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    Duino Elegies : A Bilingual Edition
    by Rainer Maria Rilke, Edward Snow
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (28 February, 2000)
    list price: $20.00 -- our price: $14.00
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    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Ein Werk für das Unendliche
    Rilkes Duineser Elegien stehen an der Spitze, was die poetische Schöpfung des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts betrifft. Sie sind ein metaphysisches Nachdenken über den Menschen und die Realität. Rilke überlegt sich die menschliche Bestimmung. Dafür, dass das Leben eine vorübergehende und peinliche Erfahrung ist, zeigt er uns die Engel als ein überbewusstes Wesen. Im Gegensatz zu dem Menschen wohnen sie an einem offenen Raum. Es gelingt Ihnen das Leben und den Tod zu vereinigen.Dort findet das reine Geschehen statt. Wegen ihres selbstlosen Erlebnis sind die Helden, die Liebenden, die Kinder und die früh Verstorbenen nah daran, nach den Ordnungen der Engel zu gelangen.
    Die verkündete Nacht ist zu der Schein-Unsichtbar Verwandlung geneigt, weil sie eine tiefere Wahrnehmung ermöglicht. Rilkes poetische Sprache, Rhythmus und Bildnis sind atemlos.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Good poet - bad translator
    Yes, Rilke is a genius, whose poetry is abstract and disturbing yet also direct, concise and perfectly written.

    Unfortunately, Snow's translation does not manage to capture Rilke's power in full flow, as other translatorshave managed to do so. The Picador edition is especially superior (althoughstill flawed). By all means buy the Elegies, which are among the bestpieces of literature of this century, and possibly the best collection oflyric poetry of all time - but if you buy this edition, you might notrealise that.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Acclaimed translator gives us the "Duino Elegies"
    Edward Snow is one of the most respected translators of Rilke.He's been working his way through Rilke's poetry and now offers a superb version of the "Duino Elegies," long considered the high point of Rilke'scareer.

    There are many existing translations of Rilke's masterpiece, ofvarying quality.Snow's version reads quite well and compares favorably toacclaimed versions by Mitchell and others. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0865475466
    Sales Rank: 64016
    Subjects:  1. Bilingual books    2. Continental European    3. English-German    4. General    5. German Poetry    6. Poetry    7. Poetry / General   


    $14.00

    Recognitions, The (Twentieth-Century Classics)
    by WilliamGaddis, William H. Gass
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 May, 1993)
    list price: $24.00 -- our price: $16.32
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    Reviews (39)

    5-0 out of 5 stars This book is a whopper
    I have to give this book five stars, because it is such an awesome work, and not just in the teenage sense in which everything is awesome. This book really is awesome--like the starry sky, or the Grand Canyon, or Angel Falls. I must say, however, that I don't like it as much as I like Gaddis's JR, since JR is much funnier, and humor is what I like best.There are touches of humor here and there, and even one side-splitting scene (Otto's conversation with the man he takes to be his father), but on the whole this is a serious book--and a creepy one too, full of suicides, crucifixions, cruelty to animals, dark magic, and the like.

    The Recognitions is often said to be mostly about art, but it seems to me to be just as much about religion.If there's a divinity student or an English grad student out there looking for a master's thesis or dissertation topic, here's one for you:the critique ofreligion in the novels of William Gaddis.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Recognitions
    Not many people even attempt to write like Gaddis anymore. His work, while some would argue, seems to lack much in the way of editing, aspires to something grander than the perfectly edited mediocrity of today's novels. "The Recognitions" is Joycean in its thematic and narrative breadth, and it's aesthetic/philosophic questions go beyond the often trite and angsty work of the later beatnik writers. In spite of highminded digressions on authenticity and Flemish art, the book remains totally engaging through a series of hilarious social parodies and sometimes tragic human dramas.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Epiphanies on Every Page
    In a habit I sustained in college I make it a practice to underline the most quotable lines of novels I read: The Recognitions has underlines on every page. Gaddis is a major literary talent who hasn't yet even begun to receive the following of which he is worthy. This novel concerns the discoveries, both major and minor, of what is authentic in life: The Recognitions is enlightening, almost beatific, in the way in which it focuses upon the shortcomings and moral lapses of humans in pursuit of true art. From the starving painter whose unappreciated genius leads him to forge Flemish masters to a musician whose copied work played upon a great pipe organ brings down a chapel to counterfeitors of money and plagiarists of drama, this of work of Gaddis is the real thing. It is brilliant, witty, original and his command of the language is breathtakingly stunning in its execution. One can see the influence of James Joyce throughout the writing in an experimental style that is breakthrough. It is incredibly inventive and funny and astonishingly intelligent. It's no wonder that The Recognitions went unrecognized for so tragically long -- Gaddis is, without doubt, one of the top half-dozen of American literary novelists of the 20th century ranking with Bellow, Barth, Vonnegut, Hemingway and Faulkner. The writing is work by a fellow of verifiable genius: I strongly recommend that you to discover Gaddis -- he will enrich your life and help you better understand the nature of the personal epiphanies that give meaning to life. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0140187081
    Sales Rank: 140342
    Subjects:  1. Classics    2. Literature - Classics / Criticism    3. Literature: Classics    4. Classic fiction    5. Fiction / General    6. Modern fiction   


