Books to Look out for in March 2022

Emma and Claude Debussy

The Biography of a Relationship
by Gillian Opstad

The singer Emma Bardac (1862-1934) has often been presented as a woman who ensnared Claude Debussy (1862-1918) because she wanted to be associated with his fame and to live a life of luxury. Indeed, in many biographies and composer-related studies of Debussy, the only mentions that she receives are brief and derogatory. Opstad instead puts their marriage at the centre of the narrative, exploring Emma’s Jewish ancestry, her first marriage and later affair with Gabriel Fauré, and the pressure and strains on her subsequent marriage to Debussy. This book examines both Emma’s role in supporting Debussy through his deepest depression and, after his death from cancer, her efforts to resurrect, complete and perform her husband’s early works.

Creativity, Contradictions and Commemoration in the Reign of Richard II

Essays in Honour of Nigel Saul
Edited by Jessica Lutkin and J.S. Hamilton

The reign of Richard II is well known for its political turmoil as well as its literary and artistic innovations, all areas explored by Professor Nigel Saul during his distinguished career. The present volume interrogates many familiar literary and narrative sources, including works by Froissart, Gower, Chaucer, Clanvow, and the Continuation of the Eulogium Historiarum, along with those less well-known, such as coroner’s inquests and gaol delivery proceedings. The reign is also notorious for its larger than life personalities – not least Richard himself. But how was he shaped by other personalities? A prosopographical study of Richard’s bishops, a comparison of the literary biographies of his father the Black Prince, and Bertrand du Guesclin, and a reconsideration of Plantagenet family politics, all shed light on this question. Meanwhile, Richard II’s tomb reflects his desire to shape a new vision of kingship. Commemoration more broadly was changing in the late fourteenth century, and this volume includes several studies of both individual and communal memorials of various types that illustrate this trend: again, appropriately for an area Professor Saul has made his own.

The Politics of the Dead in Zimbabwe 2000-2020

Bones, Rumours & Spirits
by Joost Fontein

In 1898, just before she was hanged for rebelling against colonial rule, Charwe Nyakasikana, spirit medium of the legendary ancestor Ambuya Nehanda, famously prophesised that ‘my bones will rise again’. A century later bones, bodies and human remains have come to occupy an increasingly complex place in Zimbabwe’s postcolonial milieu. From ancestral “bones” rising again in the struggle for independence, and later land, to resurfacing bones of unsettled wardead; and from the troubling decaying remains of post-independence gukurahundi.

Atlantic Piracy in the Early Nineteenth Century

The Shocking Story of the Pirates and the Survivors of the Morning Star
by Sarah Craze

The attack on the British brig Morning Star in 1828 was one of the most notorious episodes of piracy in the nineteenth century. Many members of the crew were murdered by Benito de Soto and his gang of pirates, but some escaped and sailed the ship back to Britain, leading to sensationalised stories about the ordeal. This book sets the attack in the wider context of piracy in the period, and explores how pirates’ careers began and developed; how they were pursued and tried; and what became of their treasure.

Painting for a Living in Tudor and Early Stuart England

by Robert Tittler

While famous artists such as Holbein, Rubens, or Van Dyck are all known for their creative periods in England or their employment at the English court, they still had to make ends meet, as did the less well-known practitioners of their craft. Drawing on a biographical database comprising nearly 3000 painters and craftsmen, this book captures a sense of mobility and exchange between England and the continent through the considerable influence of stranger-painters, undermining traditional notions about the insular character of this phase in the history of English art.

Coming Out

by Kyle Frackman

It took forty years for East Germany’s state-run studios to produce a feature film about homosexuality: Coming Out. The film’s story seems radically ordinary today: a young teacher, Philipp, is gay but cannot accept it. Director Heiner Carow created a film that shows the difficulties that queer people faced in East Germany. It premiered on November 9, 1989, the very night the Berlin Wall fell, and was initially overshadowed by political events. Yet it remains popular and continues to be screened around the world. Kyle Frackman’s book examines the film in both the late East German context of its creation and the international context of its reception.

