Stuart Mitchner on Princeton University Press: “The University Publisher”

Stuart Mitchner has a very nice piece on Princeton University Press in the most recent issue of Princeton Magazine, which includes mention of several recent books and authors. To give you a feel, here is the introductory paragraph:

Princeton University Press celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2005 with the publication of A Century in Books, which showcased 100 volumes that “best typify what has been most lasting, most defining, and most distinctive about our publishing,” according to the introduction by outgoing director Walter Lippincott, who was succeeded in March of that year by the current director Peter J. Dougherty. The co- chair of the search committee at the time was University Provost Christopher Eisgruber, the University’s newly installed twentieth president and the subject of this issue’s cover story. What the provost said about the new director eight years ago could be said by the president today, that he’s looking forward to working with Dougherty “to sustain the healthy relationship between the Press and the University.”

To illustrate the depth of the rest of Mitchner’s piece, here is a slideshow of the important books featured in the article:

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To read Mitchner’s full article in Princeton Magazine, click here.

A very Kafkaesque 130th birthday anniversary!

In case you haven’t looked at today’s Google Doodle yet, July 3rd marks the 130th birthday anniversary of novelist Franz Kafka. Kafka is the subject of a major three-part biography by Reiner Stach and translated by Shelley Frisch, the first two of which are just out this month from our fair Press (KAFKA: The Years of Insight and KAFKA: The Decisive Years, for those not already in the know).

In the commercial publishing world,  Peter Mendelsund came up with some stellar cover overhauls for many of Kafka’s works for Schocken Books, a division of Random House, including “The Trial,” “Amerika,” and “The Castle.” Here’s a fun birthday video they released for the anniversary, as part of what graphic artist Neil Gower aptly calls the “Tour de Franz“:

The birthday coverage has also been picked up by Michael Cavna of Washington Post‘s Comic Riffs blog, Mashable, PC Magazine, the Guardian, and the Toronto Star, among others. Over at the Christian Science Monitor, Katherine Jacobsen identifies a great quote from British poet W. H. Auden on the brilliant German-language writer:

Kafka is important because his predicament is the predicament of modern man.

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves, so in that spirit, happy birthday, Dr. Kafka!

Two for Tuesday – Kafka

Kafka-series-covers.inddIntroducing Reiner Stach’s acclaimed and definitive biography of Franz Kafka from Princeton University Press. Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was an influential writer of the 20th century and Reiner Stach spent more than a decade working with over four thousand pages of journals, letters, and literary fragments, many never before available, to re-create the atmosphere in which Kafka lived and worked. This impressive biography was translated by Shelley Frisch. We invite you to read the sample chapters linked below.

Kafka: The Decisive Years
This period from 1910-1915, which would prove crucial to Kafka’s writing and set the course for the rest of his life, saw him working with astonishing intensity on his most seminal writings–The Trial, The Metamorphosis, The Man Who Disappeared (Amerika), and The Judgment. These are also the years of Kafka’s fascination with Zionism; of his tumultuous engagement to Felice Bauer; and of the outbreak of World War I. It is at once an extraordinary portrait of the writer and a startlingly original contribution to the art of literary biography.

We invite you to read the Introduction online:

Kafka: The Years of Insight
This volume tells the story of the final years of the writer’s life, from 1916 to 1924–a period during which the world Kafka had known came to an end. Stach’s riveting narrative, which reflects the latest findings about Kafka’s life and works, draws readers in with a nearly cinematic power, zooming in for extreme close-ups of Kafka’s personal life, then pulling back for panoramic shots of a wider world scarred by World War I, disease, and inflation.

In these years, Kafka was spared military service at the front, yet his work as a civil servant brought him into chilling proximity with its grim realities. He was witness to unspeakable misery, lost the financial security he had been counting on to lead the life of a writer, and remained captive for years in his hometown of Prague. The outbreak of tuberculosis and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire constituted a double shock for Kafka, and made him agonizingly aware of his increasing rootlessness. He began to pose broader existential questions, and his writing grew terser and more reflective, from the parable-like Country Doctor stories and A Hunger Artist to The Castle.

