princeton university press

5 Books from University Publishers 

To celebrate University Press Week and our university press community here at Getty Publications, we took a shelfie of an eclectic mix of some of our favorite UP titles. Follow #ReadUP to see all the great offerings from university presses!

1. “T. S Eliot and Prejudice,” by Christopher Ricks. (University of California Press, 1989)

 This incisive study of an important modernist poet tackles a lot of the thorny issues that surround his work and confronts Eliot’s deep prejudices directly. It’s an important piece of scholarship from the University of California Press.

2. “Horace, the Odes,” Edited by J. D. McClatchy. (Princeton University Press, 2005). 

This translated collection showcases the wonderfully protean works of Horace but calling on thirty-odd poets to translate poems. The result is lively, fun, and unexpected. A big thank you to Princeton University Press for publishing this!

3. “The Iliad by Homer,” Translated by Richard Lattimore. (University of Chicago Press, 2011). 

The Lattimore translation of the Iliad is often assigned for the classroom, because it captures the excitement of the Iliad with accuracy and a light touch. This new(ish) edition from the University of Chicago Press has a stylish design.

4. “The Lady Anatomist,” by Rebecca Messbarger. (University of Chicago Press, 2010).

This beautifully assembled book is a fascinating look at a Anna Morandi Manzolini, an eighteenth-century Italian woman who became one of the most famous anatomical sculptors—creating most of her work in wax—of the period. A lovely read for those who love the weird and wacky of history, which is also from the University of Chicago Press.

5. “Man Ray: Writings on Art,” Edited by Jennifer Mundy. (Getty Publications, 2016. 

 Read about the work and life of Man Ray in his own words, from his time in Paris to his years in Los Angeles. His journals, letters, and poetry are all featured in this charming book from Getty Publications.


Some of us have been waiting what seems a very long time for a selection of letters from one of the greatest novelists of the 20th Century.  Here at last we have ‘em.  Living on Paper: Letters from Iris Murdoch, 1934 - 1995, edited by Avril Horner and Anne Rowe, from Princeton University Press.

( POL Revue ) On Tyrants and the True Cure of them .

111 ( 1 )  ( P O L Journal of Culture and Consciousness ) Behold ! The bizarre and voluptuous convulsions of the humanities . Mithridates VI of Pontus being a particularly earthly monument of the same, which you , Madamme Mayor, have depicted in your commemorative volume , “ The Poison King ” . As you presently research the consummated and maniacal lives of Graeco-Roman exploits at Stanford University’s Center of Research — do you yourself contrive potent Mithridatium antidotes in your spare time to develop your own immunities towards the underwhelmingly cliched contemporary culture of the modern Americas ?

DR . ADRIENNE MAYOR : In the course of my research, I have traveled several times in Greece and Anatolia (Turkey), visiting many of the cities allied with Mithradates, including the ruins of Pergamon, which became his headquarters after his victories of the First Mithradatic War. After drivingthe Roman army out of Anatolia, it was from this great city that Mithradates ordered the massacre of the remaining Roman settlers—tax collectors, merchants, and slave traders—in 88 BC. I saw the complex of the famous healing center and temple of Asclepius, where many Romans fled for refuge. I sat for a time in the magnificent amphitheater of Pergamon, which held 10,000 spectators. This is where Mithradates carried out the dramatic execution of the arrogant rogue Roman official, Manius Aquillius, who invaded Mithradates’ kingdom in search of personal glory and profit, without authorization from the Roman People and Senate. Mithradates devised a highly theatrical and symbolic punishment for this greedy Roman—whose father had poisoned entire cities that had rebelled against harsh Roman rule a generation before.

Aquillius was forced to swallow molten gold—this execution became a byword for cruel but fitting deserts for greedy plunderers. It is notable, I think, that the Spanish conquistadors of the 16th century feared that King Moctezuma of Mexico would take revenge in the the same way as did Mithradates, to punish the European colonists for their lust for gold in the New World .

I’ve also visited Aegean islands important to Mithradates, including Rhodes and Chios, and the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, where the detested Romans were slaughtered by the townspeople of that cosmopolitan city. I regret that I have not yet had a chance to travel to Georgia and over the Caucasus to the Crimea, where Mithradates made his last stand in 65- 63 BC. Mithradates was well aware of the abundance of naturally toxic honey in his kingdom. As Xenophon discovered when he led his 10,000 Greek mercenaries from Persia to the Black Sea, in the 5th century BC, the neurotoxins in the local wild honey would render an army senseless, making them vulnerable to ambush.That is exactly what Mithradates and his allies in western Pontus used against Pompey the Great and his Roman army in 65 BC. Pompey was pursuing Mithradates and a small band of ragtag survivors after a devastating defeat.

