The week in books

January 31, 2008

Artscience: Creativity in the Post-Google Generation
by David Edwards, founder of Le Laboratoire, in Paris. Harvard University Press, £12.95, ISBN 9780674026254

"The book is less a technical tool than a motivational one: an exhortation for interdisciplinary intellectuals. Most of the book sketches vivid models of men and women who passionately mix art and science. They include a pianist whose PhD in electrical engineering spurs her to compose music using chaos theory ... and a mathematician whose visual imagery drives both his paintings and his fluid-mixing models."

Alice W. Flaherty, Nature

Shakespeare's Wife
by Germaine Greer, scholar of early modern English literature. Bloomsbury, £20.00, ISBN 978747590194

"(Greer) suggests that the grammar schoolboy William used the mystery of writing as a courtship stratagem to win his Ann. 'Obviously, teaching a woman to write,' Greer claims, 'is sexy.'"

Anthony Fletcher, Times Literary Supplement

Modernism: The Lure of Heresy, from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond
by Peter Gay, Sterling professor of history emeritus at Yale University. Heinemann, £20.00, ISBN 9780434010448

"What gives the book most life and richness is the author's continuing examination of German history and culture, a return, on the level of intellectual and cultural history, to the oppressiveness of the Nazism he escaped as a 16-year-old Jew in 1939. This is the deepest engagement in the book - and though Gay never says so, perhaps the appeal of modernism for him is that its very existence means totalitarianism has been fended off."

Philip Horne, The Guardian

London in Cinema: The Cinematic City since 1945
by Charlotte Brunsdon, professor of film and television studies, University of Warwick. British Film Institute, £16.99 ISBN 9781844571833

"Too often the book lapses into the kind of jargon that can spoil film studies. It is as if the London fog has crept into the very text. No one needs to use the term 'extradiegetic' to describe Eric Clapton's bluesy soundtrack for Nil by Mouth. (You'll need a big dictionary if you want to know what it means.)"

Andrew Robinson, The Times

Pilgrims: New World Settlers and the Call of Home
by Susan Hardman Moore, lecturer in divinity, University of Edinburgh. Yale University Press, £25.00 ISBN 9780300117189

"Susan Hardman Moore observes that much of what we know about 'reverse migration' comes from 18th-century clerical biographies. But these luminaries, she argues, represent just the tip of the iceberg: hundreds of others become visible if one puts in the hours in the archives, piecing together their complex stories. Hardman Moore has done just this, and the fruit of her labours is a rich and fascinating book of great importance for the history of 17th-century England, as well as for colonial America."

Malcolm Gaskill, The Daily Telegraph.

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