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161. 100 Best Books for Children
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162. Sexual Personae : Art & Decadence
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163. Discovery of Poetry
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164. The Scapegoat
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165. The Purloined Poe: Lacan, Derrida
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166. Rights of Man (Dover Thrift Editions)
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167. The Oxford Companion to the English
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168. Marxism and Literature (Marxist
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169. The Heath Introduction to Literature
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170. United States : Essays 1952-1992
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171. A "Gravity's Rainbow" Companion:
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172. The River Why, Twentieth-Anniversary
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173. Writing for Magazines: A Beginner's
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174. Mystery and Manners : Occasional
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175. The Lacanian Subject
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176. Harper American Literature, Single
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177. The Feminization of American Culture
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178. When I Was Cool : My Life at the
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179. Difference and Repetition
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180. Honey for a Woman's Heart

161. 100 Best Books for Children
by Anita Silvey
list price: $20.00
our price: $13.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0618278893
Catlog: Book (2004-04-09)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Sales Rank: 8244
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

By selecting only 100 "best books" Anita Silvey distinguishes her guide from all the others and makes it possible to give young readers their literary heritage in the childhood years.
The books we hear or read when we are children stay with us all our lives. If we miss them when we are young, we"ll miss them forever: no Hungry Caterpillar, no Winn-Dixie, no Roll of Thunder. As adults we remember a few familiar favorites, but no one but an expert like Anita Silvey, with her thirty-five years at the heart of children"s book publishing, could put together an authoritative list like this one. Parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians, and bookstore clerks will feel completely comfortable recommending these books for any child, from infancy to almost-teens. Silvey includes, in addition to the 100 best, extensive lists of books to meet special needs and interests as well as classics, selected by age, to round out this extraordinarily useful work.
In addition to giving an age range and the plot of each book, Silvey relates the fascinating, often hilarious story behind the story, something only an insider in the field of children"s publishing could tell. 100 Best Books for Children is as much fun to read as it is helpful.
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Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely essential for every family
As a former bookseller and librarian, I was often asked by confused parents and grandparents for book suggestions for children of a particular age. This wonderful book belongs on every family's bookshelf, not only because it will suggest the next good book to read, but because it gives a tantalizing look at the stories behind each book--and that always makes reading more fun. You're sure to find your own favorites here, as well as books you haven't come across. Even if you've read every one of these books, you'll enjoy the chatty tone of the book descriptions. I couldn't put the book down!

Looking for a book to give a new parent? A new grandparent? Think of this gift first--because you're expressing the importance of reading for another family. More importantly, buy it for yourself ... and enjoy!

5-0 out of 5 stars Stunning resource for anyone who loves kids!
When I first saw this book, I was expecting a list and not much more. But the depth and research that went in to this book is extraordinary! Anita Silvey even knew most of the authors and illustrators for these books personally - you can't get much closer to the sources than that! A delight to read, and full of insightful, delightful historical information and personalized anecdotes, this book would be a perfect addition to anyone's bookshelf, no matter what age!

5-0 out of 5 stars Every home should have a copy of this book
I sat down and read this book from cover to cover. It was fascinating. Not only was it fun to see if I agreed with Ms. Silvey's choices for best books, but there is so much behind-the-scenes information here, I felt enticed to read or re-read each of the books on her list. Every parent, grandparent, teacher, and librarian will find this book not only useful but inspirational.

5-0 out of 5 stars Something Great For Your Family!
I can't stop looking at this book! There are three kids in our family and this book offers wonderful reading suggestions for every age and then books to think about for the future. I don't want them to miss the exciting reading experience of any of the treasures in this list. More than just a reference, though, this book is fun to read and makes me feel like an insider! Now I can share not only the best books with my children, but the stories behind the books! Get this book and do something great for your family!

5-0 out of 5 stars if you love children's books........
This book operates on many levels, in ways that I had not initially expected. Althought not a parent, I dearly love to buy books as presents for the various children in my life. Thus I bought this book to help me find suitable books to give for Christmas, birthdays, etc. The minute I started to read this book(which is full of charming anecdotes and history about the writing and illustrating of many childhood favorites, as well as about a number of more contemporary books with which I was not familiar), I realized what a wonderful resource it would be for new parents. I have now given it to 3 friends/family members with children, as well as to another friend who is halfway through writing and illustrating her first children's book. Finally, as an aging "baby boomer" myself, I can enjoy reading it to wax nostalgic over my own favorite childhood books. All in all, a very satisfying book, for a variety of reasons. Enjoy it! ... Read more


162. Sexual Personae : Art & Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson
by CAMILLE PAGLIA
list price: $18.00
our price: $12.24
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Asin: 0679735798
Catlog: Book (1991-08-20)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 35269
Average Customer Review: 4.54 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (50)

5-0 out of 5 stars The most important book of the last 3 decades
Paglia's "Sexual Personae" is a massive work of Olympian learning; the most important book of the last 3 decades and certainly one of the greatest literary tomes of the century. This book in itself is utterly more valuable than a complete undergraduate education at one of our most prestigious universities.

"Sexual Personae" embodies the kind of hard-thinking discussions of art and philosophy so direly needed as the 20th century comes to a close. Paglia forces us to see the embedded truth in old sexual stereotypes, easily cuts through the muddled sentimentalism of current poststructuralist jargon, and implores us to take stock of ourselves in an ascetic, self-responsible and disciplined way using wit, wisdom, and aesthetics as tools of self-knowledge in a turbulent age of decadent Empire.

Paglia sees human history through art with an all-knowing, unapologetic eye to the point of sophisticated fatigue. She revives the ancient Greek concept of the Apollo/Dionysus continuum, she is honest about human social and sexual catharsis, and for all the talk about Paganism these days Paglia forces us to come to terms with the concept in a way that removes its [beautiful and horrifying] dualities from the sterile, solipsistic MickeyMouse playground on which it has been snidely and carelessly tossed by lazy new-age boomer "intellectuals"--so blindly at the expense of the well-being of the next generation of philosophical thinkers.

In many ways, "Sexual Personae" is a kind of intellectual call-to-arms for Generation X. Paglia is brave, shows that she cares, and is willing to take abuse and get tough in order to get the job done. It is the Bible of the 1990's, and an indespensible book for knowing ourselves and our world.

4-0 out of 5 stars Too original and thought provoking to be "feminist"
Reading Rene Denfeld's critique of modern feminism made me think of this book which directly attacked and challenged everything that was feminism in its time (and was roundly condemned by both women who still called themselves feminists) from "Matriarchy is peace" to "women are naturally more loving, compassionate, etc., etc."

Its more than that. It is an examination, a critique, a tour through Western culture from the perspective of a unique and startling confrontational woman. Her Appolonian=male, Dionysian=female argument might be just as a whacked as the Gloria Steinem inner child but it is still largely believed that structure=male, nature=female (just that nature is good and wholesome while structure is "patriarchal") and her love of everything patriarchal is knid of scary if patriarchal had actual meaning than what feminists call things that they don't like.

In this book you will see Emily Dickinson described as the female Sade, read Paglia's burning hatred for Mark Twain (she admits to hating Huckleberry Finn so much that one of the things to do when she went to grad school was to write a paper tearing that book apart), watch Paglia tear the matriarchy apart (look at the pregnant statue - no face, no legs, just pregnant - does that look like a life affirming goddess figure to you or a woman with one function only?), and get disturbed by her theories of culture (all cultures at their height of power and art are primarily pedophiliac)

It's a dense book and one that cannot be read in one sitting. YOu might even have to put it on the shelf and come back to it later, but like the teacher who loves her subject, Paglia will keep you interested. You will never look at Western art the same way again.

Oh one last thing on the feminist issue. Most feminists are Jungian in their outlook. They talk about feminine aspects and masculine aspects in the terms that Jung proposes. Paglia is a Freudian. MOst people consider Freud was a sexist even though he never said anything about anything being naturally feminine or masculine (penis envy being a type of hysteria like the Oedipal complex - possible and not altogether improbable but not normal everyday behavior) but that's because most people don't read Freud because he scares them before they can open up a Freudian text. So if you are feminist who thinks that your cherished ideas will not be confirmed by this book, run away. Let it rest on the shelf. Unless you have the courage to be challenged. Then read some Freud too and see what you've been missing.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Book of the 1990s
I first read "Sexual Personae" right after the 1991 Anita Hill brouhaha, when feminism was at its most dominant position in American culture. Paglia played such a huge role in the destruction of feminism as a credible intellectual force in the 1990s that it's hard to realize just how revolutionary this book was at that point.

I'll restrict myself to two points. Her first chapter is the most quotable piece of writing since "Hamlet." In her chapter on Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," she penetrates to the heart of what's funny about the play so well that Wilde's lines are funnier in her essay than they are in the mouths of event the best actors.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliance dogged by a bifocal argument
Critical Theory, more or less, is that discipline of the Humanities that interprets the Arts via the ideas of philosophy and psychology.

Paglia's "Sexual Personae" is a work of critical theory focusing on human sexuality.

Paglia assumes the mantle of rogue, apostate feminist in declaring that had the development of civilization been left to women, we would all still be living in swamps. She maintains that aesthetic creation is an intrinsic function of male physiology: basically, men have phalluses and thus they create. Also, whereas female biology has a centrality rooted in the earth, male biology is psychologically peripheral and thus inevitably driven to attempt to dominate and rule the irrepressible female. By extension, then, males are driven to "subdue the earth" through the creation of civilization.

From this psychosexual premise, Paglia develops her central thesis: that human sexuality is crucially central to High Culture, that human sexuality inevitably involves power relationships, and that this "gigantic fact" leads inevitably to portrayals in the Arts of relationships characterized by dominance and submission.

Her thesis, then, clearly is influenced by the stark human equations championed by de Sade and Sartre.

While the first half of "Sexual Personae" is highly entertaining, the second half of the book labors under (what appears to be) the logical inconsistency of Paglia's "hermaphrodite" concept.

Paglia argues that up to the Renaissance, European sexual roles and sexual personae - male and female psychologies - were vibrant and well-defined. After that, there commenced a period of diffused "maleness" and "femaleness," resulting in muddled psychosexual conceptions of what had always been, in the good ole days, clear-cut gender roles.

In other words, Paglia's central thesis of the centrality of sex in the creation of High Culture starts unintentionally echoing Douglas Adams' hilarious quip in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy": invoking a pre-Renaissance golden age when, "Men were REAL men, women were REAL women, and small brown furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were REAL small brown furry creatures from Alpha Centauri."

