Book Review: Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus: 1818 Text by Mary Shelley, edited by Marilyn Butler (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008; originally published in 1818. 276 pp) Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born in 1797 to authors William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Poet Bysshe Shelly courted Mary and the pair eloped in 1814, during which that summer Mary began writing Frankenstein. She died in 1851. Marilyn Butler is a former Rector of Exeter College, Oxford, and previously King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at Cambridge University. Questions in the Western Cultural Canon The western cultural canon offers an intriguing case study on how the roots of a story take hold before blending into whatever a culture requires of it. What starts as… Read More →

Book Review: The Whispering Muse

The Whispering Muse by Sjon

The Whispering Muse: A Novel by Sjón; translated by Victoria Cribb (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012; originally published in 2005. 160 pp) Born in Reykjavik in 1962, Sjón is an acclaimed Icelandic novelist. He won the Nordic Council’s Literary Prize for The Blue Fox. His Latest novel, Moonstone—The Boy Who Never Was was awarded the 2013 Icelandic Literary Prize. A poet, librettist, and lyricist, Sjón has worked with Björk. He is the president of the Icelandic PEN Centre and former chairman of the board of Reykjavik, UNESCO city of Literature. Victoria Cribb lived in Iceland for a number of years, working as a translator, journalist, and publisher. She has translated the works of Sjón, Gyrδir Elíasson, and Arnaldur… Read More →

Book Review: Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men: Steinbeck Centennial Edition by John Steinbeck (New York: Penguin Books, 2002; originally published in 1937. 320 pp) Born in Salinas, California in 1902, John Steinbeck grew up in a fertile agricultural valley about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast. In 1919, he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years, he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City. He published his first novel, Cup of Gold, in 1929. After a marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, California, Steinbeck continued writing novels. Popular success and financial security came with Tortilla Flat in 1935… Read More →

Book Review: Arabian Nights & Days

Arabian Nights and Days by Naguib Mahfouz

Arabian Nights & Days: A Novel by Naguib Mahfouz; translated by Denys Johnson-Davies (New York: Anchor Books, 1995; originally published in 1982. 240 pp) Naguib Mahfouz was an author of Arabic fiction. He was born in Cairo in 1911 and began writing when he was seventeen. A student of philosophy, he was influenced by many Western writers including Flaubert, Balzac, Zola, Camus, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Proust. He has more than thirty novels to his credit and in 1988, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in 2006. Denys Johnson-Davies studied Arabic at the School of Oriental Studies, London University, and later at Cambridge. He has been described as “the leading Arabic-English translator of our time,” and has… Read More →