A work that has escaped publication since Thoreau wrote it, Wild Fruits will only strengthen the author’s renown for his unique voice. A keeper of the Thoreau flame and Thoreau scholar, Bradley Dean (editor of a similar Thoreau work, Faith in a Seed, 1993, prematurely described in these pages as “no doubt [the] final Thoreau book of the century”), has now transcribed and brought to life still another of the Concord naturalist and philosopher’s manuscripts that was never published in his lifetime. It is, as Dean wisely characterizes it, both a sacramental and scriptural work. The product of years of naturalistic observation, these lovely essays’some extended, some as short as a sentence—about flowers, bushes, and trees were originally culled by their author for lectures he delivered. They reveal his characteristic Transcendentalist views, his never-ending search “to find God in nature.” A mix of empirical science, philosophical speculation, and occasionally tart wit, they are wonderfully pleasing for the knowledge they evince and for their calm, melodious cadences. Fortunately, too, Thoreau the keen and distinctive thinker is ever-present. Indignant, for example, at his contemporaries’ failure to appreciate the huckleberry, he likens their obtuseness to the loss of “natural rights,” thus giving fresh meaning to an ancient term. While never intruding on—in fact, scarcely explaining—Thoreau’s prose, Dean artfully provides notes glossing terms, names, and references that might be obscure to a modern reader. He thus makes this 150-year-old work fully accessible to everyone. A work of often incandescent prose likely to find many readers among historians, naturalists, literary scholars, and, most of all, those who have long loved and learned from the author of Walden and other beloved texts. (Line drawings throughout; 3 facsimile manuscript pages.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-393-04751-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1999



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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