Paglia's logical inconsistency lies in her having, on the one hand, to acknowledge C.G. Jung's axiom that creative males inevitably develop their inner feminine, while on the other hand having to argue that this sort of thing *really* is an undesirable, post-Renaissance muddling of psychosexual identity.

And so it goes: page after page of Paglia reaffirming ad infinitum how the works of all post-Renaissance male artists clearly portray their vast consuming dread of the "vagina dentata" -- the "devouring vagina." (No, I'm not making this up.) This dread presumably being an inevitable consequence of these artists' collective, psychological hermaphroditism...

That said, Paglia's finale - an analysis of Emily Dickinson, whom Paglia refers to as "the American de Sade" - is one of the most compelling and thought-provoking textual analyses in this or any other work of critical theory.

By book's end, after all the intellectual pyrotechnics have faded, Paglia has presented a worldview similar to that of Giambattista Vico: not only do we live in Vico's post-mythological world, we apparently also are occupying Paglia's World of Confused Gender Roles tragically inhabited by masculinized women and feminized men.

"Sexual Personae" is quirky, brilliant, engaging and encyclopedic: a tour de force of erudition.

Recommended to anyone interested in a highly unorthodox appraisal of sexuality in Western Art.

4-0 out of 5 stars Dr. Paglia's A brilliant survey of Western cultural icons
Camille Paglia is a brilliant professor of culture who is this groundbreaking work looks with original insight into cultural
art and literary works from the dawn of civilization to the
poetry of Emily Dickinson who she labels the "Sade of America>
Paglia sets us a paradigm of conflict between the sexes throughout history in realms as diverse as politics, art and
literature. Paglia sees the conflict as based on the Apollo instinct in male artists to overcome the dark, watery, earth-

centered female.
Through a detailed look at such literary giants as Shakespeare, the Romantic poets, Emily Bronte, Whitman, Poe,
Hawthorne, Melville and the late nineteenth century decadents such as Oscar Wilde, Bauldelaire, Gautier, Huysmans and others
she makes original and until now unnoticed observations on the work of each master artist.
The book should be read through to understand her point but students could also use the book to examine the chapters dealing with the particular author or literary/artistic movement they are studying.
Paglia's work is so important it is absud to expect a short review such as this one to do justice to Dr. Paglia's groundbreaking work which will wake up the academy and complacent feminists!
As a disciple of Dr. Harold Bloom this bisexual Italian-American academic is someone the student of the arts should read and savor.
Paglia is controversial but essential reading. I recommend her work and have enjoyed the week I spent with this book!
Highly recommended! ... Read more


163. Discovery of Poetry
by Francis Mayes
list price: $61.95
our price: $61.95
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Asin: 0155001620
Catlog: Book (1994-01-02)
Publisher: Heinle
Sales Rank: 335128
Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

THE DISCOVERY OF POETRY introduces the art and craft of poetry. From an early tribal orison on the rising sun to a recent freeway lyric just out of the word processor, poems always reveal the writer's concerns, feelings, and values. Starting with words and images, this book hopes to help the student understand the importance of word choice and image-making, building a foundation as he or she learns about rhythm, voice, and structure. Questions and writing prompts help facilitate class discussion and a deeper thinking about poetry. The last chapter, "A Poet's Handbook," breaks down the creative process of the poet from creating images to revision. THE DISCOVERY OF POETRY will help facilitate a deeper appreciation and understanding of poetry. ... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great for all writers.
I've read the book once through and found that it's so resourceful that I'm now going back and doing extensive notes on each chapter. You certainly don't have to do this to gain some knowledge from this book, however she goes into great detail about every aspect of poetry she mentions. Not to mention the poems she adds are works of art in themselves. I recommend this book to anyone who loves to write.

4-0 out of 5 stars Massive, Deep and Worth It
I was excited to discover this book, although its massive size at first made me curious. How much stuff is packed in here? I wondered.

The excellent features of this book include the "In Your Notebook" sections where you can try out the techniques and strategies Mayes has just explained. I also really enjoy the variety of poets whose works are introduced.

However, there are some moments where there is so much detail that I found myself losing interest and not retaining as much. In that respect, it really showed Mayes background with a university-type audience.

It is definitely worth it to have on any aspiring poet's shelf. I can see myself using this as a reference and as an inspiration for years to come.

5-0 out of 5 stars I bought this book for my daughter, then
I bought this book for my daughter, since she came home from school suddenly interested in writing poetry and I found it so fascinating that I bought another copy for myself. I've read Mayes's other books and loved them and sense that same person speaking, clearly and directly, but this time about a subject I've never really warmed to. And she's opened my eyes to another world, helped me tear down and push away all those cliches I had about poetry. Now I'm not so "afraid" when I read a poem that I'm not going to get it. She's very calmly shown me that a poem can just "be." My daughter loves it too and she's sixteen. Highly recommended for those who have always wondered why they never really understood what poetry was all about, but really wanted to.

5-0 out of 5 stars A soulful introduction to poetry
I've bought and read many "Introduction to Poetry" books over the past several years, but this one is my favorite.

Most of the books of this genre are long on technical information, but lack passion behind the text. Think of a book about music written by a mathematician; The writer might get the technical points across, but the joy of experiencing the music would probably be lacking.

This book presents both the technical information necessary to enjoy poetry, and a selection wonderful poems that demonstrate the principles first hand. In fact, Ms. Mayes is so adept at selecting suitable poems that I think she could prove to be an anthologist of the highest caliber (hopefully she'll read this suggestion and take it to heart).

I recommend this book to anyone who has been baffled by poetry in the past. Enjoy the delights of this book for a time and you'll be hooked on poetry for good.

By the way, do the writing exercises too. You just may find your inner poet.

5-0 out of 5 stars Poetry Demystified
Anyone who is familiar with Mayes' books Under a Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany will not be at all surprised that she has written a book about poetry. In recounting the story of how she and her husband discovered and renovated their home in Italy, her writing moves with the rhythms of a poet's voice and savors words for their sounds and textures as well as the images they evoke.

The author of 5 books of poetry and a creative writing teacher at San Francisco State University for years, Mayes has turned her experiences into a simple, straightforward approach to reading, appreciating and writing poetry. Simple, however, does not mean easy. As Mayes is quick to point out, poetry requires concentration, contemplation and the suspension of our linear and time driven expectations. Even the results of reading and writing poetry, she cautions, are not what we might expect. "...many of us are overtrained to read for factual information," says Mayes. "Overly pragmatic, we look for a result, a conclusion."

Mayes' approach to studying poetry is to set the simple fundamentals that are common to all poetry before the reader and then let poems themselves illustrate her points. The book is divided into 11 parts, which cover everything from reading and interpretation, points of view, and imagery, to the mechanics of rhyme and meter, traditional versus free verse, and tips for would be writers. However, the thing that impressed me most throughout the book were her choices of poems to include, and her insightful commentary on them. These comments are offered with genuine pleasure and the graciousness of a friend sharing something she truly loves. There is nothing high handed or condescending in her discussions. Instead you feel like you've been invited to share in a delightful secret or been offered the chance to join a special club. This is a book that given the time and careful consideration it deserves will help you fall in love with poetry. ... Read more


164. The Scapegoat
by Rene Girard, Yvonne Freccero
list price: $20.95
our price: $20.95
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Asin: 0801839173
Catlog: Book (1989-08-01)
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Sales Rank: 153638
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Rough Path Through an Extraordinary Landscape.
Rene Girard proposes to change how we think about religion and history. To do so, he takes us through history, mythology, and the New Testament, pointing out facts we may not have noticed about group violence and how it justifies itself, and the way Jesus "subverts the dominant paradigm," as they say. Like a geologist pointing to a piece of land we have walked across since childhood, and explaining Plate Tectonics and the volcanic origins of familiar landmarks, the ground seems to shift under our feet as we look at familiar facts from these new points of view.

No doubt Girard gets carried away, and tries to explain too much. Simplicity is the curse of great intellects -- Marx thought love of money was the root of all motivation, Freud over-emphasized sex, and Ernest Becker proposed to explain all human neurosis in terms of fear of death. Similarly, Girard claims: "All human language, and other cultural institutions, in fact, originated in collective murder." All?

Perhaps Girard is mocking the positivists with his method. He gives a paltry handful of examples, links them together in the most tenuous way, and tells us he's "proven" the enormous sweep of his claims. I sympathize with the minimilist approach from an artistic standpoint, but I'm going to have to think through the data for a while to see if it really fits. Based on what I know of Chinese history, for example, I think the theory Girard gives in this book may have definite explanatory value. Last emperors of prior dynasties are usually depicted as villains, and the founders of new dynasties, who generally have blood on their hands, are justified, as part of Girard's theory predicts. But I doubt even his full theory will fit everything.

Girard seems to know what he's talking about, but sometimes he forgets to explain it adequately to his readers. He occasionally blunders into sentences like this: "Is it enough to justify our qualifying the interpretation that subverts the representation of persecution by revealing it as scientific?" Uh. . . No!

For all the book's occasional faults, however, I find it changing the way I see society. Consider, for example, what the experts have been telling us about Islam for the last few months, and the realities of what Mohammed actually did, in light of the following sentence: "Human culture is predisposed to the permanent concealment of its origins in collective violence." This is exactly what politicians, scholars, and the press have been doing in regard to early Islam.

The way in which Girard explains the phenomena of scapegoating also casts a great deal of light, it seems to me, on the extreme hostility manifest not only in the Muslim world, but even in the West, towards the state of Israel, recently. The Muslim world is in a turmoil, and the Jews have been set up, as so often before, as the scapegoats -- as Girard's theory predicts.

Girard depicts evil as a second-rate, taudry, and cowardly thing, and shows true heroism in all its beauty. His discussion of the Gospels and history is especially good. (In my book, Jesus and the Religions of Man, I describe other scapegoat phenomena from around the world, and relate them in a different but perhaps complementary way to the Gospels.)

The Scapegoat is, in short, well worth attention. While some of Girard's ideas may be out to lunch, he certainly offers insights here of real and paradigm-shifting value about the nature of man and the work of Christ.

5-0 out of 5 stars An interesting and important book
This is seminal book of Girard's. In his investigation of myth he uncovers what he calls the scapegoat-mechanism, the tendency of society to collectively transfer guilt onto a sacrificial victim.

