Clemence Royer was a 19th-century Frenchwoman probably best known for producing the first French translation of Charles Darwin. However, her efforts went much further, encompassing anthropology, physics, philosophy, cosmology, and chemistry. In this full-scale biography, Harvey, a science historian and former associate editor of Cambridge University's Darwin Correspondence Project, traces Royer's remarkable life.
A feminist who made lifelong enemies almost as readily as she made friends, Royer was never able to undertake formal, advanced education and was a product of her own self-study efforts. Only in her last few years was she formally recognized by several professional societies and awarded the French Legion of Honor. Harvey includes an overview of earlier biographical treatments, the text of an 1874 communication on "Women, Science, and the Birth Rate," and extensive notes.
Michelangelo was raised in a rustic village by a family of modest means. Shakespeare's father was a middle-class businessman. Abraham Lincoln came from a family of itinerant farmers. Yet all these men broke free from their limited circumstances and achieved brilliant careers as creative artists and leaders. How such extraordinary creativity develops in the human brain is the subject of renowned psychiatrist Nancy Andreasen's The Creating Brain.
Andreasen explains here how the brain produces creative breakthroughs in art, literature, and science, revealing that creativity is not the same thing as intelligence. She scrutinizes the complex factors involved in the development of creativity, including the role of patrons and mentors, "non-standard" educations, and the possession of an "omnivorous" vision. A fascinating interview with acclaimed playwright Neil Simon sheds further light on the creative process.The relationship between genius and insanity also plays an important role in Andreasen's examination. Drawing on her studies of writers in the Iowa Writers' Workshop and other scientific evidence, Andreasen asserts that while creativity may sometimes be linked to mental disorders and may be partially due to familial/genetic factors, neither is inevitable nor needed for creativity to flourish.
Scientist's increasing understanding of the brain's plasticity suggests even more possibilities for nurturing the creative drive, and Andreasen looks ahead to exciting implications for child-rearing and education. The Creating Brain presents an inspiring vision for a future where everyone—not just artists or writers—can fulfill their creative capacity.
For some, Richard Wagner is infamous as the favorite composer of Hitler, who seems to have admired Wagner as an early exponent of his own racist ideology and worldview. Impressed by this assumption victims of Hitler have also associated Wagner and his music with Nazism to such an extent that in Israel a ban on public performance of that music is upheld to this day. Jacob Katz, a scholar of international repute, approaches the highly charged issue of Richard Wagner’s anti-Semitism with the tools of a critical historian, asking two central questions: What role did anti-Semitism play in the life and work of Richard Wagner? And how did his anti-Jewish thoughts and sentiments contribute to the development of political anti-Semitism and Nazism? In this first comprehensive and judicious treatment of Wagner’s anti-Semitism, Katz analyzes the composer’s attitudes in their own time and place and in the context of Wagner’s life and aspirations. He traces Wagner’s feelings toward Jews chronologically, showing that the composer was ultimately obsessed by a deep-seated Judeophobia generated by conflict with his Jewish mentors and competitors. But he argues against reading the later emergence of Nazism back into Wagner’s life and work. While not absolving Wagner from responsibility for his views, Katz contends that contemporary Jews have paradoxically and uncritically adopted the Nazis’ assumptions about Wagner. Katz argues that Wagner’s music is untainted by his anti-Semitism, that there is, in fact, very little in Wagner’s art that, without forced speculation, can be related to his racist views.
Genius: A Novel
Thomas Rayfiel Northwestern University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PS3568.A9257G46 2016 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Kara Bell spent her youth plotting escape from Witch’s Falls, Arkansas. Relentless focus and the spurning of all emotional attachment led to the doctoral program in philosophy at Columbia University. But Kara’s careful plans are upended by cancer, and suddenly she is home again, where she finds herself subject to her mother’s suffocating care, her brother’s puzzling love life, the local doctor’s meddling, and the strong gravitational pull of her old friend and obsession, Christy Lee. Will Kara find health and sanity? Will she learn what really happened to her father? Can she escape Witch’s Falls a second time, or will she succumb to the slow poison of local kindness and Snickers Salad?
In Genius, Thomas Rayfiel finds both poignancy and dark humor in deathly illness, family secrets, organized religion, parenting, abortion, gossip, senility, and the mysterious rhythms of small-town life.
How much of our political tradition can be absorbed and used by other peoples? Daniel Boorstin's answer to this question has been chosen by the Carnegie Corporation of New York for representation in American Panorama as one of the 350 books, old and new, most descriptive of life in the United States. He describes the uniqueness of American thought and explains, after a close look at the American past, why we have not produced and are not likely to produce grand political theories or successful propaganda. He also suggests what our attitudes must be toward ourselves and other countries if we are to preserve our institutions and help others to improve theirs.
". . . a fresh and, on the whole, valid interpretation of American political life."—Reinhold Niebuhr, New Leader
The Genius of Place examines how, after the War of 1812, concerns about the scale of the nation resulted in a fundamental reorientation of American identity away from the Atlantic or global ties that held sway in the early republic and toward more localized forms of identification. Instead of addressing the sweep of the nation, American authors, artists, geographers, and politicians shifted from the larger reach of the globe to the more manageable scope of the local and sectional. Paradoxically, that local representation became the primary mode through which early Americans construed their emerging national identity. This newfound cultural obsession with locality impacted the literary consolidation and representation of key American imagined places—New England, the plantation, the West—in the decades between 1816 and 1836.
