Yearning for an escape from a claustrophobic childhood, Geoffrey Weill became infatuated with travel. At twenty-three, the budding British connoisseur made his way across the Atlantic on an ocean liner. The year was 1973, and he was bound for New York to pursue a promising role as consultant-in-training at the headquarters of the world’s oldest travel agency, Thomas Cook. The idyllic trip was reminiscent of those from the early twentieth century but made distinctly modern by a nightly reminder—at the onboard dance club, one was sure to run into a sequin-clad David Bowie.
All Abroad is the memoir of a man hungry for the logistics of travel: getting there, staying there, and feeling at home on any continent. Woven into his entertaining anecdotes is an informative account of a lost era in travel. As a witness to compelling and monumental changes in the industry, Weill offers a unique view into how our vacations have been shaped deeply by human trends, tragedies, and technologies. While some long for the grandeur of tourism from decades ago, Weill insists that travel—the conveyances and hotels that await journey’s end—remains as glamorous as ever.
In Beyond Mammoth Cave: A Tale of Obsession in the World’s Longest Cave, James D. Borden and Roger W. Brucker provide gripping first-person accounts of the discoveries, including Roppel Cave, that made Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave three times longer than any other cave in the world.
Borden, a relative newcomer, and Brucker, a veteran explorer, bring a personal and sometimes conflicting view of their roles as adversaries in a race that lasted from 1972 through 1983 to find “big cave.” They describe hazardous adventures, precarious climbs, and close calls from falling rocks. The perils are many and the trek arduous as they squirm through muddy tubes, wade in neck-deep cold water, and crawl over sharp rocks and gritty sand. Theirs is a tale of agonizing endurance spiced by spectacular discoveries.
But the cave was not the sole obstacle. The explorations were complicated by political intrigue and the rivalry between the Kentucky-based Cave Research Foundation and the Central Kentucky Karst Coalition, each seeking to make discoveries and hide secrets. Extreme stress, of course, evoked extreme behavior, ranging from selfishness to sacrifice, from outrageous humor to the deadly serious response.
Beyond Mammoth Cave includes maps by Patricia Kambesis that show the progression of cave discoveries in relation to the topography. Original line drawings by well-known illustrator Linda Heslop capture the dark mystery of the exploration. The book features five black and white photographs as a color gallery of photographs.
A sequel to The Longest Cave by Brucker and Richard A. Watson, this book is a comprehensive update of the speleological investigations in the Mammoth Cave region. Brucker’s involvement provides continuity to the investigation.
Mai Elizabeth Zetterling (1925–94) is among the most exceptional postwar female filmmakers. Born in Sweden, she lived in England and France for most of her life, making her directorial debut in 1964 with the Swedish art film Loving Couples after a fraught transition from working in front of the camera as a successful actress.
Critics have compared her work to that of Ingmar Bergman, Luis Buñuel, and Federico Fellini, but Zetterling had a distinct style—alternately radical and reactionary—that straddled the gendered divide between high art and mass culture. Tackling themes of sexuality, isolation, and creativity, her documentaries, short and feature films, and television works are visually striking. Her oeuvre provoked controversy and scandal through her sensational representations of reproduction and motherhood.
Mariah Larsson provides a lively and authoritative take on Zetterling's legacy and complicated position within film and women's history. A Cinema of Obsession provides necessary perspective on how the breadth of an artist's collected works keeps gatekeepers from recognizing their achievements, and questions why we still distinguish between national and global visual cultures and the big and small screens in the #MeToo era.
Egyptomania takes us on a historical journey to unearth the Egypt of the imagination, a land of strange gods, mysterious magic, secret knowledge, monumental pyramids, enigmatic sphinxes, and immense wealth. Egypt has always exerted a powerful attraction on the Western mind, and an array of figures have been drawn to the idea of Egypt. Even the practical-minded Napoleon dreamed of Egyptian glory and helped open the antique land to explorers. Ronald H. Fritze goes beyond art and architecture to reveal Egyptomania’s impact on religion, philosophy, historical study, literature, travel, science, and popular culture. All those who remain captivated by the ongoing phenomenon of Egyptomania will revel in the mysteries uncovered in this book.
Obsession: A History
Lennard J. Davis University of Chicago Press, 2008 Library of Congress RC533.D38 2008 | Dewey Decimal 616.85227009
We live in an age of obsession. Not only are we hopelessly devoted to our work, strangely addicted to our favorite television shows, and desperately impassioned about our cars, we admire obsession in others: we demand that lovers be infatuated with one another in films, we respond to the passion of single-minded musicians, we cheer on driven athletes. To be obsessive is to be American; to be obsessive is to be modern.
But obsession is not only a phenomenon of modern existence: it is a medical category—both a pathology and a goal. Behind this paradox lies a fascinating history, which Lennard J. Davis tells in Obsession. Beginning with the roots of the disease in demonic possession and its secular successors, Davis traces the evolution of obsessive behavior from a social and religious fact of life into a medical and psychiatric problem. From obsessive aspects of professional specialization to obsessive compulsive disorder and nymphomania, no variety of obsession eludes Davis’s graceful analysis.
The sestina (of medieval French origin) is a complex poetic form of 39 lines (six sestets and a three-line “envoy”) in which the six end-words (teleutons) of the lines of the first sestet stanza are repeated in a specific order as teleutons in the five succeeding sestets. In the envoy, the six teleutons are again picked up, one of them being buried in, and one finishing, each line. Because of the complexity of the form, the sestina fell out of favor with poets for several decades. However, a twenty-first century revival of the form is underway. This is the first anthology of sestinas that showcases both traditional and innovative examples of the form by modern and contemporary poets, award winners, and emerging writers alike. Organized by such themes as Americana; Art; Love and Sex; and Memory, Contemplation, Retrospection, and Death, the collection also includes sestinas with irregular teleutons and unconventional sestinas. An evocative introduction by Marilyn Krysl acquaints readers with the form. The volume concludes with useful indexes of first lines and teleutons, increasing access to the poems beyond the poets’ names.
Though some dismiss opera as old-fashioned, it shows no sign of disappearing from the world’s stage. So why do audiences continue to flock to it? Given its association with wealth, one might imagine that opera tickets function as a status symbol. But while a desire to hobnob with the upper crust might motivate the occasional operagoer, for hardcore fans the real answer, according to The Opera Fanatic, is passion—they do it for love.
Opera lovers are an intense lot, Claudio E. Benzecry discovers in his look at the fanatics who haunt the legendary Colón Opera House in Buenos Aires, a key site for opera’s globalization. Listening to the fans and their stories, Benzecry hears of two-hundred-mile trips for performances and nightlong camp-outs for tickets, while others testify to a particular opera’s power to move them—whether to song or to tears—no matter how many times they have seen it before. Drawing on his insightful analysis of these acts of love, Benzecry proposes new ways of thinking about people’s relationship to art and shows how, far from merely enhancing aspects of everyday life, art allows us to transcend it.