate at the Russian Academy of Sciences Library in St. Petersburg), and its editor and translator, William E. Butler (John Edward Fowler Distinguished Professor of Law and International Affairs, Dickinson School of Law, Pennsylvania State University), are equally illustrious and bring an exceptional aura to this publication. Although other biographies of Zdobnov exist, Lepekhin and Butler provide what should now become the definitive biography.

Manuel José Pedraza García, ed. Titivillus: International Journal of Rare Books

Manuel José Pedraza García, ed. Titivillus: International Journal of Rare Books, vol. I (2015). Zaragoza: Prensas de la Universidad de Zaragoza, 2015. 470p., ill. ISSN 23870915. €30.00 (paperback).

Titivillus is a fresh and new international journal devoted to the topic of rare books, a publication conceived and edited by the Department of Documentation Sciences and the History of Science of the Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain. This multidisciplinary endeavour, funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, is aimed at the field of book studies, with the purpose of spreading, at an international level, the results of research activities undertaken by relevant specialists and conducted in accordance with the highest academic standards.

Philip A. Stadter, ed. Plutarch and His Roman Readers

Philip A. Stadter, ed. Plutarch and His Roman Readers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. x, 394p. ISBN 9780198718338. UK £80.00 / US $111.00 (hardback).

Plutarch and His Roman Readers is an outstanding interdisciplinary work at the crossroads of classics, political philosophy and literary studies. The book is a reliable and solid collection of essays, a valuable summation of an entire life dedicated to the inquiry into the legacy of the ancient historian by their author. The articles are gathered in this anthology by Eugene H. Falk, under the pseudonym of Philip A. Stadter, and focus on the Parallel Lives, a series of 22 book-length pairs, each setting side by side the lives of two statesman, one Greek and one Roman — Alexander and Caesar, Aristides and Cato, Lysander and Sulla, to give only a few examples.

Margot Gayle Backus, Scandal Work: James Joyce, the New Journalism, and the Home Rule Newspaper Wars

Margot Gayle Backus. Scandal Work: James Joyce, the New Journalism, and the Home Rule Newspaper Wars. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2013. xviii, 310p. ISBN: 9780268022372. US $37.00 (paperback).

An engaged, communicative style and approach immediately mark out Margot Backus’s study of the role of journalistic and political scandal in the work of James Joyce as a fresh and winning contribution to the critical debate. Several well-established elements of the Joyce story make this approach just right.

A. Garrido Ardila, ed. A History of the Spanish Novel

A. Garrido Ardila, ed. A History of the Spanish Novel. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. xii, 404p. ISBN 9780199641925. £65.00 (hardcover).

This multi-authored volume, edited by J. A. Garrido Ardila, is conceived of as a “reference history of the Spanish novel for students and scholars of Spanish literature, and more generally, of Western literatures” (vi). The apologetic tone of the preface and the editor’s grievance at the supposed ignorance of Spanish letters in the English-speaking world indicate that the target audience is primarily readers not familiar with Spanish literature.

Christopher N. Warren, Literature and the Law of Nations, 1580-1680

Christopher N. Warren. Literature and the Law of Nations, 1580-1680. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. viii, 286p., ill. ISBN 9780198719342. US $99.00 (hardcover).

As Christopher Warren amply demonstrates in his new book, “early modern poetics remains present in the modern structures of international law” (229). Reading literary works by Sidney, Shakespeare, Milton and others alongside international law classics by Grotius, Gentili, Hobbes and Selden allows him to trace Renaissance debates about colonialism, diplomatic immunity, sovereignty and human rights across generic boundaries.

Mary L. Shannon, Dickens, Reynolds, and Mayhew on Wellington Street: The Print Culture of a Victorian Street

Mary L. Shannon. Dickens, Reynolds, and Mayhew on Wellington Street: The Print Culture of a Victorian Street. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015. xviii, 261p. ill. ISBN 9781472442048. £65.00 (hardcover).

As someone who designs guidebooks for different UK cities (in the Art Researchers’ Guide series), and who studies Victorian book illustration, I appreciate this well-researched volume by Mary L. Shannon on different levels. Shannon writes a social history of a specific part of London and Melbourne told through key figures of nineteenth-century literature and publishing. She not only records where the likes of Charles Dickens, G.W.M Reynolds, and Henry Mayhew worked, socialised, and went to be entertained, but she also maps a typography of invisible networks that encompass Britain’s print culture intersecting a greater Empire.

Megan G. Leitch, Romancing Treason: The Literature of the Wars of the Roses

Megan G. Leitch.  Romancing Treason: The Literature of the Wars of the Roses. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. x, 230 p. ISBN: 9780198724599. £ 55.00 (hardcover).

This book is a sophisticated scholarly study of English prose romances—for the most part—in the period 1437-1497, spanning the era of civil war known as the Wars of the Roses. The author argues that in this period the romance genre shifted to manifestation mostly in prose as opposed to poetry. These prose romances were filled with the language and the rhetoric of treason in a way that their sources and predecessors were not, which does not seem surprising in the context of concurrent political events.

Kate Macdonald and Christoph Singer, eds. Transitions in Middlebrow Writing, 1880-1930.

Kate Macdonald and Christoph Singer, eds. Transitions in Middlebrow Writing, 1880-1930. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. x, 272 p., ill. ISBN 9781137486776. US $95.00 (hardcover).

Kate Macdonald and Christoph Singer’s 2015 collection Transitions in Middlebrow Writing offers a productive intervention in ways of framing middlebrow scholarship by focusing on the interactions between avant-garde and middlebrow cultures as they developed. Taking their cue from Raymond Williams’ identification of the period between 1880 and 1914 as an “interregnum” between established “masters” and modern “contemporaries,” Macdonald and Singer open up the space between 1880 and 1930 to place late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century literature in the context a number of intensive cultural shifts between the Victorian and Edwardian eras, as the middlebrow emerged in relation to and alongside the avant-garde.