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The great Oxford World’s Classics debate

By Kirsty Doole


Last week the Oxford World’s Classics team were at Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford to witness the first Oxford World’s Classics debate. Over three days we invited seven academics who had each edited and written introductions and notes for books in the series to give a short, free talk in the shop. This then culminated in an evening event in Blackwell’s famous Norrington Room where we held a balloon debated, chaired by writer and academic Alexandra Harris.

For those unfamiliar with balloon debates, this is the premise: the seven books, represented by their editors, are in a hot air balloon, and the balloon is going down fast. In a bid to climb back up, we’re going to have to throw some books out of the balloon… but which ones? Each editor spoke for five minutes in passionate defence of their titles before the audience voted. The bottom three books were then “thrown overboard”. The remaining four speakers had another three minutes each to further convince the audience, before the final vote was taken.

The seven books in our metaphorical balloon were:

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (represented by Dinah Birch)
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (represented by Helen Small)
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (represented by Roger Luckhurst)
A Memoir of Jane Austen by James Edward Austen-Leigh (represented by Kathryn Sutherland)
The Poetic Edda (represented by Carolyne Larrington)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (represented by Fiona Stafford)
The Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle (represented by Lesley Brown)

So who was saved? Find out in our slideshow of pictures from the event below:



Kirsty Doole is Publicity Manager for Oxford World’s Classics.

For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. You can follow Oxford World’s Classics on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the OUPblog. Subscribe to only Oxford World’s Classics articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS.

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Image credits: All photos by Kirsty Doole

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