TROLLOPE

A BIOGRAPHY

Finding the relationship between the life and the art is one of the major challenges to a biographer of Trollope. As editor of the collected works (62 volumes including 47 novels) and the letters, Hall (English/Bronx Community College) may be one of the few scholars to have read all of them. He concludes that the vulgar, outspoken, quarrelsome persona of the real Trollope was as much an invention as the narrative voices in the novels, a mask to protect the tenderhearted, lonely little boy who survived in the ursine body of the adult. Unlike that of Dickens, Trollope's wretched childhood never enters his novels. One of seven children, all but two of whom died in childhood, he was neglected by his penniless father and his flighty mother. Unpopular and inept as a day student at Harrow, Trollope left school to work for the post office at age 19, married, fathered two sons, and published his first novel at age 32. Between 1859 and 1867, when he retired from the p.o. as an executive, he traveled to Egypt, Australia, and the US, then settled near London to enjoy life as literary gentleman. He entertained, hunted, attended London clubs, and wrote for three hours a day, every day, starting at 5:30 A.M., 25 words every 15 minutes. His productivity, his disciplined and methodical approach, and his self-deprecating belief that writing is a craft comparable to shoemaking led others to question his status as an artist. Even his familiar topic seemed uninspired: the romance of everyday life among the middle and upper classes, focusing on the nuances of feeling and conscience that the stormy, impulsive Trollope seemed incapable of. But in the fictions of the Barchester series and the Pallisers, Trollope vindicated himself, providing models of loyalty and friendship, manners and values for the very classes that had rejected him as a child. Clear, direct, cautious, respectful: a useful companion to the more interesting novels and letters—but between the masks and the fictions, the real Trollope is yet to be discovered. (Twenty-seven illustrations—not seen.)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-19-812627-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1991

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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