I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty… Jack Kerouac, On the Road

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In addition to any number of crackpot economic theories [Marxism springs to mind first and foremost], popularization of the flat-earth myth and the invention of the renaissance as a historical period we can also thank the nineteenth century for the popularization of celebrity biography. The ability to take some one who, for instance, plays Richard III with verve and wit and somehow elevate them to a status almost equal to that enjoyed by Richard III when he reigned is an exercise in fatuity. A character like Maynard G. Krebs may be amusing as a parody. In the flesh such a person is invariably a parasite unworthy of further attention. To culturally enshrine such a character in a celebrity biography soars past fatuity and approaches ridiculousness faster than Kerouac’s typewriter at full bore.

Neal Cassady : the fast life of a beat hero David Sandison and Graham Vickers London : Omnibus, c 2008 Hardcover. xi, 340 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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This in-depth biography of Neal Cassady takes a look at the man who achieved immortality as Dean Moriarty, the central character in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. A charismatic, funny, and superficially seemingly intelligent man, Cassady was also a compulsive womanizer who lived life on the edge. His conversational writing style inspired Kerouac, who lifted a number of passages verbatim and uncredited from Cassady’s letters for significant episodes in On the Road. Drawing on a wealth of new research and with full cooperation from central figures in his life — including Carolyn Cassady and Ken Kesey — this account captures Cassady’s unique blend of lunacy cloaked by pseudo-spirituality.

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People commonly travel the world over to see rivers and mountains, new stars, garish birds, freak fish, grotesque breeds of human; they fall into an animal stupor that gapes at existence and they think they have seen something… Soren Kierkegaard

The bird : a natural history of who birds are, where they came from, and how they live Colin Tudge New York : Crown Publishers, c 2008 Hardcover. 1st American ed. and printing. Originally published: Consider the birds : who they are and what they do. London : Allen Lane, 2008. xvi, 462 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [431]-433) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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  • How are birds so good at flying and navigating?
  • Why are birds so like mammals- and yet so very different?
  • Did birds descend from dinosaurs, and if so, does that mean birds are dinosaurs?
  • How do they court each other and fend off rivals?
  • What’ s being communicated in birdsong?
  • Can we ever know how birds think?

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In this fascinating exploration of the avian class, Colin Tudge considers the creatures of the air. From their evolutionary roots to their flying, feeding, fighting, mating, nesting, and communicating, Tudge provocatively ponders what birds actually do-as well as why they do it and how. With the same curiosity, passion, and insight he brought to redwoods, pines, and palm trees in his widely acclaimed book The Tree, Tudge here studies sparrows, parrots, and even the Monkey-eating Eagle to better understand their world-and our own.

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There is far more to a bird’s existence than gliding gracefully on air currents or chirping sweetly from fence posts – the stakes are life and death. By observing and explaining the complex strategy that comes into play with everything from migration to social interaction to the timing of giving birth to young, Tudge reveals how birds are uniquely equipped biologically to succeed and survive.

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Complete with an “annotated cast list” of all the known birds in the world – plus illustrations – The Bird is a comprehensive and delightfully accessible guide for everyone from dedicated birders to casual birdwatchers that celebrates and illuminates the remarkable lives of birds.

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The play’s the thing

Edwin Booth as Iago

Edwin Booth as Iago

This wide and universal theater : Shakespeare in performance, then and now David Bevington Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2007 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xi, 242 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 225-230) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Mrs Patrick Campbell as Ophelia in 'Hamlet'

Mrs Patrick Campbell as Ophelia in ‘Hamlet’

For generations, most readers have first encountered Shakespeare’s plays in books, rather than onstage. In schools, his works are primarily taught by professors of English, many of whom know little about the theater. Yet Shakespeare was through and through a man of the stage. So what is lost when we leave Shakespeare the dramatist behind, and what can we learn by taking his plays seriously as dramas to be performed?

