Monday, December 13, 2010

5 Questions with 5 Questions with Stephen Fender, author of Love Sex Death & Words


What's the book about?

Love Sex Death Words is about the wide applicability of literature to all life experiences, hence an attempt to show how many different occasions at different times
may yield literary treatments.

How it came about:

At the suggestion of our publisher, Icon Books, John Sutherland and I drew upon over 40 years of literary conversations based on our careers, backgrounds, training, and specialisms dedicated to learning and teaching about literature. The aim was to share our mutual enjoyment of literature with anyone interested in books.

Why did you choose "Love Sex Death and Words" as the title?

It suggests the comprehensive cover of our literary selections and references, as well as to echo the title of Foster Hirsch's book on the films of Woody Allen, Love, Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life.

What's the best sex tale in the book?

Probably the entry on Fanny Hill  (15 December). Here is a book without a single dirty word, judged pornographic when published and still considered so after the Lady Chatterley trial. 

Which literary figure in the book was the most interesting to write about?
There really is no choosing, as all of the entries became interesting the more we delved into them. After all fixing a literary event to every day of the year shows the many ways in which writing has been used to express the human condition, across centuries, continents and cultures. We aimed to create not just a chronicle of literary dates or people, but fascinating and individual essays on all aspects of literature – from the social, economic and political context of its production and reception, to its inner workings, the subtle ways in which it weaves together images and formal patterns to suggest meanings below the surface. 



In HOW WE FIGHT, author and scholar Dominic Tierney investigates the way in which American society views war, identifying specific traditions that take hold of the nation at different moments in conflicts. By looking closely at American warfare from the founding to the present, Tierney shows how consensus ways of thinking about armed struggle emerged over two centuries to become accepted wisdoms. He reveals how the crusader and quagmire traditions have shaped American foreign policy time and again, encouraging military campaigns for far-reaching goals, and cultivating a national allergy toward nation-building. As we fight two wars right now and possibly prepare for a third, Americans are trying to understand this new era of terrorism and counter-insurgency. HOW WE FIGHT then, is a remarkable, necessary book that reveals how American culture and power steer popular attitudes toward conflict. And it tells us how, when that next fight comes, Americans will respond, what they will demand from their commander-in-chief--and whether they'll rally behind the cause--or ultimately come to view the war as a disastrous mistake.

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