Experience Schubert’s Winter Journey, the History of the Book, Poet Muldoon, & More | Arts & Humanities Reviews

redstarBostridge, Ian. Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession. Knopf. Jan. 2015. 544p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780307961631. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307961648. MUSIC

World-renowned British tenor Bostridge offers here his winterjourney110514take on Franz Schubert’s famed Winterreise (Winter’s Journey), a cycle of 24 songs composed near the end of the composer’s tragically brief life (1797–1828)and set to poems of Wilhelm Müller. The format is a kind of “primer” that presents each song, including the original German and the English translation, on facing pages. As the Oxford-educated author explains, the songs, which tend toward the dark and brooding, roughly chronicle the wanderings and moods of an apparently rejected lover, a popular 19th-century theme, with titles like “Backwards Glance” and “Deception.” Though somewhat technical musical commentary is included here and there, this enchanting book is much more than just a treatise on the songs. Bostridge ranges widely and with great ease over cultural and historical terrain to provide a context for the songs, or Lieder, teasing out the undercurrents that run through them so that “We are drawn in by an obsessively confessional soul, apparently an emotional exhibitionist, who won’t give us the facts; but this allows us to supply the facts of our own lives, and make him our mirror.” VERDICT Highly recommended for lovers of both fine music and European cultural history.—Edward B. Cone, New York

redstarCave, Roderick & Sara Ayad. The History of the Book in 100 Books: The Complete Story, from Egypt to e-book. Firefly. 2014. 288p. photos. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781770854062. $35. LIT

historyofthebook110514Print historian, librarian, and consultant (UNESCO; the British Library) Cave (Impressions of Nature) and picture researcher Ayad expand what readers think of as books. Their sumptuous work discusses and portrays its 100 items on a spread each, arranged in chapters on eras, beginning with ancient cave paintings and tally sticks, continuing through 12th-century Indian palm-leaf manuscripts, Archimedes Palimpsest (1229), and Ptolemy’s 1482 Cosmographia to items that resemble what we read today. Books in modern format include a wide geographic and temporal range—Apicus, “the earliest serious cookbook surviving,” was transcribed in Germany in 830 CE; Sefer Abudarham, the first book printed in Africa, was made in Morocco in 1516; and the Aztec Codex Mendoza was created in Mexico City in the 1640s. “Connections” complementing each entry serve as cross-references and prove that the worldwide development of books and printing was interconnected. The final entries cover ebooks (of course) as well as modern phenomena such as “Modern Technology and Manga” and “Artists Books,” and are followed by an illustrated glossary, a bibliography listing sources by era addressed, a list of photo credits that could serve as a travel guide for museumgoers, and a detailed index. VERDICT These books and accompanying crisp color photos are fascinating enough by themselves, but the information on each item and the world it came from is what makes this exciting browse also an interdisciplinary treasure. Everyone from teens doing reports on the civilizations in question to librarians pondering the roots of their vocation will find this work absorbing.—Henrietta Verma, Library Journal

redstarMuldoon, Paul. One Thousand Things Worth Knowing. Farrar. Jan. 2015. 128p. ISBN 9780374227128. $24. POETRY

thousandknowing110514The informational content of Muldoon’s 12th collection (after The Word on the Street: Rock Lyrics) may well approach the claim of its title. We learn, for example, that “some early fragmentation bombs/ were the calcified brains/ of Celtic warriors” and that “The best baseball bats are turned from hibiscus.” Through montages of esoteric vocabulary tamed by virtuoso technique and erudite wit, the Irish poet’s lyrics bristle with dodgems, merkin-toads, and dunnocks, moving confidently if restlessly through topics and locales as varied as the American Civil War, Northumbrian monasteries, chicken farms, and contemporary Havana. A world traveler and voracious student of history, Muldoon seeks to articulate eccentric connections through time and space, mapping a virtual geo-linguistic universe as personal as it is omniscient. VERDICT Though frequent access to Wikipedia and the Oxford English Dictionary may be necessary to fully appreciate Muldoon’s encyclopedic intricacies, the brilliant surfaces of his poems alone can inspire readers “to think of literature/ as magical rather than magisterial.”—Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY

Color my world

Finlay, Victoria. The Brilliant History of Color in Art. Getty. Nov. 2014. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781606064290. $24.95. FINE ARTS

brillianthistory110514Finlay, a former arts editor for South China Morning Post and author (Color: A Natural History of the Palette; Jewels: A Secret History) presents a deceptively simple and accessible text that never pretends to be more than a conversational overview of the development and use of color in art. Yet, beginning with cave paintings and progressing casually through the centuries up to the present, the book provides a wealth of information, including brief forays into the science of color, that will leave a reader well informed and hungry for more. ­VERDICT Beautifully illustrated with examples, mostly drawn from the collections of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and rich with lesser-known anecdotes from art history, the book succeeds perfectly in walking a fine line between the educational and the entertaining to deliver a wholly satisfying and stimulating perspective. It will please new and veteran artists, those interested in historical tidbits, and newcomers to the field.—Mark ­Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY

green110514Pastoureau, Michel. Green: The History of a Color. Princeton Univ. 2014. 240p. tr. from French by Jody Gladding. photos. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780691159362. $35. FINE ARTS

