Despite an underdone potato or two, this rich comic serving of borscht will be deemed savory by many a Department of Russian...



Russian history and literature get a good thrashing from truly grouchy Professor Chudo, assisted by editor Sobesednikov—both of whom are “official pseudonyms” of Russian Lit maven Gary S. Morson.

Steppe by steppe, we learn from this elaborate put-on—and put-down—about the Russian national drink (vodka), national philosophy (vodka), national song (“Vodka!”), and most recent Five-Year Plan (anti-Semitism). Obscurity becomes lucid and vice versa. Obviously Chudo knows a lot of arcane stuff about the Slavic intelligentsia and does her utmost to protect us from it. From the graves of academe she delivers the ultimate in literary criticism. This seminal satirical study works out convoluted textual analysis and analyzes textual convolutions: included are several treasures like a new Gogol tale (clearly from the hand of the master) and an undoubted story by Dostoevsky (from the hand of the same master). Along with many footnotes and shameless wordplay, there’s real verisimilitude to what might, at first glance, pass for a junior college’s selection of an appropriate sophomore textbook. All of the Russias is a large target, and this spoof hits it. Unfortunately, other traits of Russian letters (feckless torpor and ennui) emerge in the appended material of comments regarding the Russian language, some faux advertising, a spotty chronology, and a comic dictionary (festooned with much doggerel) in the mode of Flaubert and Bierce. Chudo would have done well to recall her reference to a 19th-century novel “so tedious that even its translator didn’t read it.” Nevertheless, the main text, often as nimble as Nijinsky, disses the Slavs in a manner that will certainly cause a lot of academic hilarity and possibly, as an American-Zionist provocation, a major diplomatic incident.

Despite an underdone potato or two, this rich comic serving of borscht will be deemed savory by many a Department of Russian Studies.

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8101-1788-6

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Northwestern Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?