Native Informant is Leo Braudy's first book after his widely acclaimed and award-winning history of fame, The Frenzy of Renown. With a verve that breaks down the boundaries between film, literature, and popular culture, Braudy discusses writers and filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock, Daniel Defoe, Ernst Lubitsch, Emile Zola, Susan Sontag, and Richard Condon. His subjects include madness in the eighteenth century, the Hollywood blacklist, westerns, and pornography. Throughout this lively and insightful collection, his perspective is not that of the critic as a detached voice of professional authority but as a member of a particular culture--a native informant--whose gaze looks simultaneously inward and outward, subjective but self-aware. Like the wide-ranging Frenzy of Renown, Native Informant will appeal to specialist and interested reader alike.
From the best-selling author of The Professor and the Madman, The Map That Changed the World, and Krakatoa comes a truly wonderful celebration of the English language and of its unrivaled treasure house, the Oxford English Dictionary.
Writing with marvelous brio, Winchester first serves up a lightning history of the English language--"so vast, so sprawling, so wonderfully unwieldy"--and pays homage to the great dictionary makers, from "the irredeemably famous" Samuel Johnson to the "short, pale, smug and boastful" schoolmaster from New Hartford, Noah Webster. He then turns his unmatched talent for story-telling to the making of this most venerable of dictionaries. In this fast-paced narrative, the reader will discover lively portraits of such key figures as the brilliant but tubercular first editor Herbert Coleridge (grandson of the poet), the colorful, boisterous Frederick Furnivall (who left the project in a shambles), and James Augustus Henry Murray, who spent a half-century bringing the project to fruition. Winchester lovingly describes the nuts-and-bolts of dictionary making--how unexpectedly tricky the dictionary entry for marzipan was, or how fraternity turned out so much longer and monkey so much more ancient than anticipated--and how bondmaid was left out completely, its slips found lurking under a pile of books long after the B-volume had gone to press. We visit the ugly corrugated iron structure that Murray grandly dubbed the Scriptorium--the Scrippy or the Shed, as locals called it--and meet some of the legion of volunteers, from Fitzedward Hall, a bitter hermit obsessively devoted to the OED, to W. C. Minor, whose story is one of dangerous madness, ineluctable sadness, and ultimate redemption.
The Meaning of Everything is a scintillating account of the creation of the greatest monument ever erected to a living language. Simon Winchester's supple, vigorous prose illuminates this dauntingly ambitious project--a seventy-year odyssey to create the grandfather of all word-books, the world's unrivalled uber-dictionary.
Jessica Mitford, the great muckraking journalist, was part of a legendary English aristocratic family. Her sisters included Nancy, doyenne of the 1920s London smart set and a noted novelist and biographer; Diana, wife to the English fascist chief Sir Oswald Mosley; Unity, who fell head over in heels in love with Hitler; and Deborah, later the Duchess of Devonshire. Jessica swung left and moved to America, where she took part in the civil rights movement and wrote her classic expos of the undertaking business, The American Way of Death.Hons and Rebels is the hugely entertaining tale of Mitford's upbringing, which was, as she dryly remarks, "not exactly conventional. . . Debo spent silent hours in the chicken house learning to do an exact imitation of the look of pained concentration that comes over a hen's face when it is laying an egg. . . . Unity and I made up a complete language called Boudledidge, unintelligible to any but ourselves, in which we translated various dirty songs (for safe singing in front of the grown-ups)." But Mitford found her family's world as smothering as it was singular and, determined to escape it, she eloped with Esmond Romilly, Churchill's nephew, to go fight in the Spanish Civil War. The ensuing scandal, in which a British destroyer was dispatched to recover the two truants, inspires some of Mitford's funniest, and most pointed, pages.
A family portrait, a tale of youthful folly and high-spirited adventure, a study in social history, a love story, Hons and Rebels is a delightful contribution to the autobiographer's art.
Henry VIII, renowned for his command of power and celebrated for his intellect, presided over one of the most magnificent-and dangerous-courts in Renaissance Europe. Never before has a detailed, personal biography of this charismatic monarch been set against the cultural, social, and political background of his glittering court. Now Alison Weir, author of the finest royal chronicles of our time, brings to vibrant life the turbulent, complex figure of the King. Packed with colorful description, meticulous in historical detail, rich in pageantry, intrigue, passion, and luxury, Weir brilliantly renders King Henry VIII, his court, and the fascinating men and women who vied for its pleasures and rewards. The result is an absolutely spellbinding read.
The Romans built it, the Angles and Saxons invaded it, the Vikings ravaged it, the Normans conquered it. From its beginnings as a foreign outpost on the banks of the Thames in the first century to, in the twenty-first, the teeming metropolitan sprawl of an extraordinarily cosmopolitan world capital, London has been shaped by successive waves of migration into a marvelous polyglot of a city.
The history of London may indeed be a history of printing, the theater, newspapers, museums, pleasure gardens, music halls, international finance, and the novel, but for Stephen Inwood it is a history of the people whose tastes, talents, philosophies, and pocketbooks have created it -- and sometimes threatened to destroy it. Drawing on innumerable sources, with as many unfamiliar anecdotes, Inwood tirelessly explores the history of a city defined as much by the mob as the monarch, the laborer as the lord, and shows why, as Samuel Johnson put it, "When a man is tired of London he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."
An enduring modern classic, A Man for All Seasons "challenges the mind, and, in the end, touches the heart" (New York Times).
This volume recounts an odyssey through country houses in the years following World War II. Most had been requisitioned by the armed forces and, when de-requisitioned, were left to stand empty awaiting their owners' return. It was then that John Harris first discovered country houses.