An introductory chapter on fourteenth century European anti-semitism leads into a discussion of various myths from around the world, all "texts of persecution." Girard's thesis, that basically all founding myths feature the sacrifice of an innocent victim, proceeds in good structuralist fashion: these tendencies are an innate part of human nature.

But he doesn't stop there. Taking a somewhat eschatological stance, midway through the book he continues to tackle what he calls the ultimate uncovering of the scapegoat mechanism: the death of Christ. His argument is, roughly, that Christ in his words and deeds, and finally in his self-sacrifice, demonstrates how he understands this inborn but not irredeemable human characteristic. The rest of human history thus unfolds towards a greater understanding (and Girard's work is part of this) of the irrationality of sacrifice--slowly we start to fulfill the promise of our humanity, and work towards a society in which no sacrifice will have to be made.

The most gripping chapter for me is that on Peter's betrayal. This is a truly remarkable reading of the wellknown biblical narrative, a reading that simultaneously redeems Peter (somewhat) and condemns all of humanity. Jesus, the ultimate innocent victim, understood this, as does Girard: if Peter fails, we all fail.

Since I am not a student of myth I feel I can't comment on Girard's reading of myths, most of which I hadn't heard of before, but it certainly sounds convincing. Especially his reading of the bible makes this book worthwhile to students of language, literature, social sciences, and morality. ... Read more


165. The Purloined Poe: Lacan, Derrida and Psychoanalytic Reading
by John P. Muller, William J. Richardson
list price: $21.95
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Asin: 0801832934
Catlog: Book (1988-03-01)
Publisher: Johns Hopkins Univ Pr
Sales Rank: 270583
Average Customer Review: 3.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In 1956 Jacques Lacan proposed an interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe's "Purloined Letter" that at once challenged literary theorists and revealed a radical new concept of psychoanalysis. Lacan's far reaching claims about language and truth provoked a vigorous critique by Jacques Derrida, whose essay in turn spawned further responses from other writers. "The Purloined Poe" brings Poe's story together with these readings to provide a structured exercise in the elaboration of text interpretation. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

3-0 out of 5 stars Confussion explained
Obviously, the reader from Miami, Florida filed the wrong review. This book is not the Poe short story "The Purloined Letter" (which, by the way, is a good story), but, rather a philosophical and psychoanalitical study of Poe.

4-0 out of 5 stars Rsponse to the above review
Although I have not finished the book yet, I needed to respond to the other reviewer who wrote that this is not a good mystery. You dingbat! This is a work in philosophy and psychology, not fiction! If you don't even have the slightest clue regarding a text, do not review it!

3-0 out of 5 stars This book had potential but I was not interested in it.
I repeat I am not a big fan of mystery novels but this one was not mysterious at all. Edgar Allen Poe left out the suspenseful feeling that every mystery should contain. ... Read more


166. Rights of Man (Dover Thrift Editions)
by Thomas Paine
list price: $3.00
our price: $3.99
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Asin: 0486408930
Catlog: Book (1999-12-23)
Publisher: Dover Publications
Sales Rank: 199453
Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

One of Paine’s greatest and most widely read works, considered a classic statement of faith in democracy and egalitarianism, defends the early events of the French Revolution, supports social security for workers, public employment for those in need of work, abolition of laws limiting wages, and other social reforms. An inspiring book that paved the way for the growth and development of democratic traditions in American and British society.
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Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Paine's prescient screed against authoritarian precedent
"Rights of Man" (1791-92) is Thomas Paine's famous response to Edmund Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution of France" (1790). Although it helps have read Burke's essay, a general background is sufficient to understand and appreciate Paine's basic and groundbreaking arguments.

Paine and Burke were originally allies; Burke not only supported self-rule for the American colonies, he also supported the emancipation of the House of Commons from monarchical control and the independence of both Ireland and India. Many of his allies, then, were bewildered by his fervent opposition to the French Revolution; Burke drew the line between territorial autonomy from a distant or aloof government and the total overthrow of existing monarchies and institutions. For Burke, humankind's real enemies were drastic change and "unsocial, uncivil, unconnected chaos," and he proved himself a staunch defender of the status quo, of precedent, and of gradual reform.

Jerry Muller, in his recent--and superb--book "The Mind and the Market" asserts that Burke's denunciation of the French revolution is "the single most influential work of conservative thought published from his day to ours." (This, of course, depends on what one means by "conservative.") Yet Muller and likeminded historians inevitably cherry-pick Burke's more attractive economic and philosophical arguments and foreground Burke's critique, in Muller's words, "of the revolutionary mentality that attempts to create entirely new structures on the basis of rational, abstract principles." (Muller doesn't even mention Paine, much less the example of the United States.) Such a focus inevitably sidesteps Burke's brief for the supremacy of European monarchical institutions and of the landed aristocracy. And that's where Paine comes in.

With his usual acerbic wit and extravagant rhetoric, Paine, in the first part of his treatise, makes mincemeat out of Burke's sillier statements. For example, he finds especially unspeakable Burke's claim that that "the English nation did, at the time of the [1688] Revolution, most solemnly renounce and abdicate [the right of self-rule], for themselves, and for all their posterity for ever." Paine correctly challenges the primacy of a decision made by members of that generation over desires of other generations, questions the right of any generation to surrender the rights of their descendants, and notes that "government is for the living, and not for the dead, it is the living only that has any right in it."

He also chastises the English for a system of hereditary government that virtually guarantees unfettered rule by children, madmen, idiots, and foreign-born pretenders (and he certainly has plenty of examples from which to choose), many of whom led their realms into chaos and terror without the help of radical revolutionaries. And Paine argues that wars would cease with the promotion of democracy and the cessation of the selfish interests of absolutists. His critics rightly respond that the rise of democratic institutions has hardly stopped wars, although one might pose the counterargument that, relatively speaking, democratic governments go to war with each other much less frequently.

In the second part, Paine proposes a radical agenda for an overhaul of the British government. Although his anecdotally based statistics and figures must be viewed with skepticism and a few laughs, the prescience of his proposals is startling: poverty relief, social security, public education, maternity care, homeless shelters, workfare, veteran's benefits, and progressive taxation. His is the agenda of the idealist: "When it shall be said in any country in the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive . . . when these things can be said, then may that country boast its constitution and its government."

Paine, of course, had the nascent United States to cite in support of his proposals, but he and Burke were debating these matters before the onset of the Jacobin Reign of Terror, which dismayed Paine and seems to have realized Burke's worst fears. Yet, throughout history, for every Robespierre or Lenin, one can find a Mandela or a Walesa; monarchies too were no strangers to upheaval. Paine hardly argued for "mob rule" or even "majority rule"; the French Revolution failed in part because it violated the fundamental tenet that the citizens of each nation have a right to choose whatever rule they please, even "a bad or defective government, . . . so long as the majority to not impose conditions on the minority, different to what they impose on themselves"--a caveat we all should take to heart in today's political climate.

2-0 out of 5 stars Historically important, but can't stand on its own.
This book is important for the historian who wishes to get a glimpse into the workings of the mind of an important figure in American Revolutionary history, but it doesn't stand on its own. It is written almost entirely as a response to Edmund Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution in France", so I would not recommend reading this one until and unless one has read that one. Otherwise, it is impossible to judge the fairness of the rebuttals of Burke's points, as one only sees them through Paine's perspective, and Paine is far from a fair and impartial debater; he misses no opportunity to belittle his opponent's arguments, and even his opponent himself. I would not be at all surprised to discover that he gives an inaccurate picture of what Burke had to say, particularly given that history speaks rather better of Burke's misgivings than of Paine's panegyrics. Both books were written before the Reign of Terror that resulted from the revolution in 1793; the second part of this book came out in early 1792. Also, history shows us just how silly some of Paine's claims for a Republican, representative government are: 200+ years of representative government in the US have hardly banished wars, or the high taxes associated with them, even though the world as a whole is far more democratic than it was at his time. He makes some good points, and certainly it is hard to stand up against him in favor of hereditary monarchy, but it is apparent that he failed to see that not ALL "democratic" movements were necessarily benificent, even if it would be hard to have much sympathy for the autocratic regime that they overthrow.

5-0 out of 5 stars Defender of Self Government
Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man" is truly a classic defense of self government and reprsentative republicanism. Paine copmletely demolishes Edmund Burke's defense of aristocracy and monarchy as outmoded and absurd institiutions. Paine shows the immorality of monarchy and the plunder that it commits on it's own people through high taxes,unjust property laws,and priveleges for the nobility. Paine shows the virtues a representative system has over the monarchial form. He denounces aristocracy and monarchy as "frauds" and based upon tyranny. The first review by Will Murphy critsizing Paine as a sort of statist is way off the mark. Paine did recommend many ideals of the welfare state. It must be remembered he was speaking to an age where a large wealthy aristocracy ruled alongside the monarch, living in luxury off the high taxes drained from the middle, lower and working classes. Paine was one of the formost defenders of freethought in religion,speech, and ideas.To imply Paine was a sort of 18th century fascist is utterly absurd and ahistorical. Paine was not an enemy of property, just an enemy of aristocracy,who in his day did not obtain property by hard work. Usually property rights in monarchial nations were written to favor the wealthy and powerful, and grant them priveleges at the expense of the populace. Paine completely destroys the ideal that a chosen few were meant or ordained by God to rule. If you love freedom, you can't go wrong with the "Rights of Man".

2-0 out of 5 stars Founding Work of Modern Statism
This book, above all others, reveals the breakdown of classical (libertarian) liberalism into the statist liberalism of today. Although the first part of the work, being a refutation of Edmund Burke's silly nonsense, is stellar, and is well worth reading. Regardless, the second part, the chapter on "Ways and Means" in particular, is composed of the most despicable, anti-liberty doctrines that one can find. What Paine basically proposed was a late 18th century form of the welfare state, replete with progressive taxation, subsidies for child birth, and other fine statist amenities. Thus, as all of these things are, in his words, to be claimed as rights, the title of this book comes to mean nothing whatsoever. It is indeed sad that Thomas Paine has gained such an enduring legacy as a friend to liberty. In truth, he is actually one of its worst enemies, as he combines a just zeal for resistance to oppression, revolution, and reason, he sabotages his entire political philosophy.

