Open Book Publishers – Spring Newsletter – May 2024

Open Book Publishers - Spring Newsletter - May 2024

Greetings and welcome to our Spring Newsletter!

In this edition, you'll find a treasure trove of updates, interesting insights into our practices and industry practices, and an array of exciting new open-access books, videos, resources and more. Get ready to dive into a world of knowledge, innovation, and our upcoming releases. Here's a sneak peek at what's waiting for you inside:


• Announcing the Winner of the 2024 GESIG Best Edited Book Award

• OBP Author Survey: Share Your Feedback!

• Open Access Books Network

• The PALOMERA project Survey

• Featured Article: Open-access books need more support from universities by Lucy Barnes

• Featured Blog Post: Where does the money go? Explaining our Library Membership Programme by Lucy Barnes

Books, Resources and Reviews

• Featured Books: Now in OA!

• New Open Access Publications  

• Forthcoming Open Access Publications

• New Blogs, Articles and Resources  

• Call for Proposals  

• Latest Reviews

Open Book Publishers - Spring Newsletter - May 2024

Announcing the Winner of the 2024 GESIG Best Edited Book Award

Open Book Publishers - Spring Newsletter - May 2024

We are thrilled to announce that Higher Education for Good: Teaching and Learning Futures, edited by Laura Czerniewicz and Catherine Cronin, has been awarded the 2024 GESIG Best Edited Book Award!

This groundbreaking collection, featuring contributions from academics and professionals spanning 17 countries and numerous disciplines, offers insightful perspectives on the future of higher education. In the face of ongoing challenges and crises, the book boldly reimagines the values and purpose of universities, advocating for a shift away from financial incentives and performance metrics towards a focus on resilience, collective action, and innovative solutions.

Read and download for free or get your own ebook or hard copy at

Open Book Publishers - Spring Newsletter - May 2024

OBP Author Survey: Share Your Feedback

Your input matters!

If you're an OBP author, contributor, or editor, we want to hear from you. Share your insights on our publishing process and help us better understand our community.

We're also keen to hear your suggestions on how we can enhance title dissemination and broaden our readership. Together, let's make OBP even better!

Access the survey now at

Open Book Publishers - Spring Newsletter - May 2024

Open Access Books Network

SIGN UP for the latest OABN webinar, free and open to all: 'How are open access associations supporting OA book publishing?' On Thursday 23 May at 2pm BST, join representatives of the Open Institutional Publishing Association (OIPA) in the UK, the Irish Open Access Publishers (IOAP) in Ireland, the New University Presses (NUPs) from the Netherlands, and the AG Universitätsverlage for German-speaking presses to discuss how these associations are supporting OA book publishing in their regions.

Access here:

Open Book Publishers - Spring Newsletter - May 2024

The PALOMERA project Survey

The PALOMERA project, which is investigating OA book policymaking across Europe, has recently released their Knowledge Base. How might you use it? Let them know!

You can also read this blog post about the recent PALOMERA-led event bringing together OA projects across Europe with a representative from the European Commission, to discuss their latest developments and how these projects contribute to a broader vision for open access:

Open Book Publishers - Spring Newsletter - May 2024

Featured Article: Open-access books need more support from universities by Lucy Barnes

Our Senior Editor and Outreach Coordinator, Lucy Barnes, has written a piece for Research Fortnight: 'Open-access books need more support from universities'.

Please read and share!

Open Book Publishers - Spring Newsletter - May 2024

Featured Blog Post: Where does the money go? Explaining our Library Membership Programme by Lucy Barnes

Our Senior Editor and Outreach Coordinator, Lucy Barnes, has written a new blog post where she delves into the Open Book Publishers' Library Membership Programme, detailing its pivotal role in supporting open access publishing while addressing what it funds, and why we also ask authors who are able to apply for funding to do so.

Read now at

Open Book Publishers - Spring Newsletter - May 2024

Featured Books: Now in OA!

Delve into the rich tapestry of intangible heritage with two captivating reads: A Country of Shepherds: Cultural Stories of a Changing Mediterranean Landscape by Kathleen Ann Myers, translated by Grady C. Wray, and Tangible and Intangible Heritage in the Age of Globalisation edited by Lilia Makhloufi.

Open Book Publishers - Spring Newsletter - May 2024

In A Country of Shepherds Myers intricately weaves together the life stories of shepherds and farmers in Spain's Andalusian region, offering profound insights into their cultural practices, traditions, and the intangible essence of their way of life. As these individuals navigate the challenges of their landscapes, their narratives provide a poignant reflection on the significance of intangible heritage amidst ecological shifts and global influences. From ancient traditions to contemporary challenges, this book paints a vivid portrait of the enduring cultural landscapes of the Mediterranean.

Open Book Publishers - Spring Newsletter - May 2024

Complementing this exploration, Tangible and Intangible Heritage presents a diverse array of perspectives on heritage preservation across cultures and continents. Delving into the complex interplay between tangible sites and intangible practices, this collection offers critical insights into the dynamic nature of heritage in an increasingly interconnected world. From Algeria to Japan, each essay examines how tangible and intangible elements intertwine to shape cultural identities and communities, urging us to rethink traditional paradigms of preservation in the face of global challenges.

Together, these books invite readers on a journey to discover the intangible threads that weave through our cultural tapestry.

Access them now at:

A Country of Shepherds: Cultural Stories of a Changing Mediterranean Landscape:

Tangible and Intangible Heritage in the Age of Globalisation:

Open Book Publishers - Spring Newsletter - May 2024

New Open Access Publications

In addition to the two titles featured above, these past two months we have released another 13 new Open Access titles:

Genetic Inroads into the Art of James Joyce by Hans Walter Gabler

This book is a treasure trove comprising core writings from Hans Walter Gabler‘s seminal work on James Joyce, spanning fifty years from the analysis of composition he undertook towards a critical text of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, through the Critical and Synoptic Edition of Ulysses, to Gabler‘s latest essays on (appropriately enough) Joyce’s sustained artistic innovation.

Eliza Orme’s Ambitions: Politics and the Law in Victorian London by Leslie Howsam

Why are some figures hidden from history? Eliza Orme, despite becoming the first woman in Britain to earn a university degree in Law in 1888, leading both a political organization and a labour investigation in 1892, and participating actively in the women’s suffrage movement into the early twentieth century, is one such figure.

Byron and Trinity: Memorials, Marbles and Ruins by Adrian Poole

This is a collection of reprinted essays about the life and writing of Lord Byron and the themes of ‘memorials, marbles and ruins’ that were prominent in his thinking and feeling.

