ARROWS OF LONGING

THE CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN ANAÃS NIN AND FELIX POLLAK, 1952-1976

paper 0-8040-1007-2 Although Nin confided in her diary, “These are the letters which have kept my writing alive,” the often banal correspondence is of less significance for her readers. The embellished multi-volume self-portrait of Nin’s diary, with its numerous entangled love affairs and wide-ranging travels, hardly suggested the more or less mundane correspondence she conducted with Felix Pollak, a librarian at Northwestern University. Pollak, who initially contacted the then-obscure Nin about the purchase of her manuscripts, was also a fellow European exile, who had fled his beloved Austria with the Anschluss, and a struggling poet with a taste for the mordant social observations of his hero, the Viennese critic Karl Kraus. Pollak’s denunciations of the philistinism in American publishing, which had persistently rejected Nin’s novel A Spy in the House of Love, combined with his fanlike admiration for Nin’s work to win over the author. Mason (English/Gustavus Adolphus Coll.) has collected and thoroughly annotated their letters, adding examples of Pollak’s poetry and aphorisms he sent to Nin, but his scholarly efforts cannot gloss over Nin’s fairly trivial letters, with their complaints about her lack of recognition, or Pollak’s sub-Krausian imprecations upon 1950s America. Their slim literary links apart, their unfurling relationship is based on egotistic symbiosis, she receiving his critical appreciation, he an ear to her pent-up frustrations’social, professional, literary, and marital. Their friendship teetered at first on their one face-to-face meeting, for which Pollak later apologized for his “adolescent” behavior, and it broke off for a decade after Pollak wrote a review (never published) of Nin’s Seduction of the Minotaur that revealed its roman-Ö-clef descriptions of her then-secret affair with Henry Miller. After the epistolary dynamo of Nin’s correspondence with Henry Miller (A Literary Passion, 1987), this friendship on paper has all the power of an electric train set.

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8040-1006-4

Page Count: 243

Publisher: Swallow Press/Ohio Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1998

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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