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Non-Fiction Book Intake Post - Jan-Feb 2017

Friday, March 10, 2017 - 09:00

Green - cover image Marsot - cover image Vicinus - cover image Carlin Crouch - cover image

I haven't done a book intake post in a while and several individual purchases have been piling up waiting to be cataloged. So let's do the double duty of getting these in the spreadsheet and talking about why I bought them.

Green, Nile. 2016. The Love of Strangers: What Six Muslim Students Learned in Jane Austen's London. Princeton University Press, Princeton. ISBN 978-0-691-16832-6

In a testament to the principle that every book review may sell a book to someone, no matter what the reviewer thought of it, I spotted this on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, where the reviewer seemed to think that this scholarly study was a bit lacking in plot and characterization. No doubt true, but it looked like it might be a good addition to my deep background research on the lives and practices of Muslims living in western Europe in the early 19th century. It carries several caveats with regard to my own purposes, given that  the visitors were from Iran, were living in England, and were men. But I expect to do a lot of triangulation in figuring out the parameters of Zobaida's life.

Marsot, Afaf Lutfi al-Sayyid. 1995. Women and Men in Late Eighteenth-Century Egypt. University of Texas Press, Austin. ISBN 978-0-292-71736-7

Another book purchased for the same research project, this one with more overlap on my target (women and Egypt) although without the element of how cultural and religious practices were exercised in immigrant situations. Despite being given equal billing in the title, this study is primarily on the lives of women. Rather delightfully for my purposes, it covers all social classes and at least several of the ethnic/religious cultures that were significant at the time. Lots of juicy economic and domestic data, and at least some discussion of woman-centered religious practices.

Vicinus, Martha. 2004. Intimate Friends: Women Who Loved Women, 1778-1928. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. ISBN 0-226-85564-3

Somewhat obviously, I picked this up for the Lesbian Historic Motif Project. "The fascinating history of the erotic friendships of educated English and American women over the 150-year period leading up to the 1928 publication of Radclyffe Hall's landmark novel, The Well of Loneliness." This may make an interesting counterpoint to Faderman, in that it covers the same heyday of "romantic friendship" but is focused much more strongly on the erotic potential in women's relationships.

Carlin, Martha & David Crouch (editors and translators). 2013. Lost Letters of Medieval Life: English Society, 1200-1250. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia. ISBN 978-0-8122-2336-1

For writers of historical fiction, one of the greatest difficulties is to get inside the heads and the everyday lives of your characters. While the correspondence that survives is rarely completely unfiltered conversation, it can shed light on topics that might otherwise be considered too trivial for history books. Skimming through the table of contents, there are topics such as:

  • An Earl orders furs from his skinner, to whom he owes money
  • A warning to a friend to get his grain off the road, because the king is about to go to Wales and will seize all provisions that he finds along the way
  • A tenant informs on a landowner's corrupt bailiff
  • A baron asks a baron to have the latter's son train his goshawk, which he sends
  • A student at Paris writes to his father for money
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