Be my surreal valentine

February 13, 2006
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Be my surreal valentine

If you believe that love is better described as “the drunken kisses of cyclones” than the predictable cheesiness found in a Hallmark card, then you’ll be cheered by the paperback release of Surrealist Love Poems, edited by Mary Ann Caws. This collection from such luminaries as André Breton, Robert Desnos, and Paul Eluard celebrates the irrational, obsessive, impassioned, and erotic states of love, demonstrating throughout the truth of Breton’s words, that “the embrace of poetry like that of the flesh / As long as it lasts / Shuts out all the woes of the world.” The book also includes fourteen alluring photographs from the likes of Man Ray, Lee Miller, and Claude Cahun. Read three poems from the book. . . .

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Send a valentine: give a book

February 10, 2006
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Send a valentine: give a book

Since ancient times, the heart has been associated with love and passion, but the familiar heart shape (♥) dates from the Middle Ages. Heart-shaped valentines are actually a special instance of the entwining of books and hearts that Eric Jager examined in The Book of the Heart. When we published his book, Jager wrote a special feature for our website in which he traces the heart-as-book metaphor through history. Read his essay, “Reading the Book of the Heart from the Middle Ages to the Twenty-First Century.” . . .

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Author Event: Symposium on Executive Power

February 10, 2006
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Author Event: Symposium on Executive Power

Two of our authors will be speaking at a Yale Law Journal symposium “The Most Dangerous Branch? Mayors, Governors, Presidents and the Rule of Law” on March 24 and 25, 2006. Cass Sunstein, whose most recent Chicago book was Punitive Damages: How Juries Decide, and John Yoo, author of The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11, will participate in the symposium. John Yoo’s writings—in The Powers of War and Peace and in memos he authored while at the Office of Legal Counsel—have been the focus of recent discussions about presidential power in times of war and crisis. Yoo discusses these issues in an interview. More information about the symposium. . . .

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Review: Edward Castronova, Synthetic Worlds

February 8, 2006
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Review: Edward Castronova, Synthetic Worlds

Tim Harford reviewed nine popular economics books in the Chronicle of Higher Education, including Edward Castronova’s Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games. Harford says that "Synthetic Worlds is a surprisingly profound book about the social, political, and economic issues arising from the emergence of vast multiplayer games on the Internet. What Castronova has realized is that these games, where players contribute considerable labor in exchange for things they value, are not merely like real economies, they are real economies, displaying inflation, fraud, Chinese sweatshops, and some surprising in-game innovations." Harford also wrote a longer review of the book last month for the Financial Times; that review is available on his website. You can also read our interview with Castronova. . . .

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Harry G. West discusses Kupilikula on BBC Radio Four

February 7, 2006
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Harry G. West discusses Kupilikula on BBC Radio Four

Harry G. West recently discussed his new book Kupilikula: Governance and the Invisible Realm in Mozambique on Laurie Taylor’s BBC Radio Four program "Thinking Allowed." You can listen to an archive of the program by following the link on the Thinking Allowed Web site. . . .

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Review: Nina Maria Athanassoglou-Kallmyer, Cézanne and Provence

February 7, 2006
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Review: Nina Maria Athanassoglou-Kallmyer, Cézanne and Provence

Aruna D’Souza reviewed four new books on Cézanne in the new issue of Bookforum, including Nina Maria Athanassoglou-Kallmyer’s Cézanne and Provence: The Painter in His Culture: "Cézanne and Provence manages definitively to rewrite this canonical artistic biography, in part through Athanassoglou-Kallmyer’s close interrogation of the particular valence of Cézanne’s embrace of a Provençal regionalism in the last decades of his life, and through her examination of his ties to the culture of his birth throughout his career. Athanassoglou-Kallmyer’s thesis is simple and elegant: that Cézanne, far from being disengaged from the world in a hermitlike search for optical truth, was part of a group of intellectuals that included his closest childhood friends (such as, most familiarly, the poet and nationalist Joachim Gasquet) and whose Provençal patriotism was not at all out of step with a general regionalist impulse that took hold outside Paris in the mid-1880s. Thus, this group’s desire to preserve traditional Provençal culture, language, customs, and artifacts—all of which were being threatened by the homogenizing forces of modernization, industrialization, political centralization, and urban mass culture—was not part of a reactionary conservatism, argues Athanassoglou-Kallmyer, but (at least in those early years, before 1900) was perfectly in concert with leftist . . .

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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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Review: Martin J. S. Rudwick, Bursting the Limits of Time

February 3, 2006
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Review: Martin J. S. Rudwick, Bursting the Limits of Time

The latest issue of the London Review of Books features a nice review of Martin J. S. Rudwick’s Bursting the Limits of Time: The Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Revolution. Here is an excerpt from the review, written by Richard Fortey: "To describe Rudwick as scholarly is rather like describing Mozart as musically talented. He is omniscient, and it’s greatly to be wished that this book becomes known beyond the ranks of historians of the recondite. His story stops just as Charles Lyell appears, to become one of the major players in geology, and he promises us a subsequent volume on the development of the ideas of this pivotal figure. In Lyell, we have a British scientist who genuinely earned his place in the pantheon." . . .

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Review: Michele de La Pradelle, Market Day in Provence

February 3, 2006
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Review: Michele de La Pradelle, Market Day in Provence

William Grimes reviews a half-dozen books about France in today’s New York Times, including Michèle de La Pradelle’s Market Day in Provence. “Ms. de La Pradelle,” says Grimes, “an ethnologist who was sent by the French government to analyze public markets, spent years scrutinizing the goods and the behavior and the underlying rules governing the market in Carpentras. Her findings amount to a cold shower for anyone, like myself, who has constructed a rich fantasy life around such places. All those farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, those delectable cheeses, those mouth-watering pâtés, come from the same wholesalers who supply the stores. The region switched over to large-scale industrial farming way back in the 1920’s. ‘A market is a collectively produced anachronism, and in this it responds to deeply contemporary logic,’ she says.” The point is well made in our excerpt from the book. . . .

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Review: Georgi M. Derluguian, Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus

February 2, 2006
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Review: Georgi M. Derluguian, Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus

The Times Literary Supplement just published this favorable review by Charles King: "Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus is, without a doubt, the most engaging and deeply analytical guide to this knotty region to have been produced in the past decade.… Georgi Derluguian tells how much of Eurasia, in only a decade and a half, traded the promise of liberty and democracy for a political and moral captivity that will be difficult to escape. Clever, original and at times downright funny, Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus is both an intimate biography of an unusual Circassian sociologist and an epic account of an entire generation’s trek through modernity. It uncovers the hidden logic behind the tragedies and horrors of the Caucasus—indeed, of the entire late twentieth-century world—and shows how seemingly senseless acts of violence have discernible, and often rather pedestrian, causes." . . .

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