    $16.32

    The Random House Book of 20th Century French Poetry
    by PAUL AUSTER
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (12 January, 1984)
    list price: $26.00 -- our price: $16.38
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    Reviews (2)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Invaluable
    Vintage, the publisher, should feel deep, dark, spooky shame for letting this remarkable book go out of print. The reviewer below is misguided in his or her belief that there are more than a few clunkers among the translations: hogwash. Wilbur's rendition of "Le Pont Mirabeau" is an exceptionally musical version of an exceptionally musical poem, and approximates beautifully the Whistleresque mood. To critique Pound's translation is like saying "Damn the Moon, it's full of holes." Sure, but its the Moon. On the whole, this book gets it right, offering an interesting selection of poets and translators (just as there is more than one kind of poet, so too are there different, and equally valid, forms of translation). Seek it out till Bertlesman come to their multinational senses.

    5-0 out of 5 stars GREAT TO HAVE IT, BUT OO-LA-LA! SOME POOR TRANSLATIONS!
    Paul Auster chose his poems well, and the bilingual presentation, format,and ordering of the poets are all clear and easy to follow.It's wonderfulto have this access to modern French poetry in English.There are twoproblems, however:First, there are hardly any women poets (I think 1 outof 50 - the unrelenting masculine viewpoint gets tedious, like beingtrapped in a cigar-smoke-filled men's room).And second, some of thetranslations are graceless and inaccurate.Mr. Auster's secondary goal wasto choose among already-existing translations by American and Britishpoets.Many of these ruin the mood, parallelisms and imagery of the poems. For instance, Apollinaire's "Mirabeau Bridge" is tortured intoEnglish rhyme, destroying all subtlety. Milosz's "NovemberSymphony" has had a meaningless name change to "Strophes" byEzra Pound, who, if he was going to re-name it, should have called it"Truncations", since he seems to have gotten tired and omittedthe last third of the poem. All in all, though, I'm very pleased to haveit. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0394717481
    Sales Rank: 264010
    Subjects:  1. 20th century    2. Anthologies (multiple authors)    3. Collected works    4. Continental European    5. English poetry    6. French poetry    7. Poetry    8. Translations into English    9. Poetry / Anthologies (multiple authors)    10. Works by individual poets: from c 1900 -   


    $16.38

    Kokoro
    by Natsume Soseki
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (25 January, 1957)
    list price: $14.95 -- our price: $10.17
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    Reviews (29)

    5-0 out of 5 stars poetic and inspiring
    Despite the sad overtones of the book, I enjoyed this interesting narrative regarding life, death, and love. It took me a mere two days to read, yet it was still worth every second.

    I am now off to explore more works by Natsume Soseki.

    5-0 out of 5 stars evergreen, poetic and life in post Meiji Japan
    I became a fan of Soseki after I read "Botchan" and "I am a cat" - both were fascinating books. Then I found "kokoro" in a book shop in SF. I am glad i bought it. This is a different genre of book - more of introspection and constructive criticism of the post Meiji Japan. I took a long time to read the book, like I do to read Kawabata - the culture is vastly different and most of the ideas are not explicit - you have to think imagine. Actually another great Japanese author, Junichiro Tanizaki, said that the modern day writer is too kind to the reader - so you have to think and interpret while you read.
    The book is written in first person (it is quite autobiographical). It explores the feelings of a young college graduate - it examines his feelings. The narrator is obsessed with his friend, philosopher and guide whom he refers as "sensei" even though this person in return do not have the same feelings for the narrator in the beginning. Still he directs the narrator through some of the torturous path of life. The narrators father is in his death bed when he receives the last mail from his "sensei" - the contents of this letter covers later half of the book. In the letter his teacher narrates his own life.
    Two things to notice - the absence of religious overtones or under currents and the respect for death. As I have read Mishima, Akutagawa I have found that in Japanese culture death has a more profound meaning than just the end of life. More than often this end of life is preceded by the objective of going on to live and in its absence death seems to be the obvious choice even though ominous.
    Here also we find quite a few death but everybody, which includes the person who is dying and his or her close ones look for the objective of living. The status of women may provide a little sting to western readers but please realize that this is near end of Meiji era is Japan and not Las Vegas in 2004.
    Please do not try to read this book in your flight from Boston to LA or you will be bored to death better read it in the Christmas holidays

    4-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful but Slow
    Kokoro is a classic of Japanese literature.It follows the story of a young man who meets an elder one, who he calls Sensei (teacher, elder, master).Sensei is at first very mysterious about his past, but the young man learns slowly of his deep loneliness and its causes.Sensei had a life of betrayal and love turned sour.

    The book is divided up into three sections: Sensei and I, My parents and I, and Sensei and his Testament.The first chronicles the two men's meeting and their relationship.The second describes the narrator going home to his parents only to find that he has changed so much that he no longer feels at home with them, and in fact honors Sensei above them.The last is a letter written to the narrator by Sensei, telling of Sensei's past.

    I must caution any prospective reader about two things.First, the book is slow moving.There are very few exciting scenes, but many pondorous ones.This is due partly to the translation.Having read the book first in Japanese, I think it is a bit faster paced in its native language.Second, the author assumes that the reader knows some things about Japanese culture instinctivily.Occasionally, you may find that a character's action which the author doesn't bother to explain seems puzzling.I believe that any dedicated reader can, however, work through these obstacles and truly enjoy this book.