No Life Without You: Refugee Love Letters from the 1930s by Frank Felsenstein

The letters and journals of Ernst Moritz and Vera Hirsch Felsenstein, two German Jewish refugees caught in the tumultuous years leading to the Second World War, form the core of this book. Abridged in English from the original German, the correspondence and diaries have been expertly compiled and annotated by their only son who preserves his parents’ love story in their own words. Their letters, written from Germany, England, Russia, and Palestine capture their desperate efforts to save themselves and their family, friends and businesses from the fascist tyranny. The book begins by contextualizing the early lives of Moritz and Vera.

Translating Russian Literature in the Global Context by Muireann Maguire and Cathy McAteer

Translating Russian Literature in the Global Context examines the translation and reception of Russian literature as a world-wide process. This volume aims to provoke new debate about the continued currency of Russian literature as symbolic capital for international readers, in particular for nations seeking to create or consolidate cultural and political leverage in the so-called ‘World Republic of Letters’. It also seeks to examine and contrast the mechanisms of the translation and uses of Russian literature across the globe.

Heavy Metal: Earth’s Minerals and the Future of Sustainable Societies edited by Philippe Tortell

Heavy Metal brings together world-leading experts from across the globe to reimagine the future of mineral exploration and mining in a post-fossil fuel world.

A Grammar of the Jewish Arabic Dialect of Gabes by Wiktor Gębski

This volume undertakes a linguistic exploration of the endangered Arabic dialect spoken by the Jews of Gabes, a coastal city situated in Southern Tunisia. Belonging to the category of sedentary North African dialects, this variety is now spoken by a dwindling number of native speakers, primarily in Israel and France. Given the imminent extinction faced by many modern varieties of Judaeo-Arabic, including Jewish Gabes, the study's primary goal is to document and describe its linguistic nuances while reliable speakers are still accessible. Data for this comprehensive study were collected during fieldwork in Israel and France between December 2018 and March 2022.

(An)Archive: Childhood, Memory, and the Cold War edited by Mnemo ZIN

What was it like growing up during the Cold War? What can childhood memories tell us about state socialism and its aftermath? How can these intimate memories complicate history and redefine possible futures? These questions are at the heart of (An)Archive. This edited collection stems from a collaboration between academics and artists who came together to collectively remember their own experiences of growing up on both sides of the ‘Iron Curtain’. Looking beyond official historical archives, the book gathers memories that have been erased or forgotten, delegitimized or essentialized, or, at best, reinterpreted nostalgically within the dominant frameworks of the East-West divide. And it reassembles and (re)stores these childhood memories in a form of an ‘anarchive’: a site for merging, mixing, connecting, but also juxtaposing personal experiences, public memory, political rhetoric, places, times, and artifacts. Collectively, these acts and arts of collective remembering tell about possible futures―and the past’s futures―what life during the Cold War might have been but also what it has become.

No Prices No Games!: Four Economic Models by Michael Richter and Ariel Rubinstein

While current economic theory focuses on prices and games, this book models economic settings where harmony is established through one of the following societal conventions:

•  A power relation according to which stronger agents are able to force weaker ones to do things against their will.

•  A norm that categorizes actions as permissible or forbidden.

•  A status relation over alternatives which limits each agent's choices.

•  Systematic biases in agents' preferences.

The Nordic Minuet: Royal Fashion and Peasant Tradition edited by Petri Hoppu, Egil Bakka and Anne Margrete Fiskvik

This major new anthology of the minuet in the Nordic countries comprehensively explores the dance as a historical, social and cultural phenomenon. One of the most significant dances in Europe, with a strong symbolic significance in western dance culture and dance scholarship, the minuet has evolved a distinctive pathway in this region, which these rigorous and pioneering essays explore.

Jesus and the Making of the Modern Mind, 1380-1520 by Luke Clossey

For his fifteenth-century followers, Jesus was everywhere – from baptism to bloodcults to bowling. This sweeping and unconventional investigation looks at Jesus across one hundred forty years of social, cultural, and intellectual history.  Mystics married him, Renaissance artists painted him in three dimensions, Muslim poets praised his life-giving breath, and Christopher (“Christ-bearing”) Columbus brought the symbol of his cross to the Americas.  Beyond the European periphery, this global study follows Jesus across – and sometimes between – religious boundaries, from Greenland to Kongo to China.

Arabic Documents from Medieval Nubia by Geoffrey Khan

This volume presents an edition of a corpus of Arabic documents data-ble to the 11th and 12th centuries AD that were discovered by the Egypt Exploration Society at the site of the Nubian fortress Qaṣr Ibrīm (situated in the south of modern Egypt).

Reign of the Beast: The Atheist World of W. D. Saull and his Museum of Evolution by Adrian Desmond

In the 1830s, decades before Darwin published the Origin of Species, a museum of evolution flourished in London. Reign of the Beast pieces together the extraordinary story of this lost working-man's institution and its enigmatic owner, the wine merchant W. D. Saull. A financial backer of the anti-clerical Richard Carlile, the ‘Devil's Chaplain’ Robert Taylor, and socialist Robert Owen, Saull outraged polite society by putting humanity’s ape ancestry on display. He weaponized his museum fossils and empowered artisans with a knowledge of deep geological time that undermined the Creationist base of the Anglican state. His geology museum, called the biggest in Britain, housed over 20,000 fossils, including famous dinosaurs. Saull was indicted for blasphemy and reviled during his lifetime. After his death in 1855, his museum was demolished and he was expunged from the collective memory. Now multi-award-winning author Adrian Desmond undertakes a thorough reading of Home Office spy reports and subversive street prints to re-establish Saull's pivotal place at the intersection of the history of geology, atheism, socialism, and working-class radicalism.

As always, these titles are freely available to read and download at

Open Book Publishers - Spring Newsletter - May 2024

Forthcoming Open Access Publications

Teaching Music Performance in Higher Education: Exploring the Potential of Artistic Research edited by Helen Julia Minors, Stefan Östersjö, Gilvano Dalagna, Jorge Salgado Correia

This book contributes presenting examples of artistic research projects that are embedded within Higher Music Performance courses at universities and conservatoires across Europe.

Music and the Making of Modern Japan: Joining the Global Concert by Margaret Mehl

In only 50 years, from the 1870s to the early 1920s, Japanese people laid the foundations for the country’s post-war rise as a musical as well as an economic power. Meanwhile, new types of popular song, fuelled by the growing global record industry, successfully blended inspiration from the West with musical characteristics perceived as Japanese.

