ESSAYS 1978-1995

In search of the depths of Homer, the Bible, Shakespeare, and Kafka, and the problematic interplay of Judaism, Classicism, and Christianity, Steiner (Proofs and Three Parables, 1993, etc.) displays his commanding, polymathic erudition. With Yale about to reissue his early Death of Tragedy and other works, this collection of miscellaneous introductions, essays, reviews, and lectures reflects many of Steiner's previous tropes—the ``real presence'' of meaning in literature, the value of tragedy, the traditional and philosophical questions of translation, etc. But No Passion Spent arranges its contents into a cohesive thematic organization that gradually builds on his command of philosophy, literature, and theology. Opening with the Western literary tradition's devaluation of the act of reading (``The Uncommon Reader''), Steiner magisterially reclaims the authority of that tradition, expounding on its biblical, Homeric, and Shakespearean riches. His ``Preface to the Hebrew Bible'' and ``Homer in English'' go through the densely textured record of translations and allusions with striking facility. Steiner considers ``the enigma of revelation in language'' and the West's troubled moral history, focusing particularly on the Holocaust. Sometimes his intellect overreaches itself, as in an equivocal logical-positivist reading of Shakespeare and elitist presumptions about America; but it is always in pursuit of demanding questions, such as the significance of cultural inheritance or the mutual rejections of Christianity and Judaism. The volume concludes at an illuminating zenith with a pair of essays, ``Two Cocks'' and ``Two Suppers,'' in which Steiner turns his incisive mind to the parallels of the deaths of Socrates and Jesus, the Last Supper and the Symposium. With such stimulating scope and compelling concerns, it's fitting that Steiner's title reworks a quote from that Puritan Classicist Milton's Samson Agonistes, drawing strength and passion from all the traditions it invokes.

Pub Date: May 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-300-06630-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1996

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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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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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