    When the book is finished, readers often find themselves struggling with Sensei's character.He has been through terrible things, but what of that?People recover from worse things than he has passed through, and still seem cheerful enough.Why must he be so weak willed?

    The answer to these riddles lies in the book's title."Heart," it might be, translated, or "center," or "emotion."Sensei says of his own heart, "You see, loneliness is the price we have to pay for being born in this modern age, so full of freedom, independence, and our own egotistical selves." ... Read more

    Isbn: 0895267152
    Sales Rank: 96446
    Subjects:  1. Asian - General    2. Fiction    3. Fiction - General    4. General    5. Japanese Literature    6. Fiction / General   


    $10.17

    Atlas of World History
    by Patrick K. O'Brien
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 October, 1999)
    list price: $85.00 -- our price: $53.55
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    Reviews (9)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Best World History Atlas Book Anywhere
    The Oxford Atlas is the best of all competitors. It is full-size, high quality ink and paper, 368 pages and covers most areas of history from the caveman to the present time. I am not speaking of the concise edition but of the full-size edition. The ISBN number is #0195215672.

    This book covers about 2,000,000 years of history from the origins of humanity to the year 2000. The Atlas is the result of over three years' work by internationally renowned cartographers, an expert editorial team and specialist academic consultants.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I Rate and Compare World History Atlas Books
    As a reader I like to have quick reference books at my finger tips including a new version of the Oxford English Dictionary about 3500 pages long - that I use almost daily. So I decided to add a "history atlas". In the process of doing my research I read the other amazon.com reviewers and then made three trips to two large book stores to actually look at the books and get a better feel for which was the best. I ended up buying the Oxford Atlas of World History. Here are my picks and rankings.

    Listed by My ranking, #1 is the best, #2 is a creative alternative but no substitute.

    1.Atlas of World History, Oxford University Press 2002, 368 pages, $57.80, 13.5" x 10.3" x 1.62" ranked 46,632 on Amazon.com. Hands down winner - professional - good text descriptions, outstanding maps and drawings, covers most things from the cave man forward. Negatives: Big and heavy. If you want to save a few dollars buy the "concise" version.

    2.Creative alternative: The Penguin Atlas of World History, Penguin Books 2004, $11.20, just a paperback sized, just published, 304 pages. Surprisingly impressive, lots of text and pictures mixed together and it is easy to carry around. A nice quick alternative but it will be printed in two volumes.
    .
    3.Timelines of World History, DK Publishing 2002, 666 pages, $27.20. 10.0" x 1.6" ranked 25,800 on Amazon.com. Second with lots of value but in some ways not as comprehensive.

    4. National Geographic Almanac of World History, National Geographic 2003, 384 pages, $28.00, 9.6" x 7.8" x 1.17" ranked 24,426 on Amazon.com. Similar to but less impressive than Oxford books. More text, narrower coverage, fewer maps and drawings.

    5.DK Atlas of World History, DK Publishing, 352 pages, $35.00, 10.96" x 14.66" x 1.28" ranked 10,716 on Amazon.com. My last place book seems like a giant comic book. I love the DK travel books but this seems like one step beyond DK's area of expertise. Superficially it is similar to the Oxford book and it is cheap, and some might like it but it tries to be politically correct and fails.

    6.Oxford Dictionary of World History, Oxford University Press, 704 pages, $7,66, pocketbook sized, sales rank 330,000. Mainly terms, people, and dates but has a few maps also. Limited use but an alternative. I prefer the new Penguin book but this is the best history dictionary to buy.

    Jack in Toronto

    5-0 out of 5 stars The story of humanity from a cartographic perspective
    The affordable price tag of this set of maps paired with its applications to both home and school library patrons will earn it a place on many a home bookshelf as well as libraries: Atlas Of World History, Concise Edition is the result of over three years of intensive effort by a team of academics and editors, and presents the story of humanity from a physical, cartographic perspective. Five parts correspond with the five eras studied by world historians today, making for a particularly accessible set of maps. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0195215672
    Sales Rank: 22286
    Subjects:  1. Atlases - General    2. Atlases - Historical    3. Earth Sciences - Geography    4. Historical Atlases    5. Historical geography    6. Maps    7. Reference   


    $53.55

    Laugh at the End of the World: Collected Comic Poems 1969-1999 (American Poets Continuum Series, Vol. 59)
    by Bill Knott
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 May, 2000)
    list price: $15.00 -- our price: $15.00
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    Reviews (5)

    5-0 out of 5 stars morbid comedy
    Bill Knott is a great poet.His mind is just so zany.One of my favorite lines of his is "A comma is a period which leaks."

    5-0 out of 5 stars a brilliant and essential book
    Every Bill Knott book I have read as been a liberating experience for me.He continues to redefine the "rules" of poetry.And puzzlingly, not many people have heard of him.Those who have read his work, always swear by it.I have yet to meet someone who had something bad to say about Knott's poetry.Unfortunately for all of us, almost all of his books are out of print.However, there are enough gems collected in this edition to illuminate your perception of poetry, and to turn you on to him for life--perhaps leaving you, like me, scrambling to buy his out-of-print works for rediculous prices.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Easily the best poet writing today.
    Even Robert Pinsky says so, and, yet, astoundingly, every time I mention this man's name in mixed, literate company, people scratch their heads.