Psychological Perspectives on Musical Experiences and Skills: Research in the Western Balkans and Western Europe edited by Blanka Bogunović, Renee Timmers, and Sanela Nikolić

This book features recent research on the psychology of music from the Western Balkans, foregrounding its specific topics, methods, and influences by bringing it into productive conversation with complementary research from Western Europe and further afield.

The Life of Nuns: Love, Politics, and Religion in Medieval German Convents by Henrike Lähnemann, Eva Schlotheuber and Anne Simon

In the Middle Ages half of those who chose the religious life were women, yet historians have overlooked entire generations of educated, feisty, capable and enterprising nuns, condemning them to the dusty silence of the archives.  What, though, were their motives for entering a convent and what was their daily routine behind its walls like? How did they think, live and worship, both as individuals and as a community?  How did they maintain contact with the families and communities they had left behind?  Henrike Lähnemann and Eva Schlotheuber offer readers a vivid insight into the largely unknown lives and work of religious women in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Trix: The Other Kipling by Barbara Fisher

This volume represents the first biography of Alice MacDonald Kipling Fleming (1868-1948), known as Trix. Rarely portrayed with sympathy or accuracy in biographies of her famous brother Rudyard, Trix was a talented writer and a memorable character in her own right whose fascinating life was unknown until now. In telling Trix’s story, Barbara Fisher rescues her from the misrepresentations, trivializations, and outright neglect of Rudyard’s many biographers.

Human Evolutionary Demography edited by Oskar Burger, Ronald Lee and Rebecca Sear

Human evolutionary demography is an emerging field blending natural science with social science. This edited volume provides a much-needed, interdisciplinary introduction to the field and highlights cutting-edge research for interested readers and researchers in demography, the evolutionary behavioural sciences, biology, and related disciplines.

To find out more about this and other forthcoming titles visit:

Open Book Publishers - Spring Newsletter - May 2024

New Blogs, Articles and Resources


[blog post] One woman’s challenge to the Victorian Legal Professions by Leslie Howsam

[blog post] “NO LIFE WITHOUT YOU”: REFUGEE LOVE LETTERS FROM THE 1930s by Frank Felsenstein

[blog post] On 'Translating Russian Literature in the Global Context' by Muireann Maguire and Cathy McAteer

[blog post] Unveiling The Human Journey by Frank Felsenstein

[blog post] How do languages die? The case of the Jewish Arabic dialect of Gabes (Southern Tunisia) by Wiktor Gębski


[article] Coming Soon: The Life of Nunsby Henrike Lähnemann

[article] The trials of migrant academics: The ‘Outsider Within’ at academic conferences (Ladan Rahbari & Olga Burlyuk)


[video] Godstow Abbey - the Life of Nuns Trailer

[video] 'Eliza Orme’s Ambitions: Politics and the Law in Victorian London' - An Interview with Leslie Howsam

Open Book Publishers - Spring Newsletter - May 2024

Call for Proposals

We have various Open Access series all of which are open for proposals, so feel free to get in touch if you or someone you know is interested in submitting a proposal!

Global Communications

Global Communications is a book series that looks beyond national borders to examine current transformations in public communication, journalism and media. Special focus is given on regions other than Western Europe and North America, which have received the bulk of scholarly attention until now.

St Andrews Studies in French History and Culture

St Andrews Studies in French History and Culture, a successful series published by the Centre for French History and Culture at the University of St Andrews since 2010 and now in collaboration with Open Book Publishers, aims to enhance scholarly understanding of the historical culture of the French-speaking world. This series covers the full span of historical themes relating to France: from political history, through military/naval, diplomatic, religious, social, financial, cultural and intellectual history, art and architectural history, to literary culture.

Studies on Mathematics Education and Society

This book series publishes high-quality monographs, edited volumes, handbooks and formally innovative books which explore the relationships between mathematics education and society. The series advances scholarship in mathematics education by bringing multiple disciplinary perspectives to the study of contemporary predicaments of the cultural, social, political, economic and ethical contexts of mathematics education in a range of different contexts around the globe.

The Global Qur'an

The Global Qur’an is a new book series that looks at Muslim engagement with the Qur’an in a global perspective. Scholars interested in publishing work in this series and submitting their monographs and/or edited collections should contact the General Editor, Johanna Pink. If you wish to submit a contribution, please read and download the submission guidelines here.

The Medieval Text Consortium Series

The Series is created by an association of leading scholars aimed at making works of medieval philosophy available to a wider audience. The Series' goal is to publish peer-reviewed texts across all of Western thought between antiquity and modernity, both in their original languages and in English translation. Find out more here.

Applied Theatre Praxis

This series publishes works of practitioner-researchers who use their rehearsal rooms as "labs”; spaces in which theories are generated and experimented with before being implemented in vulnerable contexts. Find out more here.

Digital Humanities

Overseen by an international board of experts, our Digital Humanities Series: Knowledge, Thought and Practice is dedicated to the exploration of these changes by scholars across disciplines. Books in this Series present cutting-edge research that investigate the links between the digital and other disciplines paving the ways for further investigations and applications that take advantage of new digital media to present knowledge in new ways. Proposals in any area of the Digital Humanities are invited. We welcome proposals for new books in this series. Please do not hesitate to contact us ( if you would like to discuss a publishing proposal and ways we might work together to best realise it.

Open Book Publishers - Spring Newsletter - May 2024

Latest Reviews

Democratising Participatory Research: Pathways to Social Justice from the South by Carmen Martinez-Vargas

In this context, Martínez-Vargas presents a broad theoretical landscape, highlighting prominent authors of participatory approaches, their most relevant research contributions, ideas, and singularities. A unique aspect of this book is the invitation, in different moments of the text, to propose pluralist understandings of participatory approaches: not as a homogenous “participatory perspective”, but as a constellation of academic and political views which share family characteristics. This pluralist view offers an understanding of the changing and contextual character of participatory social theories. Specifically, it helps identify connections and elective affinities among four families of participatory approaches: a) an “industrial family”, or perspectives related to the world of labour; b) a “development family”, or approaches linked to debates on development and social change; c) an “indigenous family”, or views interested in intercultural and decolonial dialogues, and d) an “educational family”, or tendencies focused in democracy production of knowledge in pedagogical environments.In analysing these families of participatory views, the author recovers the academic sources, the central problems for social research, and the different understandings of the relationship between theories and practices.

César Osorio Sánchez

Journal of Human Development and Capabilities , 2024. doi:10.1080/19452829.2024.2330175

Ecocene Politics by Mihnea Tănăsescu

It is certainly the merit of Ecocene politics, a very carefully composed work that engages with many thinkers who commented on the Anthropocene, that it takes philosophy further to what political practice for this new era might mean. It ties together useful concepts, different traditions and concrete examples.

