Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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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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Dress as an expression of the pecuniary culture

By Thorstein Veblen
The dress of women goes even farther than that of men in the way of demonstrating the wearer’s abstinence from productive employment. It needs no argument to enforce the generalisation that the more elegant styles of feminine bonnets go even farther towards making work impossible than does the man’s high hat.

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The misfortune of Athos

We wish a happy birthday to Alexandre Dumas today with the musketeers. In the 1620s at the court of Louis XIII, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis with their companion, the headstrong d’Artagnan, are engaged in a battle against Richelieu, the King’s minister, and the beautiful, unscrupulous spy, Milady. Behind the flashing blades and bravura, Dumas explores the eternal conflict between good and evil. The following is an excerpt from Chapter 27, The Wife of Athos.

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The Poetic Edda and Wagner’s Ring Cycle

By Carolyne Larrington
In his masterpiece, Wagner synthesised stories from across the Old Norse – Icelandic collection of poems known as the Poetic Edda. He had long been mulling over an opera based on the German epic, Das Nibelungenlied, but he realised that he needed more material and more inspiration. Wagner knew where he might find it: “I must study these Old Norse eddic poems of yours; they are far more profound than our medieval poems”, he remarked to the Danish composer Niels Gade in 1846.

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10 questions for Raúl Esparza

Each summer, Oxford University Press USA and Bryant Park in New York City partner for their summer reading series Word for Word Book Club. The Bryant Park Reading Room offers free copies of book club selections while supply lasts, compliments of Oxford University Press, and guest speakers lead the group in discussion. On Tuesday 16 July 2013, actor Raúl Esparza leads a discussion on The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

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An Independence Day reading list from Oxford World’s Classics

By Penny Freeman
For this month’s Oxford World’s Classics reading list, we picked some of our favorite American classics in honor of Independence Day. There’s no better holiday to celebrate America’s iconic writers, and their great works, than the Fourth of July. Whether you were assigned to read these books in class, or keep meaning to pick up a few of those classics you missed out on, we have something for everyone on the list.

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10 questions for Justin Scott

Each summer, Oxford University Press USA and Bryant Park in New York City partner for their summer reading series Word for Word Book Club. The Bryant Park Reading Room offers free copies of book club selections while supply lasts, compliments of Oxford University Press, and guest speakers lead the group in discussion. On Tuesday 2 July 2013, author Justin Scott leads a discussion on Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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10 questions for Domenica Ruta

Each summer, Oxford University Press USA and Bryant Park in New York City partner for their summer reading series Word for Word Book Club. The Bryant Park Reading Room offers free copies of book club selections while supply lasts, compliments of Oxford University Press, and guest speakers lead the group in discussion. On Tuesday 18 June, author Domenica Ruta leads a discussion on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.

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Letters from your father

By David Roberts
Praised in their day as a complete manual of education, and despised by Samuel Johnson for teaching `the morals of a whore and the manners of a dancing-master’, Lord Chesterfield’s Letters reflect the political craft of a leading statesman and the urbane wit of a man who associated with Pope, Addison, and Swift.

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The reign of Alexander the Great

The relatively short reign of Alexander (336 to 323 BC) marked one of the major turning-points in world history. The Greek city states continued to function after his death, but the world order had changed and a new era began, which came to be labelled the Hellenistic period. For Alexander, like many an autocrat, departed without leaving a viable succession plan.

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The origin and text of The Book of Common Prayer

Despite its controversial history, the Book of Common Prayer is an influential religious text and one of the most compelling works of English literature. How has this document retained its relevancy even after numerous revisions? What can it teach us about British history and the English language? We spoke with Brian Cummings, editor of the Oxford World’s Classics edition of The Book of Common Prayer, about the importance of this text.

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