A highly wrought biography depicting a literary woman's self-authorship. Veteran literary biographer Gordon (Eliot's New Life, 1988, etc.) shows Charlotte Brontâ (181655) transmuting her deadening life into the flame and flesh of great fiction. The early death of her mother, Maria, in 1821, followed by the loss in 1825 of her two older sisters, 11-year-old Maria and 10-year-old Elizabeth, left young Charlotte to care for the remainder of her family and to ``shape herself,'' as she later did her fiction. Although self- described as the `` `puniest' of Papa's children,'' Charlotte outlived her n'er-do-well brother, Branwell (181748), and sisters Emily (181848), author of Wuthering Heights (1847), and Anne (182049), author of Agnes Grey (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848). The remote locale and inhospitable climate of the English moors were put to creative use by Charlotte, firing her fortitude and determination to write despite the obstacles that a woman of talent and ambition faced in Victorian England. In Gordon's account, Charlotte endured the numbing toil of two positions as governess, first in 1838 and again in 1841, and transformed these draining and disappointing attempts at economic independence into vital aspects of Jane Eyre (1847), her most famous novel, and Shirley (1849). As a teacher in Brussells from 1842 to 1844, Charlotte's unrequited love for the married headmaster of the Pensionnat Heger school resulted in the first of several depressive episodes and also sparked her first novel, The Professor (written in 1846, published in 1857), and illuminated aspects of her last, Villette (1853). Gordon gives us a Brontâ who forged self and work alike by dint of an inner fire, previously unseen within mythologies of the Brontâ family. The book certainly earns its subtitle: Gordon writes with such high drama that her language and imagery threaten to overwhelm her themes.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 1995

ISBN: 0-393-03722-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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