Book Review: East of the Wardrobe

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle enjoys a new study of the unexpected worlds of C. S. Lewis

December has always been the month read C. S. Lewis. Perhaps it was growing up reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the land of Narnia being in the grip of a perpetual (if Christmas-free) winter; perhaps it’s because I have always had a soft spot for that moment in the 1993 Richard Attenborough biopic of Lewis’s life and love, Shadowlands, in which the choir of Oxford University sing ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ as Lewis negotiates the new relationship that is blossoming between him and Joy Davidman.

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Book Review: Metropole by Ferenc Karinthy

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

Of all the authors whose works most follow Kafka, Ferenc Karinthy is unlikely to be a name to leap to most readers’ lips. He remains virtually unknown in English-speaking countries. And yet his 1970 novel Metropole is a quintessential Kafkaesque piece which also, at times, manages to take Kafka’s ideas in new directions, recalibrating the central premise of Kafka’s work in startling and sometimes amusingly satirical ways.

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Book Review: The Book Lover’s Almanac

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle enjoys Alex Johnson’s new compendium of ‘on this day’ literary nuggets

I began this blog eleven years ago to this day, back on 1 December 2012. Since then, I have broadened my range from curious facts about literary genres and specific authors to more in-depth analysis of classic works of literature, as well as some less canonical books, poems, and other literary texts. I’ve even branched out and started analysing song lyrics, whenever a particular song strikes me as worthy of discussion, or whenever I learn something curious about a song or artist.

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The Book of Books: The Inherent Strangeness of the Bible

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle enjoys Kristin Swenson’s fascinating and accessible introduction to the Bible

In the earliest New Testament writings, the mother of Jesus doesn’t even have a name. Paul says simply that Jesus was born from a woman, and there are very few references to the Virgin Mary in the earliest Gospel. Mark mentions a Mary, and he also mentions the mother of Jesus, but the context is ambiguous: it isn’t clear whether he is even referring to the same person. And in Luke’s Gospel, the adult Jesus effectively rejects his own mother.

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Illuminating Histories: The Oxford Illustrated History of the Book

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle reviews James Raven’s erudite and informative history of that ubiquitous invention, the book

In the Exeter Book, one of the jewels in the crown of Anglo-Saxon literature, a riddle appears which begins:

Some enemy deprived me of my life
And took away my worldly strength, then wet me,
Dipped me in water, took me out again,
Set me in sunshine …

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