Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Jonathan Swift, Irish writer

By Claude Rawson
Jonathan Swift, whom T. S. Eliot called “colossal,” “the greatest writer of English prose, and the greatest man who has ever written great English prose,” died on 19 October 1745.

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Romeo & Juliet: the film adaptations

By Jill L. Levensen
In its fall preview issue for 2013 (dated 2-9 September), New York magazine lists Romeo and Juliet with other films opening on 11 October 2013, and it comments: “Julian Fellowes (the beloved creator of Downton Abbey) tries to de-Luhrmann-ize this classic.” The statement makes two notable points.

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Mary Hays and the “triumph of affection”

By Eleanor Ty
In the early 1790s, Mary Hays was a rising writer who had published an Oriental tale, an essay on the usefulness of public worship, and, with her sister, produced a collection of essays on miscellaneous topics: romances, friendships, and improvements to female education. She admired and had befriended radicals Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, and was introduced to the circle of London intellectuals in the 1790s.

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Why is Gandhi relevant to the problem of violence against Indian women?

By Judith M. Brown
The global media has, in recent months, brought to the attention of a world audience the prevalence of violence against women in India. The horrific rape of a woman student, returning home after watching an early evening showing of The Life of Pi, in Delhi in December 2012, and the subsequent trial and conviction of her drunken and violent attackers, has led to considerable comment about violence against women.

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Émile Zola and the integrity of representation

By Brian Nelson
Émile Zola’s main achievement was his twenty-volume novel cycle, Les Rougon-Macquart (1871–1893). The fortunes of a family, the Rougon-Macquart, are followed over several decades. The various family members spread throughout all levels of society, and through their lives Zola examines methodically the social, sexual, and moral landscape of the late nineteenth century.

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Edmund Gosse: nonconformist?

By Michael Newton
“The trouble with you,” an old friend recently declared to me, “is that you have always been a conformist.” He meant that I had never undertaken that necessary radical break with my parents and their ideals and interests. Without such a generational rupture, it seemed to him, nobody could claim to be a fully independent, realised person. While he had been dropping acid and dropping (temporarily) out of college, I’d been reclining under a tree with John Keats. And surely there was nothing rebellious in that.

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James Fenimore Cooper: thoughts on a life

By John McWilliams
Cooper’s daunting, lifelong energies led him to venture down still other fictional paths, nominally imaginary but rendered realistic through trenchant social commentary. He experimented with unreliable first person narrative, with the biography of an inanimate object, with urban satire, with the beast fable (The Monikins), and with dystopian fiction (The Crater).

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Adapting Henry V

By Gus Gallagher
In the Autumn of 2011 I found myself at something of a loose end in the beautiful city of Tbilisi, Georgia, working with the Marjanishvili Theatre there on a production of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Unsure of what my next project might be, my attention turned to an old love, Shakespeare’s Henry V.

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The poetry of Federico García Lorca

By D. Gareth Walters
It is apt that Spain’s best-known poet, Federico García Lorca, should have been born in Andalusia. Castile may claim to be the heart and the source of Spain, both historically and linguistically, but in broad cultural terms Andalusia has become for many non-Spaniards the very embodiment of Spain. Lorca’s poetry abundantly reflects this perception.

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10 questions for David Gilbert

Each summer, Oxford University Press USA and Bryant Park in New York City partner for their summer reading series Word for Word Book Club. On Tuesday 27 August 2013, writer David Gilbert leads a discussion on Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis.

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10 questions for Wayne Koestenbaum

Each summer, Oxford University Press USA and Bryant Park in New York City partner for their summer reading series Word for Word Book Club. On Tuesday 16 July 2013, writer Wayne Koestenbaum leads a discussion on The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka.

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Why we should commemorate Walter Pater

By Matthew Beaumont
Pater’s most celebrated and controversial book, Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873) is about the distant past, superficially at least, and therefore risked seeming irrelevant even in his own time. It could not however have inspired a generation of undergraduates, including Oscar Wilde, to embrace aestheticism, and a cult of homoeroticism, as his critics claimed, if it had not also been a coded polemic about the present.

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The first branch of the Mabinogi

The Mabinogion is the title given to eleven medieval Welsh prose tales preserved mainly in the White Book of Rhydderch (c.1350) and the Red Book of Hergest (c.1400). They were never conceived as a collection—the title was adopted in the nineteenth century when the tales were first translated into English by Lady Charlotte Guest.

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