Approachable, effective excerpts afford breathtaking encounters with genius.



An anthology of the acclaimed poet and essayist’s most searing prose.

This compendium demonstrates how Rich (Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems 2007-2010, 2010, etc.), who won numerous prestigious awards during her life (1929-2012), also distinguished herself as a formidable public intellectual, literary critic, and cultural theorist. Arguing that the masculine world order has discounted the perspectives of women, Rich devoted her life to fostering “a collective description of the world which will be truly ours.” Her essays leveraged her poems and journal entries as illustrations because she sought to dissolve the barriers between the personal, the political, and the aesthetic. In the section taken from her landmark book Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution (1976), the author contrasts the supposed bliss of maternity with the “anxiety, physical weariness, anger, self-blame, boredom, and division within myself” that she felt as a mother of three young children. This collection features representative samples of Rich’s signature critical move, the “re-vision” of literary foremothers whose works had long been misappropriated and misunderstood. She claims, for instance, that Emily Dickinson’s reclusive lifestyle was not a sentimental tragedy but rather a practical and liberating choice for an ambitious writer conscious of her unorthodox brilliance and that the carefully controlled style in A Room of One’s Own enabled Virginia Woolf to write for women while being overheard by men. Rich’s outspoken alliance with lesbian feminists has tended to discourage those readers who could most benefit from her work, yet her thoughts about gender and identity from the 1970s and ’80s sound all too current: “A change in the concept of sexual identity is essential if we are not going to see the old political order reassert itself in every new revolution.” Feminist poet and literary critic Gilbert skillfully selects examples that convey the considerable breadth of Rich’s purview as an essayist and exhibit her characteristic strategy of rejecting surface explanations and turning experience around in the light of subjective truth.

Approachable, effective excerpts afford breathtaking encounters with genius.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-393-65236-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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



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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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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