5-0 out of 5 stars CONTINUING TO DEFEND THE RIGHTS OF HUMANITY TODAY
The Rights of Man is a riposte to Edmund Burke's criticism of the French Revolution. Its message is the superiority of reason, in the form of Republican government armed with the Declaration of the Rights of Man, over despotism which holds populations in ignorance. With the American and French revolutions fresh in his mind, Paine was writing in a world on the threshold of freedom and that comes through in his forceful and forthright style. That said, and most important for the reader to appreciate, much of what he has to say still applies today. Paine in scathing in his critique of hereditary monarchy and privilege. He says "the idea of hereditary legislation is.......as absurd as an hereditary mathematician, or an hereditary wise man." He rejects the notion of government laws being justified by tradition and therefore irrevocable. His argument against Burke's defence of the 1688 revolution in England is perhaps the best in the book. Paine argues that the only thing that is truly hereditary is the Rights of Man : "The Rights of men in society, are neither devisable, nor transferrable, nor annihilable, but descendable only." The book is a superb polemic when both understood in its historical context and applied to world politics today. His arguments for reform of the House of Lords strike a particularly pertinent note. He expresses liberal doctrines that many people take for granted but in our own genocidal times Paine reminds us that many of the topics that impassioned him should continue to impassion everyone with an interest in humanity. The style of the writing may put off a few as many themes disappear and reappear throughout the book instead of being dealt with in a coherant whole. The fact that it was written in two parts and that he is one of the greatest pamphleteers of modern times should compensate for this minor irritation. ... Read more


167. The Oxford Companion to the English Language (Oxford Companion to English Literature)
by Tom McArthur
list price: $75.00
our price: $75.00
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Asin: 019214183X
Catlog: Book (1992-07-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 254903
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Language is the life blood of a culture, and to be interested in culture is in some sense to be interested in language, in the shapes and sounds of words, in the history of reading, writing, and speech, in the endless variety of dialects and slangs, in the incessant creativity of the human mind as it reaches out to others. It is surprising then that until now there has been no major one-volume reference devoted to the most widely dispersed and influential language of our time: the English language.

A language-lover's dream, The Oxford Companion to the English Language is a thousand-page cornucopia covering virtually every aspect of the English language as well as language in general. The range of topics is remarkable, offering a goldmine of information on writing and speech (including entries on grammar, literary terms, linguistics, rhetoric, and style) as well as on such wider issues as sexist language, bilingual education, child language acquisition, and the history of English. There are biographies of Shakespeare, Noah Webster, Noam Chomsky, James Joyce, and many others who have influenced the shape or study of the language; extended articles on everything from psycholinguistics to sign language to tragedy; coverage of every nation in which a significant part of the population speaks English as well as virtually every regional dialect and pidgin (from Gullah and Scouse to Cockney and Tok Pisin). In addition, the Companion provides bibliographies for the larger entries, generous cross-referencing, etymologies for headwords, a chronology of English from Roman times to 1990, and an index of people who appear in entries or bibliographies. And like all Oxford Companions, this volume is packed with delightful surprises. We learn, for instance, that the first Professor of Rhetoric at Harvard later became President (John Quincy Adams); that "slogan" originally meant "war cry"; that the keyboard arrangement QWERTY became popular not because it was efficient but the opposite (it slows down the fingers and keeps them from jamming the keys); that "mbenzi" is Swahili for "rich person" (i.e., one who owns a Mercedes Benz); and that in Scotland, "to dree yir ain weird" means "to follow your own star."

From Scrabble to Websters to TESOL to Gibraltar, the thirty-five hundred entries here offer more information on a wider variety of topics than any other reference on the English language. Featuring the work of nearly a hundred scholars from around the world, this unique volume is the ideal shelf-mate to The Oxford Companion to English Literature. It will captivate everyone who loves language. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars An enyclopedia of English
People who love English already have a few books about advanced English usage, such as Fowler, and various style guides. I love Fowler; browsing its pages is a delight. The Oxford Companion (concise ed) is different. It's much more objective, and more encylopedic. There are entries on many important linguistic terms and concepts, excellent definitions of all the grammatical terms you'll come across (what does "dative" mean?), accurate surveys of areas like what is a dialect and what isn't, and the major threads of the academic debate are presented. Every letter of the alphabet is given its history. Curious about Scouse? About the impact of Samuel Johnson and his dictionary? What is the state of opinion about the Sapir-Whorfian Hypothesis? Estuary English? Regional dialects of North America? I can't believe I haven't had this book on my shelf since the moment it was published, and I'm busy making a list of people to give it to. This a breakthrough contribution to books about English.

5-0 out of 5 stars Everything you need to know about literary terminology
This book is one of the better purchases I have ever made. Every time I need a detail about the English language, literary devices and terminology, or grammatical usage, this book always has a couple of paragraphs to explain what I need to know -- and usually a handful of cross references to related topics. All with the usual careful and thorough treatment you expect from Oxford. Every library should have a copy of this book.

2-0 out of 5 stars The Oxford Companion to the English Language
There are many things I would like to know about the English Language, but too few of them are here. For example the history of English is disposed of in three pages. I should have liked to have seen 30 or so. To be sure there are other historical entries, though insufficient cross referencing. The chronology following the above entry is largely of English history rather than of language history. In place of these things are pages of information one could do without; trivia relating to broadcasting or editions of dictionaries. A topical index would have been nice. Every true philologist will nonetheless want this work.

4-0 out of 5 stars The perfect bathroom book for English-language junkies.
"Companion" well describes this book. People who love English for its own sake can flip open any page and start reading, and soon find themselves cross-referencing through the whole volume (and learning a lot). Not as essential as a dictionary or style guide, but a way to broaden your understanding of this marvellous, terrifying language and its relatives. For true language junkies, this is not for the bookshelf, but for the bathroom, to read in bits at leisure. ... Read more


168. Marxism and Literature (Marxist Introductions)
by Raymond Williams
list price: $15.95
our price: $15.95
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Asin: 0198760612
Catlog: Book (1985-06-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 66483
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169. The Heath Introduction to Literature
by Alice S. Landy, William Rodney Allen
list price: $42.76
our price: $42.76
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Asin: 0395980704
Catlog: Book (1999-08-01)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Sales Rank: 362365
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Book Description

This introductory anthology of short fiction, poetry, and drama is organized by genre and features chapter introductions and a bibliography of film adaptations. Readings have been chosen with an eye toward classic selections and gender balance, while allowing the book to retain the teachability and traditional emphases for which it has long been admired.

  • At about half the length and a much lower price than comparable anthologies, this text provides ample selections for a course without requiring students to pay for what they won't use.
  • Apparatus includes an opening essay on reading literature, chapter introductions, biographical notes, questions, essay suggestions, and a section on Writing About Literature.

... Read more

170. United States : Essays 1952-1992
by GORE VIDAL
list price: $37.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679414894
Catlog: Book (1993-05-18)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 163898
Average Customer Review: 4.71 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From the age of Eisenhower to the dawning of the Clinton era, Gore Vidal’s United States offers an incomparably rich tapestry of American intellectual and political life in a tumultuous period.It also provides the best, most sustained exposure possible to the most wide-ranging, acute, and original literary intelligence of the postWorld War II years.United States is an essential book in the canon of twentieth-century American literature and an endlessly fascinating work.
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Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great collection of very entertaining, well written essays
This is some of the sharpest commentary on politics and literature that is available in print today.

That said, I must strongly disagree with another reviewer's characterization of Gore as a secret conservative. I'll deal with his points 1 at a time:

-Distain for postmodernism: OK, Noam Chomsky also hates postmodernism. Is he a conservative too?

-Historical care because "Most liberals think of history as somehing to forget.": Wow. Most idealogues think history is something to forget, liberal or conservative. Even if true, this would show that Gore is not most liberals.

-"Many liberals distrust humor": Once again, Wow. Gary Treudeau? Tom Tomorrow? (very funny liberal cartoonists) One's political views have absolutely nothing whatever to do with enjoyment of humor. A lot of people generally distrust humor. I call them humorless, I don't know what the other reviewer would call them.

-"Will Vidal ... be received into Christianity at last? It wouldn't surprise me a bit.": Did you read this book? He repeatedly lambasts Christianity and the Bible itself. He's not Jerry Falwell's best friend by any means...

However, if we take the definition of a liberal as a humorless, postmodernism-loving, history-hating person who can't write well, and a conservative as anything else, then Gore Vidal is definitely a conservative. Tried and true.

Historically, hasn't conservativism had something to do with politcal views? Oh, I forget. All that history stuff is too complicated for my delicate liberal brain.

5-0 out of 5 stars Master Essayist At Work
United States, the 1993 Winner of the National Book Award, it covers the years from 1952 until 1992. This book shows that Vidal is an authority/reliable source in many areas. He served in WWII and wrote his first novel while doing so. He comes form a political background; his grandfather, blind Senator T.P. Gore, brought him up. He is related to Eleanor Roosevelt and was friendly with JFK. He ran for Congress in New York in 1960 and came in second in the California democratic primary in 1982. Furthermore, his father served as director of the Bureau of Air Commerce under FDR, which gave him insight into the forming of airlines and access to Charles Lindberg. He wrote his first novel at the age of 20 and has subsequently written 23 other novels, most of them historical novels in which he did significant research to get the details just right. He has numerous interesting insights into the lives of other writers as well as being capable of writing compelling book chat. He has also written for TV and the movies, as a result knows a lot of famous Hollywood movers and shakers. His heroes (John Quincy Adams, FDR, Abraham Lincoln, Paul Bowles, Edmund Wilson, Charles Lindberg) and villains (Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, the CIA) are vividly drawn and expertly judged throughout.

I am hesitant to recommend this tome that weighs in at 1295 pages and is the size of a reference book, but does seem all but indispensable, because it has many excellent and interesting essays. It is divided into three sections: state of the art (literature), state of the union (politics), and state of being (personal responses to people and events, not to mention movies and children's books). Not a light book to take on the train, this tome took me the better part of a year to finish, but was well worth it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gleefully malicious
Gore Vidal possesses an immense erudition and a willingness to inflict it on anyone and everyone who doesn't measure up to his standards, with tremendously entertaining results. He is a pedant and a nitpicker who will not let be even the smallest things, and I would hate to be subjected to his merciless eye, but it's great to read about the people who have been.

