A welcome new edition of a classic.

MY LIFE

THE RESTORED EDITION

The legendary autobiography, with all the naughty bits restored.

Actually, even the expurgated version of modern-dance pioneer Duncan’s account of her life, loves and art was frank enough to make it a scandalous success in 1927, the year she died at age 50. The passages deleted generally featured the names of people still alive or practices then considered beyond the pale, such as homosexuality or masturbation. (The sentences left in about unabashedly lesbian dancer Loie Fuller are often as obviously indicative of her sex life as the ones that were omitted.) The inclusion of this material doesn’t substantively change the nature of Duncan’s book, which remains one of the great documents of early-20th-century bohemianism and radicalism. She despised marriage, money and the bourgeoisie; she lived for Art (always with a capital A). Duncan’s unashamed self-love would have been absurd if she hadn’t expressed the same enthusiasm for other artists: Fuller, Eleanora Duse and Cosima Wagner are among the strong-minded women for whom she voices vivid appreciation; actors Henry Irving and Jean Mounet-Sully are among the men. The author’s portrait of visionary theatrical designer Gordon Craig, father of her first child, rings with fervent admiration for his genius as it unforgettably captures the domineering personality Duncan had to flee. Dance critic Joan Acocella’s surprisingly grudging introduction focuses on Duncan’s admitted solipsism and “willed naïveté,” somewhat at the expense of her groundbreaking impact as a dancer and a free woman. Yes, it was ridiculous of Duncan to think she had the right to teach modern Greeks how to dance and sing in the manner of their ancestors, and, yes, her endless recitations of the accolades showered on her get wearisome. But Isadora’s sublime faith in herself as a genius was the force that drove her life, and it gives her memoir its marvelous flavor.

A welcome new edition of a classic.

Pub Date: May 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-87140-318-6

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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