THE FAMILY IDIOT

GUSTAVE FLAUBERT, 1821-1857, VOLUME 5

The second volume of an ongoing translation of Satire's dense, immense biography and analysis of the young Flaubert. Sartre's thesis, expressed in highly complex format, is that Flaubert was something of a child genius, and that by reading the works of his extreme youth, the lover of his later works can recognize all of the future masterpieces, such as Madame Bovary, in embryo. This contradicts the pre-Sartreian belief that Flaubert was a late developer, in fact, the "family idiot." When such a complex text is translated, it should be asked for whom the job of Englishing is done. Even in English, Satire's arguments are sufficiently difficult to follow as to discourage the casual reader. Moreover, the interested investigator into Flaubert's early work had better know French, as almost none of it has been translated. Therefore, we are left with a large project that may well be of use to a limited number of scholars or either Sartre or of Flaubert. Otherwise, this fairly expensive volume cannot be tailed a "fun read" for those who are less deeply involved on a professional level. This caution slated, il is important lo stress that Cosman has continued her fluent job of translating what is occasionally an unfluent original. Despite his awkwardnesses of style, Sartre's is certainly one of the most stimulating recent works on Flaubert, largely because nothing embarrasses the critic. Even Flaubert's likely episodes of homosexuality in adolescence and later are given their full due here, with a description of a comrade's appreciating "the feminine charm emanating from Gustave's young body." The details of the carnal life of the novelist are only a part of the exceptionally thorough and all-inclusive approach that the author takes toward his fascinating subject. Illuminating, but more for specialists than for the general reader.

Pub Date: April 1, 1987

ISBN: 0226735192

Page Count: 646

Publisher: Univ. of Chicago

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1987

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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