Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Summer reading recommendations

Whether your version of the perfect summer read gives your cerebrum a much needed breather or demands contemplation you don’t have time for in everyday life, here is a mix of both to consider for your summer reading this year.

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Five questions for Rebecca Mead

On Tuesday 8 July 2014, Rebecca Mead, author of My Life in Middlemarch, leads a discussion on George Eliot’s Middlemarch. Each summer, Oxford University Press USA and Bryant Park in New York City partner for their summer reading series Word for Word Book Club.

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On Great Expectations

By Maura Kelly
Great Expectations is arguably Charles Dickens’s finest novel – it has a more cogent, concise plot and a more authentic narrator than the other contender for that title, the sprawling masterpiece Bleak House. It may also enjoy another special distinction – Best Title for Any Novel Ever. Certainly, it might have served as the name for any of Dickens’s other novels, as the critic G. K. Chesterson has noted before me.

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How much do you know about The Three Musketeers ?

The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas, celebrates its 170th birthday this year. The classic story of friendship and adventure has been read and enjoyed by many generations all over the world, and there have been dozens of adaptations, including the classic silent 1921 film, directed by Fred Niblo, and the recent BBC series. Take our quiz to find out how much you know about the book, its author, and the time at which it was written.

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How well do you know short stories?

By Maggie Belnap
Short stories populate many childhoods, trying to instill morals and virtues in undeveloped and wandering minds. Whether it’s the tale of Rumpelstiltskin or the boy who cried wolf, these tales make a powerful impression. Check out the short story quiz and see if you really know your short stories.

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A tale of two fables: Aesop vs. La Fontaine

Jean de La Fontaine’s verse fables turned traditional folktales into some of the greatest, and best-loved, poetic works in the French language. His versions of stories such as The Shepherd and the Sea” and “The Hen that Laid the Eggs of Gold” are witty and sophisticated, satirizing human nature in miniature dramas in which the outcome is unpredictable. Here we compare La Fontaine’s versions of the popular tales, to the enduring tradition of Aesop’s fables from the Oxford World’s Classics edition.

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How to write a classic

By Mark Davie
Torquato Tasso desperately wanted to write a classic. The son of a successful court poet who had been brought up on the Latin classics, he had a lifelong ambition to write the epic poem which would do for counter-reformation Italy what Virgil’s Aeneid had done for imperial Rome.

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Money matters

By Valerie Minogue
Money is a tricky subject for a novel, as Zola in 1890 acknowledged: “It’s difficult to write a novel about money. It’s cold, icy, lacking in interest…” But his Rougon-Macquart novels, the “natural and social history” of a family in the Second Empire, were meant to cover every significant aspect of the age, from railways and coal-mines to the first department stores.

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Sherlock Holmes’ beginnings

Here at Oxford University Press we occasionally get the chance to discover a new and exciting piece of literary history. We’re excited to share the newest short story addition to the Sherlock Holmes mysteries in Sherlock Holmes: Selected Stories. Never before published, our editorial team has acquired The Mystery of the Green Garden, now believed to be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s first use of the Sherlock Holmes’ character in his writing. Written during Doyle’s time at Stonyhurst College before entering medical school, the short story displays an early, amateur style of writing not seen in his later published works.

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William Godwin’s birthday

By Mark Philp
Do people at the end of the eighteenth century celebrate their birthdays? More precisely, what did William Godwin (1756-1836) – philosopher, novelist, husband of feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-97) and father of Mary Shelly (1797-1851) – do on his birthday, which falls on 3 March?

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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 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 given 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.

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Book vs movie: Thérèse Raquin and In Secret

In Secret, the new movie adaption of Zola’s Thérèse Raquin starring Jessica Lange, Tom Felton, and Elizabeth Olsen premieres today. The novel tells the scandalous story of adultery in 19th century France. When Thérèse is forced into a loveless marriage, her world is turned upside down upon meeting her husband’s friend. The two enter into an affair that has shocking results.

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