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The Hard History of Love
Arguably one of the most important American writers working today, Wendell Berry is the author of more than fifty books, including novels and collections of poems, short stories, and essays. A prominent spokesman for agrarian values, Berry frequently defends such practices and ideas as sustainable agriculture, healthy rural communities, connection to place, the pleasures of work, and the interconnectedness of life. In The Achievement of Wendell Berry: The Hard History of Love, Fritz Oehlschlaeger provides a sweeping engagement with Berry’s entire corpus. The book introduces the reader to Berry’s general philosophy and aesthetic through careful consideration of his essays. Oehlschlaeger pays particular attention to Berry as an agrarian, citizen, and patriot, and also examines the influence of Christianity on Berry’s writings. Much of the book is devoted to lively close readings of Berry’s short stories, novels, and poetry. The Achievement of Wendell Berry is a comprehensive introduction to the philosophical and creative world of Wendell Berry, one that offers new critical insights into the writing of this celebrated Kentucky author.
Act of Contrition focuses on the intimate relationship between Regina, a widow, and Michael, a young doctor whose wife left him for another man. Having found happiness in one another, they desire nothing more than to be together. Yet in the eyes of the Catholic Church, Michael is not free to divorce his wife and marry Regina. In an emotional climax Regina must decide if she loves Michael enough to give him up or if she'll force him to choose between her and God.
By modern standards, Giles's love scenes are tasteful, and the general atmosphere of ecumenism within today's Catholic Church renders moot many of the tensions in the novel. Yet in 1957 Giles's agent and publisher feared the work would cause "irreparable harm" to her reputation. As late as 1972 Giles was revising in the hopes of seeing the novel published. Finally her wish is fulfilled.
Janice Holt Giles (1905-1979), author of nineteen books, lived and wrote near Knifley, Kentucky, for thirty-four years. Her biography is Janice Holt Giles: A Writer's Life.
Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War
In his first inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln declared that as president he would “have no lawful right” to interfere with the institution of slavery. Yet less than two years later, he issued a proclamation intended to free all slaves throughout the Confederate states. When critics challenged the constitutional soundness of the act, Lincoln pointed to the international laws and usages of war as the legal basis for his Proclamation, asserting that the Constitution invested the president “with the law of war in time of war.” As the Civil War intensified, the Lincoln administration slowly and reluctantly accorded full belligerent rights to the Confederacy under the law of war. This included designating a prisoner of war status for captives, honoring flags of truce, and negotiating formal agreements for the exchange of prisoners—practices that laid the intellectual foundations for emancipation. Once the United States allowed Confederates all the privileges of belligerents under international law, it followed that they should also suffer the disadvantages, including trial by military courts, seizure of property, and eventually the emancipation of slaves. Even after the Lincoln administration decided to apply the law of war, it was unclear whether state and federal courts would agree. After careful analysis, author Burrus M. Carnahan concludes that if the courts had decided that the proclamation was not justified, the result would have been the personal legal liability of thousands of Union officers to aggrieved slave owners. This argument offers further support to the notion that Lincoln’s delay in issuing the Emancipation Proclamation was an exercise of political prudence, not a personal reluctance to free the slaves. In Act of Justice, Carnahan contends that Lincoln was no reluctant emancipator; he wrote a truly radical document that treated Confederate slaves as an oppressed people rather than merely as enemy property. In this respect, Lincoln’s proclamation anticipated the psychological warfare tactics of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Carnahan’s exploration of the president’s war powers illuminates the origins of early debates about war powers and the Constitution and their link to international law.
Kentucky emerged as a prime site for theatrical activity in the early nineteenth century. Most towns, even quite small ones, constructed increasingly elaborate opera houses, which stood as objects of local pride and symbols of culture. These theaters often hosted amateur performances, providing a forum for talent and a focus for community social life. As theatrical attendance rose, performance halls began offering everything from drama to equestrian shows to burlesque.
Today many architects believe that the design of a theater should not detract from the stage or screen. Marilyn Casto shows that nineteenth-century Kentucky audiences, however, not only expected elaborate decor but considered it a delightful part of the theatergoing experience. Embellished arches and painted and gilded walls and ceilings enhanced the theatricality of the performance while adding to the excitement of an evening out.
In Actors, Audiences, and Historic Theaters of Kentucky, Casto investigates the social and architectural history of Kentucky theaters, paying special attention to the actors who performed in them and the audiences who saw it all. A captivating glimpse into a disappearing slice of American popular culture, her work examines what people considered entertaining, what they hoped to gain from theatergoing, and how they chose and experienced the theaters' architectural settings. In the social and physical design of these theaters, Casto explores nearly two centuries of the state's and nation's cultural history.
After more than two hundred years in the shadows of Washington and Jefferson, John Adams enjoys fame as one of our top presidents. Of unprepossessing appearance and feisty temperament, he expressed his personal feelings in copious correspondence and public documents along with two unfinished autobiographies.
Paul M. Zall draws from Adams's own letters, diaries, notes and autobiographies to create a fresh portrait. Adams's writings, both public and private, trace his rise from country lawyer to the nation's highest office by the sheer force of his personality. Lacking the advantages of money, connections, class, or patronage, Adams used "the severest and most incessant labor" to promote American independence.
Zall's commentary illuminates Adams's words, focusing on how Adams's inner strengths -- in conflict with a sense of inferiority and an obsession with fame -- helped win government under law at home and national respect abroad. Borne along by an irresistible sense of Spartan duty and refusing to compromise high principles for cheap popularity, he sacrificed family, fortune, and even fame. In Adams on Adams we are at last able to hear Adams describe his extraordinary journey in his own words.
