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The passions of a social-democrat artist: a baker's dozen essays and speeches voicing Grass's sober, doggedly honest political humanism. As always, Grass gets right down to business. "Ladies and Gentlemen," he tells the Belgrade Writers Conference (1969), "I'm against revolution. . . I detest the sacrifices that always have to be made in its name." Speaking in Athens during the reign of the colonels (1972), he condemns their suppression of democracy, and rehearses his own painful case: At the end of WW II Grass was a 17-year-old Hitler youth, who had just missed being called up, "too young to participate in the crimes of National Socialism, but old enough to have been shaped by their consequences." Belatedly discovering the horrors of the Holocaust, in his native Danzig and elsewhere, he continues to wrestle with his guilt (as in "What Shall We Tell Our Children?"). In this, he attacks the cowardice, the murderous bureaucracy, and demented utopianism of the Nazis and all subsequent dictatorships, right and left, in the First, Second, and Third Worlds. In "Superpower Backyards" (1982) he angrily compares Nicaragua to Poland—though without simply equating the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. In "Kafka and His Executors" (1978) he applies Kafka's "vision of totalitarian administration" to the Czechoslovakian regime and Germany, East and West. In "Erfurt 1970 and 1891" (1970) he looks back over the history of socialist revisionism and hails the sanity and decency of the much decried (by Marxists) Eduard Bernstein. Grass seems to have no illusions. In "The Destruction of Mankind Has Begun" (1982) he accepts the grim findings of the Club of Rome reports, and says that he writes, not out of hope, but "because I can't help it." This collection of occasional pieces is a humble, workmanlike affair, of no great stylistic brilliance. But Grass's unblinking intelligence and moral power make it a more than respectable performance.

Pub Date: June 21, 1985

ISBN: 0156687933

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1985

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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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