Green with envy? Greenback? Babar green? What does the color green mean to you? Continuing the saga of the history of colors (previous titles include Blue and Black), Pastoureau, a historian at the Sorbonne, chronicles the color green as told through the social and culture history of western Europe. Readers journey through this bipolar color’s varied meanings, such as life, luck, destiny, happiness, and money, as well as its flip side of the devil, poison, witches, treachery, and betrayal, which depended on the period, society, and technology being used to create the color. While the book focuses on western European cultures, Islam is briefly mentioned. One wonders if a global history might have made for a better book. VERDICT A charming study, filled with numerous photos and illustrations. This book will be of great interest to those fascinated by history, culture, and design.—Melissa Aho, Univ. of Minnesota Bio-Medical Lib., Minneapolis

Fashion Statements

Ellison, Jo. Vogue: The Gown. Firefly. (Vogue Portfolio). 2014. 304p. illus. index. ISBN 9781770854987. $125. DEC ARTS

vogue110514Ellison, features director at British Vogue for nearly a decade, mined the archives for this sumptuous love letter capturing the essence of Vogue: beautiful women in beautiful gowns. Expertly arranged to rhyme across the years, images are not chronological parades of similar dresses but rather echoes of posture, spirit, and drape that illuminate the appeal of the gown in many guises. Ellison’s text divides gowns into classical, fantasy, drama, decorative, and modern categories. The author also offers chatty, thematic essays, and annotates each photograph or illustration with an extended caption. The book itself is appropriately well dressed, with hundreds of full-color images on heavy paper in a foil-embossed satiny cover and slipcase with Vogue logo-print endpapers. It seems designed to be pored over or dipped into for inspiration, rather than read cover to cover. Now fashion editor for the Financial Times, the author lends a historian’s eye to this inaugural volume in the series—highlighting photographers, designers, models, and famous women of the past century. Its index is a who’s who of fashion history, and the foreword is by Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue. VERDICT This extravagant compilation will seduce anyone who is drawn to powerful photographic images and the visual sweep of Vogue’s history.—Lindsay King, Yale Univ. Libs, New Haven, CT

redstarFarnault, Hélène (text) & Alexis Lecomte (photos). Haute Couture Ateliers: The Artisans of Fashion. Vendome. 2014. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9780865653177. $75. DEC ARTS

hautecoutre110514France is known for its haute couture and luxury prêt-à-porter style and opulent fashion houses such as Chanel and Dior. Most people do not know about the traditional artisans who create, often by hand, the embroidery, lace, textiles, and artificial flowers and other embellishments that adorn these high-fashion clothes. In this volume, haute couture crafts expert Farnault explores these different crafts that contribute to clothing. While numerous ateliers proliferated in France in the first half of the 20th century, they have slowly died off, although enough still exist to keep these crafts alive and to support the couture industry. For example, after World War II, there were more than 40 embroidery workshops in France whereas currently only five or six exist—and they’re consolidating: Broderies Lanel was bought by another well-known embroidery studio, ­Lesage, at the end of 2013, and Broderies Vermont was bought by Dior in 2012. This lavishly illustrated volume sheds light on a subject that has not been widely written about in English-­language books. VERDICT Recommended for students of fashion as well as enthusiasts of fashion, especially of haute couture.—Sandra Rothenberg, Framingham State Coll. Lib., MA

Fine Arts

Álvarez, Ana M. Sustainable Residential Architecture. Firefly. 2014. 400p. illus. ISBN 9781770854475. $45. ARCH

Chalfant, Henry & Sacha Jenkins. Training Days: The Subway Artists Then and Now. Thames & Hudson. 2014. 176p. illus. index. ISBN 9780500239216. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9780500772195. FINE ARTS

redstarEaton, Linda. Printed Textiles: British and American Cottons and Linens 1700–1850. Monacelli. 2014. 384p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781580933933. $85. DEC ARTS

Ewing, William A. Landmark: The Fields of Landscape Photography. Thames & Hudson. 2014. 256p. photos. notes. ISBN 9780500544334. $65. PHOTOG

redstarKiracofe, Roderick. Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950–2000. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. 2014. 224p. photos. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781617691232. $50. DEC ARTS

Obrist, Hans Ulrich with Asad Raza. Ways of Curating. Faber & Faber. Nov. 2014. 176p. notes. ISBN 9780865478190. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780374712327. FINE ARTS

