Next book



Contra Susan Sontag and a whole generation of structuralist literary critics, Kermode might have titled these essays—the Norton Lectures on Poetry, 1977-78—as "For Interpretation." Because all narratives share a "radiant obscurity," as we read we honor this mystery by helplessly trying to figure it out. Hermeneutics is usually the province of biblical scholarship, so Kermode resolves to start right there. Laminated with "secret texts," "midrashim," and corollaries to the Old Testament, the Gospels are a perfect ur-text: agents can be seen to become characters in the course of successive interpretation. Mark, the earliest written gospel, is a harsh story, purposely elusive, almost taunting. Matthew becomes more vivid, but also lops off edges that can make the reader/believer very edgy. Luke and John add verisimilitude—novelistic touches, necessary alignments. The synoptic Gospels, therefore, are created, Kermode argues, like any other text: they receive and consolidate sketchy mysteries, respond to the historical realities of their time (and prospective audience), and in their structures behave like any fiction: the how of the telling shapes the narrative fully as much as what's being told. Not to interpret, Kermode's argument goes, is to write off this hermetic, layered dignity of texts, to fix them to an ideology, to deny their mystery, treating them either as neutral architecture or journalistic propaganda. (There are modern references also—to Pynchon, Green, Kafka.) Though Kermode slips into jargon now and then, the thesis is well wrought, the scholarship varied and well-distributed, and the examples clear and deft.

Pub Date: March 1, 1979

ISBN: 0674345355

Page Count: 190

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1979

Next book



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

Next book


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

Close Quickview