Nele Buyst
Environmental Values, 2024. doi:10.1177/09632719241245532

Ecocene Politics aims to ward off the paralysis that can afflict those who inherit a tragedy in progress. […] This [is] a book that will change conversations.

Lisa Disch

The AAG Review of Books, vol. 12, no. 2, 2024. doi:10.1080/2325548X.2024.2315336

Ecocene Politics is a political theory that emerges from actual places and thinks through relations that are situated in landscapes and personal histories. This book offers something other than what readers might expect from political theory. […] It exemplifies a form of political thought that resonates closely with more-than-human geography.

Clemens Driessen

The AAG Review of Books, vol. 12, no. 2, 2024. doi:10.1080/2325548X.2024.2315336

Ecocene Politics […] offers a wealth of trenchant insight and analysis, lucidly and passionately presented, for understanding the challenges and opportunities ahead.

David Bollier

The AAG Review of Books, vol. 12, no. 2, 2024. doi:10.1080/2325548X.2024.2315336

Why am I not also tending to an olive tree, planting tomatoes, guiding the flock to pasture, or sailing on a sailboat? […] We are yet to ascertain whether this occasional inclination to put down the book is positive or negative. It might very well be positive, exactly what Tănăsescu was willing to inspire.

Xenia Chiaramonte and Marco Malavasi

The AAG Review of Books, vol. 12, no. 2, 2024. doi:10.1080/2325548X.2024.2315336

The Predatory Paradox: Ethics, Politics, and Practices in Contemporary Scholarly Publishing by Amy Koerber, Jesse C. Starkey, Karin Ardon-Dryer, R. Glenn Cummins, Lyombe Eko and Kerk F. Kee

[...] what Koerber, Starkey and their coauthors have created here is a gen­uinely useful, coherent and clearly written text which will, I hope, become a valuable resource for early career researchers in particular. The book very effectively uses its focus of predatory journals as a window into the ever-shifting world of contemporary scholarly publishing.

David Barker, University of Derby

Publishing Research Quarterly, 2024. doi:10.1007/s12109-024-09984-2

The result is an impressive collection of chapters which summarise recent debates and report the authors’ own research examining the impact of these changes on the views of researchers and crucially their reading and publishing habits. [...] Overall I would strongly recommend this book and suggest that it should be required or background reading on research methods courses for doctoral and research masters programmes.

Huw Morris, Honorary Professor of Tertiary Education, UCL Institute of Education

Open@UCL Blog, 2024.

The Official Indonesian Qurʾān Translation: The History and Politics of Al-Qur’an dan Terjemahnya by Fadhli Lukman

Divided into seven chapters (plus concluding remarks) and organized around a chronological framework, this book is a scintillating read for those interested in the politics and perils of translation. It is a major addition to the growing literature on Islam in Southeast Asia.

Khairudin Aljunied
Journal of Islamic Studies, 2024. doi:10.1093/jis/etae011

Shépa: The Tibetan Oral Tradition in Choné by Bendi Tso, Marnyi Gyatso, Naljor Tsering and Mark Turin acting as Trustees for the Members of the Choné Tibetan Community

More importantly, the book is an invaluable documentation of an oral tradition that is hanging by its thread, made accessible because of the translation of the stanzas into English and Mandarin.

Kunda Dixit
Nepali Times, 2024.

La gravité des choses. Amour, recherche, éthique et politique

Une anthologie des textes de Florence Piron

Pour accéder au livre en version html, cliquez ici.

Que veut dire « Gravité des choses »? Grave ne veut pas dire terrifiant, inquiétant, stressant. Ce mot désigne les grandes questions de la vie, les questions qui ont le pouvoir de faire souffrir ou de construire, de détruire ou d’éveiller, qui permettent de ramener à l’essentiel derrière le bruit de la vie quotidienne, les énervements dans lesquels on peut s’enfoncer sans raison et surtout sans savoir comment émerger.

« C’est avec ces mots que Florence Piron (disparue en 2021) [a] débuté en 2019 l’écriture de son livre La gravité des choses – expression née de la bouche de son plus jeune fils, qui lui avait déclaré, vers l’âge de dix ans, que son grand frère ne « comprenait pas la gravité des choses ». Séduite par cette expression toute simple et renvoyant pourtant à un monde immense, Florence [a] décidé d’intituler ainsi le livre qu’elle projetait depuis longtemps d’écrire. Celui-ci aurait constitué l’aboutissement de toutes ses réflexions, issues non seulement de sa carrière de professeure-chercheuse à l’Université Laval, mais aussi de sa vie de femme, de mère, de militante et d’éditrice. » (Sarah-Anne Arsenault, extrait de l’avant-propos)


ISBN : à venir

DOI : à venir

970 pages

Coordination et édition : Sarah-Anne Arsenault

Révision linguistique et féminisation : Sarah-Anne Arsenault, Maryvonne Charmillot, Célya Gruson-Daniel, Zoé Lüthi

Design de la couverture : Kate McDonnell, photographies de Laure-Hélène Piron et Érika Nimis, photomontage d’Audrey Legerot, sur une idée de Florence Piron

Date de publication : 6 juin 2024


Table des matières

(à venir)

Communist Ontologies

Communist Ontologies. An Inquiry into the Construction of New Forms of Life Bruno Gullì & Richard Gilman-Opalsky “To be communist is to be lost, looking for an answer, looking for a way out. Communist Ontologies is an explicit dialogue between Bruno Gullì and Richard Gilman-Opalsky. The book breaks with the monologue form, brings us away too from any monological concept … Continue reading →

The Wages of Dreamwork

The Wages of Dreamwork. Class Composition & the Social Reproduction of Cultural Labor Stevphen Shukaitis & Joanna Figiel Surviving as a cultural or artistic worker in the city has never been easy. Creative workers find themselves celebrated as engines of economic growth, economic recovery and urban revitalization even as the conditions for our continued survival becomes more precarious. How can … Continue reading →

Saki and Mr Selfridge

Saki and Mr Selfridge

by Bruce Gaston

The closing of Fenwick’s department store on New Bond Street a couple of weeks ago adds another name to the long list of the capital’s once prominent, now defunct palaces of shopping: Debenhams, Dickins & Jones, D H Evans, Bourne & Hollingsworth, Marshall & Snelgrove, Swan & Edgar, Multevey & Princk, Walpurgis & Nettlepink, Goliath & Mastodon...

Readers, particularly those familiar with London, may by this stage be smelling a rat – surely there can’t have been a department store called “Goliath & Mastodon”? Of course there wasn't: the last three were invented by the Edwardian writer Hector Hugh Munro, better known by his pen-name ‘Saki’.