    I'd like to respond to the accusation in the above PW review that his work "bleeds into inanity..."Maybe there's some truth in that, but so what?I find it both comforting and refreshing that words like "warty-poo" crop up in Knott's work.It's nice that in a medium that's so often sobre and bloated with self importance that there's someone out there who seems to be having FUN, for cripe's sake.These "inane" words and phrases add a little childish delight.What other poet will leave you moaning with heart break on one page and giggling with pleasure on the next.

    I can't understand why more people who consider themselves "well-read" aren't familiar with Knott.I'm not well-read, and I've read all his books. What's your excuse?Huh? ... Read more

    Isbn: 1880238845
    Sales Rank: 1060696
    Subjects:  1. American - General    2. Anthologies (multiple authors)    3. General    4. Humorous poetry, American    5. Poetry    6. Verse satire, American   


    $15.00

    Collected Poems
    by JAMES MERRILL
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (27 February, 2001)
    list price: $40.00 -- our price: $25.20
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    Reviews (6)

    5-0 out of 5 stars On Merrill
    Merrill requires no introduction.This is a splendid and comprehensive volume.It is a monolith, which commemorates the work of one of America's outstanding contemporary poets.

    This collection includes some truly marvelous work: "The Drowning Poet," "Entrance From Sleep," "Poem in Spring," "Willow," "Walking At Night," "An Urban Convalescence," "The World and the Child," and "My Father's Irish Setters," to name a few.

    I enthusiastically recommend this anthology.It serves as a means to remember that poetry of the Western hemisphere is capable of transcendent vision--that the Muses can still sing to twentieth century scribes.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Magnificent!
    Though occassionally less perfect, these poems scratch the edges of brilliance with every sweep of the pen.They are immaculate, dense, allusive, elusive, and always beautiful.Spend two days with "Charles on Fire" alone and you'll understand why Merrill was--no, IS --so widely admired.You should own this book.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Bull Market for Poetry
    Weighing in at almost 900 pages, this book holds just about all the Merrill you'll ever need outside of "Sandover."Merrill wrote exactly the kind of poems I used to think of as "real" poetry--stately, measured, clever & bittersweet, with lots of exquisite images to savor along the way.So why does this writing feel so stuffy and distant to me now?Reading a Merrill poem is somewhere between doing a crossword and shopping for antiques--you exercise the brain and always find something curious to enjoy, but even the most intimate ones left me strangely unmoved.I know Merrill has a legion of fans, and I can see why--these poems are among the best of their kind.But somehow they reminded me of the good chairs in my mom's living room--you could admire them, but you couldn't sit down. Still, the editors have done an excellent job and you'll enjoy going through this handsome book to make up your own mind. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0375411399
    Sales Rank: 391241
    Subjects:  1. American - General    2. Merrill, James - Poems & Criticism    3. Poetry    4. Poetry / Single Author / American   


    $25.20

    United States
    by GORE VIDAL
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (15 May, 2001)
    list price: $24.95 -- our price: $16.97
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    Reviews (19)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, relevant and necessary
    These particular selections of essays by the prolific and most caustic critics of the American Republic, has sat on my bookshelf since the early months of 1999. Included in this overwhelming collection are 114 essays, in some cases, randomly categorized into three chapters - State of Art, State of the Union and State of Being. Vidal is an intensely knowledgeable fellow, and therefore has an opinion on just about everything having to do with art, history, politics, the state of literature and his beloved Republic To attempt to read this entire tome (1271 pages) from start to finish over a few weeks (my original intention) proved to be impossible. Although informative and extremely entertaining, there was just too much to digest, too important to scan through, thus I would mark the essays read with a tick on the contents page, place the book back on the shelf, only to return when the time felt right to take them up again.

    Vidal is not only a great historian, he is also one of America's great literary radicals. He was experimenting with the literary form, attempting to apply critical theory to the Novel very early in the piece with such works as Duluth, Mira Breckinridge and the post modern religious satire, Live from Golgotha. These were indeed "radical" departures from the standard fare of American novels coming out at the time. In mainstream circles, however, these novels were not well received, but were critically acclaimed, calling them subversive, iconoclastic, original and extremely funny.

    As an essayist, Vidal really has no match in American letters. These essays reveal a master at the top of their form. What is interesting as well as admirable, Vidal was criticising literary theory which had infiltrated academia in the late 60's and early 70's, al la, post structuralism and deconstructionism, but unlike the so-called "experts" in the university's across the western world, (he calls them "Hacks of Academia") Vidal attempted to put these theories to the test in the form of a popular novel, (Duluth) and succeeded. In his essay, "French Letters -Theories of the Modern Novel", Vidal attacks these modern theorists, who state that language and literature as an art form is dead, in elegant prose and biting gusto, revealing their empty (headed) arguments,

    "In any case, rather like priests who have forgotten the meaning of the prayer they chant, we shall go on for quite as long time talking of books and writing books, pretending all the while not to notice that the church is empty and the parishioners have gone elsewhere to attend other gods, perhaps with silence or with new words." (1967, p.110)

    In "The State of the Union" essays, Vidal expounds upon American politics and his views on the National Security Council, the CIA and America's on-going imperialistic intentions, which interestingly, have not dated in the least. Most of these essays are as relevant as ever despite the passing of over thirty years.

