What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Beautiful and Damned’

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Beautiful and Damned’
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Updated 09 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Beautiful and Damned’

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Beautiful and Damned’

“The Beautiful and Damned” is a 1922 classic novel written by American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, which features a recurring theme of works, the excess and lavishness of the Jazz Ara. 

The book is Fitzgerald’s second novel, set in 1920’s prohibition era New York, which tells the story of Harvard-educated, trust fund socialite Anthony Patch and his nonconformist and rebellious wife Gloria Gilbert.

Patch’s close friend from Harvard, Richard Caramel, introduces him to Gilbert, which sees an infatuation gradually become an obsession with her vanity and recklessness. 

The young couple fall prey to primary human instincts in an endless frenzy of bacchanalian hedonism.  

Patch is an orphan, though heir to his grandfather’s wealth, but finds himself excluded from the will due to his lack of purpose and direction. 

The couple’s pleasure-seeking behavior backfires as the Great War ensues, and they find themselves on the brink of poverty. 

The book challenges the idleness and morality of the pair, as their friends succeed in life while they spiral into decadence and decay; their lavish lifestyle dissipating, and bickering setting in as their finances worsen. 

Due to their poverty, Gilbert attempts to take up acting, but is rejected for her age, and Patch is drafted into the military as the US enters the war. 

Fitzgerald’s association with expatriate artists after the First World War had him coin the phrase “lost generation” in reference to the post-war period’s lack of direction, and meaningless wandering of its youth.


What We Are Reading Today: The Future Is Asian

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Updated 03 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Future Is Asian

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Author: Parag Khanna

In the 19th century, the world was Europeanized. In the 20th century, it was Americanized. Now, in the 21st century, the world is being Asianized.
In this book, the writer tries to claim that the “Asian Century” is even bigger than you think. Far greater than just China, the new Asian system taking shape is a multi-civilizational order spanning Saudi Arabia to Japan, Russia to Australia, Turkey to Indonesia — linking 5 billion people through trade, finance, infrastructure, and diplomatic networks that together represent 40 percent of global GDP.

China has taken a lead in building the new Silk Roads across Asia, but it will not lead it alone. Rather, Asia is rapidly returning to the centuries-old patterns of commerce, conflict, and cultural exchange that thrived long before European colonialism and American dominance.

Asians will determine their own future — and as they collectively assert their interests around the world, they will determine ours as well, according to a review on goodreads.com.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Fit Nation

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Updated 03 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Fit Nation

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Author: Natalia Mehlman Petrzela

The author argues that the fight for a more equitable exercise culture will be won only by revolutionizing fitness culture at its core, making it truly inclusive for all bodies in a way it has never been.
In Fit Nation, historian and fitness instructor Natalia Mehlman Petrzela explains why places like US urban public pools are struggling. She traces how the US simultaneously became obsessed with working out and failed to provide necessary resources for it.
Petrzela’s book “continued to haunt me after I put it down,” said Yasmine AlSayyad in a review for The New York Times.
“I was embarrassed by the number of fitness brands that I recognized in it, and I winced at how much money I’ve forked out for them. But I wish I’d come out with a better understanding of how the US compares with other countries in this regard,” said the review.
Petrzela makes several observations about America that could have benefited from more context, AlSayyad added.

“I couldn’t stop wondering: Is workout culture in America more commercial than it is in other countries? And are we any fitter because of it?”

 


What We Are Reading Today: What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern

What We Are Reading Today: What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern
Updated 02 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern

What We Are Reading Today: What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern

Author: Jed Rasula

When T. S. Eliot published The Waste Land in 1922, it put the 34-year-old author on a path to worldwide fame and the Nobel Prize. “But,” as Jed Rasula writes, “The Waste Land is not only a poem: It names an event, like a tornado or an earthquake. Its publication was a watershed, marking a before and after. It was a poem that unequivocally declared that the ancient art of poetry had become modern.”

In What the Thunder Said, Rasula tells the story of how The Waste Land changed poetry forever and how this cultural bombshell served as a harbinger of modernist revolution in all the arts, from abstraction in visual art to atonality in music.


What We Are Reading Today: An Invitation to Modern Number Theory

What We Are Reading Today: An Invitation to Modern  Number Theory
Updated 01 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: An Invitation to Modern Number Theory

What We Are Reading Today: An Invitation to Modern  Number Theory

Authors: Steven J. Miller & Ramin Takloo-Bighash

In a manner accessible to beginning undergraduates, An Invitation to Modern Number Theory introduces many of the central problems, conjectures, results, and techniques of the field, such as the Riemann Hypothesis, Roth’s Theorem, the Circle Method, and Random Matrix Theory.

Showing how experiments are used to test conjectures and prove theorems, the book allows students to do original work on such problems, often using little more than calculus (though there are numerous remarks for those with deeper backgrounds).

It shows students what number theory theorems are used for and what led to them and suggests problems for further research.


What We Are Reading Today: The Roman Republic of Letters

What We Are Reading Today: The Roman Republic of Letters
Updated 29 November 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Roman Republic of Letters

What We Are Reading Today: The Roman Republic of Letters

Author: Katharina Volk 

In The Roman Republic of Letters, Katharina Volk explores a fascinating chapter of intellectual history, focusing on the literary senators of the mid-first century BCE who came to blows over the future of Rome even as they debated philosophy, history, political theory, linguistics, science, and religion.

It was a period of intense cultural flourishing and extreme political unrest—and the agents of each were very often the same people.

Members of the senatorial class, including Cicero, Caesar, Brutus, Cassius, Cato, Varro, and Nigidius Figulus, contributed greatly to the development of Roman scholarship and engaged in a lively and often polemical exchange with one another.