With 2014 in the history books and the media already predicting which books will be big in 2015, we are happy to look back at our best-selling titles for the year. It is a list noticeable for diversity of subject (fairy tales, math, ancient history, and birds all make an appearance) and for what it says about the longevity of some of our older titles, (say hello to stalwart books like On Bullshit, The I Ching, and The Box). We hope you find something wonderful to read on this list and if you’ve already read any of these books, let us know in the comments section below.
The Brothers Grimm can now count the Mayor of London among their growing list of fans. At a recent book signing in Oxford, Boris Johnson proclaimed that he had heard good things about The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, which came out in November and has proved a popular choice for Christmas. In fact, the Mayor of London said that he would be giving a copy of the book as a Christmas gift himself, although the identity of the lucky recipient remains a mystery!
The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm is the first ever full translation into English of Jacob and Wilhelm’s original versions of their famous tales. Gory, dark, disturbing and, yes, grim, the originals were first published in 1812 and 1815 and have since been overshadowed by the later versions of the stories that we know today.
Visitors can expect to experience something different this autumn at Blenheim Palace. Tradition meets modernity as the 18th century baroque architecture of Blenheim, the birthplace of wartime British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, is host to an exhibition of the artwork of Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei.
This exciting exhibition is especially relevant to Princeton University Press for two reasons: not only is Blenheim Palace a stone’s throw from Princeton University Press’s European office in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, but Princeton University Press published Ai Weiwei’s ‘Little Black Book’, Weiwei-isms, last year.
Weiwei-isms is a collection of quotes demonstrating Ai Weiwei’s thoughts on key aspects of his art, politics and life, carefully selected by Larry Warsh from articles, tweets and interviews.
“Everything is art. Everything is politics.” — Weiwei-isms
Like Weiwei-isms, the exhibition at Blenheim Palace clearly demonstrates Ai Weiwei’s commitment to art as a powerful political statement, as a means of reacting against injustice, and inspiring others to do the same.
“I want people to see their own power.” – Weiwei-isms
This certainly becomes clear as you enter the exhibition. You are given a leaflet which serves as a guide to Ai’s artwork, dispersed throughout the rooms of the palace. Despite this, none of the artwork is signposted and it becomes the visitor’s responsibility to seek it out and take meaning and inspiration from what they see.
The collection brings together pieces created by the artist over the past 30 years. It is especially impressive given that it was curated remotely, Ai Weiwei having been under house arrest since 2011. The old and new are often brought together, with artefacts from the past being reimagined in novel ways. Take, for example, the Han Dynasty vases transformed beyond recognition by car paint or by being ‘rebranded’ with the Coca Cola logo.
His ‘Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads’ (2010), previously displayed at a year-long exhibition at Princeton University, is also at Blenheim. This work is an ironic interpretation of the bronze zodiac head statues that were looted from the Emperor’s summer palace (Yuan Ming Yuan) in Beijing in 1860.
Other highlights include ‘He Xie’ (2012), a work comprised of 2,300 porcelain crabs on the floor of the Red Drawing Room (‘He Xie’, meaning ‘river crabs’, puns on the Chinese phrase for ‘harmony’).
While some pieces are the first thing you see when you walk into a room, other pieces are integrated more subtly into the sumptuous interiors of Blenheim Palace. The Wave Plate (2014) is seamlessly integrated into the lavish table decoration as the centrepiece in the Salon, and a pair of handcuffs made of Huali wood (2012) – a reminder of Ai Weiwei’s current situation – placed suggestively on the bed in Churchill’s birth room might escape your attention due to the large number of visitors moving from room to room, all engrossed in the same treasure hunt as you.
All in all, the collaboration between Blenheim Palace and Ai Weiwei really does merit a visit. Ai Weiwei’s work is all the more interesting and thought-provoking for being situated in the context of Blenheim Palace and its grounds.
The exhibition at Blenheim Palace highlights the ‘clash’ of the old and new, which is indeed something that is key to much of Ai Weiwei’s work.