    There is no doubt in my mind that reading Vidal is an education, showing us a way through the miasma of received wisdom, relentlessly thrown in our direction. In many respects Vidal is a beacon of light during dark times, a writer that has never pulled any punches when it came to the things he believed in, namely writing, politics and his beloved Republic. This book should be standard issue for anyone interested in literature, politics, art, and American history.






    5-0 out of 5 stars Gore Vidal, United States
    First, for those readers solely interested in the quality of this essay collection, my advice is simple.If you enjoy the essay form, buy this collection!There is no better essayist alive.In the USA, Vidal stands beside Emerson, White and Trilling in exemplifying the power of the essay; and like them, his greatest quality is the intense, lasting relevancy of his argument, even when he deals with people or events long past.His vilification of Truman, for example, concentrates on the latter's founding the American security state, certainly a germane issue.

    As for all this talk of Vidal's political affiliation, anyone who claims he is a conservative or a liberal in any normal sense of these words is simply wrong, and is unfortunately missing the purpose of Vidal's writing.Vidal firmly believes in the people and the ideals by which our nation was founded; but he is alone, as far as I know, in keeping himself free of worship.Jefferson, Adams, etc. were not perfect; and neither is democracy or republicanism.In our intensely polarized time, in which unthinking loyalty is a virtue, Vidal is exactly that type which he has often cheered throughout history, the brave heretic.Gore Vidal is our Orwell; his opinions may only occasionally be right, but anyone who ignores him is jeopardizing our relationship with the truth.

    In addition to this collection, I also highly recommend *the last empire*, Vidal's collection of essays from 1992 to 2000.It is much shorted, and is actually a better introduction to the author.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Master Essayist At Work
    United States, the 1993 Winner of the National Book Award, it covers the years from 1952 until 1992. This book shows that Vidal is an authority/reliable source in many areas. He served in WWII and wrote his first novel while doing so. He comes form a political background; his grandfather, blind Senator T.P. Gore, brought him up. He is related to Eleanor Roosevelt and was friendly with JFK. He ran for Congress in New York in 1960 and came in second in the California democratic primary in 1982. Furthermore, his father served as director of the Bureau of Air Commerce under FDR, which gave him insight into the forming of airlines and access to Charles Lindberg. He wrote his first novel at the age of 20 and has subsequently written 23 other novels, most of them historical novels in which he did significant research to get the details just right. He has numerous interesting insights into the lives of other writers as well as being capable of writing compelling book chat. He has also written for TV and the movies, as a result knows a lot of famous Hollywood movers and shakers. His heroes (John Quincy Adams, FDR, Abraham Lincoln, Paul Bowles, Edmund Wilson, Charles Lindberg) and villains (Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, the CIA) are vividly drawn and expertly judged throughout.

    I am hesitant to recommend this tome that weighs in at 1295 pages and is the size of a reference book, but does seem all but indispensable, because it has many excellent and interesting essays. It is divided into three sections: state of the art (literature), state of the union (politics), and state of being (personal responses to people and events, not to mention movies and children's books). Not a light book to take on the train, this tome took me the better part of a year to finish, but was well worth it. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0767908066
    Sales Rank: 131393
    Subjects:  1. Essays    2. History    3. History: American    4. Literature - Classics / Criticism    5. United States - General    6. History / United States / General   


    $16.97

    World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time
    by Katherine Washburn, John S. Major, Clifton Fadiman
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 March, 1998)
    list price: $45.00 -- our price: $28.35
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    Editorial Review

    World Poetry is an incomparable collection in which the ancient and the contemporary are seamlessly interwoven; it is a cornucopia of surprises. When you turn to the Dante section, instead of finding excerpts from well-known versions of the Commedia, there are selections by poets such as Shelley, Howard Nemerov, Susan Mitchell, and James Schuyler.

    World Poetry can be read in the light of Ezra Pound's dicta:points define a periphery. The editors scoured the archives for versions that would stand as poems on their own. When nothing met their standards, as in the case of Victor Hugo, Maurice Scève, or Gottfried Benn, they commissioned new translations. Louis Simpson gives new life to Hugo's famous poem about Napoleon's armies, "Expiation":

    It was snowing, always snowing!The cold lash
    Whistled.These warriors had no bread to eat,
    They walked across the ice with naked feet.
    No longer living hearts, they seemed to be
    A dream lost in a fog, a mystery,
    A march of shadows under a black sky.
    Vast solitudes, appalling to the eye,
    Stretched out, mute and revengeful, everywhere.
    Perhaps the greatest reward that lies in waitis discovering stunning poems by great and good poets who are almost entirely unknown in the English-speaking world, such as Marceline Desbordes-Valmore (1786-1859), Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli (1791-1863), and the amazing Andreas Gryphius (1616-1664), who proves that Petrarch and the Elizabethans aren't the only great sonneteers.
    What are we really?Pain's return address.
    A ball for luck, blindfolded, to kick around.
    A flick of the switch.A stage darkened by fear.
    A candle doused, snow melting on bare ground.
    Life slips away like gossip or last night's joke.
    ..........................
    Whatever breathes will vanish into air.
    Our graves are large and lonely.What's left to say?
    We're smoke that the wind has caught, and blown away.
    (from "Misery," trans. Christopher Benfey)
    This book is different from other anthologies in its determination to enable us to experience all poetry as contemporaneous. You will encounter, in all likelihood for the first time, any number of anonymous masterpieces, such as "The Vigil of Venus" translated by David R. Slavitt (anonymous, circa A.D. 200) and "The Old Woman of Beare," translated by Brendan Kenneally (anonymous,circa A.D. 800). Both poems are rendered in elegant yet idiomatic English. "The Old Woman of Beare" is breathtaking:"The sea crawls from the shore / Leaving there / The despicable weed, / A corpse's hair. / In me, / The desolate withdrawing sea."

