Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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A literary tour of Ireland

Ireland is home to many great writers, from Bram Stoker and Jonathan Swift to Oscar Wilde and James Joyce. In this slideshow, Molly Grote, OUP publicist with a degree in British and Irish literature, takes us on a literary tour of Dublin.

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Lessons from the Song of Roland

What constitutes a person’s identity: family, country, religion? How do we resolve conflict: military action, strategy, negotiation? What turns a good man into a traitor?

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Arthur Conan Doyle: spirits in the material world

Sherlock Holmes is literature’s greatest rationalist; his faith in material reality is absolute. In his certainty, he resembles his creator; but not in his materialism. From the beginning of his writing career, Doyle was fascinated by the spirit world. One of his favourite literary modes, the Gothic, allowed him to explore the world of spirits and the supernatural, of vengeful mummies and predatory vampires, of ghosts and necromancers.

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“The Brazilian Cat” – an extract from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Gothic Tales

We’re eagerly preparing for Halloween this month by reading all of our creepy classics and spine-chilling tales. Below is an extract from “The Brazilian Cat”, one of many short stories from master of the gothic form Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Conan Doyle drew on his own medical background, his travels, and his increasing interest in spiritualism and the occult for his Gothic Tales. Read on if you dare…

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Lovecraft resurgent

Not many, however, noted that Stranger Things, with its murderous, tentacled creature unleashed through a trans-dimensional portal into a small town by the experiments of a mad professor, owed virtually everything to the imagination of H. P. Lovecraft. He composed these scenarios over eighty years ago in classic stories like ‘The Dunwich Horror’ and ‘The Shadow over Innsmouth’.

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What do the classics do for you?

This week, Oxford University Press (OUP) and The Reader announced an exciting new partnership, working together to build a core classics library and to get great literature into the hands of people who need it most, with the Oxford World’s Classics series becoming The Reader’s “house brand” for use in their pioneering Shared Reading initiatives.

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Virginia Woolf: author, publisher, feminist

As a young woman, Virginia Woolf toured London’s National Portrait Gallery and grieved to find that almost all the portraits in the collection were of men. Woolf was so resentful that she later refused to sit for a drawing commissioned by the gallery, seemingly renouncing an opportunity to add her own portrait to its walls.

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Five questions for Oxford World’s Classics cover designer Alex Walker

Judging a book by its cover has turned out to be a necessity in life. We’ve all perused book shops and been seduced by a particularly intriguing cover–perhaps we have even been convinced to buy a book because of its cover. And, truly, there is no shame in that. It takes skill and artistry to craft a successful book cover, and that should be acknowledged.

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The OWC Podcast: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride encounters prejudice, upward-mobility confronts social disdain, and quick-wittedness challenges sagacity, as misconceptions and hasty judgments lead to heartache and scandal, but eventually to true understanding, self-knowledge, and love. In this supremely satisfying story, Jane Austen balances comedy with seriousness, and witty observation with profound insight. If Elizabeth Bennet returns again and again to her letter from Mr Darcy, readers of the novel are drawn even more irresistibly by its captivating wisdom.

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Mole and Rat: A chancing friendship

National Friendship Day was originally founded by Hallmark as a promotional campaign to encourage people to send cards, but is now celebrated in countries across the world on the first Sunday in August. This post celebrates the friendship of two of our favorite characters from classic literature, Rat and Mole from The Wind in the Willows.

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Best beach classics: the books you should be reading this summer

In a recent article for The Huffington Post, journalist Erin Schumaker advises students not to let their brains waste away over the summer: “you might be better off skipping the beach read this summer in favor of something a little more substantive.” Yet some of us might find the idea of settling down on a sun lounger with War and Peace less than appealing. To help you out, we asked staff at Oxford University Press for a list of summer classics that will help you relax without letting your brain get lazy!

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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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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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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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Desire & sexuality in the work of Émile Zola

The second series of the BBC Radio 4 dramatization of the novels of Émile Zola (Blood, Sex and Money) is just coming to a close. The central theme of the present series is Sex. Sex is all-pervasive in Zola. It encapsulates the themes of desire, pleasure, and perversion; and it is inseparable from Zola’s social themes.

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