I bought the book for its first section, which consists of essays on literary matters (quite a few of them concerning people of whom I had never heard before -- some of whom I have now started reading just because of the essays), figuring that I could at worst skip the politics (the idea of which bored me) and still have quite a collection of essays in my hands. As it turned out, though, once I had made my way through that section I was so hooked on Vidal's drily contemptuous writing that I couldn't help continuing. I'm glad I read on, because his views (many of them bolstered by first-hand experience with the issues about which he's writing) and ability clearly and convincingly to expound them are amazing. He has really changed my ideas about a few issues. (There are also a few issues on which I think he can say nothing but educated nonsense, but I didn't read the book to have my own opinions parroted back at me.) The essays are fascinating, educating and entertaining, and the collection is superb -- trumping (in quantity and quality) just about any other book of his essays available. The ``sequel'' to this collection, Last Empire, can be a bit repetitive and shrilly alarmist, but this one is fresh and insightful throughout (perhaps because he's talking about events from which I feel sufficiently detached to be open-minded?).

The only slight complaint I have is that Vidal, in the middle of his complaints about the style and spelling problems of others, has some stingers of his own. (One of the most glaring is that he likes to set off parenthetical notes for example this one, with only a final comma.) I'd try to ignore this in an ordinary writer (should I say mere mortal?), but with someone who so clearly values pedantry and precision it is extremely jarring.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mencken and Paine would applaud
This is a great compilation of 40 years of insight into what really drives the republic: from the cult for the Kennedys, the Ron and Nancy show in pictures, the militancy of the Sky God people and the hypocritical sexual mores Vidal leaves no sacred cow unslaughtered and goes to the marrow of our most cherished myths. Unabashedly polemic and magisterial in his distain he proves that thinking critical and pushing the state sponsored purveyors of preciousness out of their well cottoned and financed closets is the best revenge. May he continue on to take the pulse of lazy thinkers everywhere and pronounce them comatose.

5-0 out of 5 stars Successful "essays"
This is a remarkable collection of essays. They cover literature, politics and history and show Vidal at his best. My favorites include his examination of the Kennedy Family (entitled The Holy Family) which though dated still shows the importance of showmanship be it the construction of a religion or a political dynasty. Vidal also looks at General Grant and surveys the American scene. Another gem is his examination of the books on the New York Times Best Seller list in the early seventies and what they tell us about American tastes and the declining craft of the writen word (Vidal believes it to be largely cinematic). There really are too many topics to cover properly in only 1,000. All of the essays are stimulating and thought provoking whether one agrees with the ideas expressed or not. I urge anyone who enjoys reading well-written prose to get this fascinating volume and discover the joys within its covers. ... Read more


171. A "Gravity's Rainbow" Companion: Sources and Contexts for Pynchon's Novel
by Steven C. Weisenburger
list price: $19.95
our price: $19.95
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Asin: 0820310263
Catlog: Book (1988-08-01)
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Sales Rank: 24350
Average Customer Review: 4.46 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Indispensable insights
This is an invaluable companion to a reading of Gravity's Rainbow. Without it, not only would a goodly portion of the novel be incomprehensible (especially, I might add, to those of us under the age of 40- there are a ton of references that those of us in this age bracket will not relate to or even comprehend), but the mastery of Pynchon's work would be less than fully grasped. For sheer research and grasp of subject matter I can't conceive of a companion volume that would best this one. In short, without this companion I would have recognized Pynchon's novel as creative if a bit befuddling. With this companion I learned to recognize it as brilliant and much more comprehensible (to the extent that any of it was meant to be comprehended in the first place). One final point, I take a different view than some of the other reviewers. I read 1/2 of the novel before I learned of and bought the companion volume. Reading the novel with the companion the first time was much more rewarding for me than struggling through the novel without the companion for the first time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Invaluable Handbook with an eclectic Bibliography
I agree with the previous review that this book is not as comprehensive as Gifford and Seidman "Ulysses Annotated" (see my review), but it is better than Douglas Fowler's "A Reader's Guide to Gravity's Rainbow", the only other usable sourcebook to "Gravity's Rainbow" I am aware of.

This book has a most helpful introduction in which the scope and instructions for use are discussed. The section "For Further Study" contains some insightful information regarding the patterns of Pynchon's borrowings, the chronology of the novel and its structure as a "Bildungsroman", which is according to Weisenburger as follows: "(1) the disclosure of the hero's miraculous gifts (2) his education (3) his testing during a course of travels, and (4) the confirmation of his powers, a revelation." (p.7) I wish this subject would have been developed further. It certainly offers another avenue for reading the novel and analyzing its structure.

The "Companion" Section itself gives helpful intoductions to each episode and somewhat brief descriptions of the many allusions and references. The vast majority seem to be included, though further information about them, will in many cases require the reader to do some work.

At the time I read this novel, I was conducting research at the Library of Congress, so I decided to check around fifty of the references listed in the Bibliography. I checked verything from the "History of South-West Aftrica" to "Ballistics of the Future", and Stendhal's "Life of Rossini" to Pavlov's "Conditioned Reflexes", and found that both Pynchon and Wiesenburger did the their work well. If you really want to understand the allusons in this novel, you may want to check some of these out.

The Book ends with a helpful, but not comprehensive Index. I think this book is a most usable and reliable guide to the Novel. The Novel can be read without it, as has been pointed out, but half the fun is, at least to me, checking on the allusions, and coming across their often hidden and surprising meanings. Interested readers should buy this book. It is not only well-done as a Guide, but the Bibliography contains a mixture of references that can be found nowhere else.

5-0 out of 5 stars Don't leave home without it
Indispensable. I plowed through GR in my mid twenties without the Companion. Large portions of Pynchon's encyclopedic epic were totally baffling to me. However, I've always been intrigued by GR. So, some fifteen years later, I undertook to read it again, this time with the help of the Companion. Not only did it aid in my understanding of the novel, but I actually enjoyed reading GR this time around. Now perhaps I'll tackle Mason & Dixon.

5-0 out of 5 stars Extremely Helpful Don't Read GR Without It
Seriously they should package the two books together. If you're going to try to read Gravity's Rainbow get this book too, it will make the process alot more pleasant.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Heart as it's Reason's...
i have to say i thoroughly enjoyed this book. but, i used it at a wierd time in my reading, towards the end. so i had to read the companion by itself for awhile...nonetheless, do not buy this if you are looking for a reason why Pynchon wrote what he wrote. because no one will ever know. and Pynchon sure won't tell. remember: these are just ideas about what others think, not TRP. ... Read more


172. The River Why, Twentieth-Anniversary Edition
by David James Duncan
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
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Asin: 1578050847
Catlog: Book (2002-08-05)
Publisher: Sierra Club Books
Sales Rank: 6337
Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Since its publication by Sierra Club Books nearly two decades ago, The River Why has become a classic, standing with Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It as the most-read fiction about fly-fishing of our era. Duncan's protagonist, Gus Orviston, is an irreverent young flyfisherman--a vibrant character who makes us laugh easily and feel deeply, and who speaks with startling truth about the way we live. Leaving behind a madcap, fishing-obsessed family, Gus embarks on an extraordinary voyage of self-discovery along his beloved Oregon rivers. What he unexpectedly finds is man's wanton destruction of nature and a burning desire to commit himself to its preservation. The River Why is a tale that gives a contemporary voice to the concerns and hopes of all living things on this beautiful, watery planet. It is the story of one man's search for meaning, for love, and for a sane way to live. ... Read more

Reviews (75)

5-0 out of 5 stars Stands up to repeated readings and time.
I love this book. I reread it at least yearly and I wish I had bought the hardback because I have worn out my paperback copy with rereading and note-taking and it will remain in my library permanently.

This book is not about fly-fishing. The main character, Gus Orviston, exists for fishing but this book is not a snobbish put-down of non-flyfishers. I would compare it most closely to "A River Runs Through It". Where Maclean is "haunted by water" Duncan is immersed in it. It is really about the business of living and becoming and how the character's family and loved ones help him on his journey of self-discovery.

I use this book in my life. I often tell friends to read it. I use stories from it to illustrate things I am explaining to patients. I have even used it in church sermons and lessons. The story I share most often is of the Christian friend of Gus's who learns the mercy of God and is left with a large scar on his hand as a reminder of God's rescue of his soul and body in a near-fatal drowning when his warship blows up. Read it for yourself, but it always leaves some of the people to whom I read it in tears.

The writing is uneven and some of the digressions lost my interest. The author's leftish politics are more evident than they need to be, but this really doesn't detract from the book. And there are a few weird religious ideas and a few off-color parts.

On the positive side, the characters in this novel are breathtakingly complete and you can't help but fall in love with them all - imperfect though they may be. There is a strong environmental ethic that pervades the book (That's probably why the Sierra Club publishes it). The peripheral stories, digressions, etc. that are thrown in are generally fascinating and thought provoking.

The plot is really simple. A young man leaves his home to pursue what seems to be the perfect life - fishing all possible hours of the day. The title of the book comes because the river on which the author settles is in the shape of the word "why", and pondering this "why" drives him to do more than just live a life of quiet desperation. He burns out and discovers that life and fishing and the environment are really not enough without the context of family and friends.

I highly recommend this book; one of the best I've ever read and it stands up to repeated readings.

5-0 out of 5 stars Soul Fuel
This was the best fiction I've read in a long time. Basically, this is a story about a young man named Gus Orviston who strikes out on his own to pursue his love of fly fishing on a river somewhere along the Oregon coast. He believed at first that the amount of time he spent fishing was directly proportional to his state of happiness. Ironically, after he moved away from home and into a small riverside cabin to dedicate his life to fishing, he became depressed. After some soul searching he realized that there is more to life and happiness than the simple pleasure of fishing. There on the river he contemplates religion, philosophy, purpose, and love. Despite the serious nature of the subject, Duncan kept the tone light with an abundant mix of humor. I cracked up through the beginning of the book with the introduction of Gus's eccentric family. I loved the quirky neighbors, and the encounter with "the fishing Dutchman". In many ways the humor reminded me of my grandfather who always had a funny story to tell. I suspect the reason for my grandfather's humor was because in my youth, I was a lot like "Glum Gus". And, I suspect Duncan uses humor just as my grandfather did to remind us that no matter how serious life may seem, love can lift us up. I've always felt that this is done through humor which is the light of happiness which is the product of love.

These days you can read a lot of books on the subject of fishing. Many of them deal with an "obsession". But, I agree with Duncan's comments that his life is not based on an "obsession". It's based on a "love" of fly fishing that took years to develop. Duncan's love of the sport is just as evident in this book as Norman Maclean's famous story, "A River Runs Through It". The only difference being that Norman Maclean's story revolved solely around Christianity. This book takes a more universal approach. Zen, Native American spirituality, Christianity and a handful of other religions and philosophies are explored to help young Gus Orviston find happiness and love in his life. Despite the difference I found them to be near equals in combining spirituality and fly fishing.

