New Books May 2023

The end of Trinity Term is slowly approaching – but the new books haven’t been slowing down at all! As ever, we had lots of new books at the library in May. Find out more about a few which caught our eye this month below, or head over to LibraryThing to browse all the latest arrivals.

Cover image: The Norse Myths that Shape the Way We Think by Carolyne Larrington. The background image is a drawing of orange flames, with a man in a red cloak and winged helmet on the right hand side, standing over the body of a long-haired woman with a winged helmet. The title and author's name are in a white box in the middle of the coverCarolyne Larrington, The Norse Myths that Shape the Way We Think (2023)

This is the third entry in a series exploring ‘Myths that Shape the Way We Think’ – the first two looked at Celtic and Greek myths respectively (both can be requested from the offsite store). In this book, Larrington explores the contemporary resonances and popular reimaginings of Norse mythology. It’s a fascinating study, full of examples drawn from the myths themselves, historical and archaeological findings, and popular culture, including Marvel, Tolkien, video games and even death metal.

There are many works by Larrington available at the EFL. You can find them on SOLO.

Cover image: Liberation Day by George Saunders. The cover has a cream background, with black silhouettes of birds in flight. The author's name is in black text at the top, and the title is in black text in the middleGeorge Saunders, Liberation Day (2022)

Liberation Day brings together nine short stories by Saunders – four are new for this collection, the other five having previously appeared in the New Yorker. The stories feature characters who are trapped, imprisoned, and suspended, often by ‘their own foolishness’. Themes of ‘brainwashing, thought control and mindless violence’ underpin the collection, reflecting the state of modern American politics. Though revelling in un-reality, these stories are nothing less than political; Saunders suggests it is impossible to be otherwise.

Also by Saunders at the EFL: Tenth of December (2014); Lincoln in the Bardo (2017).

Cover image: Searching for Juliet by Sophie Duncan. The image is of Juliet about to take her life. She is wearing a red dress, and her face has been painted over with red paintSophie Duncan, Searching for Juliet: The Lives and Deaths of Shakespeare’s first tragic heroine (2023)

This engaging study explores the cultural imaginings and re-imaginings of Juliet in Western culture since the sixteenth century, from Shakespeare’s original sources to Taylor Swift and beyond. Duncan’s in-depth knowledge of, and passion for, this ‘tragic heroine’ shines through; she even spent time as one of Juliet’s Secretaries in Verona, answering letters seeking love advice from the city’s Juliet Club. The result is a compelling cultural history ‘as vital and provocative as the character herself’.

Also by Duncan at the EFL: Shakespeare’s Women and the Fin de Siècle (2016).

Cover image: I Used to Live Here Once by Miranda Seymour. The background is yellow, with a cut-out black and white photo of Jean Rhys on the left. The title and author's name are on the right.Miranda Seymour, I Used to Live Here Once: The Haunted Life of Jean Rhys (2022)

Like much of the recent scholarship on Rhys, this biography considers Rhys’s upbringing in and exile from the Caribbean as key to her writing without making the ‘mistake’ of using fiction to fill in biographical gaps. While Seymour does not shy away from any detail of Rhys’s life, she does not present Rhys as a victim. Instead, she writes with ‘an acute empathy’, drawing a ‘highly readable, sympathetic portrait’ of a complex woman.

Also by Seymour at the EFL: A Ring of Conspirators: Henry James and his literary circle, 1895-1915 (1988); Robert Graves: Life on the edge (1995); Mary Shelley (2000).

Many of Rhys’s works are available at the EFL. You can browse them on SOLO.

Cover image: Courting India by Nandini Das. The cover image is of a Mughal king and his court, with a smaller figure in Jacobean dress at the bottom left corner. Nandini Das, Courting India: England, Mughal India and the Origins of Empire (2023)

Courting India follows Sir Thomas Roe, seventeenth-century ambassador to India, investigating his impressions of the Mughal court through a wealth of literary sources. Roe is often interpreted as the herald of empire, yet he achieved very little; Das is more interested in Roe’s embassy as an ‘unpropitious moment of intercultural contact’. It is the cultural legacy of Roe’s time in India, of the images and truisms which bled into British understandings of India and empire, which remains Das’s focus.

There are many works by Das available at the EFL. You can find them on SOLO.

Cover image: The Bees by Laline Paull. The background is yellow with a copper honeycomb pattern on top. The title is in the upper middle with the author's name below. The honeycomb section beneath the title is filled in black, with an image of a bee in the centre.Laline Paull, The Bees (2015)

The Bees is Paull’s debut novel, nominated for the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. The story follows Flora 717, a sanitation bee who must contend with the orthodoxy of the hive and its injunction to ‘accept, obey, serve’. The novel combines a bee’s fairytale biography, an examination of dystopian totalitarianism, and an exploration of the importance of bees in human lives, with an undercurrent of race and difference – all through the lens of ‘our appealing insect heroine’. 

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