What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

August 13, 2009

Sue Child takes up the post of research fellow in health at the Peninsula Medical School in September. She is reading Andrew Mawson's The Social Entrepreneur: Making Communities Work (Atlantic, 2008). "The author is a leading UK social entrepreneur, and the book focuses on the establishment of the Bromley-by-Bow Centre some 25 years ago. It traces the transformation of a derelict church with 12 elderly church members and a bank balance of £400 into a social enterprise that now works with 22 other enterprises and employs more than 140 staff."

Henry Farrell is associate professor, department of political science, the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. He is reading China Mieville's The City and the City (Macmillan, 2009). "Mieville's police procedural is set in two imaginary cities that overlap - a house may belong to one city, and its next-door neighbour to another - but their inhabitants refuse to see each other. Much fun as the action moves from one city to the other, and ends up somewhere in the ambiguous zone between."

Robert Eaglestone, professor of contemporary literature and thought, Royal Holloway, University of London, is reading Iris Murdoch's Under the Net (Vintage, 2002). "At a friend's insistence, and filling an embarrassing gap in my knowledge, I am reading all Iris Murdoch's novels this summer: they are a celebrated intersection between fiction and philosophy. I'm still not sure what I think about them: sometimes they seem like the working-through of philosophical positions with detailed and complex examples; sometimes like self-help books for intellectuals; sometimes like massive, clever jokes; always unsettling and unsparing visions of human motivation."

Simon Goldhill is professor of Greek literature and culture and fellow and director of studies in Classics, King's College, Cambridge. He is reading E.F. Benson's David Blaize (1916). "It is a wonderful account of an Edwardian boy's life in prep and public school, full not just of cricket and ragging, but a remarkably candid exploration of sexual desire between the boys. Touchingly, its longing and nostalgia proved very popular with men in the trenches during the First World War."

Peter J. Smith is reader in Renaissance literature, Nottingham Trent University. "I've just finished Ian Frederick Moulton's Before Pornography: Erotic Writing in Early Modern England (Oxford University Press, 2000), detailing the influence of Pietro Aretino (dirty beast!) on Thomas Nashe and Ben Jonson. Moulton suggests that erotic writing is pervasive in the early modern period, if not always of a high quality: 'many poems are not far removed in diction, tone and subject matter from the graffiti found on the bathroom walls of the research libraries in which they are now housed'."

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