Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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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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Celebrating Charles Darwin’s birthday

February 12th has been coined Darwin Day because it marks the anniversary of the birthday of Charles Darwin. One could come up with several creative ways to celebrate the life of such an influential and revered scientist—baking a cake with 73 candles in honor of Darwin’s 73 years of life, or taking a walk through a local park or nature reserve in an attempt to make observations about wild animals, to name a few.

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Wrecked on a desert island

When I waked it was broad day, the weather clear, and the storm abated, so that the sea did not rage and swell as before. But that which surprised me most was, that the ship was lifted off in the night from the sand where she lay by the swelling of the tide, and was driven up almost as far as the rock which I at first mentioned, where I had been so bruised by the wave dashing me against it.

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Hal Gladfelder on The Beggar’s Opera and Polly

With The Beggar’s Opera, Gay invented a new form, the ballad opera, and the daring mixture of caustic political satire, well-loved popular tunes, and a story of crime and betrayal set in the urban underworld of prostitutes and thieves was an overnight sensation.

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The Banks O’ Doon

Robert Burns was born on 25 January 1759 in Alloway, a small village near the river Doon just south of the town of Ayr, in the south-west of Scotland. As Scots and Scotophiles to world over prepare to celebrate Burns Night tomorrow, here’s an excerpt from the new Oxford World’s Classics edition of his Selected Poems and Songs, dedicated to that river near which he grew up.

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An Oxford World’s Classics American literature reading list

There’s something about the frenzied vigor of snowflakes, shopping outings, and journeys back home, that make us want to take a break and curl up with a good book. The classics are always a perfect pick for a good read during the holiday season. We compiled some of the best books from American literature to read when you’re looking to escape into a story. Which is your favorite?

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A Scottish reading list from Oxford World’s Classics

By Kirsty Doole
This month’s Oxford World’s Classics reading list celebrates St Andrew’s Day by highlighting some of the great Scottish classics we have in the series. From the gothic tale of Jekyll and Hyde to Burns, and the philosophy of David Hume, there is hopefully something for everyone here. But have we missed out your favourite?

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Editing the classics, past and present

By Judith Luna
Actually, editing classics is just what I don’t do. My job can be a bit of a mystery to people who wonder whether I rephrase the occasional Jane Austen sentence, or improve Virginia Woolf’s punctuation. Most days I am looking for living authors, not dead ones: the editors and translators who are responsible for the introductions and notes, and who actually do make decisions about how best to present the texts for modern readers.

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The uncanny Stephen Crane

By Fiona Robertson and Anthony Mellors
Closely associated with a group of writers dedicated to refashioning American fictional style, and with his roots in journalism and popular entertainment, Crane produced in his Civil-War tale The Red Badge of Courage an uncompromisingly spare modern account of the first-hand experience of battle.

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The many “-cides” of Dostoevsky

By Michael R. Katz
In his classic study Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics (1929), the literary theorist, scholar, and philosopher of language, Mikhail Bakhtin included a brilliant “exercise” in literary “what-ifs.” In the chapter entitled “The Hero in Dostoevsky’s Art,” Bakhtin analyzes as a characteristic example of the Leo Tolstoy’s “monologic manner” and poses the following question

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