While Mithradates eluded the Romans and led them on a wild goose chase into Armenia and Colchis (now the Republic of Georgia), Mithradates’ allies set out toxic wild honeycombs on Pompey’s route. As soon as the legionnaires had feasted on the sweet treat, they collapsed paralyzed. Then Mithradates’ allies descended from the forests and killed them. Pompey lost about 1,000 men to poison rhododendron honey. I myself have not tasted the honey, but I have interviewed an anthropology student who sampled some of the pernicious honey and nearly died. So I was able to describe the nearly lethal neurological symptoms in vivid detail in my publications.

I’m happy to say that I have been very fortunate in not falling ill on my world travels, from the Mediterranean and Turkey to India and most recently Vietnam and Cambodia.

I attribute this to caution about food and water (wisdom conferred after commiting the grave error of brushing my teeth using Istanbul tap water some 30 years ago; the terracotta water and sewage pipes in that venerable city date from the Byzantine era).

I also will reveal my personal precautions, so simple and unsensational that Mithradates, the original master of antidotes, would chuckle: I rely on a daily modest dose of bismuth (antibacterial gastrointestinal defense) and the immunological adaptogen favored by Soviet astronauts, rhodiola rosavin from Siberia.

111 ( 2 )  ( P O L Journal of Culture and Consciousness )
Madamme Mayor , what kind of rigors, strangulations, impositions , mortifications, near deaths , and terrors did you have to undergo to write the Poison King in its groundbreaking entirety ?Did you travel and contract the diabolical diarrhoea perchance, in your research squats along the Anatolic Orient ? A trace of an epidemic concealed in some rugged Lamb Kebab along the hellspo0nt ? The Flu, after being sneezed upon by some hoary librarian with several oblong moles on his cheeks dusting off a number of old parchments ?Were there conspiracies within the vaults of Stanford’s Research Facilities and their Public Relations team to contrive a ceremonic parade in which you were to be flailed by a row of litigation attorneys from the Law College and then showcased in a Cage filled with Review Edition paperbacks of the Poison King and a banner of the University , to charm, beleague, and titillate , the influx of Campus Touring parents and High School graduates seeking to sign up for tuition at Stanford ? … Surely , we must be underestimating your actual and objective narrative with these modest visuals !DR. ADRIENNE MAYOR —- 
You ask, “What kind of rigors, … impositions , mortifications, near deaths , and terrors did you have to undergo to write the Poison King in its groundbreaking entirety?” There is a note of irony in this question for me personally. I began delving into the the life of Mithradates, the world’s first experimental toxicologist, while researching my previous book “Greek Fire, Poison Arrows, and Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World” (Overlook/Duckworth 2003, rev ed 2009). For several years I unearthed the ancient roots of biological and chemical weapons and tactics in mythological, literary, historical, andarchaeological evidence, in Greek myth and real battles in the Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, India, and China. Immersed in the animal, mineral, and plant toxins that were diabolically weaponized in antiquity all around the world, little did I realize that a few months after the publication of that book I myself would begin experiencing the “rigors, impositions, mortifications, and near-death” of poisons circulating in my bloodstream. I underwent chemotherapy to treat cancer, voluntarily receiving infusions of some of the very same deadly substances used in antiquity to create deadly poison arrows. Specifically, I was injected with taxol, the sap of yew trees, used in ancient times to empoison spears and arrows. My doctors were amazed at this ancient knowledge and nefarious use of the anti-cancer drug made from yew. For me, having studied poisons in depth for several years, this coincidence was a striking irony.
After my treatment with poisons to treat cancer, I was even more deeply impressed by the ancient understanding that all powerful natural substances hold the capacity to harm or heal. Everything depends upon the dosage .111 ( 3 )  ( P O L Journal of Culture and Consciousness )The methods employed by the Poison King would constitute the kind of sanguinity and horror that those belonging to the so-called “ Western World ” associate with tyrants, dictators , and other permutations of evils — particularly those of so- called “ undeveloped countries ” in our times . The genocide politically orchestrated by this Mithridates the Sixth ,combined with his duperies and cultural imitations to gratify the objective of power , enhanced by purely physical means by which to obliterate / allay paranoia towards the karmic forces unleashed by these actions —- and eventually failing to prevent the inevitable outcome . Yet , Mithridates is very much an icon of the Greco-Roman West in more ways than none . Is he an icon of contemporary Americas as well ? Mithridates claimed ancestries to the Greek Alexander and the Persian Darius, to conciliate with this propaganda the enthusiasms of those he sought to rule - namely, Eastern and Western polities in the anatolia regions . Can this be considered the early development of the kind of antagonistic bilateralism and duality — leading to the mass spectacles and bipartisanism that have developed over time in the so-called “ bureaucratic democracies ” of the West through the gradual transformation of nation states to form other kinds of polities ? Democratic , and Republican — . Right Wing and Left Wing —- . And, penguins and Sanguines ! …DR. ADRIENNE MAYOR —-
