Monday 31 August 2009

OUP - an expression of excitement

I've been sorting through my shelves here in Somerset, and have managed to get rid of about 25 books - aren't you proud of me? That's about 2% of them. Ten or so were duplicates, but that's still a fair few wrenched from my grasp, for various reasons... Our Vicar and Our Vicar's Wife were doing the same thing with their shelves, and discarded quite a few duplicates (does anybody need four editions of Sense and Sensibility, one asks oneself?)

Anyway. This has suddenly become less impressive when you realise that I've just had a lovely box of books from Oxford University Press to review. Kirsty (blogger at Other Stories when she's not working for OUP) sent me a catalogue and asked whether I'd like anything... so of course I sent it back, saying "No, thanks, nothing I like there..." Oh wait, no, that's the exact opposite of what I did. I sent an enormous list, telling her to stop reading it when it got ridiculous (you don't want to ask less than you can get, do you?) and she sent me most of them. Here they are...

I'll be writing about them individually, bit by bit, but I thought I should bring them all to your attention now. I didn't much like the old Oxford World's Classics before, but since they've revamped the way they publish, I am absolutely in love with them. I bought most of the Virginia Woolf editions back here, and now I have all these beautiful books to read through as well:

New Grub Street - George Gissing
Casting The Runes - M.R. James
The Mayor of Casterbridge - Thomas Hardy
The Mark on the Wall and other stories - Virginia Woolf
Much Ado About Nothing - William Shakespeare
Married Love - Marie Stopes
Selected Stories - Katherine Mansfield
The Yellow Wallpaper and other stories - Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Years - Virginia Woolf
Cecilia - Fanny Burney
Camilla - Fanny Burney

Not pictured, because I put them in a different pile, are a new edition of the Alice books by Lewis Carroll, and A Very Short Introduction to Biography by Hermione Lee.

Obviously I have read some of these before, but I'd be keen to hear any recommendations you have, or which you'd like to hear about yourselves? I'm quite tempted to sink my teeth into a novel by Burney, since I loved Evelina and haven't followed up on it yet.... more anon.


  1. Simon, I would love to hear your reflections on Cecilia and Camilla; I love the 18thC and early 19thC work by women. I've never quite recovered from my amazing visit to Chawton House Library for a conference on the same topic...
    It's great that OUP and others are reprinting some of these early texts. Probably not a huge money spinner for them, but very worthy.

  2. Well how lucky are you?! What a haul and some fabulous books there, some of which I had never heard of. I have been admiring the new OUP cover designs from a distance over the last few months - they are stunning and SUCH an improvement on the boring old cream and red design. They remind me a little of Persephone Classics. When I have a little spare money and less books on my to read list I intend on buying up a complete set of Whartons.

    After reading The Odd Women a while back I discovered a liking for George Gissing so I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on New Grub Street. The Burneys scare me a little as I was forced to read Cecilia in my first year of university alongside Pamela, Tom Jones, etc, and I nearly poked my own eyes out from boredom...the 18thc is not my area of interest at all. But I still hope you enjoy them!

  3. What a haul, Simon! The new OUP designs are lush and I bought a couple a few months ago but have tempted by many more.

    I have the Mansfield, Woolf, and Perkins Gilman in other editions but would love your thoughts. I also have the older OUP Stopes and would love to hear about that as I have been considering suggesting reading it to one of my book groups.

  4. How wonderful! I'm not even familiar with many of those titles, but "Casting the Runes" is wonderful (I assume the OUP is a collection of stories, not just the one?). I have two paperback volumes of M.R. James stories, Penguin Classics. I must say my absolute favorite one is "The Mezzotint" - it is sublimely creepy.

    There is a movie, "Curse of the Demon," which is based on "Casting...", although Blockbuster here in the States has not managed to turn up a copy. Maybe you'd have better luck in England.

  5. Those are goooorgeous - very, very jealous. Hit up The Yellow Wallpaper as soon as you can. It's maybe the creepiest story I have ever read in my life. In a good way. :)

  6. I'm not jealous at all. No, not at all.
    That's a fantastic haul. I'd love to see what you think of them

  7. Wow! It's not even your birthday or anything.

  8. Yes, congrats on your Montague Rhodes James volume!! I do warn though - ONLY read with the lights on!! Terrifying.

    Very envious of such a faultless array of books...enjoy!


  9. I'm so envious Simon.

    Like yourself I loved Evalina, and in a fit of enthusiasm bought Cecilia and Camilla. I still haven't got to them yet though, so would be interested to hear what you think.

    The Mayor of Casterbridge is a great book, I don't know if you've read it before but if not hope you change that soon!

  10. Hi stuck-in-a-book.

    Cecilia is my favourite novel in the world along with two others. It is an amazing book. I would read that one. I love that book sooooo much. There are so many vibrant characters in it, and it covers so many different themes and topics.

    Having said that, I once knew a girl who was very intelligent and her favourite was Camilla(!).

    You are so lucky by the way.


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