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Late in 1967, Uwe Johnson set out to write a book that would take the unusual form of a chapter for every day of the ongoing year. It would be the tale of Gesine Cresspahl, a thirty-four-year-old single mother who is a German émigré to Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and of her ten-year-old daughter, Marie—a story of work and school, of friends and lovers and the countless small encounters with neighbors and strangers that make up big-city life. An everyday tale, but also a tale of the events of the day, as gleaned by Gesine from The New York Times: Johnson could hardly foresee the convulsions of 1968, but some of the news—the racial unrest roiling America, the escalating war in Vietnam—was sure to be news for some time yet to come. Finally, it would be a tale told by Gesine to Marie about Gesine’s childhood in a small north German town, of her independent and enterprising father, of her troubled mother, of Nazi Germany (Gesine was born the year Hitler came to power) and World War II and Soviet retribution and the grimly regulated realities of Communist East Germany. An ambitious historical novel as well as a wonderfully observed New York novel, Anniversaries would take in the unsettled world of the present along with the twentieth century’s disastrous past, while vividly depicting the struggle of a loving, though hardly uncomplicated mother and a bright, indomitably curious girl to understand and care for each other and to shape a human world.
Gesine and Marie are among the most memorable and engaging characters in literature, and Anniversaries, at once monumental and intimate, sweeping and full of incident, stylistically adventurous and endlessly absorbing, is quite simply one of the great books of our time.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • New York Post • Sunday Times (UK) • Irish Independent
In 1917, working alone in a remote Swiss asylum, psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach devised an experiment to probe the human mind: a set of ten carefully designed inkblots. For years he had grappled with the theories of Freud and Jung while also absorbing the aesthetic movements of the day, from Futurism to Dadaism. A visual artist himself, Rorschach had come to believe that who we are is less a matter of what we say, as Freud thought, than what we see.
After Rorschach’s early death, his test quickly made its way to America, where it took on a life of its own. Co-opted by the military after Pearl Harbor, it was a fixture at the Nuremberg trials and in the jungles of Vietnam. It became an advertising staple, a cliché in Hollywood and journalism, and an inspiration to everyone from Andy Warhol to Jay Z. The test was also given to millions of defendants, job applicants, parents in custody battles, and people suffering from mental illness or simply trying to understand themselves better. And it is still used today.
In this first-ever biography of Rorschach, Damion Searls draws on unpublished letters and diaries and a cache of previously unknown interviews with Rorschach’s family, friends, and colleagues to tell the unlikely story of the test’s creation, its controversial reinvention, and its remarkable endurance—and what it all reveals about the power of perception. Elegant and original, The Inkblots shines a light on the twentieth century’s most visionary synthesis of art and science.
Praise for The Inkblots
“Impressively thorough . . . part biography of Herman Rorschach, psychoanalytic super sleuth, and part chronicle of the test’s afterlife in clinical practice and the popular imagination . . . Searls is a nuanced and scholarly writer . . . genuinely fascinating.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A marvelous book about how one man and his enigmatic test came to shape our collective imagination. The Rorschach test is a great subject and The Inkblots is worthy of it: beguiling, fascinating, and full of new discoveries every time you look.” —David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z
A Penguin Classic
A young man awakens to selfhood and to a world of possibilities beyond the conventions of his upbringing in Nobel Prize winner Hermann Hesse’s beloved novel Demian. Emil Sinclair is a quiet boy drawn into a forbidden yet seductive realm of petty crime and defiance. His guide is his precocious, mysterious classmate Max Demian, who provokes in Emil a search for self-discovery and spiritual fulfillment. A brilliant psychological portrait, Demian is given new life in this translation, which together with James Franco’s personal and inspiring foreword will bring a new generation to Hesse’s widely influential coming-of-age novel.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
This reader’s edition, the largest one-volume edition of Thoreau’s Journal ever published, is the first to capture the scope, rhythms, and variety of the work as a whole. Ranging freely over the world at large, the Journal is no less devoted to the life within. As Thoreau says, “It is in vain to write on the seasons unless you have the seasons in you.”
Longlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize
“Fosse’s fusing of the commonplace and the existential, together with his dramatic forays into the past, make for a relentlessly consuming work: already Septology feels momentous.”—The Guardian
The Other Name follows the lives of two men living close to each other on the west coast of Norway. The year is coming to a close and Asle, an aging painter and widower, is reminiscing about his life. He lives alone, his only friends being his neighbor, Åsleik, a bachelor and traditional Norwegian fisherman-farmer, and Beyer, a gallerist who lives in Bjørgvin, a couple hours’ drive south of Dylgja, where he lives. There, in Bjørgvin, lives another Asle, also a painter. He and the narrator are doppelgangers—two versions of the same person, two versions of the same life.
