Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Story time with the Brothers Grimm… Part Two

Read the second installment of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s Selected Tales: The Water of Life. What happens to the scheming elder princes and their sea-water goblet next? And will the youngest prince live happily ever after with his beautiful princess?

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Ulysses: 90 years on…

On this day in 1922, James Joyce’s Ulysses was first published in its entirety, although the publication history of the book is nearly as complex as the novel itself. Here, we’ve picked one of our favourite extracts from the Oxford World’s Classics edition.

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Tibullus’ Elegies: an excerpt

Tibullus was one of a group of poets known as the Latin elegists, whose number included Ovid and Propertius. Living in the age of Augustus, his poems reflect Augustan ideals, but they are above all notable for their emphasis on the personal, and for their subject-matter, love.

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Our Antonia

The first time I read My Antonia, I hated it. That was to be expected: It was required reading in my sophomore English course at Omaha Central High. This was during the Sixties. In the Age of Aquarius, no one was supposed to like assigned reading. That’s why it had to be assigned. I next confronted My Antonia in college. Like Jim Burden, Willa Cather’s narrator, I had left Nebraska to go to east to continue my education.

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Roger Luckhurst on Dracula

The most famous of all vampire stories, Dracula is a mirror of its age, its underlying themes of race, religion, science, superstition, and sexuality never far from the surface. In the video below Roger Luckhurst, editor of the Oxford World’s Classics edition of Dracula, talks about why we’re still enthralled by the original novel.

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From First Impressions to Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice has delighted generations of readers with its unforgettable cast of characters, carefully choreographed plot, and a hugely entertaining view of the world and its absurdities. With the arrival of eligible young men in their neighbourhood, the lives of Mr and Mrs Bennet and their five daughters are turned inside out and upside down.

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On Chaucer and marriage

By Peter Brown
If Prince William and Catherine Middleton took to heart the wedding sermon delivered in Westminster Abbey by Richard Chartres, bishop of London, then Chaucer is on the royal reading list. The good bishop quoted two lines from the Franklin’s Tale to emphasize that successful relationships should be based on ‘space and freedom’ rather than coercion: ‘Whan maistrie [mastery] comth, the god of Love anon | Beteth his wynges, and farewell, he is gon’.

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Why read Plato?

Plato’s Republic is the central work of the Western world’s most famous philosopher. Essentially an inquiry into morality, Republic also contains crucial arguments and insights into many other areas of philosophy. In these videos Robin Waterfield, editor of the Oxford World’s Classics edition of Republic, explains why we should read it, and what makes Plato so interesting.

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Why Captain Marryat would have disapproved of Treasure Island

By Peter Hunt
Captain Frederick Marryat, an experienced Naval Officer, was a pioneering writer of sea-and-island adventure stories, such as Peter Simple (1834) and Mr Midshipman Easy (1836). One day his children asked him to write a sequel to The Swiss Family Robinson, Johann Wyss’s extravagant embroidering of the Robinson Crusoe story, which had found its circuitous way into English via William Godwin’s translation of a French version in 1816. Marryat was not amused.

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Lizzie Eustace: pathological liar?

By Helen Small
Pathological lying, the philosopher Sissela Bok tells us, ‘is to all the rest of lying what kleptomania is to stealing’. In its most extreme form, the liar (or ‘pseudologue’) ‘tells involved stories about life circumstances, both present and past’.

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Listening to the Victorians

“The best Victorian poetry is complex, challenging, and experimental,” Hughes says, and it enjoyed a wide readership as part of “the first era of mass media.” As literacy increased and printing technology advanced, the Victorians witnessed a media explosion during which more books, journals, magazines, and newspapers were published and read than ever before. The Victorian period, in this sense, was a forerunner to the Information Age, and much of the excitement, empowerment, bewilderment, and concern they felt as a result of revolutions in communication resembles our own.

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William Makepeace Thackeray: Racist?

By John Sutherland
We can never know the Victorians as well as they knew themselves. Nor–however well we annotate our texts–can we read Victorian novels as responsively as Victorians read them. They, not we, own their fiction. Thackeray and his original readers shared a common ground so familiar that there was no need for it to be spelled out. The challenge for the modern reader is to reconstruct that background as fully as we can. To ‘Victorianize’ ourselves, one might say.

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Happy Bloomsday

It’s a holiday for James Joyce fans, a holiday known as Bloomsday. Joyce’s seminal 1922 novel Ulysses spans only a single day in Dublin (1904), and now we know every 16th of June as Bloomsday, so named after the novel’s protagonist Leopold Bloom. Typical Bloomsday activities involve including Ulysses-themed pub crawls, dramatizations, and readings. Some committed fans even hold marathon readings of the entire book.

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