Articles on English literature

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A new collection of essays explores the role of books in founding and dismantling The British empire. Shutterstock

The books that shaped the rise and fall of the British empire

Books have active political lives. They inspire social movements and bind people together. Books can stand as short-hand symbols for larger galaxies of ideas.
The recent discovery of a First Folio in St. Omer, France brings the total number of known copies to 233. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, National Art Library

The strange fates of the Shakespeare First Folio

The Shakespeare First Folio (1623), the first collected edition of his plays and the sole source for half of them (including Macbeth, Antony & Cleopatra, All’s Well, As You Like It, and The Tempest…
Would a syphilitic Joyce really change the way we read him? Shutterstock/Bepsy

Afflicted or not, James Joyce probed the politics of syphilis

According to Jacques Derrida, “nothing can be invented on the subject of Joyce”. Speaking in 1984, he had in mind the sheer comprehensive power of Joyce’s writing: from the capacity of Ulysses to draw…
Still I rise. EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

The sorrow and defiance of Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history With your bitter twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise. So begins one of Maya Angelou’s poems, written in 1978. One of her most…
Tolkien probably would have destroyed the work if he thought it might be published. Galaxy fm ®

Publishing Tolkien’s Beowulf translation does him a disservice

Fans of J R R Tolkien must wonder why there is any controversy associated with the recent publication of his 1926 translation of Beowulf. For them anything new from Tolkien is welcome. But imagine if Tolkien’s…
The next Shakespeare… in a manner of speaking. EPA/Paul Buck

Russell Brand English A Level will be refreshing and rigorous

The exam board OCR recently announced a new English Language and Literature A Level that they intend to offer from 2015. The proposed syllabus boasts that “the range of texts to be studied is to be the…

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