 Mr Garrick in the Character of Richard III

Mr Garrick in the Character of Richard III

David Bevington answers these questions with This Wide and Universal Theater, which explores productions of Shakespeare both in his own time and in the succeeding centuries. Making use of contemporary documents and the play scripts themselves, Bevington brings Shakespeare’s original staging to life. He explains how the Elizabethan playhouse, lacking scenery, conveyed a sense of place, from the Forest of Arden in As You Like It to the tavern in Henry IV, Part I. And through close attention to Shakespeare’s texts, he reveals the surprising ways that early production decisions continue to affect our understanding of the plays: for example, the word “balcony,” despite its indelible association with Romeo and Juliet, appears nowhere in the play itself. Moving beyond Shakespeare’s lifetime, Bevington shows the prodigious lengths to which eighteenth and nineteenth-century companies went to produce spectacular effects, from flying witches in Macbeth to terrifying storms punctuating King Lear. Considerations of recent productions on both stage and screen bring the book into the present, when character and language have taken precedence over spectacle.

Fanny Kemble as Juliet

Fanny Kemble as Juliet

Bringing a lifetime of study to bear on a remarkably underappreciated aspect of Shakespeare’s art, David Bevington has crafted a book that will entertain and illuminate anyone who has thrilled to the Bard on page or in performance.

Edmund Kean as Shylock

Edmund Kean as Shylock

 

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It is demonstrable from Geology that there was a period when no organic beings had existence: these organic beings must therefore have had a beginning subsequently to this period; and where is that beginning to be found, but in the will and fiat of an intelligent and all-wise Creator? William Buckland, Vindiciae Geologicae (1820)

The dragon seekers : how an extraordinary circle of fossilists discovered the dinosaurs and paved the way for Darwin Christopher McGowan Cambridge, Mass. : Perseus Pub., c 2001 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xvii, 270p. : ill., ports. ; 24cm. Includes bibliographic references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Set in nineteenth-century England, The Dragon Seekers chronicles the amazing discoveries of the first fossilists, whose findings in geology and paleontology led to the discovery of the age of dinosaurs. The intriguing cast of characters includes Mary Anning, a working-class woman who became one of the most successful fossil collectors of all time; Thomas Hawkins, another amateur collector who “improved upon” fossils in order to increase their market value; the eccentric William Buckland, discoverer of the world’s first dinosaur (Megalosaurus), and Richard Owen, an expert anatomist, who synthesized the discoveries of the age and ultimately coined the word “dinosaur” in 1842.

Christopher McGowan takes us back to a time when the new sciences of geology and paleontology were as young and vibrant as genetic engineering is today. Through heated public debates on everything from the age of the earth to the notion of extinction, the Dragon Seekers initiated the shift from a biblical to a scientific interpretation of the remote past. In this way, they laid the intellectual groundwork for Darwin’s revolutionary ideas, and launched a global obsession with the Age of Reptiles that continues even today.

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London is a modern Babylon… Benjamin Disraeli

The sexual history of London : from Roman Londinium to the swinging city–lust, vice, and desire across the ages Catharine Arnold New York : St. Martin’s Press, 2011 Hardcover. 1st U.S. ed. and printing. First published in Great Britain under the title City of sin : London and its vices by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd.–T.p. verso. 373 p. : ill. ; 22 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

If Paris is the city of love, then London is the city of lust. From the bath houses of Roman Londinium to the sexual underground of the twentieth century and beyond, this is an entertaining, vibrant chronicle of London and sex through the ages.

For more than a thousand years, England’s capital has been associated with desire, avarice, and the sins of the flesh. Richard of Devises, a monk writing in 1180, warned that “every quarter abounds in great obscenities.”As early as the second century AD, London was notorious for its raucous festivities and disorderly houses, and throughout the centuries the bawdy side of life has taken easy root and flourished.

In The Sexual History of London, historian Arnold turns her gaze to London’s relationship with vice through the ages. London has always traded in the currency of sex. Whether pornographic publishers on Fleet Street, or courtesans parading in Haymarket, its streets have long been witness to colorful sexual behavior. In an accessible, entertaining style, Arnold takes us on a journey through the fleshpots of London from earliest times to present day. Here are buxom strumpets, louche aristocrats, popinjay politicians, and Victorian flagellants — all vying for their place in London’s league of licentiousness.

From sexual exuberance to moral panic, the city has seen the pendulum swing from Puritanism to hedonism and back again. With latter chapters looking at Victorian London and the sexual underground of the twentieth century, this is a fascinating and vibrant chronicle of London at its most raw and ribald.

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