The American Years
German philosopher and social critic Theodor Adorno (1903--1969) is widely regarded as one of the twentieth century's most influential thinkers. A leading member of the Frankfurt School, Adorno advanced an unconventional type of Marxist analysis in books such as Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944), Minima Moralia (1951), and Negative Dialectics (1966). Forced out of Nazi Germany because of his Jewish heritage, Adorno lived in exile in the United States for nearly fifteen years. In Adorno and Democracy, Shannon Mariotti explores how this extended visit prompted a concern for and commitment to democracy that shaped the rest of his work.
Mariotti analyzes the extensive and undervalued works Adorno composed in English for an American audience and traces the development of his political theory during the World War II era. Her unique study examines how Adorno changed his writing style while in the United States in order to directly address the public, which lay at the heart of his theoretical concerns. Despite his apparent contempt for popular culture, his work during this period clearly engages with a broader public in ways that reflect a deep desire to understand the problems and possibilities of democracy as enacted through the customs and habits of Americans. Ultimately, Adorno advances a theory of democratic leadership that works through pedagogy to cultivate a more robust and meaningful practice of citizenship.
Mariotti incisively demonstrates how Adorno's unconventional and challenging interpretations of US culture can add conceptual rigor to political theory and remind Americans of the normative promise of democracy. Adorno and Democracy is an innovative contribution to critical debates about contemporary US politics.
Patton as Commander in the Bulge
In the winter of 1944–1945, Hitler sought to divide Allied forces in the heavily forested Ardennes region of Luxembourg and Belgium. He deployed more than 400,000 troops in one of the last major German offensives of the war, which became known as the Battle of the Bulge, in a desperate attempt to regain the strategic initiative in the West. Hitler’s effort failed for a variety of reasons, but many historians assert that Lieutenant General George S. Patton Jr.’s Third Army was ultimately responsible for securing Allied victory. Although Patton has assumed a larger-than-life reputation for his leadership in the years since World War II, scholars have paid little attention to his generalship in the Ardennes following the relief of Bastogne. In Advance and Destroy, Captain John Nelson Rickard explores the commander’s operational performance during the entire Ardennes campaign, through his “estimate of the situation,” the U.S. Army’s doctrinal approach to problem-solving. Patton’s day-by-day situational understanding of the Battle of the Bulge, as revealed through ULTRA intelligence and the influence of the other Allied generals on his decision-making, gives readers an in-depth, critical analysis of Patton’s overall effectiveness, measured in terms of mission accomplishment, his ability to gain and hold ground, and a cost-benefit analysis of his operations relative to the lives of his soldiers. The work not only debunks myths about one of America’s most controversial generals but provides new insights into his renowned military skill and colorful personality.
The Adventures of David Simple (1744), Sarah Fielding's first and most celebrated novel, went through several editions, the second of which was heavily revised by her brother Henry. This edition includes Henry's "corrections" in an appendix. In recounting the guileless hero's search for a true friend, the novel depicts the derision with which almost everyone treats his sentimental attitudes to human nature. Acclaimed as an accurate portrait of mid-eighteenth-century London, The Adventures of David Simple sets forth some provocative feminist ideas. Also included is Fielding's much darker sequel, Volume the Last (1753).
Gender, Genre, and the Canon
Aemilia Lanyer was a Londoner of Jewish-Italian descent and the mistress of Queen Elizabeth's Lord Chamberlain. But in 1611 she did something extraordinary for a middle-class woman of the seventeenth century: she published a volume of original poems.
Using standard genres to address distinctly feminine concerns, Lanyer's work is varied, subtle, provocative, and witty. Her religious poem "Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum" repeatedly projects a female subject for a female reader and casts the Passion in terms of gender conflict. Lanyer also carried this concern with gender into the very structure of the poem; whereas a work of praise usually held up the superiority of its patrons, the good women in Lanyer's poem exemplify worth women in general.
The essays in this volume establish the facts of Lanyer's life and use her poetry to interrogate that of her male contemporaries, Donne, Jonson, and Shakespeare. Lanyer's work sheds light on views of gender and class identities in early modern society. By using Lanyer to look at the larger issues of women writers working within a patriarchal system, the authors go beyond the explication of Lanyer's writing to address the dynamics of canonization and the construction of literary history.
With a Life of Aesop
In 1489 Johan Hurus printed the first collection of fables in Spain, Lavida del Ysopetconsusfabulas hystoriadas. Illustrated with nearly 200 woodcuts, this work quickly became the most-read book in Spain, beloved of both children and adults. Reprinted many times in the next three centuries and carried to the New World, it brought to Spanish letters a cornucopia of Aesopic fables, oriental apologues, and folktales that were borrowed by such writers as Cervantes, Lope de Vega, and especially the fabulists Iriarte and Samaniego. John Keller and Clark Keating now present the first English translation of this important literary work.
The Latin and German lineage of La vida was significant, for it placed Spain in the mainstream of European fable lore. The highly fictitious life of Aesop, the misshapen Greek slave who reached the highest social level, contributed to the development of medieval romance and the picaresque novel. The book is thus important to students of comparative literature, literary history, and the development of the Spanish language.
Of equal value are the woodcuts, which depict the daily life of medieval Europe and contribute to a better understanding of fifteenth-century art history, bookmaking, natural history, and the visualization of narrative. La vida del Ysopet thus constitutes one of the finest concordances of text and illustration in European literary history.