What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

March 18, 2010

Neil Badmington is reader in English literature, Cardiff University. "I'm revisiting Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man (Vintage Classics, 2010) after seeing the recent screen adaptation. The film has a tailored elegance, but it lacks the novel's sharp account of the masquerade involved in being an academic. Until I encountered Isherwood's George, I thought I was the only one pretending."

Ellen Clarke is a doctoral student in philosophy at the University of Bristol. "I have just finished reading Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Society (W. W. Norton, 1997) in which he sets himself the astonishing task of explaining most things about everybody. Even more astonishingly, he seems to succeed. Weaving together unlikely bedfellows such as plant biology and linguistics, epidemiology and geology, he tells a seductive story about how the contingencies of the environment have conspired to determine the differential pace of cultural evolution around the globe. I was enchanted."

Marian Duggan is lecturer in criminology, Sheffield Hallam University. "I am re-reading Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness (Virago, 2008) for an International Women's Day event. The book remains a literary classic and the controversy surrounding the single reference to lesbian intimacy did much to highlight the prejudices surrounding lesbianism in the UK at the time."

Phil Kemp, a film historian who teaches film journalism at the University of Leicester, is reading Patrick Leigh Fermor's Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese (John Murray, 2004). "It is an account by the great Hellenophile of a journey he took in the mid-1950s through the Mani, at that time a wild, remote peninsula in the southern Peloponnese. His erudition and deep love of all things Greek shine from his writing, erupting every so often into long, joyous digressions."

Joanne Murphy, a researcher at the Institute of Governance, Queen's University Belfast, is reading Kasia Boddy's Boxing: A Cultural History (Reaktion, 2008). "This is a book for those who want to really understand boxing. Travelling to the contradictory heart of an extraordinary and controversial sport, Boddy reminds us of its almost endless history, how it has influenced popular culture and, most importantly, the enduring valour of those brave enough to enter the ring."

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