Written in hypnotic prose that shifts between the first and third person, The Other Name calls into question concrete notions around subjectivity and the self. What makes us who we are? And why do we lead one life and not another? Through flashbacks, Fosse deftly explores the convergences and divergences in the lives of both Asles, slowly building towards a decisive encounter between them both. A writer at the zenith of his career, with The Other Name, the first two volumes in his Septology, Fosse presents us with an indelible and poignant exploration of the human condition that will endure as his masterpiece.
Selected work from the modernist poet thematically centered on our relation to the physical world and our minds, featuring original texts and translations.
The Inner Sky is a selection of poems and prose by the great poet Rainer Maria Rilke, set with the original text and a translation, and including more than a dozen works that have never before appeared in English. The translations, by the NEA and PEN Award–winning author and translator Damion Searls, are lively, moving, and appealing, and they give a new voice for Rilke in English: mystical but concrete, like Emily Dickinson or Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Searls’s selection of texts clusters around a handful of related images and ideas—birds and trees, giving and receiving, working and waiting, girlhood and gardens—and presents a coherent vision of how we relate to the outer world and inner world of the imagination. Scholars and students of Rilke will benefit from the German and French originals opposite the translations, and two full indices of English and original titles and first lines. An annotated chronology and the translator’s afterword complete this rich new volume, a necessary addition to even the most complete Rilke library, and the perfect introduction for those just getting to know this perennial master.
“No matter their level of familiarity with Rilke, The Inner Sky belongs on the bookshelf of any literature lover, thanks largely to Searls’ deft translation and grouping of Rilke’s work.” —Rachel Mennies, ForeWord Magazine
“A must-read for Rilke fans, The Inner Sky will deepen the English-speaking world’s perception of the man behind the well-wrought verses.” —Stephan Delbos, The Prague Post
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
Young Once is a crucial book in the career of Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano. It was his breakthrough novel, in which he stripped away the difficulties of his earlier work and found a clear, mysteriously moving voice for his haunting stories of love, nostalgia, and grief. It has also been called “the most gripping Modiano book of all” (Der Spiegel).
Odile and Louis are leading a happy, bucolic life with their two children in the French countryside near the Swiss mountains. It is Odile’s thirty-fifth birthday, and Louis’s thirty-fifth birthday is a few weeks away. Then the story shifts back to their early years: Louis, just freed from his military service and at loose ends, is taken up by a shady character who brings him to Paris to do some work for a friend who manages a garage; Odile, an aspiring singer, is at the mercy of the kindness and unkindness of strangers. In a Paris that is steeped in crime and full of secrets, they find each other and struggle together to create what, looking back, will have been their youth.
The stunning final novel from East Germany's most acclaimed writer
Three years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the writer Christa Wolf was granted access to her newly declassified Stasi files. Known for her defiance and outspokenness, Wolf was not especially surprised to discover forty-two volumes of documents produced by the East German secret police. But what was surprising was a thin green folder whose contents told an unfamiliar—and disturbing—story: in the early 1960s, Wolf herself had been an informant for the Communist government. And yet, thirty years on, she had absolutely no recollection of it.
Wolf's extraordinary autobiographical final novel is an account of what it was like to reckon with such a shocking discovery. Based on the year she spent in Los Angeles after these explosive revelations, City of Angels is at once a powerful examination of memory and a surprisingly funny and touching exploration of L.A., a city strikingly different from any Wolf had ever visited.
Even as she reflects on the burdens of twentieth-century history, Wolf describes the pleasures of driving a Geo Metro down Wilshire Boulevard and watching episodes of Star Trek late at night. Rich with philosophical insights, personal revelations, and vivid descriptions of a diverse city and its citizens, City of Angels is a profoundly humane and disarmingly honest novel—and a powerful conclusion to a remarkable career in letters.
In 1869, at the age of twenty-four, the precociously brilliant Friedrich Nietzsche was appointed to a professorship of classical philology at the University of Basel. He seemed marked for a successful and conventional academic career. Then the philosophy of Schopenhauer and the music of Wagner transformed his ambitions. The genius of such thinkers and makers—the kind of genius that had emerged in ancient Greece—this alone was the touchstone for true understanding. But how was education to serve genius, especially in a modern society marked more and more by an unholy alliance between academic specialization, mass-market journalism, and the militarized state? Something more than sturdy scholarship was called for. A new way of teaching and questioning, a new philosophy . . .
What that new way might be was the question Nietzsche broached in five vivid, popular public lectures in Basel in 1872. Anti-Education presents a provocative and timely reckoning with what remains one of the central challenges of the modern world.
Who was Nescio? Nescio—Latin for “I don’t know”—was the pen name of J.H.F. Grönloh, the highly successful director of the Holland–Bombay Trading Company and a father of four—someone who knew more than enough about respectable maturity. Only in his spare time and under the cover of a pseudonym, as if commemorating a lost self, did he let himself go, producing over the course of his lifetime a handful of utterly original stories that contain some of the most luminous pages in modern literature.
This is the first English translation of Nescio’s stories.