The last of them features in his story ‘Fur’: “In the near distance rose the colossal pile of Messrs. Goliath and Mastodon’s famed establishment”. It was during the Edwardian period that many department stores’ flagship buildings were built (just think of Selfridge’s on Oxford Street, or Harrod’s in Knightsbridge) and for that reason many people associate department stores with that era. The new style of shopping, with its glamour and gimmicks, intended to appeal to a female clientele, also offered potential for social satire. In ‘Louise’, the absent-minded Jane Thropplestance is unsure which store she visited earlier that afternoon. “[...] Perhaps it was Harrod’s. I really don’t remember. It was one of those places where every one [sic is so kind and sympathetic and devoted that one almost hates to take even a reel of cotton away from such pleasant surroundings.”

I was prompted to think about Saki and department stores when I rediscovered a short text of his inside a newspaper advertisement for Selfridge’s. Munro (1870-1916) was a freelance writer specialising in short stories, and as such published his work in whichever journal or periodical would accept it. His death in the First World War meant he never had the chance to prepare a comprehensive collection of his tales in book form. If you are already a Saki fan and own one of the many “Complete Short Stories” on the market, then I have to break it to you: it isn’t complete. Over twenty forgotten stories have turned up since the 1960s. Finding them used to be a hit-and-miss affair that entailed trawling through microfilms of likely publications. But these days the task is much simpler thanks to the digitisation of newspapers so that one can run a full-text search on their contents. Certainly, I would never have thought to look in the London Daily News and Leader, as this was not one of Munro’s regular outlets.

Munro’s story is called ‘The Romance of Business’ (not to be confused with ‘Clovis on the Alleged Romance of Business’, published in The Square Egg and Other Sketches) and was commissioned as part of Selfridge’s fifth birthday celebrations in 1914.

As anyone who watched the TV series ‘Mr Selfridge’ will know, Selfridge & Co. was one of the grandest and most innovative department stores in the British Isles. It was also pioneering in terms of publicity. (The public appearance in the store of Louis Blériot, the first man to fly across the Channel, along with his monoplane, was depicted in the first series.) Munro’s text appeared within a special full-page advertisement and is surrounded by an elaborate illustration of laden men, trucks and even elephants passing through an ornate classical archway on their way to a dock with cargo ships. Selfridge’s commissioned several such illustrations from noted artists, complemented by short texts on subjects such as “The Dignity of Work”, “Imagination” and “Markets of the World”, and had them printed in a number of prominent newspapers. “It is possible that no more remarkable ads than these have been produced in the entire history of retail advertising,” gushed trade paper Dry Goods Economist. Munro, though a well-known and successful writer, was small fry compared to some of the contributors Selfridge's managed to secure. Other ads in the series contained testimonials from Prince Guido Henckel von Donnersmark (German nobility and one of the richest men in Europe to boot) and the French actress Sarah Bernhardt, whose celebrity reached around the globe.

Munro’s tale, raved the Dry Goods Economist, deals “with the great principle that all work worth doing has a broader appeal to the mind than mere mental exercise–has its spiritual side.” I wonder. While he may have been happy to pocket the Selfridge shilling, Munro’s real view was probably closer to what he put into the mouth of one of the two young ladies in ‘Fur’: “even quite good shops have their counters and windows crowded with things worth about four shillings that look as if they might be worth seven-and-six, and are priced at ten shillings and labelled seasonable gifts.” Business, Munro implies, is all about how much one pays.

You can read ‘The Romance of Business’ in the forthcoming Saki (H. H. Munro): Original and Uncollected Stories, which I have edited and annotated for OBP. OBP books, by the way, are free.


‘Ad Critic’, Dry Goods Economist, v.68:3, October 3, 1914, p. 205, online at

Guardian, ‘“I’m devastated it’s closing”: London shoppers say farewell to Fenwick’, 2 Feb. 2024, online at

Saki, ‘Fur’, in Beasts and Super-Beasts, 1914, online at

Saki, ‘Louise’, in The Toys of Peace and Other Papers, 1919, online at

This is an Open Access title available to read and download for free or to purchase in all available print and ebook formats below.

Saki (H.H. Munro): Original and Uncollected Stories
The short stories of Hector Hugh Munro, better known by his pen name Saki, have remained in print continuously for over a hundred years. This collection is the first of its kind to present his stories as they were originally published in newspapers and magazines, preserving their internal consistenc…
Saki and Mr Selfridge

Fables of Re-enchantment. Multiplicity, Imaginary, Revolution

Fables of Re-enchantment. Multiplicity, Imaginary, Revolution Stefania Consigliere Translated by Steven Colatrella Ghosts, oracles, and talking plants… an atlas for escaping disenchantment Enchantment has disappeared from our lives. Whoever dares to mention it violates the most basic epistemological canons that hold our world together and is immediately labeled ignorant or mad. It is suspicious, however, that the taboo on enchantment … Continue reading →

How do languages die? The case of the Jewish Arabic dialect of Gabes (Southern Tunisia)

How do languages die? The case of the Jewish Arabic dialect of Gabes (Southern Tunisia)

By Wiktor Gębski

According to official statistics, a language dies approximately every 40 days. The critical situation of language diversity worldwide is worsened by globalization and advancing climate change. Although Arabic may not be perceived as an endangered language by many, some of its varieties are expected to vanish within the next two decades. The Jewish dialects of Arabic are predicted to disappear within the next few years and are among the most endangered within the Semitic family, along with Neo-Aramaic.

The Jewish communities of North Africa have a rich and extensive history spanning over two millennia. From Morocco to Libya, these communities thrived within the vibrant fabric of North African society, leaving behind a distinct linguistic legacy in the region. Jewish dialects of North Africa, believed to have originated during the initial wave of Arabization in the 7th century, represent the earliest strata of Arabic in the area. Formed through a blend of Arabic, Hebrew, Berber, and French, these dialects reflect the diverse heritage of the communities that gave rise to them.

However, in the 20th century, there was a significant migration of Jews from Arab lands to Israel. This migration occurred primarily due to a combination of factors, including the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, rising anti-Semitic sentiment in Arab countries, and political instability in the region. Following Israel's independence, many Jews faced persecution, discrimination, and violence, prompting them to leave their homes and seek refuge in Israel. This mass migration resulted in the resettlement of hundreds of thousands of Mizrahi Jews in Israel, where they contributed to the cultural, social, and economic fabric of the newly formed nation.

