Laurence Coupe, Emma Herdman, R. C. Richardson, John Shand and Sharon Wheeler...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

March 6, 2014

Laurence Coupe, senior lecturer in English, Manchester Metropolitan University, is reading John Williams’ Stoner (Vintage, 2012). “This novel made little impact when was published in 1965, but deservedly it is now a best-seller. Never has the malice, hypocrisy and pettiness of the academic world been more painstakingly delineated; but never has the importance of reading, learning and teaching been more powerfully conveyed. Although many of us find it increasingly hard to function in the current university system, Williams’ celebration of a decent, dedicated lecturer makes it seem worthwhile.”

Review: La Fauconnerie à la Renaissance, by Ingrid de Smet

Emma Herdman, lecturer in French, University of St Andrews, is reading Ingrid de Smet’s La Fauconnerie à la Renaissance: Le ‘Hieracosophion’ (1582-1584) de Jacques Auguste de Thou (Droz, 2013). “Like all de Smet’s books, this covers so much more than the title suggests: an edition, translation and commentary of de Thou’s magisterial Latin poem on falconry, yes; but also an informative and enjoyable account of the literary and cultural status of hunting that is rich in detail about the European Renaissance. Where else would one learn that puffins could be eaten as ‘honorary fish’ during Lent?”

Review: Men from the Ministry, Simon Thurley

R. C. Richardson, professor emeritus of history, University of Winchester, is reading Simon Thurley’s Men from the Ministry: How Britain Saved its Heritage (Yale University Press, 2013). “Although the story-telling – at times relentlessly plodding – is less inspiring than the heroic saga recalled here, this is a timely book documenting the long and passionate struggle for preserving historic buildings and sites. At least some of the grey bureaucrats involved come alive, as, sadly, do organisational rivalries. The invention of the heritage industry gets a chapter to itself.”

Review: Over, by Margaret Forster

John Shand, associate lecturer in philosophy, The Open University, is reading Margaret Forster’s Over (Vintage, 2007). “A superb example of art disguising art, and one easy to underrate. Forster really knows what she is doing in this story of the effect of terrible tragedy, the different ways people cope with it, and the damage it does to a family and to love. It unfolds in a masterly fashion through the eyes of a flawed narrator and participant. Subtlety, values and wisdom are all here.”

Review: Horslips, by Mark Cunningham

Sharon Wheeler, senior lecturer in journalism, University of Portsmouth, is reading Mark Cunningham’s Horslips: Tall Tales – The Official Biography (O’Brien Press, 2013). “If you’re an Irish music fan who harks back to the good old days BB (Before Bono), you’ll remember Horslips – five likely lads with magnificent moustaches who looked like they’d got dressed in a haberdashery department. Cunningham’s meticulous biography does them proud: it’s a labour of love that seems to namecheck every gig and fan and track down every photo ever taken of the band.”

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