A compendium of the French surrealist's major prose writings, from 1936 to 1952, which intriguingly exposes Breton's limitations and datedness along with his besetting enthusiasms. This surrealist exemplar, like his colleagues, sought ``the liberation of the human spirit'' through perceptual experiment. His main literary tool in this was automatism, a method of composition that abandoned the rational in order to discover more intrinsic truths lodged in the unconscious. Breton's desires to ``transform the world,'' to ``change life,'' and to ``reshape the human mind'' were subversively political as well as aesthetic in purpose. But an abiding irony of his wordage is its dogmatism and stiff, bulging verbal edifice in a collection that includes memoir, political and cultural critique, aesthetic credos, public lectures, and all- purpose rants. Though historically a rebel, Breton also conveys the contrary urges of an institution-builder or party stalwart who is indulging in a few too many partisan, chastening pronouncements. In this translation, his style comes across as baroque, with some exceptions, as when the author was inspired to reply to a precocious 12-year-old girl's letter. She asked him, ``Do you think Americans are right to give so much freedom to children or is it better, as in France, to subject them to strict discipline? . . . Do you recommend artists such as Matisse and Picasso to children?'' Called on to radically simplify his position for a child with no prior assumptions, Breton could be fetchingly ingenuous and illuminating. ``Well,'' he conceded, ``if you had been able to question me earlier, you would have found me much more self- confident.'' The paradoxes implied by a once-vernal intelligence, which now come to seem rather Wizard-of-Oz-like, recommend a reconsideration of Breton's work.

Pub Date: May 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8032-1241-0

Page Count: 294

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996

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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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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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