In addition to the political and social factors driving the migration of Jews from Arab lands to Israel in the 20th century, there was also a significant loss of their vernacular languages. As these communities resettled in Israel, many of them faced pressure to assimilate and adopt Hebrew as their primary language. Consequently, the vibrant and diverse Jewish dialects of Arabic, spoken for generations in countries like Morocco, Iraq, Yemen, and Tunisia, began to decline rapidly. This loss of vernaculars represents a poignant aspect of the migration experience, as it severed ties to cultural heritage and linguistic traditions that had been integral to Mizrahi Jewish identity for centuries. Despite efforts to preserve these languages and revitalize their use within the community, the shift towards Hebrew as the dominant language has contributed to the gradual disappearance of these unique linguistic heritages.

The Jewish varieties of Arabic exhibit several differences from their Muslim counterparts. As early as the 20th century, linguists like Marcel Cohen recognized the scholarly value of these Jewish dialects and conducted studies to document them and explore their distinctive features. My volume focuses on documenting the critically endangered Jewish dialect of Arabic once spoken in Gabes, Southern Tunisia. Gabes, alongside Tunis and Djerba, was one of the most important centres of Jewish life in Tunisia, with the Jewish community of Gabes being one of the oldest in the country. Currently, only a handful of native speakers remain, while their children and grandchildren have limited knowledge of Jewish Gabes or do not speak it at all. Drawing from several years of fieldwork in Israel and France, the book delves into the grammatical structure of this dialect and seeks to elucidate its typological relationship with other Jewish and Muslim dialects in the region.

The volume is structured into three main sections: phonology (Part I), morphology (Part II), and syntax (Part III). While the first two sections adhere to a traditional grammatical model, syntax is approached from historical and cross-linguistic perspectives. Chapter 2, dedicated to phonology, is broadly divided into two subsections: an analysis of the sound inventory and phonotactics, which includes a description of syllable structure and epenthesis patterns. The morphology section comprises Chapter 3, which covers verbal morphology, and Chapter 4, addressing nominal morphology, including pronominal forms. Lastly, the syntax section (Chapters 5–7) encompasses various subsections exploring syntactic phenomena such as definiteness, genitive constructions, grammatical agreement, subordination, expressions of tense and aspect, syntax and pronouns, and sentence typology. This linguistic study underscores the differences between the Jewish dialect of Gabes and its Muslim counterpart. While the former exhibits features typical of sedentary, first-layer dialects, the latter could be classified as a Bedouin-type dialect. Moreover, the examination of the tense and aspect system suggests that Jewish Gabes, like other Jewish dialects of North African Arabic, features a distribution of the active participle that sets them apart from the Muslim dialects. The grammar is complemented by an appendix containing a corpus of selected folktales cited in earlier sections of the volume.

The destiny of Jewish Gabes and other Jewish dialects of Arabic is sealed—they will all cease to be spoken within the next several years. Therefore, it is crucial to embark on comprehensive fieldwork and systematically record the language while reliable speakers are still available. The study of Jewish Arabic varieties is essential for understanding the social networks of the Middle East and North Africa that these dialects reflect. Their loss represents not only the disappearance of linguistic diversity but also the erasure of centuries of cultural heritage, identity, and coexistence between Jewish and Muslim communities.

This is an Open Access title available to read and download for free or to purchase in all available print and ebook formats below.

A Grammar of the Jewish Arabic Dialect of Gabes
This volume undertakes a linguistic exploration of the endangered Arabic dialect spoken by the Jews of Gabes, a coastal city situated in Southern Tunisia. Belonging to the category of sedentary North African dialects, this variety is now spoken by a dwindling number of native speakers, primarily in…
How do languages die? The case of the Jewish Arabic dialect of Gabes (Southern Tunisia)

Unveiling The Human Journey

Unveiling The Human Journey

By Sasha Kirkham

No Life Without You emerges as an extraordinary account of real-life experiences through letters, offering not only a love story but a profound exploration of resilience and human connection. Especially poignant in the tumultuous times we are living in, No Life Without You is a story of history, hardships, and hope. Frank Felsenstein, Reed D. Voran Honors Distinguished Professor in Humanities in the Department of English at Ball State University, founding director of the Honors Program at Yeshiva College in New York, Reader in Eighteenth-Century Studies at Leeds University, and the editor of the book, embarks on an enthralling exploration of his parents’ lives. Mope and Vera, Felsenstein’s parents, were German Jews who fled Nazi Germany for the United Kingdom during the Second World War, and their astonishing love story is encapsulated in over a thousand letters.

We should feel forever grateful to our family and to ourselves for the preservation of letters, journals, diaries, and artefacts. They serve as channels to crucial facets of our identity and origins: Frank Felsenstein’s work certainly stand as a testament to the profound impact that these touchstones can have. The trajectory of Mope and Vera’s lives, refreshed within the pages of this book, can now be sustained through history. Readers are afforded the opportunity to glean insights from their story, while the editor and his family, present and future, can find solace in its reverberation.

The Importance of Then and Now

Felsenstein has created a mosaic woven with thirty-two chapters, dividing it into two realms – the evocative ‘Then’ and the resonant ‘Now’. The former delves into Mope and Vera’s lives before their paths intertwined, and the editor uses journals, letters, and family memoirs to bring their voices to life. The ‘Then’ chronicles unfold a prelude to Mope and Vera’s stories before their lives merged. Delving deep to capture their voices truly, the letters exchanged between Vera and her mother during the year after she fled Nazi Germany offer a glimpse into Frankfurt at the time and unveil the shades of Vera’s childhood. Mope’s story is shared through a typewritten curriculum vitae and the vivid recollections he presented: a chapter dedicated to his engagement with Zionism echoes his ideological musings in the Leipziger Jüdische Zeituing in 1922.

The ’Now’ section, starting in 1936 and ending in 1939, captures the imminence of Mope and Vera’s position. The letters, written in the throes of uncertainty, reflect the instability of their lives amid the looming shadows of war. At the start of each chapter, Felsenstein provides the reader with contextual overviews of the historical backdrop in which his parents were living and writing.

The editor’s decision to separate the ‘Then’ and ‘Now’ offers the reader a kaleidoscopic lens through which to view history. Every chapter stands as a testament to the enduring resonance of human stories across ages. The book’s structure, complemented by Felsenstein’s skilful editing, ensures that Vera and Mope’s authentic voices shine through while vividly telling their story. The editor’s interventions are expertly blended into the narrative, enhancing rather than overshadowing the authenticity of the tale. Their love story serves as a beacon of hope amid the uncertainties in which they lived.

