The Institute of English Studies
History of the book, manuscript and print studies and textual scholarship research
The coronavirus crisis has ushered in its own language. Covid-secure, social distancing, the R rate. These phrases have now become familiar. Some of this language is new but Covid-19 has also revived older words.
Italian literature and pandemics: Re-reading the Italian classics during COVID-19. Part 2: Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron
Like Alessandro Manzoni’s I promessi sposi/The Betrothed, Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron (ca. 1349-1353) is set during a pandemic: the Black Death of 1348-49, which killed at least 50% of the Italian population.
Italian literature has long had a familiarity with pandemics. The first major Italian novel, Alessandro Manzoni’s I promessi sposi/The Betrothed was published in 1840 and is set during the plague epidemic of 1629-31 (you can read an 1844 English translation here: vol 1 and vol. 2).
Throughout the lockdown I have been thinking about the ways in which I spend my time; am I productive enough, what do I do to wind-down, do I wind-down enough, and how do I compare with others?
At the start of the current pandemic lockdown I started an umpteenth re-reading of Middlemarch. I will be writing briefly on the novel for our new MA, but this choice of reading was as much for my own sanity as for reasons of work..
At rare off-duty times during lockdown, two moments from novels have repeatedly come to mind. One is Arthur Clennam’s imprisonment in the Marshalsea towards the close of Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit: ‘None of us clearly know to whom or to what we are indebted … until some marked stop in the whirling wheel of life brings the right perception with it
Lockdown reading takes many forms, from the rediscovery of the attractions of Jane Austen’s socially enclosed worlds, to the recognition of the predictive power of texts like Camus’s La Peste, or Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End. As a specialist in Renaissance literature…
Recovering a radical history of literature, politics and feminism: An interview with Francesca Wade, author of Square Haunting
IES PhD student Natalia Fantetti talks to author Francesca Wade about her new book, Square Haunting. To research the work of women is to realise just how often their histories have been obscured, consigned to the footnotes, or just plainly left out. With my own...
As a collector of anything to do with writing and examples of printing, I was trying to update the catalogue of my collection and came across this little book, which I wondered may be of some interest.
As France entered strictly regulated ‘confinement’ in mid-March I was finishing a book chapter about spaces of reading (and writing) on the purpose-built fast passenger clipper the Torrens…