Stavans brings infectious enthusiasm and penetrating scholarship to this lively investigation of a grand novel and its...



The 400-year history of the deeply influential Spanish novel.

Confessing his enduring love of Hispanic civilization, Stavans (Latin American and Latino Culture/Amherst Coll.; A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of the United States, 2011, etc.) claims that Cervantes’ masterwork is the “essence, the blueprint” of that culture’s DNA. The book’s irresistible theme “is that one must live life in a genuine way, passionately, in spite of what other people think.” Ranging across cultures and time, Stavans argues persuasively that Don Quixote has captivated the imaginations of writers (Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Borges, to name a few), artists (Picasso, Dalí, and Gustave Doré), filmmakers (Eric Rohmer, Peter Yates, and others), and even video game designers. Seven ballets are based on the novel, “all of them forgettable” in the author’s estimation. Except for the Bible, he notes, the novel is the most translated book into English—and he has read all of the translations, from Thomas Shelton’s (1612) to James H. Montgomery’s (2009). Stavans considers John Ormsby’s 1885 text the best. In Spain, the novel was rediscovered by the Generation of 1898, writers seeking “clues about Spain’s future” after the country’s devastating loss of its colonies. Quixotism, Stavans writes, “portrayed the idealism of the knight-errant as proof that Spain was delusional about its past, yet it implied that only idealism might help the country out of its depression.” Investigating the novel’s influence in the U.S., Stavans discovered that George Washington bought a copy on the day the Constitution was adopted; that Melville called Don Quixote “the greatest sage that ever lived”; and that Faulkner reread the novel every year. Quixote is the only literary character, Stavans notes, whose name has become an adjective, reflecting his “universal status.” The novel “is a mirror,” interpreted differently by different beholders.

Stavans brings infectious enthusiasm and penetrating scholarship to this lively investigation of a grand novel and its readers.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-393-08302-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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



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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