RUTH BENEDICT

This is a volume in the Leaders of Modern Anthropology series, and as such it is an introduction to Ruth Benedict as a thinker and a human being, not a full-scale biography. That came much closer to being provided (self-effacingly) by Dr. Mead in her 1959 selection from Benedict's journals, letters and professional writings, An Anthropologist at Work, freely drawn on here. But the current book is a fine presentation. Mead's portrait of her teacher, friend and colleague is restrainedly personal (it's the restraint of respect) and full of objective but warm professional appreciation. In describing Benedict's youth, Mead, her literary executor, lets Benedict largely speak for herself out of private diaries, providing only a delicate commentary on the sources of this woman's childhood sense of alienation, her compensatory inner life, her interest in poetry, her search for self. Mead does not get embroiled in the feminist issues that surround Benedict's early, and later soundly disillusioned, belief in Love as woman's supreme goal, but she does make it clear that this was a spirit that needed the expansion of passionate occupation, and finally found it in anthropology. She describes the evolution not only of Benedict's thought about "patterns of culture," but also her instinctive preference for work with data (as in The Chrysanthemum and the Sword) over direct fieldwork, her sense of social responsibility, and the obstacles her career encountered as a woman in the toils of academic bureaucracy. Mead's portrait is followed by a selection from the essential Benedict (on cultural configurations, Zuni mythology, primitive freedom, Japanese self-discipline) which reveal her as lucid, seminal, humane, and very much the writer she always wanted to be.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1974

ISBN: 0231035209

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1974

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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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

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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