“If a nation cannot face its past, it has no future.” – Weiwei-isms
In years to come, the Ai Weiwei exhibition at Blenheim Palace is sure to become part of the artist’s legacy and a poignant reminder of his struggle for justice and truth.
“The art always wins. Anything can happen to me, but the art will stay.” – Weiwei-isms
The exhibition runs until 14th December.
Click the image above to read Story #29 from Bill T. Jones’s Story/Time: The Life of an Idea.
Click the image above to read Story #155 from Bill T. Jones’s Story/Time: The Life of an Idea.
As anyone who works in publishing or who has authored a book can tell you–book tours are hit or miss. Fortunately, for one recently published author–Amin Ghaziani, author of There Goes the Gayborhood?–his book tour has landed firmly at the hit end of the spectrum. Here are some photos from the road and a list of forthcoming tour stops.
San Francisco! Where it all began with a standing-room only event at The Green Arcade.
Chicago! Much of the research for There Goes the Gayborhood? was conducted in Chicago, so it was fitting for Amin to have an event at Unabridged Bookstore. The homecoming feel of this event was cemented by the appearance of a special guest of honor for the evening–Amin’s mother!
Amin has several more events planned in the coming months, so make sure you get these dates in your calendar:
- October 2: New York (Special Event at the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies). [Update, here is a photo from Amin's event last week. CLAGS hosted a conversation between Amin and Christina Hanhardt, Lammy award winner for her book Safe Space. There was a full house and the audience was deeply engaged with insightful observations and meaningful questions.]
- October 23: Vancouver (Little Sisters bookstore, Vancouver)
- December 12: Seattle (Eliott Bay Book Company, Seattle)
There Goes the Gayborhood?
Throwback Thursday #TBT: Gary Marker’s Publishing, Printing, and the Origins of Intellectual Life in Russia, 1700-1800 (1985)
Welcome to another edition of Throwback Thursday! On today’s #TBT, we’re taking a look at Gary Marker’s Publishing, Printing, and the Origins of Intellectual Life in Russia, 1700-1800. Originally published in 1985, this book is just one of the many classics recently resurrected by the Princeton Legacy Library. Here’s a little more information about it:
Gary Marker describes the pursuit of an effective public voice by political, Church, and literary elites in Russia as synonymous with the struggle to control the printed media, showing that Russian publishing and printing evolved in a way that sharply diverged from Western experiences but that proved to be highly significant for Russian society.
We’ve hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of Throwback Thursday. See you next week!
Click the image above to read Story #176 from Bill T. Jones’s Story/Time: The Life of an Idea.
Each week we post a round-up of some of our most exciting national and international PUP book coverage. Reviews, interviews, events, articles–this is the spot for coverage of all things “PUP books” that took place in the last week. Enjoy!
The Passenger Pigeon
This week marked the 100th centennial of the death of the last passenger pigeon, Martha. She was living in the Cincinnati Zoo as the last living member of her species. The Financial Times‘ Matthew Engel commemorates the anniversary in a feature entitled “The extinction of the passenger pigeon.” Engel writes:
No one knows when the last great auk died. Or the last dodo. But the last passenger pigeon’s death can be dated more or less exactly: the afternoon of September 1 1914. There was something else extraordinary about this extinction. This was not some marginal species, retiring from trying to eke out an existence on a remote island or a lonely mountainside. When the white man arrived in North America, this was almost certainly the most common bird on the continent, quite possibly the most common in the world.
Some calculations suggest there were 3bn to 5bn. Others suggest there could have been up to 3bn in a single flock. This is like the extinction of the house fly. Or of grass. Or, perhaps, of the galumphing, domineering, myopic two-legged mammal whose presence did for the passenger pigeon. As the title of a centenary exhibition at the Smithsonian in Washington has it, Once There Were Billions. And then there were none.
Engel interviews PUP author Errol Fuller in this piece, and Fuller, who is a world authority on bird and animal extinction, has studied the story of Martha’s species extensively. His new book, The Passenger Pigeon, features rare archival images as well as haunting photos of live birds. Fuller shows how widespread deforestation, the demand for cheap and plentiful pigeon meat, and the indiscriminate killing of Passenger Pigeons for sport led to their catastrophic decline. Fuller provides an evocative memorial to a bird species that was once so important to the ecology of North America, and reminds us of just how fragile the natural world can be.
