A model of popular Shakespearean scholarship: engagingly accessible and contagiously enthusiastic.

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ROSALIND

A BIOGRAPHY OF SHAKESPEARE'S IMMORTAL HEROINE

Thirlwell (Into the Frame: The Four Loves of Ford Madox Brown, 2010, etc.) turns to a fictional subject in her charming appraisal of the gender-bending protagonist of As You Like It.

Though the author claims to be “writing Rosalind’s biography,” this delightfully rambling text is more properly described as a blend of literary criticism and theater history. Among its theatrical virtues are Thirlwell’s memories of great Rosalinds she has seen, beginning with Vanessa Redgrave in 1962; thoughtful reflections on the part from a number of gifted contemporary actors, including Juliet Rylance and Fiona Shaw; and a vivid recap of historic Rosalinds, from Dorothy Jordan’s erotically charged 18th-century performances to Charlotte Cushman’s butch version in the Victorian era to Edith Evans’ glittering 1936 incarnation. On the literary side, Thirlwell explores Shakespeare’s sources for As You Like It, the medieval Tale of Gamelyn and Thomas Lodge’s 1590 romance Rosalynde, making the interesting point that Lodge’s heroine is gentler and more feminine than Shakespeare’s powerfully androgynous Rosalind. A later chapter on “Rosalind’s Daughters” strains a bit to include every feisty female from Jo March to Yentl, but a number of surprising quotes reveal that writers as different as Virginia Woolf and Pat Barker have been inspired by Rosalind. Thirlwell devotes the bulk of the book to an exegesis of the text, focusing on Rosalind’s liberation through cross-dressing and her education of Orlando to be worthy of her love. These are fairly standard points, but the author makes them in lucid prose that sweeps up readers in her love for Shakespeare’s thoroughly modern woman. It’s also nice to see underappreciated Celia get her due for wit and wisdom that very nearly equal her cousin Rosalind’s, and Orlando—who can fade into the Forest of Arden in a bland performance—comes to life in Thirlwell’s sensitive appreciation as a romantic juvenile who grows into love between equals.

A model of popular Shakespearean scholarship: engagingly accessible and contagiously enthusiastic.

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-335-3

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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