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How to Speak Rugby

The 2019 Rugby World Cup -- the first to be held outside of the sport’s traditional heartlands -- has ended at the International Stadium in Yokohama with a stunning final between England and South Africa. Despite the cancellation of two games because of Super Typhoon Hagibis, the tournament was a huge success, and the Brave Blossoms reaching the final eight has set off a surge of interest in rugby among the Japanese.

For the uninitiated, rugby is a difficult game to understand, and some of the terminology may sound obscure. If you’re interested in rugby’s vocabulary and traditions, a short guide on how to speak rugby by Professor Simon Horobin is now available on OUP Blog. Simon is an English language expert who has written extensively on the history, structure, and uses of the English language. He is the author of The English Language: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2018), How English Became English (OUP, 2016), and Does Spelling Matter? (OUP, 2013). His latest book, Bagels, Bumf, and Buses: A Day in the Life of the English Language, is due to be in stock in late November.

(November 8, 2019)

Dearest Lenny

Last month, we published Dearest Lenny: Letters from Japan and the Making of the World Maestro, which interweaves an intimate story of love and art with a history of Leonard Bernstein’s transformation from an American icon into a world maestro during the second half of the twentieth century.

​In this illuminating work, author Mari Yoshihara casts light on a hitherto unseen aspect of Bernstein’s life. When Yoshishara, Professor of American Studies at University of Hawai’i, was searching the Bernstein collection at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., she stumbled upon 300 personal letters between the composer and Kunihiko Hashimoto, a young male lover. Spanning 11 years from the pair’s first meeting in 1979, the love letters reveal not only the romantic and sexual attraction Hashimoto felt but also his awe and worship of Bernstein, who is most famous for composing West Side Story.

The publication of Dearest Lenny comes at the end of a busy year filled with performances, exhibitions, publications, and events to mark what would have been Leonard Bernstein’s 101st birthday. Reviewing the book, author Carol J. Oja writes:

While Leonard Bernstein's status as a global celebrity is well-established, the focus has largely been on his impact in Europe and Israel. Here, Mari Yoshihara meaningfully repositions the famed conductor and composer in relation to Japan. The story is both professional and personal, and it culminates in Bernstein's longstanding relationship with Kunihiko Hashimoto, which is documented in a voluminous and intimate correspondence between the two men. Consistently insightful and deeply moving, Dearest Lenny deepens our perspective on a figure we thought we knew very well. - Carol J. Oja, author of Bernstein Meets Broadway: Collaborative Art in a Time of War

(October 2, 2019)

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