The Invention of Murder -- How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime by Judith Flanders, Dunne/St. Martin '13, $26.99, 556 pages, ASIN #1250024870. Index, select bibliography, sources, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
The following short excerpt illustrates how social historian Judith Flanders employs her literary skills to draw in (successfully) her readers:
"'Pleasant it is, no doubt, to drink tea with your sweetheart, but most disagreeable to find her bubbling in the tea-urn.' So wrote Thomas de Quincey in 1826, and indeed, it is hard to argue with him. But even more pleasant, he thought, was to read about someone else's sweetheart bubbling in the tea urn, and that, too, is hard to argue with, for crime, especially murder, is very pleasant to think about in the abstract: it is like hearing blustery rain on the windowpane when sitting indoors. It reinforces a sense of safety, even of pleasure, to know that murder is possible, just not here.
"At the start of the 19th century, it was easy to think of murder that way. Capital convictions in the London area, including all the outlying villages, were running at a rate of one a year. In all of England and Wales in 1810, just 15 people were convicted of murder out of a population of nearly 10 million: 0.15 per 100,000 people. (For comparison purposes, in Canada in 2007-08 the homicide rate was 0.5 per 100,000 people, in the EU, 1.8 per 100,000, in the USA 2.79, while Moscow averaged 9.6 and Cape Town 62 per 100,000."
Author Judith Flanders, a social historian of the Victorian era, has written three previous books and has frequently contributed to leading newspapers and magazines. She lives in London..
The Lives of Erich Fromm -- Love's Prophet by Lawrence J. Friedman, assisted by Anke M. Schreiber, Columbia UP '13, 410 pages, ASIN #0231162588. Index, notes, a bibliographical note, grouping of b&w images.
From the dust jacket:
"Erich Fromm was a political activist, psychologist, psychoanalyst, and philospher and one of the most important intellectuals of the 20th century. He dissected the sadomasochistic appeal of brutal dictators while also eloquently championing love -- which, he insisted, was nothing if it did not involve joyful contact with others and humanity at large.
"Admired all over the world, Fromm continues to inspire with his message of universal brotherhood and quest for lasting peace. Taking full stock of the thinker's historical and global accomplishments, Lawrence J. Friedman portrays a man of immense authenticity and spirituality who made life in the 20th century more humane than it might have been."
Lawrence J. Friedman is a professor in Harvard University's Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative and professor emeritus of Indiana University. He has written eight scholarly books and more than fifty articles.
Matters of Fact in Jane Austen -- History, Location, and Celebrity by Janine Barchas, Johns Hopkins UP '13 paperback. $24.95, 336 pages, 48 b&w illustrations, ASIN #1421411911. Index, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
"In Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity, Janine Barchas makes the bold assertion that Jane Austen's novels allude to actual high-profile politicians and contemporary celebrities as well as to famous historical figures and landed estates," writes the author's publisher. "Barchas is the first scholar to conduct extensive research into the names and locations in Austen's fiction by taking full advantage of the explosion of archival materials now available online. This forward-thinking and revealing investigation offers scholars and ardent fans of Jane Austen a wealth of historical facts, while shedding an interpretive light on a new aspect of the beloved writer's work."
From the back cover:
"Austen plays confidently with the tension between truth and invention that characterizes the realist novel. The names Austen plucks from history for her protagonists (Dashwood, Wentworth, Woodhouse, Tilney, Fitzwilliam, and many more) were immensely famous in her day. She seems to bank upon this famliarity for interpretive effect, often upending associations with comic intent."
Janine Barchas is an associate professor of English at the University of Texas and the author of two previous books.