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Jay Parini is Axinn Professor of English at Middlebury College, Vermont. His six novels also include Benjamins Crossing and The Apprentice Lover. His volumes of poetry include The Art of Subtraction: New and Selected Poems. In addition to biographies of John Steinbeck, Robert Frost and William Faulkner, he has written a volume of essays on literature and politics, as well as The Art of Teaching. He edited the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature and writes regularly for the Guardian and other publications.
Author photo © Oliver Parini
A fictionalised account of the tormented and, for the time, scandalous life of Herman Melville, author of the 19C classic Moby Dick. 1841. A young Herman Melville is yet to write Moby Dick. He sets out on a voyage aboard a whaling ship. What happens on that trip will give him enough material for a lifetime of writing. But what of the dark things Melville encounters on his journey, and the illicit relationships he embarks upon that are to torment him once he returns home to his wife Lizzie?...
SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTUREA New York Times Notable BookAs Leo Tolstoy's life draws to a tumultuous close, his tempestuous wife and most cunning disciple are locked in a whirlwind battle for the great man's soul. Torn between his professed doctrine of poverty and chastity and the reality of his enormous wealth and thirteen children, Tolstoy dramatically flees his home, only to fall ill at a tiny nearby rail station. The famous (and famously troubled) writer believes he is dying alone, unaware that over a hundred newspapermen camp outside awaiting hourly reports on his condition.Jay Parini moves deftly between a colorful cast of characters to create a stunning portrait of one of the world's most treasured authors. Dancing between fact and fiction, The Last Station is a brilliant and moving literary performance.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Becoming an effective teacher can be quite painful and exhausting, taking years of trial and error. In The Art of Teaching, writer and critic Jay Parini looks back over his own decades of trials, errors, and triumphs, in an intimate memoir that brims with humor, encouragement, and hard-won wisdom about the teacher's craft. Here is a godsend for instructors of all levels, offering valuable insight into the many challenges that educators face, from establishing a persona in the classroom, to fostering relationships with students, to balancing teaching load with academic writing and research. Insight abounds. Parini shows, for instance, that there is nothing natural about teaching. The classroom is a form of theater, and the teacher must play various roles. A good teacher may look natural, but that's the product of endless practice. The book also considers such topics as the manner of dress that teachers adopt (and what this says about them as teachers), the delicate question of politics in the classroom, the untapped value of emeritus professors, and the vital importance of a settled, disciplined life for a teacher and a writer. Parini grounds all of this in personal stories of his own career in the academy, tracing his path from unfocused student--a self-confessed tough nut to crack --to passionate writer, scholar, and teacher, one who frankly admits making many mistakes over the years. Every year, thousands of newly minted college teachers embark on their careers, most with scant training in their chosen profession. The Art of Teaching is a perfect book for these young educators as well as anyone who wants to learn more about this difficult but rewarding profession.