What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

March 7, 2013

Honora Bartlett, honorary lecturer in the School of English, University of St Andrews, is reading Rose Macaulay’s The Towers of Trebizond (Flamingo, 2010). “At first, this 1956 novel feels as if its celebration of English eccentricity will take a predictable course. It does not. Although it is replete with comic aunts and recalcitrant animals, it glides into a terrain of moral doubt and trouble more reminiscent of Graham Greene than P.G. Wodehouse, and produces, in a vertiginous final section, an overwhelming spiritual shock.”

Edward I and the Governance of England by Caroline Burt

Stephen Halliday, tutor at the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, is reading Caroline Burt’s Edward I and the Governance of England, 12-1307 (Cambridge University Press, 2012). “Burt has approached the reign of Edward I by examining records from Kent, Warwickshire and Shropshire. She shows that although he was not noted for his inclination to compromise, Edward could exercise judgement in handling with discretion the differing needs of the three counties. An original insight into the means by which he exercised his authority.”

Six Moments of Crisis by Gill Bennett

Roger Morgan, formerly professor of political science, European University Institute, Florence, is reading Gill Bennett’s Six Moments of Crisis: Inside British Foreign Policy (Oxford University Press, 2013). “An examination of key decisions taken by post-war British cabinets, from the Attlee government’s dispatch of troops to Korea in 1950 to the Thatcher Cabinet’s decision on the Falklands in 1982. Bennett’s lively narrative combines the formal record of what ministers said in Cabinet with her own superbly researched and penetrating interpretation of the whole context, producing an exciting and revealing account of how foreign policy is made.”

Derrida: A Biography by Benoit Peeters

Eileen Pollard, PhD student in English at Manchester Metropolitan University, is reading Benoît Peeters’ Derrida: A Biography (Polity, 2012). “This tome is a must-read for any early career researcher. The details of Derrida’s life provide food for thought on the trials of academia. Peeters carefully humanises this profound thinker while offering an alternative route into reading his work. This is a gift I believe Derrida would have accepted, not as a totality, but instead as another very promising possibility.”

The Good Psychologist by Noam Shpancer

Emma L.E. Rees, senior lecturer in English, University of Chester, is reading Noam Shpancer’s The Good Psychologist (Abacus, 2012). “Shpancer is a practising psychologist based in Ohio, and his debut novel is a kind of Philip Roth-lite. It is a diverting, not-too-taxing afternoon read, if one overlooks its irritating tics (Freud becomes ‘Shlomo the Holy from Vienna’) and abstruse metaphors (sexual infatuation is ‘the impulse to shatter the basins of reality’).”

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