Historical Parallels

This collection of letters delves into the personal exchanges between Mope and Vera, taking place in Nazi Germany, where the utter erosion of civil liberties for Jewish people cast a long-lasting shadow over their lives, and the fascist dictatorship inevitably continued to resound after they left Germany. The book serves as a lens into the wider political turmoil of the time. No Life Without You operates as an astute historical commentary, shining light on pivotal moments of the 20th century. However, its true merit lies in preserving a human connection amidst history, making the past come to life.

No Life Without You also investigates Britain’s historical standpoint on refugees, contrasting moral obligations with modern challenges. An introduction by Rachel Pistol, a digital historian & author of modern British and American history, sets the letters against a historical backdrop that has echoes in the present day, while evolving public opinion, government policies, and their impact on refugees in Britain unfold through the lens of Vera and Mope’s journey. This allows readers to witness the complexities of these moral dilemmas and the impact of politics on individual lives. The book is a lesson from history, insisting readers pay attention to early signs of discrimination and hatred. Felsenstein offers the dehumanisation that paved the way for atrocities during the Holocaust as a warning, acting as a call for compassion. It emphasises society’s fragility, highlighting our collective responsibility to protect the rights of every individual, irrespective of their background.

Both the contextual introduction by Rachel Pistol and the rest of the book delve into the refugee experience, encapsulating the nuances of the emotional journey undertaken when escaping one’s homeland to seek solace in unfamiliar territories. It captures the near-inexplicable feeling of the stripping away of identity, the loss of autonomy, and the resounding impact of displacement.

Then, Now, and Forever

As this narrative draws to a close, Felsenstein reflects on the profound legacy laced through the letters between his parents. This story is both his birthright and a fundamental part of who he is, urging the reader to question their own identities, and to think about who we must thank for them. Felsenstein posits that, in more ways than one, there would be no life without his parents. Vera and Mope’s story resonates through time, allowing us to acknowledge history while simultaneously embracing the spirit that transcends it. We are not who we are without the people who preceded us, and this book is a testament to that. The amalgamation of love and history not only imparts insights into the challenges faced by the people during this era, but it stands as a symbol of resilience, love, and the lasting promise of hope.

This is an Open Access title available to read and download for free or to purchase in all available print and ebook formats below.

No Life Without You: Refugee Love Letters from the 1930s
The letters and journals of Ernst Moritz and Vera Hirsch Felsenstein, two German Jewish refugees caught in the tumultuous years leading to the Second World War, form the core of this book. Abridged in English from the original German, the correspondence and diaries have been expertly compiled and an…
Unveiling The Human Journey

Sasha Kirkham is an English Language and Russian graduate from The University of Manchester, now pursuing a Masters in Publishing at City, University of London. With experience in copywriting, proofreading, and translation in St Petersburg, Sasha's passions lie in literature, Russian history, publishing, editing, writing, and supporting NGOs.

On ‘Translating Russian Literature in the Global Context’

On 'Translating Russian Literature in the Global Context'

By Muireann Maguire and Cathy McAteer

Recently, a graduate student spoke about a favourite book, one which crystallizes many of the conflicting qualities of Russian literature today: post-colonial angst, fading relevance, moral authority, and sheer ubiquity. Early in this novel, the hero’s father falls in love with Russian fiction (in Bengali translation). He is reading one of Gogol’s short stories at the very moment when his train, speeding across northern India, derails. Seriously injured, he spends two years almost immobile, regaining his strength while gorging on Russian novels. Years later, as a engineering professor at an American university, he names his son “Gogol” after his favourite writer. The strange syllables bewilder other Bengalis as they do most Americans, and young Gogol legally changes his name as soon as he’s old enough. Resenting his intercultural, untranslatable moniker, he never opens the volume of Nikolai Gogol’s stories his father gives him. Only after decades of negotiating cultural difference, and only after his father’s death breaks the direct family connection with Russian literature, can he read those tales and become Gogol again: the Bengali-American namesake of a Ukrainian-Russian writer.

This novel is of course Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake (2003), a key text of contemporary diasporic fiction. Our edited volume, Translating Russian Literature in the Global Context, studies how literature itself acts as diaspora. In this collection of forty-one essays by three dozen international scholars, we trace how, since 1900, Russian literature has been disseminated beyond its political borders; how individual Russian and Russophone authors are translated and emulated abroad; and how cultures and individuals from the Republic of Ireland to South Vietnam have absorbed Russian cultural influence, from Pushkin to Sholokhov. Our methodology is informed by both sociology and Translation Studies, relying upon Pascale Casanova’s concept of central and peripheral languages, Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of symbolic capital, Jeremy Munday’s microhistorical methodology, the focus on literary translators consolidated by Klaus Kaindl and colleagues, and David Damrosch’s erudite yet accessible comparatist analysis. National engagement with Russian literature varies with political as well as geographical climate; successful cultural integration is often pre-determined by the literacy of the target audience, and indeed by the nature of the transmission process – whether voluntary or compulsory, state-funded or profit-driven. Hence the definition of ‘Russian literature’ – and public attitudes towards it – alters sharply with time, place, and politics, as our contributors show.

Translating Russian Literature in the Global Context also explores an equally important issue, much harder to quantify: the influence of Russian literature on individual creative inspiration. This edited volume maps, for the first time, global connections between Russian authors (nineteenth-century classics, Socialist Realists, and even Soviet dissidents) and canon-shaping writers around the world, including Norway’s Knut Hamsun, Germany’s Thomas Mann, Greece’s Ares Alexandrou, the great Hindustani author Premchand and Japanese prose stylist Futubatei Shimei, through to modern-day award-winning authors like Turkey’s Orhan Pamuk and South Korea’s Bora Chung. Where Lahiri’s novel traces the progress of Gogol the reluctant reader, we follow the (global) progress of Gogol the reluctant writer. How did a neurotically anxious fabulist, an ex-pat twice over (he left Ukraine for St Petersburg and St Petersburg for Rome, returning to the Russian Empire only to die), leave such a powerful legacy across so many continents? How could writers like Pushkin and Dostoevsky, their horizons restricted by the rigid social hierarchy and narrow politics of the Russian Empire, reach so far and touch so many readers? There are as many answers to these questions as there are nations where Russian literature is read today. This volume speaks for most of them.

