An expert blend of musical and social history, illuminating one of the cultural cores of America's ``Gilded Age.'' In the 1880s, as accurately depicted in Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence, the upper echelons of New York society flocked to Faust (a scene carefully retained in Martin Scorsese's recent film version). But by the 1890s, Wagner fever had overtaken America's most ardent opera patrons, and not in New York alone. This is the world that Horowitz (The Ivory Trade, 1990, etc.) reveals in his fascinating, gracefully written study of American Wagnerism. Currently executive director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, formerly a New York Times music critic, and a long-time student of the interplay between musical art and national culture, Horowitz orders his narrative around the parallel careers of the conductor Anton Seidl and the New York Tribune critic Henry Krehbiel. He evokes an era when issues of aesthetics and musical philosophy were the common currency of middle-class discussion. From the viewpoint of today's world, in which the column inches devoted to serious arts criticism in the daily papers have shrunk to virtually nothing, fin-de-siäcle America was, musically and intellectually, an enviably lively place. Wagner's works dominated the stage, and his music and ``ideas'' were the subject of passionate debate. To this extent, Horowitz proves his thesis that the ``Gay '90s'' were not the crass, lowbrow scene its detractors have claimed. One fascinating recurrent theme in this study is the positive impact of Wagnerism on emerging feminism at the turn of the century. It appears that a majority of American Wagnerites were women, and the idea of Brunnhilde (as well as the regal dramatic sopranos who portrayed her) fit neatly with the notion of the ``New Woman'' then sweeping the nation. A work of engrossing scholarship about an important, unjustly ignored slice of our artistic past.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-520-08394-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

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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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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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