Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

September 2012

Book thumbnail image

Traduttore traditore

By Mark Davie
It’s curious that the language I’ve mostly worked with — Italian — has provided the adage which is routinely quoted in any discussion of the challenges of translation, and yet no-one seems to know who first coined the phrase. It appears in the plural form “Traduttori traditori” — “translators traitors” — in a collection of Tuscan proverbs by the 19th-century writer Giuseppe Giusti.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Truman Capote’s artful lies

By William Todd Schultz, PhD
Why did Truman Capote try writing his last unfinished book, Answered Prayers? In a sometimes ruthless sautéing of jet set high society, he oddly and self-destructively scorched many of his closest friends, women like Babe Paley and Gloria Vanderbilt, among unlucky others, whom he liked to call, in a better mood, his “swans.” It turned out to be a sideways suicide. He never recovered from the fallout. His last years were a hurricane of drink, drugs, and artistic fragmentation.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Did Obamacare’s court victory win over Americans’ hearts and minds too?

By Andrea Campbell and Nathaniel Persily
The Supreme Court’s decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius achieved a level of media coverage and public salience reached by very few Supreme Court decisions. It represented a political moment, if not a constitutional one. Although legal scholars might focus on the doctrinal importance of the decision for shaping the contours of congressional power, this unusually high profile case is also fascinating to study as an event that structured public opinion about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Court itself.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

The seven myths of mass murder

By J. Reid Meloy, Ph.D.
For the past 15 years my colleagues and I have conducted research on mass murder, the intentional killing of three or more individuals, excluding the perpetrator, during one event. Recent cases of mass murder have pointed to misconceptions about this rare and frightening act, and I would like to shed some light on what I consider the seven myths of mass murder.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Opposing narratives of success in politics

Stephanie Li
While our presidential candidates are known far in advance of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, party conventions remain intriguing spectacles for the kind of human detail they offer about the men who aspire to the Oval Office. Every four years pundits and political commentators observe that conventions have become increasingly scripted affairs that lack the spontaneity of times past, but party conventions serve to present individual narratives as much as specific policy positions.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Permission-giving: from Cromwell to Kate Middleton

Some of my more radical academic colleagues remain inordinately sceptical of the role of individual leaders set against the tectonic plates of economic systems, social classes, genders, political alliances and ethnic groups. To suggest that individual leaders might make a difference is to place an unwarranted responsibility upon mere actors when the real issue is ‘the system’ – whatever the system is.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Just what is triple-negative breast cancer?

By Patricia Prijatel
The big news this week comes from the Cancer Genome Atlas program, which has announced a strong molecular connection between basal-like breast cancer tumors and ovarian cancer. The news stories I have read on the topic provide a great deal of hope for women with basal-like cancers. But the hope is, unfortunately, buried in a greater deal of confusion.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

What is marriage?

As I write, a committee is meeting to decide which two names to submit to the British prime minister for the post of archbishop of Canterbury. Whoever gets the job, a major issue that he will have to deal with is that of gay marriage, which the British government has pledged to introduce, and which the Church of England, along with most other religious confessions inBritain, opposes. The current debate about gay marriage forces all religions, as well as the government and the general public, to re-examine both their views on homosexuality, and their definitions of exactly what marriage is.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Monthly etymology gleanings, part 1, September

By Anatoly Liberman
First and foremost, many thanks to those who have sent questions and comments and corrected my mistakes. A good deal has been written about the nature of mistakes, and wise dicta along the errare humanum est lines have been formulated. Yes, to err is human, but it is the stupidity and “injustice” of some mistakes that are particularly vexing.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

West Side Story, 55 years later

By Meghann Wilhoite
Today marks the 55th anniversary of the Broadway premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. A racially charged retelling of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is set in the “blighted” West Side of 1950s Manhattan, the potent themes of star-crossed love and gang rivalry successfully translated from 16th century Italy to 20th century New York by book-writer Arthur Laurents and lyricist Steven Sondheim.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Why should we care about what we call cancer care?

Supportive care and palliative care: two terms that I often use when talking about cancer care. Without consulting the dictionary one might say that palliation means alleviation, or decrease, while supportive means sustaining: apparently contradictory terms? Really? Come on, be creative and follow me. It is time for us to stop placing these concepts in opposition to each other.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Afghanistan 2013: The road narrows

By Andrew J. Polsky
Three recent developments in Afghanistan underscore the difficulty that will confront the next American president, whether he is Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. First, as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced, the last of the 33,000 additional troops sent to Afghanistan by President Obama two years ago to quell the revived Taliban insurgency have now returned home.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Context clues in the American presidential campaigns

By Sandy Maisel
Presidential campaign watching is a great American game. Did Romney respond correctly when challenged on why he failed to mention our men and women in uniform in his convention speech? Does President Obama really like hanging out in sports bars and receiving giant bear hugs from pizza shop owners? How big was the Obama convention bounce and what does it mean?

Read More
Book thumbnail image

New BBC drama ‘The Paradise’ & Oxford World’s Classics

Tonight sees the start of a major new drama series on BBC 1, The Paradise. Adapted from Zola’s novel The Ladies’ Paradise (Au Bonheur des Dames) and set against the backdrop of the spectacular rise of the department store in the 1860s and 70s, the story follows the fortunes of a young girl from the provinces who starts work as a salesgirl in the shop, and her entanglement with the charismatic owner. Oxford World’s Classics is delighted to publish the tie-in edition of Zola’s novel, in a compelling translation by Brian Nelson.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Henry Cowell’s imprisonment

By Joel Sachs
Many people begin a conversation about Henry Cowell by telling me why he spent four years in San Quentin. Although I prefer to dwell on Cowell’s enormous accomplishments as a composer, theorist, performer, and educator, there is no need to run from the matter. The misinformation begins with the idea that he was convicted of a morals charge. He was not “convicted;” there was no trial.

Read More