Thus, in the mid-to-late twentieth century, Progress and Raduga (Rainbow), the USSR’s gigantic, multilingual, state-subsidized literary translation presses, developed book distribution networks to extend soft power across the Global South. In the process, they introduced Indian readers like Lahiri’s characters to Russian and Soviet literature (morally engaged writers like Tolstoy and Gorky were already popular on the Indian subcontinent even prior to Soviet power). Moscow’s quest for hearts and minds brought Russian literary fiction in translation to readers in South and Central America, Africa and the Arabian nations, Central and South-East Asia, China and to both Vietnams. In Europe and the Anglophone world, where academics, freelance translators and commercial publishers determined the reception of Russophone literature, the nineteenth-century classics and twentieth-century dissidents like Solzhenitsyn and Pasternak have always dominated both sales and literary culture. Across much of the Global South, however, political pragmatism and effective Soviet cultural propaganda ensured the popularity of twentieth-century pro-Communist authors, starting with the so-called father of Socialist Realism, Maksim Gorky, whose name reverberates throughout this volume.

Ebbs and flows in translation in places as disparate as Brazil and Greece obeyed political trends: leftist governments promoted Russian literary authors, while far-right leaders discouraged them. Our essays on Latin America explore Cuba’s immersive Cold War reception of Russian language, literature and culture (including cinema); the contributions made by Brazil’s Russophone émigré diaspora to their native milieu; and Mexico’s uneven relationship with Russian culture (even now, no Mexican publishing house specialises in Russian literary translation into Spanish). Within the Soviet Union, soft-power infiltration gave way to forcible translation programmes: our contributors describe how target-language translators in Estonia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine were often brutally co-opted into replacing their native literature with fiction translated from Russian. Our Ukrainian contributors strikingly liken the era of literary control by the Kremlin to “the slow but increasingly deadly compression of a rabbit by a boa constrictor”.  Even Finland did not escape such tensions. But pro-Soviet authors’ value as Communist propaganda does not negate their genuinely inspirational value; Gorky’s Mother (1906) remained an ideological beacon for the poor and oppressed globally, as many essays show. Today, for reasons that are all too obvious on the battlefields of Eastern Ukraine and in the ruined homes of bombed-out cities, Russian influence has become toxic: a legacy to reject, an identity to disavow. Translation, of course, never has been separate from politics; and Russian is not the only literature to be implicated, if not actively complicit, in imperialist expansionism and aggressive cultural policies. In The Namesake, Lahiri’s hero “Gogol”, struggling with his complex, unwelcome name and mixed-up identity, eventually accepts the impossibility of rejecting a gift woven into the fabric of one’s character. Today, Russian authors are indelibly inscribed in the library of world culture: this volume introduces the translators, publishers, politicians, editors and readers who made Russian literature a global phenomenon.

This is an Open Access title available to read and download for free or to purchase in all available print and ebook formats below.

Translating Russian Literature in the Global Context
Translating Russian Literature in the Global Context examines the translation and reception of Russian literature as a world-wide process. This volume aims to provoke new debate about the continued currency of Russian literature as symbolic capital for international readers, in particular for nation…
On 'Translating Russian Literature in the Global Context'



Intimate correspondence of a Jewish couple writing in the face of Nazi persecution


COMPILED AND EDITED BY FRANKLIN FELSENSTEIN. With an Historical Introduction by Rachel Pistol.

This book voices, through their personal letters, the love story of a German Jewish couple caught up in the turmoil created by the Nazi regime in the years leading up to the Second World War. It is a story of refugees and lovers torn asunder by political events and reliant on correspondence as their primary means of communication.

Vera Hirsch, a final year medical student at Frankfurt University, flees Germany shortly after Hitler comes to power in 1933, seeking refuge in England. She meets Moritz Felsenstein, a fur trader with a background in the sciences, on a spur-of-the-moment visit to Leipzig in January 1936 when, during the year of the Olympic Games, the Nazis moderate their anti-Semitic agenda. Their correspondence begins immediately, and continues uninterrupted through to the end of August 1939, with explicable gaps when they are able to be together. It is supplemented by extracts from Vera’s private journals and from other such primary sources.

Nearly all the letters are written from Germany, England, and the Soviet Union, where Moritz is given temporary working papers in 1937 after an SS arrest warrant prevents him from returning to Leipzig. The couple are able to marry in London in August 1937 but lack permission to settle together in England. In separate environments, each engages in the business world. The correspondence provides unique insights into the pre-war fur market in Moscow and Leningrad and the retail trade in Britain, where Vera joins the first (and, at that time, quite experimental) personnel management team at Marks & Spencer, the major retail chain. Moritz’s peripatetic life style, with short visits to his wife, continues over the next two years, the pair being reunited on the final night before the start of the war.

The letters and journals are written in German, but have been fully translated into English. The present book is abridged to less than one third of the full correspondence. It has been edited by their only son. The first part of the book contextualizes the early lives of these two individuals in the aftermath of the First World War, with telling indications of their ties to the emergent culture of Weimar Germany. It provides an intimate picture of two different versions of German Jewish family life during the era prior to the Holocaust, the one Orthodox with a strong commitment to Zionist ideals, the other assimilated and skeptical in its religious beliefs.

For us today, there exists a profusion of memoirs, several of them now iconic, relating to the Holocaust. Most of these are written after the fact, but gain their immediacy through our fascinated fear and accompanying horror, engendered through their disclosures. However, given the lack of available material and a secure place to write, the chronicling of the on-the-run happenings of Jewish refugees endeavoring to escape the Nazi strong arm has rarely had the attention it deserves. It represents a major lacuna in our knowledge of the everyday lives of exiles during one of the most tragic eras in human history. The existence of this large, and hitherto untapped, cache of letters and journals by Vera Hirsch and Moritz Felsenstein presents a rare opportunity to document and to authenticate a largely unrecorded element of the refugee experience.

Because the letters were written to each other on an almost daily basis, they are incredibly immediate. They record not only the couple’s against-the-odds escape, but also the desperate – and ultimately unsuccessful -- endeavors to evacuate from Germany Moritz’s older sister, brother-in-law, and close cousins, who were to perish at Auschwitz. Most centrally, the letters recount an astonishing love story, sensual in its intimate detail, and full of dramatic pathos in its unfolding of hope for the creation of a new life and the anxieties of coping with pregnancy when apart. It is told through the voices of two exceptionally articulate letter writers, unraveling profound moral and psychological dilemmas, and the fears brought about by separation and the ongoing intrusion of political events. Incredibly, more than fifty years after the death of Moritz and over thirty years since the passing of Vera, their distinctive voices are kept alive through their letters and resonate for our own age in which the plight of refugees has once again found its way into our consciousness.

This is an Open Access title available to read and download for free or to purchase in all available print and ebook formats below.

No Life Without You: Refugee Love Letters from the 1930s
The letters and journals of Ernst Moritz and Vera Hirsch Felsenstein, two German Jewish refugees caught in the tumultuous years leading to the Second World War, form the core of this book. Abridged in English from the original German, the correspondence and diaries have been expertly compiled and an…