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Although Edmund Wilson himself prepared much of his prodigious critical output for posterity, including three volumes of selected short essays, there is enough left over to make up a serviceable, if slightly reduced, overview. With Wilson's achievement (and reputation) in partial eclipse for his centenary, Groth (English/SUNY, Plattsburgh) and Castronovo (English/Pace Univ.), both of whom have written previously on Wilson, undertake a reconstruction of the development of his eclectic pursuits in one volume. They have picked mainly serious, slightly stodgy pieces, usually on Modernists, Marxists, or canonical figures like T.S. Eliot and Henry James; these add up to an essentially representative selection that begins with his earliest writings. Unlike the editors, though, Wilson wisely never collected his prep school and Nassau Literary Magazine juvenilia, which display his bad habits of pomposity and overemphatic pronouncement, such as a self-important survey of prep school literary magazines or tagging Chesterton "a genius, if you will." He curbed but never purged these tendencies from the lucid style he polished in the 1920s, though again his weighty attempts are over-represented in this section. More interesting are his fellow-traveler writings from the 1930s, which show aspects of his left-wing fervor that Wilson later smoothed over. But the neglect here of formative experiences in WW I fumbles a key to much of Wilson's cultural and political convictions. After WW II he reviewed regularly for the New Yorker, where he returned frequently to old favorites such as Stein, Faulkner, and Joyce, confident in his style of polished asperity. Groth and Castronovo have found both useful undertakings and curiosa from Wilson's career, but as a companion volume, this cannot quite keep up with the rest of his corpus.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-8214-1127-6

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Ohio Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1995

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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