A charming exchange between two extraordinary writers, from 1866 to 1876, with an illuminating introduction and continuity provided by Steegmuller (A Woman, A Man, and Two Kingdoms, 1991, etc.). Her translation (assisted by Barbara Bray) captures all of the qualities that led Alphonse Jacobs (who edited the French edition, on which this one is based) to conclude that this may be the finest correspondence of all time. When Flaubert began writing to Sand, she was 62 years old and 17 years his senior; a successful author and playwright; a grandmother with a scandalous past that included affairs with Chopin and Musset; a woman possessed of an independent spirit and an insouciant attitude. Flaubert was past the scandals of Madame Bovary, living in seclusion in Croisset with his aging mother and niece, periodically going to Paris to debauch with his literary friends. Along with their respective preferences and pleasures, families, travels, religion, and politics, the writers discuss their aesthetic principles: Sand scolds Flaubert for ``annihilating'' himself in his literature; for his misanthropic attitudes; for his obsession with form; and for his elitism, writing for ``only twenty intelligent people.'' The younger author defends himself, tactfully praises the many works Sands sends him (although, in truth, he dislikes her writing), and objects to her populism, her optimism, her subjectivity. The letters are flirtatious, even passionate, full of embraces and vows of love, but mostly Sand remains ``chäre maåtre adorable''—more a teacher than a lover, criticizing and affirming—while Flaubert is her ``troubadour'' whose self-deprecation brings out her most nurturing self. Caring, private, revealing: a treasure of friendship and a rare exchange enriched by the careful participation of Steegmuller- -more a tactful mediator than an editor—who has turned the correspondence into a work of art.

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 1993

ISBN: 0-679-41898-9

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1992



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




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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