SHYLOCK

A LEGEND AND ITS LEGACY

Shylock—stereotype, archetype, icon—is, according to London Sunday Telegram theater-critic Gross (The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters), the only character in a Shakespeare play to have an autonomous life. By tracing Shylock's origins and forms in literature, theater, and political and social history, Gross emphasizes his chameleonlike nature and what it reveals about the cultures in which he appears. An object of fun, contempt, pity, and rage, Shylock first appeared as the ``Satanic Jew''—the evil figure to be overcome—in The Merchant of Venice, written between 1596-98. An archetypal usurer with origins in folklore, politics, and popular culture, he embodied, says Gross, the era's ambiguities toward Jews, money, misers, and, on another level, toward emerging Economic Man, embodied in Shylock as a tough-minded businessman caught up in the court system and unable to protect his family or what he perceives as his rights. In the 18th century, Shylock was played as a clown, or as wolfish and cunning, until Edmund Kean's consummate interpretation in his London debut in 1814, a performance admired and immortalized by Hazlitt for the sympathy it evoked. A Victorian interpretation by Henry Irving displayed a Shylock possessed, the victim of persecution. Since then, Gross contends, literary critics from A.C. Bradley to Mark Van Doren, novelists from Sir Walter Scott to James Joyce, social theorists including Ruskin and Marx, psychologists from Freud to Reich, and all the great actors- -Gielgud, O'Toole, Olivier—have contributed to the evolution of a subtle, conflicted, mysterious Shylock who has acquired the archetypal dimensions of a Don Quixote or Robinson Crusoe. A lucid, perceptive, and learned guide that makes the familiar interesting and the esoteric familiar. A new incarnation for Shylock.

Pub Date: April 7, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-70707-8

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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NUTCRACKER

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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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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