In choosing Memoir & Memory as our monthly theme for September, a reflection of our year in publishing the genre was telling: A particularly monumental year for Yale University Press in its release of personal letters and correspondence, we published The Richard Burton Diaries (Oct. 2012, pbk July 2013), edited by Chris Williams, with ongoing #BurtonDiaries snippets on Twitter, and The Leonard Bernstein Letters, edited by Nigel Simeone, will be forthcoming in October, while we celebrated Bernstein’s birthday anniversary in August with a sneak preview letter from Frank Sinatra. Frank Prochaska challenged the genre convention with his publication of The Memoirs of Walter Bagheot, an imaginative reconstruction of the memoir the eminent Victorian editor Walter Bagehot might have written, from which an excerpt is available on our blog.
With The Letters of C. Vann Woodward, editor Michael O’Brien presents Woodward’s engaging, sharp, and often humorous letters, written to figures as diverse as John Kennedy, David Riesman, Richard Hofstadter, and Robert Penn Warren. These letters offer us a privileged glimpse not only into Woodward’s private thoughts, but also the broader complexities of Southern culture.
The title of renowned art historian Svetlana Alpers’ Roof Life refers to what one discovers looking out from high windows with distant and distinctive views. She assembles descriptions of things that mattered in a life that began in Cambridge, Massachusetts, continued in Berkeley, California, and is now lived in New York City. The experience of Europe informs it all; as Alpers solves the question of her father’s place and date of birth, she reconstructs the life of her Russian grandfather in a distant and tumultuous Europe of a century ago. She writes: “This is not art history, and it is not criticism, nor is it some mixture of the two. It is not, in other words, what people expect me to be doing.”
The poignant and revelatory Raising Henry: A Memoir of Motherhood, Disability, and Discovery gives professor Rachel Adams’ deeply moving and honest account of welcoming a baby born with Down syndrome. You can also read an extended interview with Adams on parenthood, health care, and the prejudices and changes our society must yet overcome to live up to its promises of inclusivity.
As we approach the centennial of World War I in 1914, Anthony Fletcher’s discovery of a trunk full of his grandfather’s letters recreates vivid accounts of British soldiers’ experiences and reveals the comradeship, humor, and strong morale that sustained them in the face of the horrors of war in Life, Death and Growing Up on the Western Front. And the never-before-published Totally Unofficial: The Autobiography of Rafael Lemkin, edited by Donna-Lee Frieze, recounts the life of a giant among modern ethical thinkers, a Holocaust survivor who invented the word “genocide,” inspired the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, and profoundly influenced human rights history.
Also never before published: Susan Sontag’s 1979 interview with Jonathan Cott for Rolling Stone showed her intellectual clarity and conversational confidence at the height of her career; the full interview is available to the public in Susan Sontag: The Complete Rolling Stone Interview. Their wide ranging conversation covered sexuality, gender issues, illness, aging, and political theory. Listen to samples from the original recording on the Yale Press Log!
And just barely off our September list of arrivals for North America: The Nostalgia Factory: Memory, Time, and Ageing, by Drouwe Draaisma, who, with a storyteller’s gift and a scientist’s insights, explores the terrain of memory, demolishes myths about forgetfulness as we grow older, and celebrates the unique qualities of the aging mind.
We’re soon to announce the expansion of many of YUP’s online channels, so be sure to sign up this week to receive our September “Memoir & Memory” e-newsletter, with a special discount on all the titles discussed this month on the Yale Press Log, and more!