Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The Divine Madness of Philip K. Dick
By Kyle Arnold

Philip K. Dick’s spiritual epiphany

In February of 1974, Philip K. Dick’s life changed. While he was recovering from dental surgery, he claims, he had a spiritual epiphany. It started with a delivery from the local pharmacy. Three days after Dick’s surgery, an order of medications arrived in the hands of a stunning delivery woman.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s dramatic music

Whenever a public event requires a speech from Shakespeare to articulate the profundity of human experience, or to illustrate the cultural achievements of humankind (or perhaps Britain), there is a very good chance that someone will turn to Caliban.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Supernatural Shakespeare

How do you make fairytales into realism? Everyone agrees that doing this work means supplying them with material forms. This is not, however, a novelist’s novelty. Shakespeare’s fairies are small plant flowers and seeds, and his monster knows how to dig pignuts.

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Romance's Rival

What makes Mr. Darcy desirable?

Here’s my simple question: when did we come to believe that Darcy was sexy? The popular image of Jane Austen’s Fitzwilliam Darcy today is Colin Firth, with his wet clinging shirt, later immortalized by a giant statue. In 1940 we had Laurence Olivier, with his dapper coat, gleaming eyes, and smoldering charm.

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Books are for everyone at this outdoor reading room

The first thing you need to know about the Bryant Park Reading Room is that it isn’t a room. Located behind the New York Public Library in Manhattan, this open-air Reading Room sits under a leafy canopy of plane trees at the 42nd Street entrance to Bryant Park.

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What Jane heard

Music is everywhere and nowhere in Jane Austen’s fiction. Everywhere, in that pivotal scenes in every novel unfurl to the sound of music; nowhere, in that she almost never specifies exactly what music is being performed. For film adaptations this absence of detail can be a source of welcome freedoms, since the imaginative gap can be variously filled by choosing more or less appropriate historical repertoire

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Lord Byron’s Passion

Two hundred years ago today Lord Byron wrote a brief, untitled Gothic fragment that is now known as ‘Augustus Darvell’, the name of its central character. The most famous author in the world at the time, Byron produced the tale when he was living at the Villa Diodati, on the shores of Lake Geneva, and in the daily company of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Godwin (the future Mary Shelley), and John Polidori, Byron’s personal physician.

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Bleak skies at night: the year without a summer and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Two hundred years ago this month, Mary Shelley had the terrifying ‘waking dream’ that she subsequently molded into the greatest Gothic novel of all time; Frankenstein. As all who have read the book or seen one of the many film adaptations will know, the ‘monster’ cobbled together out of human odds and ends by rogue scientist, Victor Frankenstein, is galvanised into existence by the power of electricity.

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Dublin on Bloomsday: James Joyce and the OED

The sixteenth of June is the day on which James Joyce fans traditionally email each other their Bloomsday greetings. And nowadays it has become the focus for a global celebration of Joyce’s work, marked by readings and performances, and many other acts of Joycean homage.

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“A dream, which was not all a dream”: dark reflections from June 1816

Two hundred years ago, on 16 June 1816, one of the most remarkable gatherings in English literary history occurred in a villa just outside Geneva. Present at the occasion were Lord Byron, who had left England in April to escape (unsuccessfully, in the event) the scandal surrounding his separation from Lady Byron; John Polidori, whom Byron had engaged as his personal physician.

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Why study English? Literature, politics, and the university, 1932-1965

What is the purpose of studying English? How does language underpin politics? What role, if any, should the subject play within democratic society? Attempts to understand attitudes towards these questions in the early-to-mid-twentieth century have previously emphasized two hostile schools of thought. Firstly, an approach towards criticism influenced by the Cambridge critic F.R. Leavis, who emphasized both the moral seriousness of literature.

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The feminist as the story teller

Sarala Devi was a prolific Odia writer whose work encompasses many genres including prose, poetry, short stories, essays, literary criticism, novels, and plays. She was a versatile genius who occupies an important place in the domain of women’s history. She was a Gandhian feminist and a critical modernist who eschewed exclusive binaries between the home and the public place, the sacred and the secular.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Shakespeare: living in a world of witches

Since he was born a year after the Witchcraft and Conjuration Act of 1563 brought about the era of the witch trials in England, it is hardly a surprise that witches and witchcraft would come to feature in Shakespeare’s work.

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Lady Susan: “the most accomplished Coquette in England”

I congratulate you and Mr. Vernon on being about to receive into your family, the most accomplished Coquette in England. As a very distinguished Flirt, I have been always taught to consider her; but it has lately fallen in my way to hear some particulars of her conduct at Langford, which prove that she does not confine herself to that sort of honest flirtation which satisfies most people, but aspires to the more delicious gratification of making a whole family miserable.

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