A door seemed to open in the form of a passionate relationship with the Czech journalist Milena Jesenská. But the romance was unfulfilled and Kafka, an incurably ill German Jew with a Czech passport, continued to suffer. However, his predicament only sharpened his perceptiveness, and the final period of his life became the years of insight.

We invite you to read the Prologue online:

The first volume, covering Kafka’s childhood and youth, is forthcoming.



On Tuedsay night our European office held at St Hugh’s College Oxford its second annual PUP in Europe autumn lecture in honor of our European Advisory Board. Jeremy Adelman, the Walter Samuel Carpenter III Professor in Spanish Civilisation and Culture at Princeton University, gave an extremely engaging overview of his forthcoming biography of the renowned social scientist Albert Hirschman (May 2013). Adelman framed his talk around Hirschman’s famous triad Exit, Voice and Loyalty. He showed that Hirschman’s life, from his work in getting Jews out of France in 1940 to his development of a new kind of social science with Clifford Geertz at the Institute for Advanced Study, offers a unique vantage point on the political, economic, and cultural history of the twentieth century. Adelman’s talk exemplified the values of big ideas and clear expression which Hirschman has made his own.

Alan Turing biographer Andrew Hodges discusses the enigmatic mathematician with IEEE Spectrum’s Techwise Conversations

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of renowned mathematician–and World War II hero–Alan Turing, his biographer Andrew Hodges conducted a podcast with IEEE Spectrum’s Steven Cherry for their Techwise Converstaions. To hear a lively and entertaining discussion on the man, click below. To learn more about the fascinating yet tragic life of Alan Turing, check out Andrew Hodges’s new Centenary Edition of his classic work ALAN TURING: The Enigma.

Announcing Two New Books in the Lives of Great Religious Books Series

book jacketsLives of Great Religious Books is a new series of short volumes that recount the complex and fascinating histories of important religious texts from around the world. We are pleased to announce two more books are available in the series. These books examine the historical origins of texts from the great religious traditions, and trace how their reception, interpretation, and influence have changed–often radically–over time.

The Book of Mormon:
A Biography

by Paul C. Gutjahr

Late one night in 1823 Joseph Smith, Jr., was reportedly visited in his family’s farmhouse in upstate New York by an angel named Moroni. According to Smith, Moroni told him of a buried stack of gold plates that were inscribed with a history of the Americas’ ancient peoples, and which would restore the pure Gospel message as Jesus had delivered it to them. Thus began the unlikely career of the Book of Mormon, the founding text of the Mormon religion, and perhaps the most important sacred text ever to originate in the United States. Here Paul Gutjahr traces the life of this book as it has formed and fractured different strains of Mormonism and transformed religious expression around the world.

We invite you to read chapter one online at:

The I Ching:
A Biography

by Richard J. Smith

The I Ching originated in China as a divination manual more than three thousand years ago. In 136 BCE the emperor declared it a Confucian classic, and in the centuries that followed, this work had a profound influence on the philosophy, religion, art, literature, politics, science, technology, and medicine of various cultures throughout East Asia. Jesuit missionaries brought knowledge of the I Ching to Europe in the seventeenth century, and the American counterculture embraced it in the 1960s. Here Richard Smith tells the extraordinary story of how this cryptic and once obscure book became one of the most widely read and extensively analyzed texts in all of world literature.

Read the introduction online at:

For a complete listing of the books in the series, please visit:

Edwidge Danticat writes about Port-au-Prince for The Daily Beast/Newsweek

Edwidge Danticat, author of Create Dangerously, returns to Haiti and finds resilience and regeneration:

Built for 200,000 people yet home to more than 2 million, Port-au-Prince is a city that constantly reminds you of the obvious, as though you were a 6-year-old. No, not everything is broken. And no, not all the people are dead. It is a city that everything—political upheaval, fires, hurricanes, the earthquake—has conspired to destroy, yet still it carries on. The still-leaning houses and the rubble that has begun to grow weeds, the tent camps that have become micro-cities of their own, all bear their own testimony to a city that should have ground to a halt long ago, yet continues to persevere.

