177 scholarly books by Seagull Books and 9
start with T
Giorgio Agamben Seagull Books, 2017 Library of Congress BH201.A39613 2017 | Dewey Decimal 111.85
Our taste buds are a powerful way for humans to know beauty and experience beautiful things. In Taste, Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben takes a close look at why the sense of taste has not historically been appreciated as a means to know and experience pleasure or why it has always been considered inferior to actual theoretical knowledge.
Taste, Agamben argues, is a category that has much to reveal to the contemporary world. Taking a step into the history of philosophy and reaching to the very origins of aesthetics, Agamben critically recovers the roots of one of Western culture’s cardinal concepts. Agamben is the rare writer whose ideas and works have a broad appeal across many fields, and with Taste he turns his critical eye to the realm of Western art and aesthetic practice. This volume will not only engage the author’s devoted fans in philosophy, sociology, and literary criticism, but also his growing audience among art theorists and historians.
Thick of It
Ulrike Almut Sandig Seagull Books, 2020 Library of Congress PT2719.A54D4313 2018 | Dewey Decimal 831.92
The poems of Ulrike Almut Sandig are at once simple and fantastic. This new collection finds her on her way to imaginary territories. Thick of It charts a journey through two hemispheres to “the center of the world” and navigates a “thicket” that is at once the world, the psyche, and language itself. The poems explore an urgently urban reality, but that reality is interwoven with references to nightmares, the Bible, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes—all overlaid with a finely tuned longing for a disappearing world. The old names are forgotten, identities fall away; things disappear from the kitchen; everything is sliding away. Powerful themes emerge, but always mapped onto the local, the fractured individual in “the thick of it” all. This is language at its most crafted and transformative, blisteringly contemporary, but with a kind of austerity, too. By turns comic, ironic, skeptical, nostalgic, these poems are also profoundly musical, exploiting multiple meanings and stretching syntax, so that the audience is constantly kept guessing, surprised by the next turn in the line.
Bhaskar Chakrabarti’s poetry is synonymous with the romantic melancholia inherent to Calcutta. His trenchant poetic voice was one of the most significant to emerge in the 1960s and ’70s—perhaps the most prolific period of modern Bengali poetry. Spanning the rise of militant leftism, the spread of crippling poverty across India, the war in Bangladesh, the influx of millions of refugees, the dark, dictatorial days of Indira Gandhi’s reign, and the disillusionment of communist rule in Bengal, Chakrabarti’s poems plumb the depths of urban angst, expressing the spirit of sadness and alienation in delicate metaphors wrapped in deceptively lucid language.
In this first-ever comprehensive translation of Chakrabarti’s work, award-winning translator Arunava Sinha masterfully articulates that clarity of vision, retaining the unique cadence and idioms of the Bengali language. Presenting verses and prose poems from all of Chakrabarti’s life—from his first volume, When Will Winter Come, published in 1971, to his last, The Language of Giraffes, published just before his death in 2005, and collecting several unpublished works as well—Things That Happen and Other Poems introduces the world to a brilliant and universal poetic voice of urban life.
In This Strange Idea of the Beautiful, François Jullien explores what it means when we say something is beautiful. Bringing together ideas of beauty from both Eastern and Western philosophy, Jullien challenges the assumptions underlying our commonly agreed upon definition of what is beautiful and offers a new way of beholding art.
Jullien argues that the Western concept of beauty was established by Greek philosophy and became consequently embedded within the very structure of European languages. And due to its relationship to language, this concept has determined ways of thinking about beauty that often go unnoticed or unchecked in discussions of Western aesthetics. Moreover, through globalization, Western ideals of beauty have even spread to cultures whose ancient traditions are based upon radically different aesthetic foundations; yet, these cultures have adopted such views without question and without recognizing the cultural assumptions they contain.
Looking specifically at how Chinese texts have been translated into Western languages, Jullien reveals how the traditional Chinese refusal to isolate or abstract beauty is obscured in translation in order to make the works more understandable to Western readers. Creating an engaging dialogue between Chinese and Western ideas, Jullien reasseses the essence of beauty.
In Japan there is a legend that anyone who folds one thousand paper cranes will have their wishes realized. But folding cranes, and the meditative, solemn care that it involves, has come to mean more than just an exercise in wish making. Origami cranes have become a symbol of renewal, atonement, and warning. Their symbolism may have emerged out of Japan’s particular mythology and history, but they do not belong to any one nation. The crane is a migratory bird that crosses borders and makes its home with scant regard to the blood-soaked lines that humans have drawn on maps.