    In the case of your favorite poets, you're bound to quarrel with the selection.It is thrilling to find the "At five in the afternoon" section of Lorca's great elegy to the bullfighter Ignacio Sénchez Mejías, but it seems inappropriate to publish half of Eugenio Montale's "Motets," instead of choosing several of his self-enclosed, dynamic, shorter poems. But arguing with the anthologists is part of the fun, and you're free to return with a vengeance to the poems that you think should have been included. World Poetry is an ideal book to have if you're going to be away from your own library for any amount of time.It is easy to get lost in its opulence, roaming the points of its compass. ... Read more

    Reviews (11)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Every poetry lover should own this book.
    There's always something new and breathtaking, and poetry from many different cultures and times.A refreshing break from just English/American poetry.Seeing all the different works in one volume gives you a delicious sense of the different textures of world poetry, a scintillating tapestry of words, a symphony...I loved it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars an awesome accomplishment
    This is an astonishing volume packed with beautiful poems. I honestly cannot think of a better gift for poetry lovers (or, indeed, plain lovers or anyone else...). Akkadian poetry, Nazim Hikmet, Tagore.... almost every single poet that I love is here. How did the editors manage do it???

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Poetry Treasure Trove With Some Clinkers
    To my knowledge there is not other book like this one in print. It's a 1300+ page book that contains poems from all over the world from ancient Sumeria to the present. You will find poetry from the Bronze age; odes from the Ottoman empire; Latin American and Native American verses, and more from just about every country that has ever produced a poet. There is religious poetry from India and Asia, translations from Sanskrit and from medieval Russian. Vietnamese, Icelandic and Finnish poets are all represented.

    The book is bulky yet with a scope so immenselybroad it still has to be a sampler. Major English poets like Alexander Pope end up with half a page while, strangely, Victor Hugo gets three-and-a-half pages.

    This is a book not just for those who love poetry, but for those who want a taste ofhistory and culture. It's fascinating to go through these old texts and get a glimmer ofthe interests and feelings of people in different lands at different times throughout history.

    Now for the clinkers. A work like this requires a large number of translators, and some of them have been a little too free in their conversions to English.

    A poem of Martial (40-104AD) reads thusly: "Ted's studio burnt down, with all his poems./ Have the muses hung their heads?/ You, bet, for it was criminal neglect/ not also to have sautéed Ted."

    Hipponax (around 540BC) supposedly said, "Big Daddy/ no scrumptious feast of partridge and hare/ no sesame pancakes/ no fritters drenched/ in honey."

    And that most frequently translated of all classical poets Horace (65 -8BC) is accused of coming up with the lines "Dazzled though he be, poor dope, by the golden looks/ Your locks fetched up out of a bottle of Clairol.."

    Fun is fun, but I want a serious book of trustworthy translations when I buy an expensive anthology like this. Still, it is a remarkable book, and one of the most important additions to my library. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0393041301
    Subjects:  1. Anthologies (multiple authors)    2. Collections    3. Poetry    4. World Literature (General)    5. Poetry texts & anthologies   


    $28.35

    Collected Fiction
    by Neil Jordan
    Hardcover (January, 1997)

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    Isbn: 0099753618
    Sales Rank: 1663835
    Subjects:  1. Fiction anthologies & collections    2. Modern fiction   


    Eudora Welty : Stories, Essays & Memoir (Library of America, 102)
    by Eudora Welty
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 September, 1998)
    list price: $35.00 -- our price: $22.05
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Editorial Review

    It's small wonder that the Library of America chose Eudora Welty as the first living (at that time) author published in this prestigious series. Welty was the kind of writer people routinely call "an American institution." But don't let the sweet white-haired-old-lady image fool you: Welty's work is anything but benign. For more than 50 years, Welty spoke with a fierce and uncompromising literary voice. Or, rather, voices: the stories collected in this volume feature a dizzying array of characters, each of whom seems to whisper directly into the reader's ear. From the toxic rage of "Where Is the Voice Coming From?" to the jazzy rhythms of "Powerhouse," these tales blaze with intensity and a comic energy that's both gentle and fierce. Even that bane of junior-high-school speech tournaments everywhere, "Why I Live at the P.O.," benefits from rereading; as far as this brand of down-home farce goes, Welty does it better than anyone. Bringing together the contents of Welty's four short-fiction collections, this Library of America volume also includes several essays as well as Welty's very fine 1984 memoir, "One Writer's Beginnings." In it she speaks of connections, continuities, the way both her fiction and her experiences emerged gradually into focus over time:

    ...suddenly a light is thrown back, as when your train makes a curve, showing that there has been a mountain of meaning rising behind you on the way you've come, is rising there still, proven now through retrospect.
    This volume is that light thrown back; the full import of Welty's enormously influential work is perhaps apparent only now, in this substantial and rewarding retrospective of her career.--Mary Park ... Read more
    Reviews (2)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Creations of a unique voice.
    "Listening," "Learning to See" and "Finding a Voice," Eudora Welty entitled the three chapters of her autobiography "One Writer's Beginnings," the concluding entry in this collection, one of the two Library of America compilations dedicated to her work.And while these may be steps that most writers will undergo at some point, Welty's compact autobiography is notable both because it allows a rare glimpse into the celebrated writer's otherwise fiercely protected private life and it illustrates the roots from which sprang such extraordinary protagonists as "The Ponder Heart"'s Edna Earle and Daniel Ponder, Miss Eckhart and the Morgana families in "The Golden Apples" and, of course, the anti-heroes of her Pulitzer Prize winning novel "The Optimist's Daughter," Judge McKelva, his second wife Fay and (most importantly) his daughter Laurel.

    A native and - with minimal exceptions - lifelong resident of Jackson, Mississippi, Welty received her first introduction to storytelling as a listener; and early on, learned to sharpen her ears not only to a story's contents but also to its narrator and its protagonists' individual nature: "[T]here [never was] a line read that I didn't hear," and "any room ... at any time of day, was there to read in, or to be read to," she notes in "One Writer's Beginnings," adding that the discovery that all those stories had been written by someone, not come into existence of their own, not only surprised but also severely disappointed her.Equally importantly, family visits to relatives brought out the born observer in her; each trip providing its own lessons and revelations, each a story onto itself - the seed from which later grew the literary creations collected in this compilation and its companion volume.At the same time, her father's interest in technology introduced her to photography as a means of capturing visual impressions, one moment at a time; and when traveling around Mississippi as an agent for a state agency (her first job) she learned to use that camera as "a hand-held auxiliary of wanting-to-know" and discovered that "to be able to capture transience, by being ready to click the shutter at the crucial moment, was [then] the greatest need I had" ("One Writer's Beginnings:" Not surprisingly, her photography was published in several collections which have found much acclaim of their own.)

    Thus, from early childhood on, Eudora Welty not only had a keen sense of the world around her but also, of words as such: of their existence as much as the interrelation between their sound, physical appearance and the things they stand for.Encouraged by her mother, a teacher, and over her father's worries (he considered fiction writing an occupation of dubitable financial promise and, worse, inferior to fact because it was "not true") Welty embarked on a writer's path which would lead her to award-winning heights and to a reputation as one of the South's finest writers, with as abounding as obvious comparisons to fellow Mississippian William Faulkner in particular; a literary debt she acknowledged when she wrote that "his work, though it can't increase in itself, increases us" and "[w]hat is written in the South from now on is going to be taken into account by Faulkner's work" ("Must the Novelist Crusade?", 1965).The Library of America dedicated two volumes to her work; one containing her novels, the other - this one - her short stories, essays (some, like her autobiography, based on a series of lectures) and her autobiography.

    An approach that Welty developed early on was to consider the publication of her stories in periodicals merely a step towards each story's final shape, and she generally revised her stories before including them in collections.This compilation brings together all her short stories in the versions intended to be final by Welty herself: the 1941 edition of "A Curtain of Green and Other Stories" (her first short story collection), the 1943 edition of "The Wide Net and Other Stories" and the 1949 edition of "The Golden Apples" - each collection suffered substantial editorial revisions in subsequent publications.Included are also two stand-alone short stories ("Where is This Voice Coming From?" and "The Demonstrators"), the first one inspired by the 1963 murder of Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers and revised by Welty over the telephone after having been accepted by "The New Yorker," to avoid a potentially prejudicial effect of its original ending on the then-impending trial.

    A keen observer, Welty was also a writer endowed with a sharp sense of humor and satire, and with the gift to brilliantly use location, localisms, accents, patterns of speech and customs to make a point.Not a single word is wasted:"Marrying must have been some of his showing off - like man never married at all till *he* flung in," we're told about King MacLain in the opening story of "The Golden Apples," "Shower of Gold."And you don't have to learn anything more about the man, do you?Equally as instructive on Welty's writing are the eight essays included in this collection, all taken from the 1978 compilation "The Eye of the Story" and dealing with particular aspects of her own fiction as much as, more generally, with "Place in Fiction" (1954) and the fiction writer's role ("Writing and Analyzing a Story," originally published in 1955 under the title "How I Write" and substantially revised for its inclusion in "The Eye of the Story" and "Must the Novelist Crusade?").

    "There is no explanation outside fiction for what its writer is learning to do," Eudora Welty maintained in "Writing and Analyzing a Story;" explaining that each story references only the writer's vision at the moment of the creation of that story, and the creative process itself:nothing that can be "mapped and plotted" but a product taking shape in the process of creation itself, giving each story a unique identity of its own.And while her fiction, alas, can no longer grow any more than Faulkner's, she has left us enough of those unique creations to cherish for a long time to come.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An Essential
    At the time of her death, Eudora Welty was widely regarded as America's single greatest living author. Although she produced several critically acclaimed novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER, Welty achieved her greatest fame through mastery of that most difficult of all literary forms, the short story.

