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Great Titles, Literally

These works can be found on our New Book shelf in Bailey/Howe, an ever-rotating sampling of things we’re adding to our collection. You can also review all our newest books online, and subscribe via RSS to receive alerts about acquisitions, by discipline.

My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner by Meir Shalev

Grandma Tonia was never seen without a cleaning rag over her shoulder. She received visitors outdoors. She allowed only the most privileged guests to enter her spotless house. Hilarious and touching, Grandma Tonia and her regulations come richly to life in a narrative that circles around the arrival into the family’s dusty agricultural midst of the big, shiny American sweeper sent as a gift by Great-uncle Yeshayahu (he who had shockingly emigrated to the sinful capitalist heaven of Los Angeles!). America, to little Meir and to his forebears, was a land of hedonism and enchanting progress; of tempting luxuries, dangerous music, and degenerate gum-chewing; and of women with painted fingernails. The sweeper, a stealth weapon from Grandpa Aharon’s American brother meant to beguile the hardworking socialist household with a bit of American ease, was symbolic of the conflicts and visions of the family in every respect.

 

Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Bronte’s Grave by Simon Goldhill

Author Simon Goldhill visits the ”holy lands” of Sir Walter Scott’s baronial mansion, Wordsworth’s cottage in the Lake District, the Brontë parsonage, Shakespeare’s birthplace, and Freud’s office in Hampstead. Traveling, as much as possible, by methods available to Victorians—and gamely negotiating distractions ranging from broken bicycles to a flock of giggling Japanese schoolgirls—he tries to discern what our forebears were looking for at these sites, as well as what they have to say to the modern mind.

The Virtues of Our Vices: A Modest Defence of Gossip, Rudeness, and Other Bad Habits by Emrys Westacott

Philosopher Emrys Westacott takes a fresh look at important everyday ethical questions–and comes up with surprising answers. He makes a compelling argument that some of our most common vices–rudeness, gossip, snobbery, tasteless humor, and disrespect for others’ beliefs–often have hidden virtues or serve unappreciated but valuable purposes. For instance, there are times when rudeness may be necessary to help someone with a problem or to convey an important message. Gossip can foster intimacy between friends and curb abuses of power. And dubious humor can alleviate existential anxieties.

 

Dante in Love by A.N. Wilson

A. N. Wilson presents a glittering study of an artist and his world, arguing that without an understanding of medieval Florence, it is impossible to grasp the meaning of Dante’s great poem. He explains how the Italian states were at that time locked into violent feuds, mirrored in the ferocious competition between the Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy. He shows how Dante’s preoccupations with classical mythology, numerology, and the great Christian philosophers inform every line of the Comedy.

 

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