A masterfully perceptive reading of this seductive play’s “endless wonders.”

CLEOPATRA

I AM FIRE AND AIR

A wise inquiry into an “erotic and yet transcendent” play.

The uber-prolific Bloom (Humanities/Yale Univ.; Falstaff: Give Me a Life, 2017, etc.) now has his own book series: Shakespeare’s Personalities. The first book explored Prince Hal’s loyal friend, Falstaff, one of the Bard’s most complex characters. Bloom continues to instruct and entertain with this in-depth look at the “most seductive woman in all of Shakespeare,” the Egyptian queen who describes herself as “fire and air.” Bloom fell in love with actress Janet Suzman’s portrayal of Cleopatra in 1974, and her image “lingers” with him still. In 1607, just one year after Macbeth premiered, Antony and Cleopatra was first performed. “Without the fierce sexuality that Cleopatra both embodies and stimulates in others,” writes Bloom, “there would be no play.” As usual, the author expects a lot of his readers as he meticulously provides a close reading, quoting extensively as he examines the text. For him, the play is “a brilliant kaleidoscope, a montage of shifting fortunes, places, personalities, excursions into the empyrean.” Shakespeare’s Cleopatra “beguiles and she devastates,” and “no one else in Shakespeare is so metamorphic.” She is “radiant” at age 39 and instantly puts “Antony’s heart in her purse.” Bloom loves to ponder over certain words—e.g., Cleopatra’s use of the “rich” word “oblivion” or the subtle “sexual implication” of “Do.” The “law” of her personality—“ebb, flow, ebb, return”—is about renewal and vitality, while Antony’s is “ebb, flow, ebb, and do not return.” Bloom often references other Shakespearean characters as he delves into what makes Cleopatra, Antony, Octavius Caesar, and other characters tick. His discussion of Shakespeare’s “unique mastery at portraying the art of dying” is especially fascinating.

A masterfully perceptive reading of this seductive play’s “endless wonders.”

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6416-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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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