“When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin”—Kafka, The Metamorphosis. This is one of the most famous opening lines in all of world literature, but how ‘Kafkaesque’ was Franz Kafka? What are our misconceptions about his life and work? Professor Stanley Corngold, one of the most influential Kafka scholars, introduces us to an “athlete of anguish”.
What’s at stake when we call a building beautiful or denounce it as ugly? MIT professor Timothy Hyde, author of Ugliness and Judgment, explores five books about the social, political and economic dimensions behind debates that often masquerade as arguments about style, but which deal with matters at the very heart of civil society.
Although less flamboyantly experimental than his contemporaries Joyce and Woolf, D H Lawrence was a modernist, says literary scholar Catherine Brown. Here, she selects five books that make the case for this most contradictory, and often divisive, of writers—a man whose fictions and ‘philosophicalish’ works were by turns brilliant and bewildering, sublime and ridiculous
Is it possible to describe or study our inner experience, and – if so – how might one go about it? Charles Fernyhough, professor of psychology and author of The Voices Within chooses five of the best books that employ or examine streams of consciousness.
Virginia Woolf was long dismissed as a ‘minor modernist’ but now stands as one of the giants of 20th century literature. Her biographer, Hermione Lee, talks us through the best Virginia Woolf books, novels and essays, and diaries, of Virginia Woolf.
The Belle Epoque combined a preoccupation with the noblesse of the old regime with the seeds for modernism, says Oxford history professor Ruth Harris, author of an award-winning book on the Dreyfus affair. She picks the best books on a golden period in France before the outbreak of World War I.
Modernism is about form more than content, says literary scholar and critic Alexandra Harris, author of Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper. She tells us about the history of the modernist movement, and picks five books that exemplify or explain it.