    Welty's skill with short stories is amazing, for she possessed a talent that combined a remarkable ear for the spoken word, meticulous observation of physical world, and the truly mysterious ability to slip almost effortlessly into the very marrow of the characters she depicts. Her comic stories are perhaps best known to the public in general, but she is equally at home with provocative and unsettling material, and although her tales are most often firmly rooted in America's deep south they have a sense of humanity that transcends the limitations of purely regional literature.

    In addition to stories previously collected under the titles A CURTAIN OF GREEN, THE WIDE NET, THE GOLDEN APPLES, and THE BRIDE OF THE INNISFALLEN, this Library of America publication also includes the independently published stories "Where Is the Voice Coming From?" and "The Demonstrators," nine selected essays, and Welty's memoir ONE WRITER'S BEGINNINGS. A chronology of Welty's life up to 1996, textual notes, and general notes (including Katherine Anne Porter's introduction for A CURTAIN OF GREEN) are also included. This book (and its Library of America) companion, EUDORA WELTY: COMPLETE NOVELS) are essentials for any one who admires Welty's work and wishes to possess it in handy, collected form; those who have had limited exposure to Welty's work, however, might be better served by smaller collections. ... Read more

    Isbn: 1883011558
    Subjects:  1. 20th century    2. Authors, American    3. Biography    4. Biography / Autobiography    5. Essays    6. Fiction    7. Historical - U.S.    8. Literary    9. Literary Collections    10. Literary Criticism    11. Short stories    12. Social life and customs    13. Southern States    14. Welty, Eudora - Prose & Criticism    15. Women    16. Women Authors    17. Authorship    18. Childhood and youth    19. Welty, Eudora   


    $22.05

    This Is Not a Novel
    by David Markson
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (20 March, 2001)
    list price: $15.00 -- our price: $10.20
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (10)

    3-0 out of 5 stars A compulsive read which is neither a novel nor a poem
    It was odd to read this, because of timing.I had just read Mark Salzman's _Lost In Place_, a memoir of his quixotic youth which addresses the human need to make a mark in the face of mortality and frailty, and the ultimate futility of that need.Then I pick up this.Same theme, just as overtly stated.

    However, though this book is entertaining, erudite, and thought-provoking, it doesn't do the job nearly as well as Salzman's hilarious story.The conceit is ultimately pretentious, and its melancholy narrator isn't very interesting.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A different way.
    Markson quotes a conversation between an unnamed critic and Picasso.Critic:You can actually draw so beautifully.Why do you spend all your time making these queer things?Picasso:That's why.

    Some artists are driven to find a different way.The older I get and the more conventional stories I have under my belt, the more I crave the work of these artists, for whom the pursuit of strangeness is a powerful mandate.I don't mean the merely weird or ugly--I'm talking about doing something new, or else finding a way to uncover the oddness in ordinary life.Overfamiliarity with the world is suffocating.

    THIS IS NOT A NOVEL is a sly book.It appears to be little more than a miscellany of notes from Markson's reading, mixed with a few stray thoughts on the nature of this book he's writing.By the third page we know that he wants it to be characterless and plotless, "yet seducing the reader into turning pages nonetheless." I, for one, turned the pages happily, borne along by the flow of anecdote.But gradually in became apparent that what I was reading, finally, was an odd meditation on thephrase "timor mortis conturbat me"--refrain line from a poem by William Dunbar, "Lament for the Makers" [15th C.]The fear of death disturbs me.This is a novel about a writer trying to shake of the chill of approaching death.A strangely moving work.

    4-0 out of 5 stars leer life
    One assumes that fans of David Markson's work will not be too disappointed by this latest book. I was not, though I admit I prefer his other writings to this. The book is structured as a sequence of sentences, often anecdotes describing the creative habits and deaths of an artistic pantheon. Sure, some will consider the book pretentious, but part of its glory is the effort of the writer, the central character, if any, who seems to be more of a reader, Markson, perhaps, and who puzzles and tries to be reconciled with his own impending mortality. Aside from the bounty of names, here and there an uncommon star appears, this book takes less cleverness to resolve into a thoughtful experience than other Markson books. Most dazzling, to be sure, is the variant structure of declarative sentences, often taken for granted. Some structures are continued repetitively, others, strikingly, challenge the rhythm the reader establishes. The sequences have the potential to mesmerize the patient and weary the rushed.

    Out of all of the books, anecdotes, and sentences a character of sorts appears, who is not terribly interesting, nor completely capable of engaging the world without thinking through reading. The book is filled with curiosities that will jog to recollection details from a life spent reading. For some it is important to criticize what this book is not. Certainly, the style and approach to the writing of this book does not differ radically from the author's others. Perhaps this one is more refined. Perhaps it is repetitive and parodic. I prefer to recommend its observant and playful stories and structures that emerge from the sentences. ... Read more

    Isbn: 1582431337
    Sales Rank: 360611
    Subjects:  1. American - General    2. Essays    3. Literary Collections    4. Literature - Classics / Criticism    5. Literature: Classics   


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