Yes, some of the methods employed by Mithradates VI seem quite bloodthirsty and horrifying. This could be one reason that his previous European biographers, suchas Theodor Mommsen (1850s), Theodore Reinach (1890), Alfred Duggan (1958) considered him a cruel and decadent despot. They relegated him to the same category as the decadent Ottoman sultans of their era. As the Ottoman Empire unraveled, and faded from memory, so was Mithradates also forgotten—or if he was remembered it was for his most notorious acts of murder and poison experiments. Those biographers, like the historians of the Roman Empire, told Mithradates’ story from the perspective of Pax Romana, the rosy glow of all that Roman rule had wrought, the legacy of post-Roman imperialism and conquest and taming of “Barbarians.” So Mithradates was long viewed as an evil, decadent “oriental” tyrant. His supposed ‘cruelty” has long been associated with third world autocracies, despite the fact that the Romans killed and destroyed on an even greater scale and without even the justification of noble ideals, in this extremely violent era. The crimes against humanity and genocides of the Romans has yet to be treated adequately in any modern studies, although I know of a few scholars who have begun to research and publish the evidence for Rome’s inhumanities.Yet, as I struggle to show in my biography, Mithradates was the defender and inheritor of the venerable ancient civilizations of Greece and Persia, in contrast to the brutal and culturally impoverished Romans of the lateRoman Republic. In the last, bloody decades of the dying Republic, it was the Romans who were rapacious, relentless predators, like wolves, bent on devouring the known world, crushing Greek democracy and Persian heritage alike, with an insatiable lust for slaves and riches of other lands. Mithradates’ followers saw him as a hero, a savior-king, an enlightened monarch who respected ancient Greek democracy and followed the ancient Persian religion of Truth, Light, and Free Will. The Romans were seen as the forces of Darkness and Deceit, looting and enslaving millions.Mithradates offered a real alternative to Rome: instead of a harsh system of taxation, slavery, and plunder, he hoped to create a mutually profitable Black Sea Empire, he freed thousands of slaves, relieved debts, expanded citizenship rights, and shared his wealth with his followers.
Notably, many Roman thinkers and historians admired the idealistic ambitions of their implacable enemy. Even more surprising, in the Middle Ages in Europe, Mithradates was viewed as a heroic independent benevolent monarch battling the evil Romans driven by greed for power and gold.
Mithradates’ life story, personality, and challenge to Rome are marked by complexity, making it difficult to disentangle good from evil. I’ve learned that he is a figure of deep fascination to modern readers, for many different reasons. This is illustrated vividly in the profile of MithradatesEupator that I created on the social network site Facebook in 2009. He has more than a thousand friends from all around the globe, and of every religion from atheist to Zorastrian, and of every political stripe, from anarchists to neo- conservatives. Everyone who hears his life story finds something to fear and to admire in King Mithradates VI Dionysus Eupator of Pontus.111 ( 4 )  ( P O L Journal of Culture and Consciousness )
Can the all immunizing Mithridatium immune man against his contemporary earthly madness, and shelter him from the poisonous influences of servility, laziness, unexamined existence, apathy, obsession, exploitation , political frenzies , and moral ugliness emphasized by fiscal and ambient despair ? Who was — for starters — this Mithridates the Sixth , and what would he be doing if were given to rule troubled lands today , and what does he represent in human nature, that corresponds to the poisons of the earth, that represent a correspondence between maniacal impulses of carnage, and the immunity towards the same ?And — what would be his panacea to the contemporary poisons, which seem to afflict the psyche more than the soma ?
Mithradates’ methods were not always humane and his own rage and paranoia led him to carry out some monstrous acts. Yet his followers hailed Mithradates as the long-awaited savior-king who would defend the East from the imperial and tyrannical aggressors from the west, Rome. Mithradates was well-educated in Greek and Persian culture and learning, a keenly intelligent ruler who dreamed of realizing the vision of his ancestor, the great Alexander, of a vast Greco-Persian Empire, a co-prosperity trade zone. Mithradates hated slavery and debt. He liberated Greece from Rome, allowing the restoration—actually the last gasp—of the ancient Athenian democracy. He was a patron of the arts, philosophy, and the sciences. His experiments with toxicology and his scientific discoveries related to poisons and antidotes anticipated complex concepts of medicine only just now being studied by advanced scientists today. Mithradates’ fascination with poisons and antidotes perhaps reflect his own dual nature of noble idealism and cruel methods. Was he a psychopath? Or a mythic hero? A toxic poison? Or a healing antidote? Certainly the Romans viewed this last independent king and his popular cause as a deadly, toxic threat to their exsistence—they could tolerate no rival. But to his followers,Mithradates was the long-sought antidote to harsh Roman domination.What would the charismatic Mithradates be doing today if he were alive? I like to think he would overcome his negative personality traits and be found fighting for Truth and Light against the forces of Darkness and The Lie, joining those struggling against enslavement, tyranny, and oppression wherever these evils raise their Hydra heads.Or, another scenario comes to mind. Given his experimental genius and lifelong search for the perfect “universal antidote” to protect against all posions, perhaps Mithradates would be found in a laboratory creating theriacs and vaccines to immunize humanitiy. A few years ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Serguei Popov, a former top scientist in the Soviet biological warfare program who defected to the west in the 1990s. Now instead of creating nightmarish genetically spliced biological weapons, such as hybrid cobra venom-smallpox pathogens, Popov devotes his life to creating something remarkably similar to Mithradates’ dream of a universal antidote.Popov searches for ways to make vaccines that will neutralize diabolical biological weapons wielded by vicious forces bent on destruction. If Mithradates were alive today, I would like to imagine that he would seek to create a peaceful panacea to benefit humanity .

