Penguin Classics Newsletter | June / July 2008

Introducing our African American Classics Series

Penguin Classics is proud to introduce the first two books in our new six-book African American Classics series: James Weldon Johnson's God's Trombones and The Portable Charles W. Chesnutt. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, serves as series editor.

The Portable Charles W. Chesnutt, edited and introduced by William L. Andrews, includes twelve short stories, three essays, and the complete novel The Marrow of Tradition. We're publishing on the heels of a U.S. postage stamp issued in January 2008 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Chesnutt's birth. God's Trombones, a collection of seven sermons that Johnson reconfigured into vivid spiritual poetry, features a foreword by the incomparable Maya Angelou.


Change We Can Believe In?

Henry Adams would be the first to scoff. According to Morris Dickstein, writing in the current issue of Bookforum: "Adams's 1880 novel, Democracy, begins as a Baedeker to Washington politics, an insider's guide to how democracy in America really works. But it ends with a sweeping moral retreat, a sense that politics can lead only to contamination, an 'atrophy of the moral senses by disuse.' America saw itself as the great exception, free of the corruptions of a decadent Europe, but found that only one's private life could serve as such an oasis of innocence."

Maureen Dowd of The New York Times has said that Democracy is "one of the most perceptive books ever written about Washington," and we're publishing just in time for the Fourth of July. It's the perfect book for what's been called a change election—especially if you think that some things never change.

  John Adams

Fireworks and Forefathers

As our country gears up to celebrate another birthday, join in the festivities and show your patriotism by picking up some classic Americana:

America and Americans by John Steinbeck

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

The Portable John Adams

Dashing Diamond Dick and Other Classic Dime Novels

  Little Red Riding Hood  

We Love You, Angela Carter

You might've been justified in thinking Angela Carter immortal, such was the influence she had on our literature, but she died in 1992 and was eulogized by Salman Rushdie in The New York Times as "the most brilliant writer in England" and as English literature's "high sorceress, its benevolent witch-queen." Margaret Atwood even said, "The amazing thing about her, for me, was that someone who looked so much like the Fairy Godmother . . . should actually be so much like the Fairy Godmother." Penguin Classics is doing what we can to bring Angela Carter back to life with a new edition of her virtuoso retellings of some of our canonical fairy tales.

In Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Other Classic Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault, Carter gives new life to some of the icons of Western folklore. Charles Perrault, in seventeenth-century France, became the first to set them down, and three hundred years later Angela Carter retold them with the flair of a modern visionary, doing for such fairy tale favorites as "Sleeping Beauty," "Puss in Boots," and "Bluebeard" what Gregory Maguire did for the Wicked Witch of the West in the hit Broadway musical Wicked. As mischievous as it is brilliant, this volume marks the Penguin Classics debut of Angela Carter, a writer of dazzling wit and subversive imagination.

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Penguin Classics wins major design prize.

Read about it here.


Reading the Classics from A to Z

Alan Walker, our Senior Director of Academic Marketing and Sales, continues his marathon to read one book by an author per letter of the alphabet. Check out the Penguin Classics website for Alan's first three blog entries (A-J) on reading classically. 


In Memoriam

On March 26, Robert Fagles, who represented the very best of Penguin Classics in his bestselling, award-winning translations of the Homeric and Virgilian epics, most recently The Aeneid, died after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 74.


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