Monthly Archives: March 2007

Review: Nouvian, The Deep

March 5, 2007
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Review: Nouvian, The Deep

The February 12 edition of Publishers Weekly had an advance review of one of this season’s most extraordinary titles from the Press, Claire Nouvian’s The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss. As PW‘s prepublication review notes, The Deep takes readers on a fascinating voyage of discovery into the darkest realms of the ocean with a “stunning collection of more than 160 color photos” of some of the worlds most intriguing organisms. More from PW: Species from as far down as four and a half miles are depicted in exquisite detail; most are mere centimeters long, though the giant squid, a timid creature despite its size, grows to almost 60 feet. Fifteen short, jargon-free essays assembled by editor and French journalist Nouvian—who became enthralled with the deep after visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium—flesh out the fantastic images with scientific fact. They dismiss the myth of deep sea monsters and describe the amazing persistence of life around hydrothermal vents and methane flues; a thoughtful glossary adds to this impressive book’s popular appeal. We will soon have a preview of the book available. . . .

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Anthony C. Yu receives Mellon Foundation Fellowship

March 5, 2007
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Anthony C. Yu receives Mellon Foundation Fellowship

Last year we published Anthony C. Yu’s The Monkey and the Monk, his abridged translation of Hsi-yu Chi, a renowned classic of Chinese literature. The Monkey and the Monk chronicles the adventures of Xuanzang, a seventh-century monk, over the course of his sixteen-year journey in search of Buddhist scriptures. Rich with allegory, humor, fantasy, and satire, the book is an exciting foray into the Hsi-yu Chi and the ancient Chinese world. But even at 528 pages The Monkey and the Monk is but a distillation of a larger project Yu began over thirty years ago to create a full English translation of this ancient Chinese epic. Yu’s Journey to the West is a four-volume translation of the complete Hsi-yu Chi—the only English translation available. We published the four volumes between 1977 and 1983. Now Yu will have the opportunity to revisit and revise his translation, thanks to a $55,000 award from the Mellon Foundation. An article in the University of Chicago’s Chronicle details the award saying: In 1984, Yu was awarded the Gordon J. Laing Prize from the University Press for his four-volume translation of The Journey to the West, the first complete version in English. The Mellon fellowship will . . .

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Jack Bauer, meet Carl Schmitt

March 2, 2007
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Jack Bauer, meet Carl Schmitt

It’s been a few years since Alan Wolfe said, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, that to understand contemporary politics you have to understand Carl Schmitt. Now it looks like TV critics will have to wrap their minds around political theology as well. Jerome Eric Copulsky, assistant professor and director of Judaic studies at Virginia Tech, wrote a piece for Sightings, the online journal of the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School, in which he calls 24 a “sustained lesson in controversial jurist and political theorist Carl Schmitt’s decidedly illiberal concept of sovereignty.” He continues: “Sovereign is he who decides upon the exception,” Schmitt proclaimed at the beginning of his 1922 treatise Political Theology. To have this power is to stand outside the law, to decide upon the state of exception, when the normal rules do not apply. If we follow Schmitt’s claim that “significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts,” the human sovereign is the political analogue of the omnipotent God. What better description could there be of counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer, the hero of 24? And what better illustration of the mainlining of a philosophical idea? Our books . . .

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Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney on Letters from Iwo Jima

March 1, 2007
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Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney on Letters from Iwo Jima

Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, author of the recent Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers, recently penned an interesting article for OpenDemocracy.org discussing Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning film Letters from Iwo Jima. Eastwood’s cinematic exploration of a pivotal battle of World War II, says Ohnuki-Tierney (and others), parallels the objective of her recent book in trying to “undo the demonization of Japanese soldiers that was propagated by the American mass media during and after the Pacific war of 1941-45.” And in fact, Eastwood’s film not only shares a common objective with Ohnuki-Tierney’s book, but also the means of accomplishing that objective. Both the movie and the book focus on the writings of Japanese soldiers during the war as a vehicle through which to arrive at a deeper understanding of who these soldiers were. Ohnuki-Tierney writes: Clint Eastwood’s film Letters from Iwo Jima begins and ends sixty years after the end of the war it depicts. At the start, a team of Japanese investigators is searching for whatever may have been left by Japanese soldiers holed up on Iwo Jima, part of a group of Pacific islands around 1,000 kilometres south of Tokyo. The team finds a large sack buried where the soldiers had . . .

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