Humanities

A Secular Miracle

Peter E. Gordon— In 1770, the empress Maria Theresa summoned to the Viennese court an imperial counselor named Wolfgang von Kempelen, a man from the Hungarian city of Pressburg who was already well esteemed for his services to the state. In an era when the German language was displacing Latin

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A Conversation with Hoda Barakat

Next month, Yale University Press is pleased to publish Voices of the Lost by Hoda Barakat, translated from the Arabic by Marilyn Booth, a novel that weaves together a series of devastating confessions about life in contemporary Arab society. We sat down with Hoda to discuss the relationship between literature and

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Making Room for Books

Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen— When in 1656 Rembrandt was forced to declare bankruptcy, a full inventory was made of all of his remaining possessions. Among the paintings, furniture and household goods at the house on the Breestraat, were only twenty-two books. By this time Rembrandt, one of the

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Heinrich Heine

George Prochnik— What’s life without glory, blazing love affairs, and apple tarts? That’s to say, what is life without song and true liberation for all? Heinrich Heine at thirteen, diminutive and dashing with wavy chestnut hair and a passion for play, charged into the crowd beneath the linden trees of

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Are They Not Mad?

Jonathan Rée— Without books, according to Hobbes, we could not be ‘excellently wise’, but on the other hand we would not be ‘excellently foolish’ either. “They which trust to books, do as they that cast up many little summs into a greater, without considering whether those little summes were rightly

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A Conversation with Michel Faïs

Earlier this month, Yale University Press published Mechanisms of Loss by Michel Faïs, translated from the Greek by David Connolly, a duet of provocative novellas that examine contemporary Greek identity and postmodernity. To mark the occasion, editorial intern Matthew Blake sat down with Michel to discuss the novellas and explore questions

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Little Red Riding Hood

Alberto Manguel— There are characters whose name reveals their skin color (Snow White), their ability (Spiderman), their size (Thumbelina). Others, their dress. A short blood-colored cape defines the adventurous girl dreamt up by Charles Perrault towards the end of the seventeenth century. She has a whiff of the guileless temptress,

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Tragedy

Terry Eagleton— All art has a political dimension, but tragedy actually began life as a political institution. Indeed, for Hannah Arendt it is the political art par excellence. Only in theatre, she writes, ‘is the political sphere of human life transposed into art’. In fact, ancient Greek tragedy is not

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A Conversation with Patrick Modiano

The latest work from Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano, Invisible Ink is a spellbinding tale of memory and its illusions. Private detective Jean Eyben receives an assignment to locate a missing woman, the mysterious Noëlle Lefebvre. While the case proves fruitless, the clues Jean discovers along the way continue to haunt him.

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In Timbuktu with Jean Paul de Dadelsen

Two thousand and eleven, when palm trees without numberRustled, shading tomatoes and cucumbersAll around Timbuktu,And mental trees, planted by the town council,Offered orchards to every studious sibylAnd to sleepers too! This is the opening stanza of “The Orchards of Timbuktu” by Jean-Paul de Dadelsen, translated from the French by Marilyn

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