Books by Paul Brians
I’ve had a varied career and none of my books has much to do with the others; but here’s information about each of them.
For a full list of my publications, including articles, contributed chapters in books, and e-publications, see my vita.
Department of English
Washington State University
Bawdy Tales from the Courts of Medieval France
This is a collection of stories ranging from risqué to raunchy from mostly obscure Medieval French originals. The book was published in paperback as a Harper Torchbook in 1973, but was too sensational for classroom use and not sensational enough for popular sales. Harper & Row decided to put out a hardcover edition to stimulate library sales (at that time libraries seldom bought paperbacks), but they never advertised it and few were sold. After selling the bulk of the first edition, Harper & Row sold off most of the rest to a reseller cheap and let it go out of print.
However, the book has entertained and informed quite a few people (including Barbara Tuchman, who cited it in A Distant Mirror), including some teachers who use photocopies of certain stories in their classes. For this I get an occasional royalty check. It includes the only English translation of a very rare Arthurian tale, “The Knight of the Sword” in which Gawain is tested on a magical bed, as well as such low-brow entertainments as “The Lady Who Was Castrated” and “The Lay of the Lecher.”
The hardbound library edition is extremely rare (I have a few copies for sale to libraries only), but paper copies appear from time to time at reasonable prices from used book dealers. Try searching at ABEBooks.com
Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction 1895-1984
This history and annotated bibliography of nuclear war as it has been depicted in fiction was the product of ten years of research. I published widely on the subject until the end of the Cold War led to a sharp dropoff in interest in the subject. The first edition of 1986 almost sold out before Kent State University Press remaindered it. There are no copies presently available for sale, but many libraries own a copy. However, this book has been rendered obsolete by the Web publication of the second edition, which should be used instead.
Reading About the World, Vols. 1 & 2.
A custom-published reader for the study of world civilizations. Samples and further information are available by clicking on the title above. Copies can be purchased from Amazon.com.
Common Errors in English Usage
Published 2003 by William, James Co., this is the book version of my popular Web site, “Common Errors in English.” It is a usage guide which attempts to be helpful and entertaining without overwhelming the reader with technical detail.
Modern South Asian Literature in English
Published 2003 by Greenwood Press. This is a discussion of some authors from India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka who write fiction in English (Attia Hosain, Jhumpa Lahiri, Rohinton Mistry, Bharati Mukherjee, R. K. Narayan, Michael Ondaatje, Raja Rao, Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie, Shyam Selvadurai, Khushwant Singh, Bapsi Sidhwa, Manil Suri, and Rabindranath Tagore). These essays are aimed at being helpful to readers beginning to explore this popular literature. It avoids fearsome theoretical and critical vocabulary and aims at explaining what needs explaining without giving away plot surprises. Ideal for libraries, reading groups, and beginning college courses on the subject.
Four Seasons on Bainbridge Island, 2010
This book is a self-published collection of photographs of Bainbridge Island, Washington, focusing on characteristic flowers and other plants in different times of year. Information is provided about parks, hikes, other attractions, and various seasonal events on the island. For more information, write firstname.lastname@example.org.