Books to Look Out for in February 2020

Hello and welcome to February! This month our releases include fascinating insights into the daily life of a working class woman during the Second World War, musical direction and conducting in Stuart and Georgian Britain, a study of the archival turn in contemporary German memory culture and so much more!

Enjoy a preview of some of our February publications.

The Bedford Diary of Leah Aynsley, 1943-1946

Edited by Patricia Malcolmson & Robert Malcolmson

Leah hoped that her diary, which she gave as a bequest to Bedfordshire Archives Service, would: ‘often be useful to settle arguments as to what happened on such and such occasions.’ She also thought that: ‘being written by a working-class person among whom I suspect not many will keep such diaries … may be interesting in future centuries’. During the war years she worked for W. H. Allen & Sons Engineering Works and the diary includes her thoughts on her job there and the work that was undertaken by the firm. The diary also details her day to day activities, generally confined to cycling distance of her home. But she had a busy and active life – attending the BBC concerts in the Corn Exchange conducted by Sir Henry Wood and Adrian Boult as well as local lectures and dances. Throughout the diary Leah comments on many aspects of war-time Bedford including the influx of American airmen, rationing and the difficulty of purchasing items in the shops, Home Guard duties, bombing raids, air-raid warnings and preparations for invasion.

The Gentle Apocalypse

Truth and Meaning in the Poetry of Georg Trakl

By Richard Millington

Georg Trakl (1887-1914) typically couched his vision of the end of days in images of migrating birds, abandoned houses, and closing eyelids, making his poetry at once apocalyptic, rustic, and intimate. The argument made in this study is that this vision amounts to a unitary worldview with tightly interwoven affective, ethical, social, historical, and cosmological dimensions. Through close readings of poems covering the span of his lyric output, it traces the evolution of Trakl’s distinctive style and themes across different phases while attending closely to biographical and cultural contexts.

Scandal and Survival in Nineteenth-Century Scotland

The Life of Jane Cumming

by Frances B. Singh

In 1810 Edinburgh, the orphaned Scottish-Indian schoolgirl Jane Cumming alleged that her two schoolmistresses were sexually intimate. The allegation spawned a defamation suit in which Jane was presented as morally corrupt and hypersexual, and same-sex friendship and passion were explored. The notorious case would later inspire Lillian Hellman’s 1934 play The Children’s Hour. Frances B. Singh’s wide-ranging approach to biography brings out that Cumming’s was a life marked by loss, separation, abandonment–and resilience.

What Remains

The Post-Holocaust Archive in German Memory Culture

By Dora Osborne

With the passing of those who witnessed National Socialism and the Holocaust, the archive matters as never before. This book argues that memory culture in the Berlin Republic is marked by an archival turn that reflects the shift from embodied to externalized, material memory and responds to the particular status of the archive “after Auschwitz.” In its discussion of recent memorials, documentaries, and prose narratives that engage with the material legacy of the Nazi past, it argues that “archive work” is not only crucial to contemporary memory work but also fundamentally challenges it.

The Long Shadow of the Past

Contemporary Austrian Literature, Film, and Culture

by Katya Krylova

Austria is still coming to terms with its National Socialist past. Only over the past thirty years, beginning with the Waldheim affair of 1986-1988, has the country’s view of its role during the Third Reich shifted from that of victimhood to complicity. Austria’s writers, filmmakers, and artists have been at the center of this process, holding up a mirror to the country’s present and drawing attention to a still-disturbing past. Katya Krylova’s book undertakes close readings of key contemporary Austrian literary texts, films, and memorials that treat the legacy of Nazism and the Holocaust.
Now in Paperback!

Before the Baton

Musical Direction and Conducting in Stuart and Georgian Britain

By Peter Holman

After surveying practice in Italy, Germany and France from Antiquity to the eighteenth century, the focus is on direction in two strands of music making in Stuart and Georgian Britain: choral music from Restoration cathedrals to the oratorio tradition deriving from Handel, and music in the theatre from the Jacobean masque to nineteenth-century opera, ending with an account of how modern baton conducting spread in the 1830s from the pit of the Haymarket Theatre to the Philharmonic Society and to large-scale choral music. Part social and musical history based on new research into surviving performing material, documentary sources and visual evidence, and part polemic intended to question the use of modern baton conducting in pre-nineteenth-century music, Before the Baton throws new light on many hitherto dark areas, though the heart of the book is an extended discussion of the evidence relating to Handel’s operas, oratorios and choral music. Contrary to near-universal modern practice, he mostly preferred to play rather than beat time.

Organ-building in Georgian and Victorian England

The Work of Gray & Davison, 1772-1890

By Nicholas Thistlethwaite

This book charts the firm’s evolution from a typical instrument-making workshop of the mid-Georgian period into a Victorian organ factory. At the same time, it describes changes in musical taste and organ design and liturgical use. Among other topics, the book discusses provincial music festivals, the town hall organ, domestic music-making and popular entertainment, the building of churches and the impact on church music of the Evangelical and Tractarian movements. It will appeal to organ aficionados interested in historical organ manufacturing, design and workshop practice as well as scholars of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century music and cultural historians.

Bastard Feudalism, English Society and the Law

The Statutes of Livery, 1390-1520

By Gordon McKelvie

Regulation of the distribution of liveries and the practice of retaining, which underpinned the so-called system of bastard feudalism in late medieval England, are the subject of this book. Rather than relying primarily on the records of noble estates, as much previous scholarship has done, it draws on the records of the court of King’s Bench, covering all 336 known cases of illegal livery and retaining over 130 years. The author examines the political events and legal processes surrounding illegal livery, by exploring the nature of the legislation and its enforcement, particularly the relationship between law-making in parliament and law-enforcement in the localities.

The Music of Peter Maxwell Davies

By Nicholas Jones & Richard McGregor

This book provides a global view of his music, integrating a number of resonant themes in the composer’s work while covering a representative cross-section of his vast output – his work list encompasses nearly 550 compositions in every established genre. Making sustained reference to Davies’s own words, articles and programme notes as well as privileged access to primary source material from his estate, the book illuminates the composer’s practices and approaches while shaping a discourse around his music.

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