A massively erudite, groundbreaking revision of the novel's historical development. Traditionally, Anglo-American criticism located the rise of the novel in 18th-century England and the troika of Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding. The realism that characterized their books—Robinson Crusoe, Pamela, etc.—was declared to be the hallmark of a new and wonderful genre: the novel. The thousands of prose fictions that had come before were dismissed as mere romances or that bland entity, ``extended prose works.'' Doody's (Comparative Literature/Vanderbilt Univ.; Frances Burney, 1988, etc.) goal is nothing less than to restore these slighted works, particularly those from the classical world, to the novel's fold, to their proper and primary place in the Western canon. Starting in 100 b.c. with the oldest surviving novel, the Greek Chaireas and Kallirroe by Chariton, Doody convincingly demonstrates the underlying realism of these neglected novels as, point by point, from questions of character and voice to literary self- consciousness, she demolishes the previous quibbling barriers. She also demonstrates how the classical novels, particularly Apuleius's The Golden Ass, continued to influence more modern novels (her ability to cross-reference is truly breathtaking). Taking a few too many pages from Jung, Doody then goes on to elaborate the deep mythic structures—from dreams to death to goddess worship—that all novels share; apart from further proving her continuity thesis, most of this feels overlong and out of place. We will probably never know what really was the first novel, but Doody, building on the work of others, argues cogently for the form's religious beginnings—a ritual diary of an initiate's path to spiritual gnosis. In her view, the modern novel is not that different: ``We make a not unimportant spiritual and political as well as personal move when we open a novel and become initiates, entering upon the marshy margins of becoming.'' Despite some minor imperfections, a major, even seminal work. (8 color, 39 b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: March 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8135-2168-8

Page Count: 675

Publisher: Rutgers Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1996



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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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