Ormond, Richard & Elaine Kilmurray. John Singer Sargent. Vol. 8: Figures and Landscapes 1908–1913: The Complete Paintings. Yale Univ. (Paul Mellon Ctr. for Studies in British Art). 2014. 424p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300177367. $80. FINE ARTS

Sexton, Richard. Creole World: Photographs of New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean Sphere. Historic New Orleans Collection. 2014. 240p. photos. ISBN 9780917860669. $49.95. ARCH

Wilkinson, Philip. Lego Architecture: The Visual Guide. DK. 2014. 232p. illus. index. ISBN 9781465422866. $40. ARCH


Grenier, Roger. Palace of Books. Univ. of Chicago. 2014. 136p. tr. from French by Alice Kaplan. bibliog. ISBN 9780226308340. $20; ebk. ISBN 9780226232591. LIT

Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakeable Love for New York. Touchstone. 2014. 256p. ed. by Sari Botton. ISBN 9781476784403. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781476784434. LIT

redstarOrtberg, Mallory. Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters. Holt. Nov. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781627791830. $23; ebk. ISBN 9781627791847. humor

Plumly, Stanley. The Immortal Evening: A Legendary Dinner with Keats, Wordsworth, and Lamb. Norton. 2014. 368p. bibliog. ISBN 9780393080995. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393245806. LIT

redstarPopoff, Alexandra. Tolstoy’s False Disciple: The Untold Story of Leo Tolstoy and Vladimir Chertkov. Pegasus. Nov. 2014. 400p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781605986401. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9781605987279. LIT

redstarSappho: A New Translation of the Complete Works. Cambridge Univ. 2014. 128p. ed. by Diane J. Rayor. tr. from ancient Greek by Diane J. Rayor. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781107023598. $70; ebk. ISBN 9781139904537. LIT

Performing Arts

Banks, Miranda J. The Writers: A History of American Screenwriters and Their Guild. Rutgers Univ. Jan. 2015. 336p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780813571386. $34.95. FILM

Zoglin, Richard. Hope: Entertainer of the Century. S. & S. Nov. 2014. 384p. photos. filmog. notes. index. ISBN 9781439140277. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781439148587. FILM


Kitcher, Philip. Life After Faith: The Case for Secular Humanism. Yale Univ. (Terry Lectures). 2014. 200p. index. ISBN 9780300203431. $25. PHIL

Tolokonnikova, Nadezhda & Slavoj Žižek. Comradely Greetings: The Prison Letters of Nadya and Slavoj. Verso. 2014. 112p. ISBN 9781781687734. pap. $9.95; ebk. ISBN 9781781687741. PHIL


Johnson, Kimberly. Uncommon Prayer. Persea. 2014. 80p. ISBN 9780892554478. pap. $15.95. POETRY

Moore, Jim. Underground: New and Selected Poems. Graywolf. 2014. 296p. ISBN 9781555976873. pap. $20. POETRY

Weaver, Afaa Michael. City of Eternal Spring. Univ. of Pittsburgh. 2014. 96p. ISBN 9780822963257. pap. $15.95. POETRY

Spirituality & Religion

Carroll, James. Christ Actually. Viking. Nov. 2014. 368p. notes. index. ISBN 9780670786039. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781101609125. REL

Early Christianity in Contexts: An Exploration Across Cultures and Continents. Baker Academic. Nov. 2014. 512p. ed. by William Tabbernee. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780801031267. $42.99. REL

Kidd, Thomas S. George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father. Yale Univ. 2014. 344p. notes. ISBN 9780300181623. $38. REL

Sutton, Matthew Avery. American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism. Belknap: Harvard Univ. Nov. 2014. 480p. notes. index. ISBN 9780674048362. $35. REL

Wacker, Grant. America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation. Belknap: Harvard Univ. Nov. 2014. 408p. notes. ISBN 9780674052185. $27.95. REL

Sports & Recreation

Beresini, Erin. Off Course: Inside the Mad, Muddy World of Obstacle Course Racing. Houghton Harcourt. 2014. 256p. maps. ISBN 9780544055322. $25. SPORTS

Playing To Win: Sports, Video Games, and the Culture of Play. Indiana Univ. Dec. 2014. 252p. ed. by Robert Alan Brookey & Thomas P. Oates. index. ISBN 9780253014993. $75; pap. ISBN 9780253015020. $26. SPORTS

The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks. Crown Archetype. Nov. 2014. 320p. Adapted by Bruce Feldman. ISBN 9780553418453. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780553418460. SPORTS

Robinson, Larry with Kevin Shea. The Great Defender: My Unexpected Hockey Odyssey. Fenn. Nov. 2014. 256p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780771072369. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780771072376. SPORTS

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.