I’ve been out of academia for a while now, but if there’s one thing that I remember about being at uni, it’s the fact that there is a lot of reading. And I mean a lot.
Sometimes that reading is fascinating, sometimes it’s decidedly not (I’m looking at you, Jacques Lacan, you bastard). I’ve already written a list of top 10 books I think every lit major should read, and this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic was a great chance to revisit my university days once more. As soon as I saw the topic was extremely long book titles, the reading I did at uni immediately sprang to mind. Because if there’s one thing academics love, it’s a nice, long, and juicy title.
However, since work has been kicking my butt these past few weeks, by the time Tuesday rolled around I had only written about half of this post. It seemed a waste to pass up such a good prompt though, so I bring you, with a slight delay, the following
Top 10 Super Long Book Titles from My University Essays
Novels with Quite Long Titles – A Warmup
Let’s ease our way in, and start out with the shortest of the long titles. I’ve picked two titles that contain more than four words just so my poor readers don’t get shocked by what’s to follow.
1. Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveller
I adore this book, as I’ve already mentioned. It’s weird and confusing and needlessly difficult to read, but it’s brilliant nonetheless.
2. Dubravka Ugrešić, The Museum of Unconditional Surrender
I wrote a great deal about this amazing book in my dissertation, and since the title contains more than four words I’ve included it here, even though technically it’s not the longest novel title ever…
Brace Yourselves: Here Come the Long Scholarly Studies
So nonfictional works in general love the humble subtitle (of which I am a big fan, as you can see from the title of this post). This means that the full titles of scholarly studies tend to be quite long and, at times, needlessly pretentious.
3. Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection.
This is actually an amazing book that would probably be of interest even to general readers. It basically talks about all the stuff we have and how it’s connected with memory and longing.
4. Counterfeit Ladies: The Life and Death of Mary Frith; The Case of Mary Carleton, ed. by Elizabeth Spearing and Janet Todd
Mary Frith was a pretty cool figure. She was a thief and cross-dresser in 16th century London, and she also inspired a famous play by one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries.
5. Larry Wolff, Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment
Having lived here for the past four years, I can tell you one thing for sure: Eastern Europe is a weird place, people. But the reality isn’t nearly as weird as the way Eastern Europe has been depicted in Western literature since the Enlightenment.
6. Kevin Walsh, The Representation of the Past: Museums and Heritage in the Post-Modern World
I still find museums to be fascinating places, ignoring for the moment the sore feet and the indescribable exhaustion that comes from standing and staring at fifty seemingly identical shards of seemingly unexceptional pottery for three hours.
Titles So Long Your Tea Will Go Cold While You Read Them
… So if you haven’t already, I’d suggest now is a good time to invest in a tea-cosy.
7. Richard Burton, The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night: A Plain and Literal Translation of the Arabian Nights Entertainments
Back in the Victorian period, the famous explorer Richard Burton’s translation of the One Thousand and One Nights was an absolute sensation, mostly because apart from anything else, it was by Victorian standards just about as smutty as you can get. It was “unexpurgated”, unlike most contemporary translations of the stories, and Burton added his own copious notes to it as well. While writing my dissertation I read bits of Burton’s books, and ended up discovering a footnote wherein he discussed the sex toys that women in harems supposedly used (never mind that he’d never been to a harem or really met any women in his travels through the Middle East). Essentially, he was a right old perv.
8. Jean Dumont, A New Voyage to the Levant: Containing an Account of the Most Remarkable Curiosities in Germany, France, Italy, Malta, and Turkey; with Historical Observations Relating to the Present and Ancient State of Those Countries
So technically I haven’t read this the whole way through either (although I think I should be given credit just for getting through the title), but I used parts of this book for a dissertation on travel writing.
9. Aaron Hill, A Full and Just Account of the Present State of the Ottoman Empire in All Its Branches: With the Government, and Policy, Religion, Customs, and Way of Living of the Turks, in General. Faithfully Related from a Serious Observation, Taken in Many Years Travels Thro’ Those Countries. By Aaron Hill, Gent
I used this book for the same dissertation mentioned above; as with Dumont, this title ended up cluttering up my footnotes and taking up whole half-pages whenever I cited it.
10. John Stow, A Suruay of London Contayning the Originall, Antiquity, Increase, Moderne Estate, and Description of That Citie, Written in the Yeare 1598. By Iohn Stow Citizen of London. Also an Apologie (or Defence) against the Opinion of Some Men, Concerning That Citie, the Greatnesse Thereof. With an Appendix, Containing in Latine, Libellum De Situ & Nobilitate Londini: Written by William Fitzstephen, in the Raigne of Henry the Second
Congratulations if you made it all the way through that title. I promise I won’t tell you what this book is about, mostly because all that’s missing from that title are a few maps to make it an almost complete summary of precisely every single piece of information contained in the book itself.