Finally, I just want to say thanks to Sierra Club Books and David James Duncan. There's nothing better than reading a warm book about life, love and fly fishing to get me through the long cold winter.

5-0 out of 5 stars Life changing, life affirming, and funny
In some ways The River Why is too complicated to summarize, and any shorthand version of it does the book no justice. The San Francisco Chronicle poll of the best novels of the 20th Century west put The River Why at number 35. That's in the company of The Angle of Repose and The Grapes of Wrath. While it does not much resemble those classics, TRW certainly belongs in their company. Since first reading it 20 years ago, TRW has made me laugh and cry and think. We even used some of the text in our wedding vows. What more could you want from a book?

5-0 out of 5 stars This book is not for airheads...
OMG...! Am I 13 or what? Like, what's all this fishing stuff all about anyway? Could this story perhaps be one of those insightful descriptions of a talented young writer's fantasy? Could it be a story so well crafted as if to taste it when reading it aloud? I really like the term "upper tenth of a pair of levis". This writing sold me on DJD for life and now that I am into "My Story..." and read his "In the Beginning..." story not fueld with espresso but with Sierra Nevad Stout, sitting on the john, left my consumer encumbered self, realized my place in the universe and wept.

1-0 out of 5 stars BORING
THis book is 1 of the most boring books that I have ever read!!!!!OMG it's okay if you really like fishing but i still couldn't figure how anyone could like it ... Read more


173. Writing for Magazines: A Beginner's Guide
by Cheryl Sloan Wray
list price: $36.95
our price: $36.95
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Asin: 0844259616
Catlog: Book (1996-11-01)
Publisher: NTC/Contemporary Publishing Company
Sales Rank: 430284
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Cheryl knows her stuff
I took a workshop that Cheryl taught a few weeks ago, and she really knows her stuff. I left highly motivated. Definitely pick up this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Covers everything for beginning writers
I found this book to be extremely helpful & appreciate the way the author so obviously cares about helping the reader to be successful.

1-0 out of 5 stars Great resource for starters
I found this book easy to read and understand. It patiently lays out various elements of getting published. It is very useful as a starter guide to beginning writers such as myself.

5-0 out of 5 stars Put this book in your shopping cart right now!
Cheryl Sloan Wray has written a very readable, highly motivating book. It's perfect for beginners who are wondering if they have what it takes to break into this field. It's also great for procrastinators (like me!) who should have "just done it" a long time ago and need someone to nudge them back to the keyboard. This book is a valuable resource for would-be/should-be magazine writers everywhere!

5-0 out of 5 stars An easy and realistic guide for aspiring journalists.
This book was everything that I needed to help me get through the daunting task of cracking into the journalistic world. Cheryl Sloan Wray is realistic and doesn't sugar coat the facts about how hard it is to succeed, but at the same time this book helps you gain the self confidence it takes to prosper. ... Read more


174. Mystery and Manners : Occasional Prose
by Flannery O'Connor
list price: $14.00
our price: $11.20
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Asin: 0374508046
Catlog: Book (1969-01-01)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sales Rank: 39428
Average Customer Review: 4.86 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

At her death in 1964, O'Connor left behind a body of unpublished essays and lectures as well as a number of critical articles that had appeared in scattered publications during her too-short lifetime. The keen writings comprising Mystery and Manners, selected and edited by O'Connor's lifelong friends Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, are characterized by the directness and simplicity of the author's style, a fine-tuned wit, understated perspicacity, and profound faith.

The book opens with "The King of the Birds," her famous account of raising peacocks at her home in Milledgeville, Georgia. Also included are: three essays on regional writing, including "The Fiction Writer and His Country" and "Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction"; two pieces on teaching literature, including "Total Effect and the 8th Grade"; and four articles concerning the writer and religion, including "The Catholic Novel in the Protestant South." Essays such as "The Nature and Aim of Fiction" and "Writing Short Stories" are widely seen as gems.

This bold and brilliant essay-collection is a must for all readers, writers, and students of contemporary American literature.
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Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars 5 1/2 Stars...Fun in the Process!
O'Connor writes with such wit and wisdom that I found myself overwhelmed. I began to mark pages, then realized I was marking each and every one.

Tucked between two short pieces, the meat of the book deals with the craft of writing, the motivation and method, and the spiritual heart of fiction. Never have I read so direct an approach to the mix of religion and art. O'Connor's words can be applied to creative efforts in all fields and in all branches of Christendom. Why then, with such poignant insights penned over forty years ago, does the Church at large still look down on artistic endeavor? Must everything preach a literal sermon for the concrete Western mindset? As O'Connor makes clear, art speaks truth only when it embraces life in all its shades of good and evil.

This book could be titled aptly, "Freedom and Frustrations." Any writer diving into this work will discover O'Connor's pearls of wisdom beneath the waves of public narrowmindedness. Don't pass this by if you wish to make art that matters. You'll be encouraged. You'll also be freed to have fun in the process.

5-0 out of 5 stars Marvelous book
This book is rich with humor, insight, courage, practical tips on the writing life. It includes the reader as an honored guest and sends the reader back out into the world satisfied and eager. In an age that mocks simple faith and profits by the downfall of belief even as it piously and hypocritically scolds those who have been misguided, this book is good news. It is a heartening guide back to the world where faith is fresh and plenteous and the faithful are not confounded for their beliefs but are encouraged by the warmth the book generates. The heart is ignited and a good journey is begun with the author as a companion. This book contains a wealth that promises to stay around for all time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Impressed by mystery
As an engineering student, I lean towards thinking of mystery as something temporary and, well, bad. The whole goal behind scientific research is to expel mystery - at least in the immediate context. Flannery O'Connor's timeless writings opened my eyes to the world beyond certainty, and I had to nod in agreement at her insightful appreciations of human quirkiness or critiques on deviatory literature teaching methods. (Of course science know uncertainty at the atomic/subatomic level, but we call that statistics.) In the end, I marvel at the little gems in this book, thoughtfully crafted by a master artist, laced with earthy truth and nitty-gritty humanness, and don't hesitate to recommend at least a library peek to anyone.

4-0 out of 5 stars Everyone's entitled to an opinion
Flannery O'Connor shares opinions about (mainly) writing in this collection of previously unpublished transcripts of lectures. At times the text seems unwieldy, perhaps because the editors faced the dual duties of fidelity to the original work, and a need to prune over 50 transcripts into a non-repetitious form. There is also a clever editorial sleight of hand, with the inclusion of the first essay on the peacocks and pea hens - I was confused by it at first, then half way through the book realised it set the mood, the tone of how to read the book. That after reading 'King of the Birds', we have an impression of Flannery O'Connor - that she is a stickler for detail - which informs the rest of our reading. It is an experiential understanding of what she means when she says that a story should not be dissected but read as a whole, stands as a whole, and the whole informs whatever understanding we get out of it.

Lots of delicious gems in here for anyone who wants to see the other side of Flannery O'Connor's work. In a way it is a contradiction that this book was published at all, as the author felt that the obsessions writers have about how other writers work, what other writers think about writing, was pointless. She believed that all was contained in the stories themselves. Are we going to take her advice?

5-0 out of 5 stars A great book that helps writers to focus on their craft!
For anyone wanting to understand the theory and importance of writing, whether it be fiction or nonfiction, get this book. Flannery O' Connor delves deeply into the mystery of writing, why people do it, struggle over it, sacrifice so much of themselves in order to do it, to a slew of other fantastic bits of information and reasons. Mystery and Manners has narrowed my own overly broad understanding of why I write. It has helped me to focus, not on just the many types of writing, but also on the type of books that I read and should read in order to be a fully developed writer. O' Connor discuses a lot on voice and plot and theme; her views are so clear and exact. Any professional or novice writer will really appreciate her collection of essays. More than anything, writers will appreciate O' Connor's affirmation of their own views. They too will appreciate her understanding of the difficulty and importance of why people write. I can not praise this book enough. ... Read more


175. The Lacanian Subject
by Bruce Fink
list price: $22.95
our price: $22.95
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Asin: 0691015899
Catlog: Book (1996-11-25)
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Sales Rank: 194180
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Book Description

This book presents the radically new theory of subjectivity found in the work of Jacques Lacan. Against the tide of post-structuralist thinkers who announce "the death of the subject," Bruce Fink explores what it means to come into being as a subject where impersonal forces once reigned, subjectify the alien roll of the dice at the beginning of our universe, and make our own knotted web of our parents' desires that led them to bring us into this world.

Lucidly guiding readers through the labyrinth of Lacanian theory--unpacking such central notions as the Other, object a, the unconscious as structures like a language, alienation and separation, the paternal metaphor, jouissance, and sexual difference--Fink demonstrates in-depth knowledge of Lacan's theoretical and clinical work. Indeed, this is the first book to appear in English that displays a firm grasp of both theory and practice of Lacanian psychoanalysis, the author being one of the only Americans to have undergone full training with Lacan's school in Paris.

Fink Leads the reader step by step into Lacan's conceptual system to explain how one comes to be a subject--leading to psychosis. Presenting Lacan's theory in the context of his clinical preoccupations, Fink provides the most balanced, sophisticated, and penetrating view of Lacan's work to date--invaluable to the initiated and the uninitiated alike. ... Read more


176. Harper American Literature, Single Volume Edition (3rd Edition)
by Donald McQuade, Robert Atwan, Martha Banta, Justin Kaplan, David Minter, Robert Stepto
list price: $83.40
our price: $83.40
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0321012690
Catlog: Book (1998-12-17)
Publisher: Longman
Sales Rank: 481036
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best available U.S. lit anthology
No anthology of United States literature is going to be ideal for every student, teacher, or general reader. But "The Harper Single Volume American Literature," under the general editorship of Donald McQuade, is probable the best overall anthology of its kind. Weighing in at about 3000 pages, this is a huge gathering of American voices. The third edition of this text includes some major changes.

The anthology starts out with such foundational texts as Native American myths, an excerpt from an Icelandic saga about the discovery of the New World, and writings of Christopher Columbus. There follows a good sampling of 17th century Colonial literature. From there, the anthology moves chronologically to the contemporary era.

There is a great diversity of material here: poetry, autobiography, letters, speeches, short stories, excerpts from novels, plays, political documents, and more. The authors chosen represent the ethnic diversity of the U.S.: there are Asian American, African American, Native American, Jewish, Latino/a, and other voices. There is a good balance of male and female authors, and an interesting representation of lesbian and gay literature (most notably the first part of Tony Kushner's play "Angels in America"). Through it all, most of the great names in U.S. literature appear.

