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The judges for the 2022 edition of the Literary Encyclopedia Book Prize are delighted to announce our shortlist of six very strong books, drawn from the list of initial submissions:
The return of this Saint Cecilia's Day finds me in better health than has been usual with me in these last six months. But I am not yet engaged in any work that makes a higher life for me - a life that is young and grows, though in my other life I am getting old and decaying.
George Eliot, Diary, November 22, 1868
Part of our contextual historical section, the essay looks at the militant political ethos which emerged from the African-American civil rights movement during the latter half of the 1960s and which thereafter came to encapsulate an array of political groups, ideological standpoints and cultural movements. The article sheds light and comments on their complex interconnection, leading to a finer understanding of present political struggles such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ and similar militant movements for human rights and social justice.
The article offers a critical overview of one of the most influential literary and cultural groups in British literary history, both in terms of its impact on wider twentieth-century thought and artistry, and as a collective of eclectic but largely like-minded intellectual figures, which, “while generally liberal, agnostic and feminist (especially in the writings of Virginia Woolf), in creative accomplishment … exhibited a range of allegiances and talent, innovative and reactionary”. It offers essential intellectual context to the developments of Modernism in Britain and elsewhere.
The article proposes an in-depth look at what its author sees as a pervasive mode of writing in Irish literature, particularly in contexts in which the tools of literary realism fall short of adequately representing the historical and psychic wounds of colonialism. It links religious issues specific to Ireland, particularly the divide between Catholics and Protestants, to the conflictive historical context that has produced this cleavage and led to the discourse of “othering”, repulsion and desire specific to the genre. The essay is theoretically sophisticated and discusses a wide range of critical perspectives on Gothic tropes, motifs and themes, as well as the discursive impulses behind their widespread use in Irish literature.
The essay is ambitious in scope and coverage, seeking to offer a comprehensive survey of a wide range of intellectual, artistic, literary and educational movements that have, from the 14th to the 17th centuries, radically changed the face of European society. While its main focus is on the major figures of the Italian Renaissance, who have pioneered the movement, it also looks at their influence on wider European thought, particularly in their development of a largely secular philosophy and ethics which stood in stark contrast with the continuing power and influence of the Catholic church on most aspects of social and intellectual life.
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