Gender Violence in Twenty-First-Century Latin American Women’s Writing

by María Encarnación López and Stephen M. Hart

This book analyses the portrayal of violence against women in the works of ten contemporary Latin American female authors including Laura Restrepo, Claudia Pineiro, Carla Guelfenbein and Fernanda Melchor. Governments in Latin America have routinely failed to protect women from abuse, threats, censorship, repressive policies on reproduction rights, forced displacement, sex trafficking, disappearances and femicides, and this book beats a new path through these burning issues by drawing on the knowledges encapsulated by sociology as much as the visions articulated by literature. It aims to raise awareness of gender violence in Latin America and to underline the importance of the voice of Latin American women in that daily struggle.

Alexander Paterson: Prison Reformer

by Harry Potter

Alexander Paterson (1884-1947) is best remembered as the individual responsible for some of the greatest British innovations in the field of penal practice. Using materials from unpublished government and family archives, Potter traces Paterson’s relationship to the major trends in English society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: from the influence of Liberalism and Unitarianism in the industrial heartland of his youth, through the Idealist philosophy of Thomas Hill Green at Oxford, to the impact of school and university ‘missions’ in London. After a distinguished service in the Great War, Paterson devoted the rest of his life to the prison service at home and to penal reform abroad. He encouraged psychiatrists and psychologists to work in prison and was the prime mover behind the rapid expansion and transformation of the Borstal System, gaining Britain an international reputation for being at the forefront of penal reform.

Records of the Jesus Guild in St Paul’s Cathedral, c.1450-1550

An Edition of Oxford, Bodleian MS Tanner 221, and Associated Material
Edited by Elizabeth A. New

This volume reproduces for the first time all the extant records surviving for the Guild in the early sixteenth century, a full twenty consecutive years of accounts, along with material that reveals what happened to the crypt chapel and some of the Guild’s possessions during the religious changes of the 1550s: a 1552 inventory of goods in St Faith’s Church and expenses incurred by that parish when it moved into the chapel which had previously been occupied by the Guild. The documents are edited with accompanying notes and glossary, complemented by an introduction that places them in a broad context and by biographies of the Guild wardens identified in the text.

Red Road to Freedom

A History of the South African Communist Party 1921 – 2021
by Tom Lodge

Tracing the history of the Communist Party of South Africa, Tom Lodge takes the story back to the party’s pre-history to reveal that it was shaped by a range of socialist traditions. Countering some existing narratives, the author describes the CPSA’s engagement in popular front politics after 1935, its involvement in the formation of black working-class politics in the 1940s, and a much fuller picture of the secret party of 1952 to 1965. He examines its activities during exile among the party’s recruits and more informal following inside South Africa, as well as its broader influence. In 1990, South African communists returned to South Africa to begin reconstructing their party as a legal organisation. With the fall of Eastern European regimes and the fragmentation of the Soviet Union, one key set of material foundations for the party’s programmatic beliefs crumbled and its most important international alliances ended. The final chapter brings the story up to date, assessing the degree to which communists both inside and outside government have shaped and influenced policy in successive ANC-led administrations. Jacana: Africa, India

The Cat Has Nine Lives

by Hester Baer

Germany’s first feminist film, Ula Stöckl’s vibrant The Cat Has Nine Lives (1968) has remained relatively unknown, but it is as relevant today as it was half a century ago.Revived at the 2019 Berlinale and now available with English subtitles, Stöckl’s film follows the intertwined stories of five characters to explore women’s subjectivity, desire, friendship, work, and artistic expression in a society defined by gender inequality. Restoring this singular film to its rightful place as a classic, Hester Baer argues that itforms an important aesthetic and theoretical precursor to the unfolding cinefeminism of later decades.

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