A rich, scholarly work that will attract more academic than general readers.



A critical analysis of the political and polemical essays of Chinese writer Lu Xun (1881–1936), whose literary stature remains Olympian.

Though Davies (Chinese Studies/Monash Univ.; Worrying about China: The Language of Chinese Critical Inquiry, 2009, etc.) doesn't focus closely on biographical details, numerous details about Lu Xun’s life do emerge. (Very early, we learn his favorite brand of cigarettes; later, a bit about his married life and contentious relationship with his brother.) Davies focuses on Lu Xun’s pioneering literary uses of baihua (the common language) and on his literary contributions to the revolutionary turmoil in China in the 1920s and ’30s, a turmoil that eventually forced him to publish using as many as 140 pseudonyms. The author notes that his celebrity afforded him some safety in the most perilous times. Readers will discover almost immediately that Davies’ is principally an academic work: The tone is scholarly, and literary allusions populate her prose—Foucault, Heidegger, Jung, Sartre, Derrida and many others. She employs numerous block quotations and sometimes-dense diction: “In using ambulatory tropes to anthropomorphize language Lu Xun…transfigured the act of writing into an agon of self-reflection on the road to attaining humanness.” However, the range of Davies’ research is staggering, and her erudition is impressive as she glides through Lu Xun’s literary career. She deals frankly and comprehensively with Lu Xun’s most prominent critics and notes how he handled them with intensity and agility. She has much to say, as well, about his theories of writing—how he decried political rhetoric, despised romantic fiction and saw the moral ambiguity of revolutionary writing. She also reproduces his list of eight tips for aspiring writers—among them: “Don’t force yourself to write when you feel you can’t.”

A rich, scholarly work that will attract more academic than general readers.

Pub Date: April 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0674072640

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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


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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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