This anthology uses origami cranes as a way for some of India’s best-known writers, poets, and artists to form a shared civic space for a conversation about the fault lines in India at a time of darkness. The twenty-three pieces collected here encompass reportage, stories, poems, memoir, and polemic—the kind of complex and enriching diversity that India demands and deserves. The paper crane becomes a motif of connection, beauty, and reclamation in an otherwise degraded country, enabling those who fight with words to become the best army they can be.
Described as an answer to or at least an echo of Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape?, Till Day You Do Part Or A Question of Light, by esteemed Austrian playwright and novelist Peter Handke, is a monologue delivered by the “she” in Beckett’s play. This unnamed female similarly recalls other significant women protagonists in Handke’s own work such as The Left-handed Woman. Handke prefaces the monologue in Till Day You Do PartOr a Question of Light with a description of two stone figures. While the male figure remains “as dead and gone as anyone can,” the female bursts into life, and her monologue gradually focuses on Krapp’s use of pauses and language to dominate the other characters in the Beckett play. Ultimately, however, her complaints and critique of Krapp become a declaration of her love for Krapp or at least an affirmation of their attachment, as the two of them are ultimately bound together, perhaps even inseparable.
Till Day You Do Part Or a Question of Light is Handke at his best, evidencing the great skill, psychological acumen, and vision for which his work has been celebrated.
Yves Bonnefoy Seagull Books, 2017 Library of Congress PQ2603.O533A262 2017 | Dewey Decimal 841.914
The international community of letters mourned the recent death of Yves Bonnefoy, universally acclaimed as one of France’s greatest poets of the last half century. A prolific author, he was often considered a candidate for the Nobel Prize and published a dozen major collections of poetry in verse and prose, several books of dream-like tales, and numerous studies of literature and art. His oeuvre has been translated into scores of languages, and he himself was a celebrated translator of Shakespeare, Yeats, Keats, and Leopardi.
Together Still is his final poetic work, composed just months before his death. The book is nothing short of a literary testament, addressed to his wife, his daughter, his friends, and his readers throughout the world. In these pages, he ruminates on his legacy to future generations, his insistence on living in the present, his belief in the triumphant lessons of beauty, and, above all, his courageous identification of poetry with hope.
The fall of the Berlin Wall marked the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as many other communist totalitarian regimes around the world. But it would be naive to assume that this historic, symbolic event and its aftermath have completely rid the world of totalitarianism. Instead, we should ask, what is the totalitarian experience and how does it survive today?
This is the imposing question raised by acclaimed philosopher and writer Tzvetan Todorov in this compact, highly personal essay. Here, he recounts his own experiences with totalitarianism in his native Bulgaria and discusses the books he has written in the last twenty years that were devoted to examining such regimes, such as Voices from the Gulag, his influential analysis of Stalinist concentration camps. Through this retrospective investigation, Todorov offers a historical look at communism. He brings together and distills his extensive oeuvre to reveal the essence of totalitarian ideology, the characteristics of daily life under communism, and the irony of democratic messianism.
Bringing his thoughts and insights up to the present, Todorov explores how economic ultraliberalism may be considered just another form of totalitarianism. And his conclusion leads us to ask ourselves another challenging question: Are liberal democratic societies actually totalitarian experiences in disguise?
“In this honed, finely calibrated essay, Todorov refutes the notion that good can be imposed by force. More efficient is to embody one’s values and demonstrate their worth. . . . This is a concise and eloquent defence of what makes us truly human.”—Age, on Torture and the War on Terror
Hans Magnus Enzensberger Seagull Books, 2016 Library of Congress PT2609.N9Z46 2014
Hans Magnus Enzensberger, widely regarded as Germany’s greatest living poet, was already well known in the 1960s, the tempestuous decade of which Tumult is an autobiographical record. Derived from old papers, notes, jottings, photos, and letters that the poet stumbled upon years later in his attic, the volume is not so much about the man, but rather the many places he visited and people whom he met on his travels through the Soviet Union and Cuba during the 1960s.
The book is made up of four longform pieces written from 1963 to 1970, each episode concluding with a poem and postscript written in 2014. Tumult is based on Enzensberger’s personal experience as a left-wing sympathizer during that tumultuous decade and focuses on political events and their participants. Translated by Mike Mitchell, the book is a lively and deftly written travelogue offering a glimpse into the history of leftist thought. Dedicated to “those who disappeared,” Tumult is a document of that which remains one of humanity’s headiest times.
“Enzensberger is the most important postwar writer you have never read.”—London Review of Books