There are informative introductions to each of the book's separate sections. Also fascinating are the several "Cultural Portfolios" scattered throughout the book. These are gatherings of texts and (in most cases) images that reflect a focused theme: the Salem witch trials, the Harlem Renaissance, etc. The most interesting of these Cultural Portfolios, in my opinion, is the one entitled "Who Is an American Writer?" This portfolio questions why some writers are "excluded" from the "canon" on the basis of birthplace, citizenship, or language in which they write; the portfolio includes examples of the writings of Vladimir Nabokov, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Maria Irene Fornes, Bharati Mukherjee, and others.

As excellent as this anthology is, there are some flaws. There is a virtual exclusion of important science fiction authors. Isaac Asimov, Octavia Butler, Ursula LeGuin, Ray Bradbury, Samuel Delany: neither these nor any of the other great sci-fi writers appear. The neglect of this important genre is lamentable.

I also question the inclusion of Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" in its entirety. This book is a pivotal masterpiece, but it is widely available in a number of inexpensive additions. I would have used the space in the anthology to include a variety of other works by Twain and other authors, and let interested teachers order a copy of "Huckleberry" separately.

Despite its flaws, this is a truly outstanding anthology. If you have a serious interest in the literature and history of the United States, I recommend that you get this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars I've taught using this book
This is a nice collection for the 21st century, including lots of new voices while still maintaining enough of the canon for a good survey course. It's a big, heavy book (for a paperback) that might have been easier to read in two volumes, but as far as content goes, this one has Norton's beat by miles.

5-0 out of 5 stars I've used textbooks before...
but this is undoubtedly the best Anthology of American Literature available, if only because of the sheer variety and bulk of literature contained in it. As an added plus, there's background information on every author contained in the book. The writing varies from Columbus's diaries to late 20th century poetry, so there's something to interest everyone. All in all, it's a wonderful buy for the price. ... Read more


177. The Feminization of American Culture
by Ann Douglas
list price: $32.00
our price: $32.00
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Asin: 0374525587
Catlog: Book (1998-10-01)
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Sales Rank: 399547
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

This classic of modern feminism is an ambitious attempt to trace certain present-day values back to cultural shifts of the 19th century. Historian Ann Douglas entwines the fate of American women, most notably those of the white middle class, with that of clergy marginalized by the rise in religious denominations and consequent dilution of their power base. No longer invited to wield influence in vital (some might say traditionally masculine) political and economic arenas, clergy were pushed toward more feminine spheres and rules of expression. Likewise, as growing numbers of middle-class white women lost their place as the indispensable center of household production, and many lower-class women became easily replaced industrial cogs, a none-too-subtle shift in perceptions about women's strengths and abilities occurred. Women lost voting rights and other legal privileges; barred from healing and midwifery, they were also less likely to appear in other increasingly male professions. Academies for wealthier girls imparted skills deemed to entice and soothe men without taxing supposedly tiny feminine brains; when Emma Willard offered geometry lessons to girls in the 1820s, one opponent harrumphed: "They'll be educating cows next." Douglas chronicles the rise of an overwhelmingly sentimental "feminization" of mass culture--in which writers of both sexes underscored popular convictions about women's weaknesses, desires, and proper place in the world--with erudite and well-argued scholarship. --Francesca Coltrera ... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars masterly
One can only imagine the work that has gone into this staggering piece of intellectual history - whose axis is the unforeseeable and fateful rise of the female public in American intellectual life, and contemporaneously the collapse of the old, muscular style of Protestant religiosity and intellect - from the kind and number of sources the author uses. She has apparently trawled through reams and piles of obscure newspapers and magazines, familiarized herself with writing most of us would be glad to avoid, learned to distinguish the various strands of an intellectual and publishing life which is, to modern America, as alien as imperial China or early Sumer. The result is tremendous: not only a resurrection of a past age that does it honour and justice (if anything, one seems to perceive, in this female scholar, a certain sympathy - even nostalgia - for the utra-male, activist, iron-faced world of the old Puritan thinkers, post-Jonathan Edwards and his likes), but a flood of light on the origins of our (not exclusively American) world and society. This simply cannot be praised too much; future historians will not be able to prescind from it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not a feminist polemic, nor "cultural criticism"
This is foremost a history, and has a focus rather more restricted than its title would suggest, surveying the careers and lives of thirty women and thirty (male) ministers involved in the "feminization" of northeastern Victorian America. The author convinced me in arguing for the significance of said feminization, but I felt burdened by all the biographical minutiae. One has to ignore reams of trivia to grasp the larger themes hinted at in the titles of the chapters (e.g., "The Escape From History," "The Domestication of Death). Where the author breaks the tedium with an impassioned commentary, she seems to be writing a different book altogether. But Douglas's treatment of the theme is original and even-handed, and her short biography of Margaret Fuller compensates for the tiresome church histories. ... Read more


178. When I Was Cool : My Life at the Jack Kerouac School
by Sam Kashner
list price: $25.95
our price: $16.35
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Asin: 0060005661
Catlog: Book (2004-02)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Sales Rank: 51592
Average Customer Review: 3.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

As a restless kid on Long Island, Sam Kashner lapped up the beauty and madness of the Beats, living vicariously through the novels, poems, and stories of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs. Their words were revolutionary, and they turned their very lives into art. Kashner didn't want to just study the Beats, he wanted to be one of them. So when he heard that Ginsberg had founded an unconventional writing program in Boulder, Colorado, he convinced his parents that college could wait, and became the first certificate student of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.

In one motion, Kashner stepped out of a sheltered suburban life and plunged into the chaotic world of his idols. What he discovered was both everything and not at all what he expected. The Beats were facing their twilight years and feeling it in their joints and in their minds. Some of them, like Ginsberg and Burroughs, had achieved international fame, while others, like Gregory Corso, had not, and were coming to the realization that they might never receive the recognition they deserved. In his new role as student, secretary, and psychiatrist, Sam Kashner was caught up in the hilarity of the hijinks and the cross fire of old arguments, finding himself in hot tubs with Ginsberg and on field trips to the marijuana ranch cultivated by Burroughs and his ill-fated son, Billy.

Out of this rich material Kashner brings us a funny, touching, and irreverent portrait of the Beats never before seen: one that explodes the myths surrounding these American icons, but one that is also deeply felt and full of admiration. After reading this book, you'll never look at the Beats in quite the same way again.

When I Was Cool is also a very personal journey of a young man coming of age on the Beat slope of Mount Parnassus ("the Lower East Side" of the Rockies), a kind of Holden Caulfield for the postmodern era.

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Reviews (9)

2-0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not necessarily accurate
I have no way of knowing how much Sam Kashner remembers about what happened to him thirty yars ago. What I can say is that almost every statement he makes about music in this book is wrong:

*Jim Carroll's "People Who Died" isn't about his friends who died of heroin overdoses, it's about friends who died in a variety of ways.
*Graham Parker's record is called "Squeezing Out Sparks," not "Sparks Fly Upward." But Kashner couldn't have heard it when he says he did because it wasn't released until 1979.
*If we're to believe the chronology in the book, Kashner's girlfriend has a poster of Johnny Rotten in her house in 1976 and the Go-Gos came to Boulder in early 1977. The fact is, very few Americans would have known who Johnny Rotten was at the time, since the Sex Pistols didn't put out their first single in the U.K. until November of that year. And the Go-Gos, of course, hadn't even been formed yet.
*The band that Kashner remembers as Loud Fast Rules was surely the New York punk-pop band, the Stimulators, whose first single was a song called "Loud Fast Rules" and who were friendly with Ginsberg, but they didn't exist in 1977 either.
*Ginsberg played live and recorded with the Clash in the early 80s, but the band didn't tour America until 1979. And Ginsberg never appeared in a Clash video called "Combat Rock" (or any other Clash video) because that was the name of an album not a song. He did appear on a song on that album, however.
*Ginsberg did record a new wave-inspired single called "Birdbrain," but again it wasn't released until 1981.

Yes, these are minor quibbles, but it only takes a few basic factual errors, which surely could have been checked by either the writer or his editor, to throw the accuracy of the whole book into doubt and to make the reader wonder how much of what Kashner says happened actually did.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Memoir About an Alternative Academy
When I Was Cool by Sam Kashner is one of the best books ever written about the so-called Beat poets, or as they were more commonly called, the beatniks. This is in large part due to the fact that he was in an ideal place to witness several of the leading writers in this movement do their thing for a prolonged period of time.

Kashner was the first ever, and for a time the one and only, student at the Jack Kerouac School for aspiring writers at Boulder, Colorado. This was an attempt at an alternative school that went unaccredited throughout its existence.

The Jack Kerouac School was both founded and lead by Allen Ginsberg. Among its alumni were such luminaries as William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Ann Waldman as well as Ginsberg himself.

Kashner kept copious notes and a diary in which he recorded the various goings on at the school. That being the case, When I Was Cool offers readers a portrait of a time and place and people that has since gone by the wayside. It is well worth the reading time of anyone with an interest in the 1970's scene.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well Spoken
Sam Kashner is a writer of flawless virtue but noticible simplicity. He did an audacious deed by creating a book that helps merely a bit to understanding the complex beauty of the idols of our nation; the beats. Sam Kashner gave life to the literal meaning of America's swelled and drunken past that wove itself into a fine threaded combination of poetry and writing. He did a wonderful job and showed merciless compassion for the people that mattered most to him. The book is a true wonder and was made to be read to unravel some truth to the loved era of the beatnik generation.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not cool
I set out to read this book because I am very interested in the school itself, which I still maintain, but I was sorely disappointed with the book itself. It should have been divided into two seperate stories, one about Kashner and one about the school--but how could he write a memoir and not include how "cool" he was--hanging out with the beats?

I most certainly agree with Chris Jansen's list of problem's with this book. The obscure literary references were incredibly frustrating, it just led to me feeling alienated and uneducated. At one point Kashner refers to Ginsberg as a "jambon" for no reason but to, apparently, demonstrate his talent at remembering French words for food.

Don't waste your money on this one, wait till your library gets it, or, if you're desperate to own it, until it comes to paperback.

