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Autobiography is one of the most popular of written forms. From Casanova to Benjamin Franklin to the Kardashians, individuals throughout history have recorded their own lives and experiences. These personal writings are central to the work of literary critics, philosophers, historians and psychologists, who have found in autobiographies from across the centuries not only an understanding of the ways in which lives have been lived, but the most fundamental accounts of what it means to be a self in the world. In this Very Short Introduction Laura Marcus defines what we mean by 'autobiography', and considers its relationship with similar literary forms such as memoirs, journals, letters, diaries, and essays. Analysing the core themes in autobiographical writing, such as confession, conversion and testimony; romanticism and the journeying self; Marcus discusses the autobiographical consciousness (and the roles played by time, memory and identity), and considers the relationship between psychoanalysis and autobiography. Exploring the themes of self-portraiture and performance, Marcus also discusses the ways in which fiction and autobiography have shaped each other. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Biographies are one of the most popular and best-selling of the literary genres. Why do people like them? What does a biography do and how does it work? This Very Short Introduction examines different types of biographies, why certain people and historical events arouse so much interest, and how they are compared with history and fiction.
In a startling reinterpretation of the evidence, Stillman Drake advances the hypothesis that Galileo's trial and condemnation by the Inquisition was caused not by his defiance of the Church, but by the hostility of contemporary philosophers. Galileo's own beautifully lucid arguments are used to show how his scientific method was utterly divorced from the Aristotelian approach to physics in that it was based on a search not for causes but for laws. Galileo's method was of overwhelming significance for the development of modern physics, and led to a final parting of the ways between science and philosophy. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
As a giant of 20th century history, Mao Zedong played many roles: peasant revolutionary, patriotic leader against the Japanese occupation, Marxist theoretician, modernizer, and visionary despot. This Very Short Introduction chronicles Mao's journey from peasant child to ruler of the most populous nation on Earth. He was a founder of both the Chinese Communist Party and the Red Army, and for many years he fought on two fronts, for control of the Party and in an armed struggle for the Party's control of the country. His revolution unified China and began its rise to world power status. He was the architect of the Great Leap Forward that he hoped would make China both prosperous and egalitarian, but instead ended in economic disaster resulting in millions of deaths. It was Mao's growing suspicion of his fellow leaders that led him to launch the Cultural Revolution, and his last years were dogged by ill-health and his despairing attempts to find a successor whom he trusted. Delia Davin provides an invaluable introduction to Mao, showing him in all his complexity; ruthless, brutal, and ambitious, a man of enormous talent and perception, yet a leader who is still detested by some and venerated by others. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
In this new offering from Stanley Wells, the pre-eminent Shakespearian scholar, comes a Very Short Introduction to the life and writings of the world's greatest and best-known dramatists: William Shakespeare. Looking at his early life and education, Wells explores Shakespeare's social and intellectual background and the literary traditions on which Shakespeare drew. Examining the theatres and theatrical profession of the time, he also considers how Shakespeare experienced this world, both as an actor and as a writer. Examining Shakespeare's narrative poems, sonnets, and all of his plays, Wells outlines their sources, style, and originality over the course of Shakespeare's career, to consider the fundamental impact his work has had for subsequent generations. Written with enthusiasm and flair by a scholar who has devoted a lifetime to the study of Shakespeare and his works, this is an engaging and authoritative introduction. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Documentary film can encompass anything from Robert Flaherty's pioneering ethnography Nanook of the North to Michael Moore's anti-Iraq War polemic Fahrenheit 9/11, from Dziga Vertov's artful Soviet propaganda piece Man with a Movie Camera to Luc Jacquet's heart-tugging wildlife epic March of the Penguins. In this concise, crisply written guide, Patricia Aufderheide takes readers along the diverse paths of documentary history and charts the lively, often fierce debates among filmmakers and scholars about the best ways to represent reality and to tell the truths worth telling. Beginning with an overview of the central issues of documentary filmmaking--its definitions and purposes, its forms and founders--Aufderheide focuses on several of its key subgenres, including public affairs films, government propaganda (particularly the works produced during World War II), historical documentaries, and nature films. Her thematic approach allows readers to enter the subject matter through the kinds of films that first attracted them to documentaries, and it permits her to make connections between eras, as well as revealing the ongoing nature of documentary's core controversies involving objectivity, advocacy, and bias. Interwoven throughout are discussions of the ethical and practical considerations that arise with every aspect of documentary production. A particularly useful feature of the book is an appended list of "100 great documentaries" that anyone with a serious interest in the genre should see. Drawing on the author's four decades of experience as a film scholar and critic, this book is the perfect introduction not just for teachers and students but also for all thoughtful filmgoers and for those who aspire to make documentaries themselves. About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
John Maynard Keynes was one of the most influential economists of the twentieth century. His ideas have had a central influence on many of areas of economics used today, both in theory and practice. In this Very Short Introduction Lord Robert Skidelsky looks at Keynes's life, his philosophy, his theories, and the legacy he left behind.

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