Logic moves in one direction, the direction of clarity, coherence and structure. Ambiguity moves in the other direction, that of fluidity, openness, and release. Mathematics moves back and forth between these two poles. […] It is the interaction between these different aspects that gives mathematics its power

William Byers (How Mathematicians Think, Princeton University Press, 2007)


Have You Read the Books Behind This Year’s Oscar-Nominated Films for Best Adapted Screenplay?

American Sniper by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice
Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, basis for The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Hawking, basis for The Theory of Everything

The fifth nominee, Whiplash, is based on the filmmaker Damien Chazelle’s original short film.

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“We carry our past with us, to wit, the primitive and inferior man with his desires and his emotions, and it is only with an enormous effort that we can detach ourselves from this burden. If it comes to a neurosis, we invariably have to deal with a considerably intensified shadow.  And if such a person wants to be cured it is necessary to find a way in which his conscious personality and his shadow can live together […] Unfortunately, there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”

Carl Gustav Jung, from “Psychology and Religion: West and East,” The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 11, trans. R.F.C. Hull (Princeton University Press 1975)
Earliest known biography of an African woman translated to English for the first time
Ethiopian noblewoman Walatta Petros left her husband to stop the spread of Roman Catholicism, possibly fell in love with a fellow nun and was elevated to sainthood
By Alison Flood

“The biography has now been published in English by Princeton University Press as The Life and Struggles of Our Mother Walatta Petros. It has only been translated into two other languages before: Amharic and Italian, the latter in the 1970s. While researching the text, Belcher discovered that the biography contained the earliest known depiction of same-sex desire among women in sub-Saharan Africa, an element she said was “censored” from the manuscript that the 1970s Italian edition was based on.”

I am sorry for having let a broad river pass through my
without drinking a single drop.
Now I’m sinking into the stone.
A small pine-tree in the red soil
is all the company I have.
Whatever I loved vanished with the houses
that were new last summer
and collapsed in the autumn wind.
—  Giorgos Seferis, from “Mythistorema,” Collected Poems (Princeton University Press, 1969) 

But I will confess
that I began as an astronomer—a liking
for bright flashes, vast distances, unreachable
things, a hand stretched always toward
the furthest limit—and that my longing
for you has never taken me far
from that original desire, to inscribe
a comet’s orbit around the walls
of our city, to gently stroke the surface of the stars.

Troy Jollimore, closing lines to “On the Origin of Things,” Syllabus of Errors (Princeton University Press, 2015)