In a review of the book, Adrian Barnett of the New Scientist calls “visually beautiful” and writes that it “gives a fine account of the species, its biology and its demise.”
Preview the Introduction of The Passenger Pigeon.
Philosophy of Biology
Looking for an explanation of the most important topics debated by biologists today? Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Philosophy of Biology is a concise, comprehensive, and accessible introduction to the philosophy of biology written by a leading authority on the subject. The title is reviewed on Forbes.com, and John Farrell argues that “non-specialists should not be put off. Godfrey-Smith’s style is engaging, almost conversational.”
Peter Godfrey-Smith discusses the relation between philosophy and science; examines the role of laws, mechanistic explanation, and idealized models in biological theories; describes evolution by natural selection; and assesses attempts to extend Darwin’s mechanism to explain changes in ideas, culture, and other phenomena. Further topics include functions and teleology, individuality and organisms, species, the tree of life, and human nature.
Authoritative and up-to-date, Philosophy of Biology is an essential guide for anyone interested in the important philosophical issues raised by the biological sciences. Check out Chapter One of The Philosophy of Biology for yourself.
The New York Nobody Knows
Put on your walkin’ shoes — we’re off to explore New York with PUP author, William Helmreich. As a kid growing up in Manhattan, Helmreich played a game with his father they called “Last Stop.” They would pick a subway line and ride it to its final destination, and explore the neighborhood there. Decades later, Helmreich teaches university courses about New York, and his love for exploring the city is as strong as ever.
Putting his feet to the test, he decided that the only way to truly understand New York was to walk virtually every block of all five boroughs–an astonishing 6,000 miles. His epic journey lasted four years and took him to every corner of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Helmreich spoke with hundreds of New Yorkers from every part of the globe and from every walk of life, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former mayors Rudolph Giuliani, David Dinkins, and Edward Koch.
Their stories and his are the subject of his captivating and highly original book, The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City. The book is reviewed on TravelMag, and reviewer Paul Willis recalls one story of Helmreich’s many stories:
Helmreich, a sociology professor at New York’s City University (CUNY), is at his best when examining these broader demographic trends. He’s less good at giving life to the colour and flavor of the city. A New York native he grew up in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a relatively privileged neighbourhood that borders Central Park. Maybe it’s this background that gives some of his encounters with new immigrants an awkward quality, such as when he meets a Honduran man waving a flag outside a Lower Manhattan car park to alert drivers that there’s space within and then asks if he can have a go at waving the flag himself.
“’Are you okay?’ he asked, a worried tone creeping into his voice.”
Helmreich reassures the man by telling him it’s alright because he’s a professor.
You don’t need to be a professor — or even leave the comfort of your favorite reading spot — to enjoy the city of New York through The New York Nobody Knows. Truly unforgettable, the book will forever change how you view the world’s greatest city. View Chapter One of The New York Nobody Knows, and tweet us your thoughts using #NYNobodyKnows.
Throwback Thursday #TBT: Maria Martha Makela’s The Munich Secession: Art and Artists in Turn-of-the-Century Munich (1990)
Welcome to another installment of Throwback Thursday! On this #TBT, we’re honoring Maria Martha Makela’s The Munich Secession: Art and Artists in Turn-of-the-Century Munich, another fascinating cultural study recently reissued as part of the Princeton Legacy Library series. Here’s a little bit about Makela’s book:
In April 1892 the first art Secession in the German-speaking countries came into being in Munich, Central Europe’s undisputed capital of the visual arts. Featuring the work of German painters, sculptors, and designers, as well as that of vanguard artists from around the world, the Munich Secession was a progressive force in the German art world for nearly a decade, its exhibitions regularly attended and praised by Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and other modernists at the outset of their careers.
Peter Paret of The Art Bulletin called Makela’s book “the first thoroughly documented account of the Munich Secession in any language.” Anyone with an interest in turn-of-the-century European art is sure to find this study to their liking.
Until next Thursday!