Paris in the nineteenth century was a magnet for Europe's exiles, among them the Russian genius, Alexander Herzen, who described the experience of displacement from the inside. Richard Sennett plunges into this vibrant, anxious world to recreate the experiences of Herzen and his contemporaries.
'The breadth of Butler's interests and concerns is remarkable, even for a writer whose career spanned the greater part of a tumultuous century ... whether he is writing about wartime atrocities or local history, the slaughter of the Jews or Celtic hagiography, he speaks with authenticity. In this he is a member of a dying species.' John Banville
You've paid money for this book, or you have family or friends who don't mind your borrowing or who gift books like this. You are being attentive because you're interested in what type of person this gifter thinks you are - too attentive, to them, to yourself, or too inattentive.
Perec was a leading exponent of French literary surrealism who found humour - and pathos - in the human need for classification. Thoughts of Sorts is itself unclassifiable, a unique collection of philosophical riffs on his obsession with lists, puzzles, catalogues, and taxonomies. Introduced by Margaret Drabble.
'Perhaps when Orwell described sheer egoism as a necessary quality for a writer, he was not thinking about the sheer egoism of a female writer. Even the most arrogant female writer has to work over time to build an ego that is robust enough to get her through January, never mind all the way to December.' Deborah Levy