Why Orwell’s ‘1984’ matters so much now

Books

January 25 at 2:05 PM

President Trump may not be a big reader, but he’s been a boon for sales of dystopian literature. Amid our thirst for adult coloring books and stories about missing girls and reincarnated puppies, some grim old classics are speaking to us with new urgency. Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451 ,” Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World ” and Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale ” have all risen up the latest paperback bestseller list.

But by far the greatest beneficiary of our newly piqued national anxiety is George Orwell’s

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“1984,” by George Orwell (Signet)

 

 

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002: The French Dressmaker (1906)

Podcast | Archives | Women’s Studies | US in the 1900s | Immigrants in the US

In this episode we hear from twenty-five-year-old Amelia des Moulins, a French dressmaker and immigrant living in New York City. Amelia came to the U.S. in 1899. Amelia talks about life in Paris before coming to the U.S., the fashion industry in Paris and New York, and her hard work to be a success in a new country. Her story was collected as part of an anthology published in 1906, titled, The Life Stories of Undistinguished Americans. The anthology was edited by Hamilton Holt, editor and publisher of the liberal weekly The Independent and later president of Rollins College.

Is the future going out of print? Why we’re confident books will survive the digital age

Robert Fulford | June 6, 2016 2:59 PM ET

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Mikael Damkier/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The philosopher Francis Bacon, looking out at the future from his vantage point in the English 17th century, said that everyone should consider the effect of three inventions that were unknown in ancient times: Printing, gunpowder and the compass. “These three have changed the appearance and state of the whole world.”

Printing was the innovation Bacon put first, and the one that concerns us most in 2016. Printing made the modern era possible by disseminating the books that opened new ways of thinking and encouraged new human aspirations. Under the influence of printing, the Protestant Reformation, the Renaissance and modern science all sprang to life. It was a revolution – “the Unacknowledged Revolution,” as one modern historian called it because (despite Bacon) most of the world didn’t understand what was happening.

Today, on the other hand, we know the change that confronts us. The printing era shows signs of coming to an end. Bookstores everywhere are closing down because many people prefer to read books in digital form or perhaps prefer not to read. What is at stake? Literacy, literature and the culture of books, with its vast libraries and its flourishing (but often unprofitable) publishers. All of it is in danger. Read more…

 

How To Spring Clean Your Goodreads TBR Pile by Amanda Diehl

 

Spring cleaning is a necessary evil, regardless of whether you’re pruning your bookshelves or something more digital. I was sitting in bed with my boyfriend last week, our laptops open and Goodreads up in our browsers. I was aghast to see that my boyfriend’s to-be-read (TBR) list only had ten books on it. TEN?! Bro, do you even read?

But then he looks over at mine, a digital TBR pile of 1200-plus books. And he scoffed, “Like you’re ever going to read all of those.”

Days later, I was still thinking about that statement. He was right; don’t tell him. I knew something had to be done, so I set to reducing my TBR list as quickly and efficiently as possible. Using Goodreads’ batch edit feature, I can select the books I want to change, then remove them in one click.

Here’s the criteria I used to whittle down my TBR shelf on Goodreads. Feel free to use all of them or just a few according to your reading tastes:

Don’t think about it too hard

This isn’t necessarily some “spark joy” type deal, but I wanted this to be quick. I’m a busy woman with things to do! If you can’t remember the plot of the book or any other details upon reading the title or why you added it in the first place, odds are you won’t miss it if you take it off your list. It’ll be okay! Read more…

 

On the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attack dissenting voices must be protected

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Reaffirming our commitment to protecting free expression

On the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, PEN International has issued a statement aimed at encouraging governments to protect critical voices and freedom of expression.

IFLA and dozens of other free-speech organisations, institutes, and associations have added their signature to the statement in support of the crucial principles outlined and addressed.

The statement calls on all Governments to:

  • Uphold their international obligations to protect the rights of freedom of expression and information for all, and especially for journalists, writers, artists and human rights defenders to publish, write and speak freely;
  • Promote a safe and enabling environment for those who exercise their right to freedom of expression, and ensure that journalists, artists and human rights defenders may perform their work without interference;
  • Combat impunity for threats and violations aimed at journalists and others exercising their right to freedom of expression, and ensure impartial, timely and thorough investigations that bring the executors and masterminds behind such crimes to justice. Also ensure victims and their families have expedient access to appropriate remedies;
  • Repeal legislation which restricts the right to legitimate freedom of expression, especially vague and overbroad national security, sedition, obscenity, blasphemy and criminal defamation laws, and other legislation used to imprison, harass and silence critical voices, including on social media and online;
  • Ensure that respect for human rights is at the heart of communication surveillance policy. Laws and legal standards governing communication surveillance must therefore be updated, strengthened and brought under legislative and judicial control. Any interference can only be justified if it is clearly defined by law, pursues a legitimate aim and is strictly necessary to the aim pursued.

Read the full statement: English | français

20 New Year’s Resolutions for Book Nerds

by Ginni Chin

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If you’re a book nerd, you know the usual boring New Year’s resolutions just don’t work for you. The most popular resolutions every year are to lose weight, eat better, sleep better, meditate, drink less, exercise more, and save money. Sure, these resolutions are all generically “good” for you, but they’re also uninspired and uninspiring after a few months. Worst of all, they don’t involve any books!

We book nerds need goals that appeal to our literary sensibilities, and we need resolutions that address our idiosyncratic readerly ways. That’s why we’ve come up with a list of New Year’s resolutions just for book nerds. If you recognize yourself in any of these, maybe it’s time to become a new and improved book nerd in 2016!

  1. I will stop losing bookmarks.
  2. I will keep my “all-nighters to read a book from cover to cover” down to once a week.
  3. I will do things other than read on weekends. Things like interact with other humans, eat things other than cereal, absorb sunlight, and appreciate trees.
  4. I will give people who don’t read a chance. Maybe.
  5. I will conquer the 100 greatest novels of all time.
  6. I will choose a literary prize and read every book that has ever won that prize.
  7. I will be faithful to one book club, instead of joining five different ones and just reading whatever I want. Read more…

The Life of a Cultural Historian November 25, 2015

English Literature Professor Manfred Weidhorn Reflects on 52 Year Career at Yeshiva University

Since 1963, Yeshiva University students looking for an engaging encounter with English literature have been able to find courses taught by Dr. Manfred Weidhorn, the Abraham and Irene Guterman Chair in English Literature and professor emeritus of English, on the roster.

20151119_Manfred_Weidhorn_020An immigrant from Vienna who earned his PhD in English at Columbia University, Weidhorn is a prolific scholar and writer whose works include a dozen non-fiction books and over a hundreds essays on Shakespeare, Milton, Winston Churchill, Galileo, literary themes, cultural history, and the relationship between religion and science, in addition to young adult biographies of Napoleon, Robert E. Lee, and Jackie Robinson. At Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women, he has taught classes on topics that range from the Russian short novel to the Scientific Revolution and everything in between, encouraging students to approach each topic in new and sometimes unconventional ways.

Read more…

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