A composer of musical masterpieces, a controversial king and a conflict-ridden region are just some of the topics in this month’s books to look out for. Take a look at some of our highlights to keep on your radar this May, and we hope you find something that tickles your fancy. Until next time!
Silk in the Pre-Modern World
Silk has long been a global commodity that, because of its exceptional qualities, high value and relative portability, came to be traded over very long distances. The production and consumption of silks spread from China to Japan and Korea and travelled westward as far as India, Persia and the Byzantine Empire, Europe, Africa and the Americas. Threads of Global Desire is the first attempt at considering a global history of silk in the pre-modern era. The book examines the role of silk production and use in various cultures and its relation to everyday and regulatory practices.
Art and the Politics of the Unpolitical
Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954) has entered the historical memory as a renowned interpreter of the canon of Austro-German musical masterworks. His extensive legacy of recorded performances of Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner and Wagner is widely regarded as unsurpassed. Yet more than sixty years after his death he remains a controversial figure: the complexities and equivocacy of his high-profile position within the Third Reich still cast a long shadow over his reputation. This book builds an intellectual biography of Furtwängler, probing this ambiguity, through a critical examination of his extensive series of essays, addresses and symphonies.
Volume 1: Nos. 1 to 8 (February 1818 to March 1820)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) is recognized the world over as a composer of musical masterpieces exhibiting heroic strength, particularly in the face of his increasing deafness from ca. 1798. These important booklets are here translated into English in their entirety for the first time. Covering a period associated with the revolutionary style of what we call “late Beethoven”, these often lively and compelling conversations are now finally accessible in English for the scholar and Beethoven-lover.
“Searchers and Discoverers”
Flannery O’Connor is one of the most widely read, discussed, and taught of all American authors. Her work, often characterized as “Southern Gothic,” betrays in its focus on morality her devout Roman Catholic faith even as it displays a wicked sense of humor. This book offers the first chronological overview of O’Connor criticism and commentary from the publication of her first novel, Wise Blood, in 1952 to the present.
The work of William Morris (1834-1896) was hugely influenced by the medieval sagas and poetry of Iceland; in particular, they inspired his long poems “The Lovers of Gudrun” and Sigurd the Volsung. This book shows how Morris conceived a unique ideal of heroism through engaging with Icelandic literature. How the sagas and poetry of Iceland were crucial in shaping his view of the best life a man could live and spurring him on in the subsequent passions on which much of his legacy rests.
Transnational Texts from England and France
Alexander the Great – controversial king, conqueror, explorer, and pupil of Aristotle. Aiming to illuminate not only the conqueror’s history but also the fast-changing and complex literary landscape that existed between 1150 and 1350, important Alexander works (the Alexandreis, the Roman d’Alexandre, the Roman de toute chevalerie, and Kyng Alisaunde) are compared with the fortunes of other prestigious inherited tales, such as stories of Arthur and Troy, highlighting the various forms of translatio studii then prevalent across northern France and Britain.
Intimacy and Alienation
The cinema of the German Democratic Republic, (its state-run studio DEFA), portrayed gender and sexuality in complex and contradictory ways. This is the first scholarly collection in English or German to fully address the treatment of gender and sexuality in the productions of DEFA across genres (from shorts and feature films to educational videos, television productions, and documentaries) and in light of social, political, and cultural contexts.
Kawuugulu Musical Performance, Politics, and Storytelling in Buganda
Tuning the Kingdom draws on oral and written accounts, archival research, and musical analysis to examine how the Kawuugulu Clan-Royal Musical Ensemble of the Kingdom of Buganda (arguably the kingdom’s oldest and longest-surviving performance ensemble) has historically managed, structured, modeled, and legitimized power relations among the Baganda people of south-central Uganda.
This collection of essays places the Balkans at the center of European developments, not as a conflict-ridden problem zone, but rather as a full-fledged European region. Contrary to the commonly held perception, contributors to the volume argue, the Balkans did not lag behind the rest of European history, but rather anticipated many (West) European developments in the decades before and after 1900.