THE ARCANUM

THE EXTRAORDINARY TRUE STORY

The often exciting—and always absorbing’story of the European development of the formula for making fine porcelain and the growth of the Meissen works that led the way. The “arcanum” usually refers to the age-old quest for a recipe for turning base metals into gold. Gleeson uses it appropriately here not only because porcelain became known as “white gold” in 18th-century Europe, but also because Johann Frederick Bîttger, the alchemist who first created European porcelain, had originally set out to make gold. Having rashly claimed—and “demonstrated”—that he could do so, Bîttger was imprisoned in 1701 by the greedy Augustus II, king of Poland and elector of Saxony. Augustus, whose appetite for women and riches was legendary, held Bîttger for decades; while his gold-making experiments failed repeatedly, he was given the task of discovering the ancient Chinese secret of making porcelain. Bîttger eventually did make fine white porcelain from gray clay, prompting his “ironic testimony” above his laboratory door: “God . . . has made a potter from a gold-maker.” Never granted his freedom, Bîttger was made head of the king’s porcelain factory at Meissen. Gleeson traces the history and development of porcelain artistry from there by following the careers of the mean-spirited Johann Gregor Herold, an artist whose inventive colors and patterns set the standard, and the sculptor Johann Joachim Kaendler, whose fine work in 1730s Dresden would bring about a bitter rivalry with Herold. The sublime results of their competitive work can still be viewed in the museums of Dresden and Meissen. Gleeson does a marvelous job of relating court intrigue, decadence, and chicanery; but her descriptions of 2,200-piece dinner services and the lavish banquets on tables decorated by porcelain finery, including an eight-foot-high model of the Piazza Navona with running rosewater, steal the show. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 1999

ISBN: 0-446-52499-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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