3-0 out of 5 stars Boulder was Cool once !
Kashner writes with a humility that grows on the reader. The first half of the book was a sort of get acquainted period and the second half was frequently a gutbuster laugh. Of all the Beats he met Corso was his best pal. Ginsberg gets the wilting pansy label and Burroughs Sr comes off a lot more human and funny then most other portraits. The style of memory memoir is fine with mini chapter style. A fun read. ... Read more


179. Difference and Repetition
by Gilles Deleuze, Paul Patton
list price: $24.00
our price: $21.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0231081596
Catlog: Book (1995-04-15)
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Sales Rank: 91126
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This brilliant exposition of the critique of identity is a classic in contemporary philosophy and one of Deleuze's most important works. Of fundamental importance to literary critics and philosophers,Difference and Repetition develops two central concepts--pure difference and complex repetition--and shows how the two concepts are related. While difference implies divergence and decentering, repetition is associated with displacement and disguising. Central in initiating the shift in French thought away from Hegel and Marx toward Nietzsche and Freud, Difference and Repetition moves deftly to establish a fundamental critique of Western metaphysics. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Grounding a Philosophy of Difference
This is (arguably) the most important work written by Deleuze for a reason that seems to me is often obscured or merely forgotten: it is (maybe) the only work that seeks to lay the foundation for a systematic treatment of 'difference' and by ex-tension (or in-tension) 'repetition'. It does not seek to derive 'difference' and 'repetition' (simply) from identity and the in-dividual. It seeks to think of 'difference' and 'repetition' in themselves. And this is what is important here: thinking (and not some petty play of figures and words in the frontal attacks or soul mating with particular thinkers) in its rhizomatic form rather than its arborescent one.

What is therefore central in this work is 'idea', and (therefore) 'perception'. In simple terms, Deleuze has managed to provide us with some foundational links with the philosophies of mind, language and time (and moreover besides). He has given to the philosophy of difference a central and unifying role (across such and other disciplines) to play.

In this sense 'difference' and 'repetition' are not only (simply) linked between them (in the sense that one leads to the other), but also linked with other important notions usually discussed and developed in other (philosophical) disciplines. Let me provide some brief indications.

Chapter 1 is concerned with 'difference', not as mere 'diversity', 'otherness' or 'negation', bur rather as 'general' or 'specific' difference, where the latter refers to the moment when difference is reconciled with the concept in general. In this manner, Deleuze sees 'difference' as a concept of reflection in relation to 'representation' that involves 'movement'. He further discusses the notion of 'eternal return' and questions the adoption of a 'meta-viewpoint' for thinking about 'difference' and 'repetition' - the latter being the relation between originals and simulacra.

In chapter 2, Deleuze lays out the relation between (the dualities) 'repetition' and 'sensing', 'habit', and 'difference', under the guise that "difference inhabits repetition", in that it "lies between two repetitions" (p.76). He also makes the distinction between 'natural' and 'artificial' signs, hence the distinction between two types of 'difference', one being the expression of the other. In parallel, he distinguishes 'active' from 'passive' synthesis (relative to time) in that "the activity of thought applies to a receptive being, to a passive subject" (p.86). Finally drawing on Bergson, he distinguishes the 'real' centre from where emanates a series of 'perception-images' from a 'virtual' centre from where emanates a series of 'memory-images'.

Chapter 3 is for Deleuze the most important (sic) because the thinking of 'difference' and 'repetition' is based on a dogmatic image of thought characterised by eight postulates, each with a dual form, the artificial and the natural.

In Chapter 4, this duality underlies the development of the notion of 'idea' in that it is problematic, hence dialectical, an "n-dimensional, continuous, defined multiplicity" (p.182) in a 'perplication' as the distinctive and coexistent state of ideas. Each 'idea' is thus linked with 'difference' and 'representation' in that "the representation of difference refers to the identity of the concept as its principle" (p.178). In this manner he makes the claim for the superiority of problematic-questioning approach over the (traditional) hypothetico-apodictic approach because questions are imperatives.

Chapter 5 starts with the claim that "difference is not diversity. Diversity is given, but difference is that by which the given is given, that by which the given is given as diverse" (p.222). Difference is therefore (a given) 'intensity' expressed as 'extensity'. There is 'depth' that unites intensity and extensity. Therefore, 'depth' is the intensity of being from where emerge at once extensity and the qualities of being. In this manner Deleuze accepts a dual condition of difference: one natural and one artificial.

In the concluding chapter Deleuze argues that 'representation' is a site of transcendental illusion which comes in four interrelated forms relative to 'thought', 'sensibility', 'idea' and 'being'. Hence the problematic of 'grounding' representation and his argument (or Idea) for 'groundlessness', and the justification of the use of (systems of) 'simulacra' as sites for the actualisation of ideas. Hence that of 'difference' and 'repetition' where the former is not only located between the levels and degrees of the latter, but also has two faces, namely, habit and memory.

Overall, despite the difficulty of the text itself as it takes for granted knowledge of the philosophies of some other thinkers (e.g. Bergson), it is a central text in the philosophy of difference and for just this reason, a text one must have read!

5-0 out of 5 stars Deleuze is a monster
Difference and repetition struck me as nothing I've ever read before has struck me. The fun thing about "reading" it, is that, when you think about it, the act of reading itself makes understanding parts of this work more clear. Reading this becomes a "machinic" activity as it were: immediate, affective, with its own unpredictability, with many gaps, moments of insight, despair, and so on. It seems contradictory, because I think it is the most rigorous and analytic of all of Deleuzes works. But it is immensely dense, as other reviewers also say.
It is certainly the crucial work in his oeuvre. Really if you have tried it a few times, you will notice that many ideas of his later work are based on the crucial notions of this grand exploration. Anti-Oedipe is such a delight to read and easy to understand after this one.

And I think it is good for those who want to approach Deleuze's thought, to start with the Anti-Oedipus and Mille Plateaux, then read some of the smaller and intensive works (What is philosophy, Leibniz et le Baroque). Then try this book. You will get many references and want to read all others once again.

It is clearly in this work that you will find the first monstrous and frontal attack against Hegel's dialectic. The fun thing is that this is a complete "anti-work". Every conceivable concept of modern philosophy (from the concept of "common sense", "history", or "being") gets an "anti", with which Deleuze consistently builds his grand idea of the immediate, the pre- or non-representational and the virtual--against any metaphysics. It is moreover his first, and I think also his last work where he builds his philosophy in a consistent manner.
After this one, I think he started exploring fragments of his thought more deeply, in his other works, which are derivatives so to speak. This is his goodbye to classic French philosphy (strong tradition of exploring the "history of philosophy") and his entrée into his own experimentation with the concepts he just developed.
To conclude, just some practical notes. The problem with the book is that, unlike his other works, you have to read all of it (because it is so consistent). This makes it a project for months, or even years. Good luck.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Deleuzian Century
The ontological relativity advocated here is inseparable from enunciative relativity. Knowledge of a Universe, Deleuze maintains, is only possible through the mediation of autopoietic machines. A zone of self-belonging needs to exist for the coming into cognitive existence of any being or modality of being. And it is the same for their enunciative coordinates. The relativity of points of view of space, time and energy does not, for all that, absorb the real into the dream. Residual objectivity is what resists scanning by the infinite variation of points of view constitutable upon it. Existential machines are at the same level as being in its intrinsic multiplicity. They are not mediated by transcendent signifiers or subsumed by a univocal ontological foundation. They are to themselves their own material of semiotic expression. Existence, as a process of deterritorialization, is a specific inter-machinic operation which superimposes itself on the promotion of singularized existential intensities. And, as Deleuze clearly shows, there is no generalized syntax for these deterritorializations. Existence is not dialectical, not representable.

2-0 out of 5 stars unconvinced
It amazes me that many of the reviews point to the obscurity of this text, but only insofar as this obscurity supposedly supports its greatness. I, however, remain unconvinced that the arguments Deleuze makes, which are practically impossible to follow, are anything more than words on a page. The obscurity of the text seems to me to be a drawback, not a praise. Deleuze makes the argument that before the difference and repetition of representation is "real" difference and repetition; it is unclear that these "real" differences and repetitions are anything more than a projection of Deleuze's cumbersome ramblings. Neither is it clear that Deleuze is anything more than a new Platonist, dividing all things between the vitual and the actual, following Bergson; it often appears as if the so-called virtual is really real, like Plato's forms, while the actual is merely an appearance or instance of virtuality. Of course, others could argue that I've understood it wrong, but insofar as Deleuze's arguments are illegible (something the other reviewers celebrate), one wonders on what grounds they could argue against me. Of course, there are many secondary sources on Deleuze available which will explain what he is "up to." However, I have been unable to see the relationship between their legible reconstructions and Deleuze's illegible text.

The other reviewers are right, unfortunately, when they assert that this is, indeed, a very important text for understanding Deleuze and contemporary French thought or critical theory. Despite its drawbacks, this was an influential text, and we must continue to read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Crux of Thought
It took me reading Deleuze's books on Kant, Bergson, Nietzsche, Foucault and his collaborations with Guattari in Thousand Plateaus and Anti-Oedipus to finally get through this book . Difference and Repetion explains all the others, but is incredibly dense and in no way an introduction to his thinking. If you're familiar with his project, however, then this brings the rest of his readings into focus.
It's in this book that Deleuze gets as close as he ever comes to replying to Hegel, and in that sense it's here that he contends with the master and the dialectic--a battle or contest characteristic of his French compatriots (see Vincent Descombes' fantastic book: Modern French Philosophy; and Michael Hardt's summary of the early Deleuzian projects: Gilles Deleuze: An Apprenticeship in Philosophy). Difference and repetition are such an alternative to the dialectic that they're difficult to grasp without a serious grounding in metaphysics (see his books on Kant and Hume especially), Spinoza, and Bergson.
Deleuze wants to show that there is a materiality of expression that is also a movement within time, an unfolding that is also a becoming ( and in this sense in contrast to Being). This movement image (which founds his analysis in the Cinema books) grounds for Deleuze a transcendental empiricism, which is to say a non-conceptual and material, positive and affirmative idea of thought. Read his books on Kant and Hume first for an overview of his critique of representation.
I think this book is stunning, and i hope to read it over and over. The first three chapters are incredible, and amount to nothing short of a complete undoing of representational thought, or what he characterizes as a logic of the same. ... Read more


180. Honey for a Woman's Heart
by Gladys M. Hunt, Gladys Hunt
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Asin: 0310238463
Catlog: Book (2002-01-01)
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A book to motivate women to establish good reading habits by exploring the joys of reading and to guide them to some of the best books available. ... Read more


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