TESTAMENTS BETRAYED

AN ESSAY IN NINE PARTS

Like a literary knight errant, Czech novelist Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being, 1984; Immortality, 1991; etc.) rescues the novel, admired novelists, and composers from the distortions and betrayals of critics, translators, and friends while simultaneously offering provocative insights into the musical and literary arts. The essay, like the musical compositions Kundera discusses, is divided into complementary parts, in this case, nine. And within these divisions, writers and composers appear and reappear like characters in a novel who strut their stuff and endure the perfidy of friend and foe before taking their allotted place in Kundera's pantheon of seminal artistsa pantheon that, given Kundera's background, is Eurocentric, though Hemingway, Salman Rushdie, and Garc°a M†rquez are included. But the writers that primarily preoccupy him are Rabelais, who wrote one of the first novels because ``he created a realm where moral judgment is suspended'' and introduced what Octavio Paz called ``the greatest invention of the modern spirit,'' humor; and Kafka, who, while showing ``that it's possible to write another way . . . to both apprehend it [the real world] and at the same time engage in an enchanting game of fantasy,'' has been ill-served by translators and biographers. Kundera also vigorously defends Stravinsky, whose detractors accusr him of ``poverty of heart'' but didn't themselves ``have heart enough to understand the wounded feelings that lay behind his vagabondage through the history of music''; and composer Leos Jan†cek, though disdained for his innovative ``expressive clarity,'' is perhaps, Kundera contends, Czechoslovakia's greatest artist. A wide and engagingly erudite plea for keeping the faith and honoring the wishes of the illustrious dead, rather than insisting on our own self-serving agendas. Vintage Kundera. (First serial to New York Review of Books; $35,000 ad/promo)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 1995

ISBN: 0-06-017145-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1995

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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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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