Apap’s examination of the intersections between local and national representations and exploration of the myths of space and place that shaped U.S. identity through the nineteenth century will appeal to a broad, interdisciplinary readership.
Proofs of Genius: Collected Editions from the American Revolution to the Digital Age is the first extensive study of the collected edition as an editorial genre within American literary history. Unlike editions of an author’s “selected works” or thematic anthologies, which clearly indicate the presence of non-authorial editorial intervention, collected editions have typically been arranged to imply an unmediated documentary completeness. By design, the collected edition obscures its own role in shaping the cultural reception of the author.
In Proofs of Genius, Amanda Gailey argues that decisions to re-edit major authorial corpora are acts of canon-formation in miniature that indicate more foundational shifts in the way a culture views its literature and itself. By combining a theoretically-informed approach with a broad historical view of collected editions from the late eighteenth century to the present (including the rise of digital editions), Gailey fills a gap in the textual scholarship of the editing history of major figures like Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman and of the American literary canon itself.
Ralph Ellison has long been admired as the author of one of the most important American novels of the twentieth century, Invisible Man. Yet he has also been dismissed by some critics as a writer who only published one major work of fiction and a black intellectual out of touch with his times. In this book, Timothy Parrish offers a fundamentally different assessment of Ellison’s legacy, describing him as the most important American writer since William Faulkner and someone whose political and cultural achievements have not been fully recognized. Embracing jazz artist Wynton Marsalis’s characterization of Ellison as the unacknowledged “political theorist” of the civil rights movement, Parrish argues that the defining event of Ellison’s career was not Invisible Man but the 1954 Supreme Court decision that set his country on the road to racial integration. In Parrish’s view, no other American intellectual, black or white, better grasped the cultural implications of the new era than Ellison did; no other major American writer has been so misunderstood. Drawing on Ellison’s recently published “unfinished” novel, newly released archival materials, and unpublished correspondence, Parrish provides a sustained reconsideration of the writer’s crucial friendships with Richard Wright, Robert Penn Warren, and C. Vann Woodward to show how his life was dedicated to creating an American society in which all could participate equally. By resituating Ellison’s career in the historical context of its making, Parrish challenges the premises that distorted the writer’s reception in his own lifetime to make the case for Ellison as the essential visionary of post–Civil War America.
Rimbaud: The Cost of Genius
Neal Oxenhandler The Ohio State University Press, 2009 Library of Congress PQ2387.R5Z747 2009 | Dewey Decimal 841.8
Living during the chaotic period between the end of the Second Empire and the early years of the Third Republic, Arthur Rimbaud would become the genius of French literary modernism, surpassing even Baudelaire. But at what cost? In his poems and letters he reveals the devastating rigors of his relationships with others as well as his power as creator and thinker. Neal Oxenhandler employs psychocritical strategies to penetrate the secrets of a man who was one of the greatest literary figures of his century. For each poem Rimbaud wrote he paid a price in suffering, in jealousy, and in misunderstanding. Eventually the price for his gift rose so high that he had no alternative except to abandon poetry while still in his mid-twenties.
Rimbaud: The Cost of Genius analyzes twenty-one major poems, showing the poet’s development during the ten years (1869–1879), when he was actively writing. It offers new solutions to the “joke” or “trick” poems, such as “H” and “Conte.” It also deals with the poet’s confinement in the Babylone barracks during the Commune, envisioned in the enigmatic poem, “Le Coeur du pitre.” In the last chapter, Oxenhandler studies how sublimation is achieved in “Une Saison en enfer” through the rhetorical trope of chiasmus.
The book concludes with a personal “Appendix” that seeks to penetrate the mystery surrounding Rimbaud’s death in the Conception Hospital in Marseilles on November 10, 1891, at the age of thirty-seven.
Peter Paul Rubens was the most inventive and prolific northern European artist of his age. This book discusses his life and work in relation to three interrelated themes: spirit, ingenuity, and genius. It argues that Rubens and his reception were pivotal in the transformation of early modern ingenuity into Romantic genius. Ranging across the artist’s entire career, it explores Rubens’s engagement with these themes in his art and life. Alexander Marr looks at Rubens’s forays into altarpiece painting in Italy as well as his collaborations with fellow artists in his hometown of Antwerp, and his complex relationship with the spirit of pleasure. It concludes with his late landscapes in connection to genius loci, the spirit of the place.
What could be better than diving into cool water on a hot day? In this enormously enjoyable and informative history of swimming, Eric Chaline sums up this most summery of moments with one phrase: pleasure beckons at the water’s edge. Strokes of Genius traces the history of swimming from the first civilizations to its current worldwide popularity as a sport, fitness pastime, and leisure activity. Chaline explores swimming’s role in ritual, early trade and manufacturing, warfare, and medicine, before describing its transformation in the early modern period into a leisure activity and a competitive sport—the necessary precursors that have made it the most common physical pastime in the developed world.
The book celebrates the physicality and sensuality of swimming—attributes that Chaline argues could have contributed to the evolution of the human species. Swimming, like other disciplines that use repetitive movements to train the body and quiet the mind, is also a means of spiritual awakening—a personal journey of discovery. Swimming has attained the status of a cultural marker, denoting eroticism, leisure, endurance, adventure, exploration, and excellence.
Strokes of Genius shows that there is not a single story of human swimming, but many currents that merge, diverge, and remerge. Chaline argues that swimming will become particularly important as we look toward a warmer future in which our survival may depend on our ability to adapt to life in an aquatic world.