Create Dangerously will soon be published in paperback, but the cloth edition with its exclusive cover design and half jacket is still available everywhere. One of my favorite features of this book is that the half jacket can be shifted up and down along the spine, revealing different portions of the artwork beneath. It subtly changes the cover each time I pick it up. Check it out for yourself!

How will you celebrate Darwin Day?

Darwin Day is tomorrow, so it’s time to start planning for the festivities Here’s a suggestion — check out the PUP blog for Q&As and articles from our authors and exclusive excerpts from some of our Darwin books.

In the meantime, head over to the official Darwin Day site to check out their events calendar, videos of people explaining why they celebrate Darwin Day and a bunch more information.

Speaking of events, if you are in Calgary, plan to hear Dr. David Reznick give the 26th Annual Darwin Lecture tonight at the University of Calgary. Details are here.

The image above can be found at the Darwin Day web site.

This Week’s Book Giveaway

This week, in honor of Robert Burns’s birthday (Jan. 25th, 1759), we are giving away the book, The Bard: Robert Burns, A Biography by Robert Crawford. The Bard

No writer is more charismatic than Robert Burns. Wonderfully readable, The Bard catches Burns’s energy, brilliance, and radicalism as never before. To his international admirers he was a genius, a hero, a warm-hearted friend; yet to the mother of one of his lovers he was a wastrel, to a fellow poet he was “sprung . . . from raking of dung,” and to his political enemies a “traitor.” Drawing on a surprising number of untapped sources–from rediscovered poetry by Burns to manuscript journals, correspondence, and oratory by his contemporaries–this new biography presents the remarkable life, loves, and struggles of the great poet.

“Crawford’s Burns, merrily mixing high and low culture, seems eerily contemporary. He shares with great hip-hop artists a genius for catchy, sexy, and memorable rhymes gloriously liberated from the hegemony of standard English.”–New Yorker

Anyone who LIKES us on Facebook is automatically entered in the giveaway. A winner will be randomly drawn this Friday.

The Bard: Robert Burns, A Biography by Robert Crawford

Edwidge Danticat on Newshour last night

Edwidge had two sell-out events in Washington DC at Busboys & Poets and Politics & Prose. Next up, she is in Los Angeles for an event with the ALOUD series at the Los Angeles Public Library on October 26th. See you there!

Helen Hackett on Elizabeth I

There are many interesting things we can still learn about Elizabeth I, according to our author, Helen Hackett. For example, despite never mentioning her mother, Anne Boleyn, in public, Elizabeth kept a locket ring containing images of herself and her mother, indicating that she liked to remember her mother in private. Here, the author of Shakespeare and Elizabeth discusses five books that can help us better understand the Virgin Queen.

Your New Reading List: Paul Thagard’s Picks

Paul Thagard, author of The Brain and the Meaning of Life, discovered some new books this summer that he wants to share with you.  His recommendations cover a wide range of genres and emotions, from adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat to a poignant personal memoir to the tension that accompanies a ground-breaking discovery.  Interested? Read what Paul says about these books:

“David Grann, The Lost City of Z. This is non-fiction, but perfect for airplanes or beaches, as it reads like a thriller. The book weaves together the biographical story of an Amazon explorer and the autobiographical story of the author’s investigation of him. It’s totally absorbing.”

“Roger Rosenblatt, Making Toast. This book is the moving and eloquent story of the author’s first year after the sudden death of his 38-year old daughter. He and his wife move in with their son-in-law and young  grandchildren. This book is an excellent grief memoir from the unusual perspective of a parent rather than a spouse.”

“Elliott S. Valenstein, The War of the Soups and the Sparks. A retired neuropsychologist tells the fascinating story of the discovery of neurotransmitters and the controversy over how new nerves communicate with each other: chemically (soups) or electrically (sparks). This intriguing history also illuminates the nature of scientific research.”

What are your favorite book genres? Let us know below, on Facebook, or on Twitter!