Literature

Review: Andrzej Szczeklik, Catharsis

March 9, 2006
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Review: Andrzej Szczeklik, Catharsis

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries recently reviewed Andrzej Szczeklik’s Catharsis: On the Art of Medicine. From the review: "A rash of reflections on medicine has been published by senior physicians approaching retirement. Most are autobiographical, often maudlin, and usually self-serving. This jewel of a book is an exception. explores the patient-doctor encounter, a mysterious process that has constituted the art of medicine since time eternal.… The text is peppered with illustrative case histories, and salted with the resources of a prodigious intellect that mixes history, philosophy, mythology, and poetry in telling the story. This is a wise, erudite, and insightful book that has been translated sensitively from the original Polish. It makes for an enormously good read that will enrich the life of anyone who peruses it. Highly recommended." Read an excerpt. . . .

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Author event: Andrew Wachtel, Remaining Relevant after Communism

March 8, 2006
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Author event: Andrew Wachtel, Remaining Relevant after Communism

On March 9 at 7 p.m., Andrew Wachtel will discuss his new book Remaining Relevant after Communism: The Role of the Writer in Eastern Europe at the No Exit Café in Chicago (6970 N. Glenwood in Rogers Park). More than any other art form, literature defined Eastern Europe as a cultural and political entity in the second half of the twentieth century. Although often persecuted by the state, East European writers formed what was frequently recognized to be a "second government," and their voices were heard and revered inside and outside the borders of their countries. This study by one of our most influential specialists on Eastern Europe considers the effects of the end of communism on such writers. According to Andrew Baruch Wachtel, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the creation of fledgling societies in Eastern Europe brought an end to the conditions that put the region’s writers on a pedestal. In the euphoria that accompanied democracy and free markets, writers were liberated from the burden of grandiose political expectations. But no group is happy to lose its influence: despite recognizing that their exalted social position was related to their reputation for challenging political oppression, such writers have . . .

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Happy Birthday, Ben Hecht!

February 28, 2006
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Happy Birthday, Ben Hecht!

On February 28, 1894 Ben Hecht was born in New York City. Though he would find fame as a novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, Hecht was at heart a news reporter. His columns for the Chicago Daily News were collected in the 1922 book, A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago, a timeless classic of journalism. In 1925 Hecht went to Hollywood to try his hand at screenwriting. He wrote more than seventy screenplays, including Underworld (1927), for which he won an Oscar. He returned to his newspaper roots when he collaborated with Charles MacArthur on The Front Page, a play based on his adventures as a newsman, which became an enduring hit. . . .

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Shoot! featured on BBC Radio Four

February 21, 2006
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Shoot! featured on BBC Radio Four

Luigi Pirandello’s Shoot!: The Notebooks of Serafino Gubbio, Cinematograph Operator was recently featured on the BBC Radio Four program "Open Book." Originally published in Italian in 1915, Shoot! is one of the first novels to take as its subject the heady world of early motion pictures. Based on the absurdist journals of fictional Italian camera operator Serafino Gubbio, Shoot! documents the infancy of film in Europe—complete with proto-divas, laughable production schedules, and cost-cutting measures with priceless effects—and offers a glimpse of the modern world through the camera’s lens. Listen to an archive of the program by following the link on the Open Book Web site. . . .

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Review, Luigi Pirandello, Shoot!

February 16, 2006
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Review, Luigi Pirandello, Shoot!

Earlier this month, a nice review of Luigi Pirandello’s Shoot!: The Notebooks of Serafino Gubbio, Cinematograph Operator appeared in the New York Sun. Reviewer Adele Kudish praised the novel’s translator, C. K. Scott Moncrieff: "His Shoot! is the only English version ever published and proves to be a truly timeless and important rendering of Pirandello’s novel. Moncrieff skillfully re-created Pirandello’s dreamlike prose, which flitters in and out of consciousness, according to the mechanized tempo of Gubbio turning the handle of his machine." . . .

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Only an idiot laughs at everything

February 6, 2006
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Paul Lewis, a professor of English at Boston College, has an op-ed piece in the Hartford Courant on the protests in the Muslim world over cartoons originally published in a Danish newspaper. “It’s easy to see that the protesters fail to appreciate how a free press operates,” says Lewis. The question however is not whether newspapers have a right to publish such satire, “but whether papers should have chosen to print these cartoons.” Lewis has thought a great deal about the place of humor in contentious times, as will be evident in his book, Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict, which we will publish later this year. . . .

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Foucault and the Iranian Revolution

February 1, 2006
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Foucault and the Iranian Revolution

On February 1, 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran after fifteen years of exile. The Shah had fled Iran about two weeks earlier and Khomeini was acclaimed the leader of the Iranian Revolution. Later that year revolutionary students would storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran and take the staff hostage, to profound consequence. One observer of the Iranian Revolution was Michel Foucault, who was a special correspondent for Corriere della Sera and le Nouvel Observateur, for whom he wrote a series of articles. In Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism, Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson illuminate Foucault’s support of the Islamist movement. and show how Foucault’s experiences in Iran contributed to a turning point in his thought. Read one of Foucault’s essays, “What Are the Iranians Dreaming About?” . . .

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Review: Carlo Rotella, Cut Time

January 25, 2006
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Review: Carlo Rotella, Cut Time

The sports section of the Daily Telegraph featured a review of Cut Time: An Education at the Fights, Carlo Rotella’s acclaimed book on boxing. From the review by Andrew Baker: “Rotella’s guiding philosophy is honesty, both with the fighters he encounters and with his own reactions to what he sees. And, unusually among American academics, he practises a beautifully pared-down prose style, with little pretention and none of the hyperbole that afflicts so many boxing writers. He may lack the wit of A J Liebling, say, but his insight more than makes up for it.” You can judge Rotella’s prose style and wit in this excerpt. . . .

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Lawrence Weschler, Artistic Director

January 21, 2006
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Lawrence Weschler, Artistic Director

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Lawrence Weschler has been named the first artistic director of the Chicago Humanities Festival. The University of Chicago Press has published and reprinted a number of Weschler’s books over the past few years, including A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers, Boggs: A Comedy of Values, and Calamities of Exile: Three Nonfiction Novellas. In March we will bring back into print Weschler’s A Wanderer in the Perfect City: Selected Passion Pieces. . . .

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Press release: Andrzej Szczeklik, Catharsis

January 20, 2006
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Press release: Andrzej Szczeklik, Catharsis

Catharsis is an elegant and moving book that reminds us of the humanity and gentle dignity of being a doctor. Written by Andrzej Szczeklik, a world renowned cardiologist who counts among his patients the poets Wislawa Szymborska and the late Czeslaw Milosz, this life-affirming work gives spiritual resonance to mundane medical moments and disenchanted science by embedding them in a rich blend of myth and art. Deftly weaving the history of medicine, classical literature, and anecdotes from his own clinical experiences, Szczeklik draws deeply on our humanistic heritage to describe the art of medicine…. Read the press release. Read an excerpt. . . .

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