A stunning example of a happy marriage between fecund imagination and devoted scholarship.

THE MAKING OF POETRY

COLERIDGE, THE WORDSWORTHS, AND THEIR YEAR OF MARVELS

A full-immersion exploration of two great poets at the end of the 18th century, a time that ended with the publication of their Lyrical Ballads.

In his latest, Somerset Maugham Award winner Nicolson (The Seabird's Cry: The Lives and Loves of the Planet's Great Ocean Voyagers, 2018, etc.) provides an astonishingly rich re-creation of the months that the Wordsworths and Coleridges lived near each other in southwest England. The author tells us how they met, how they ended up living there, and how they spent their hours and days (lots of walking and talking) when both of them would write some of their most celebrated works—Coleridge: “Kubla Khan” and “Cristabel”; Wordsworth: “Tintern Abbey.” Nicolson also reminds us continually of the women in the writers’ lives: Wordsworth’s sister, Dorothy, a crucial companion who suggested ideas; Coleridge’s wife, Sara, who wasn’t as much a part of the literary excitement. We also see the emerging—and then diverging—poetical attitudes of the two principals and their eventual separation. Nicolson, like Richard Holmes—to whom he pays tribute early in the volume—not only read the works of Wordsworth and Coleridge and conducted library research; he moved to the region and enjoyed the same nature walks, becoming extremely familiar with the woods and water. Periodically, he offers his own lyrical paragraphs about the terrain—about what it was like in 1797 and what it’s like now. This reflects the author’s deep commitment to the project and diligence in trying to truly understand these men and their writing. He also quotes and expatiates upon hundreds of lines of poetry, dives into their letters, and tells stories about some of their notable visitors (young William Hazlitt was smitten by Coleridge). Nicolson’s passion sometimes leads him to suggest that all of this has been consequential for how we think and imagine today.

A stunning example of a happy marriage between fecund imagination and devoted scholarship.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-20021-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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