By revealing women's use of history in the making of it, Baym rebuts conventional wisdom about women's absence from national life in antebellum America. Baym (English/Univ. of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; Feminism and American Literary History, not reviewed) demonstrates that women were active outside the home and in an important kind of antebellum politics. Through extensive archival research of over 350 works (among them pieces of historical fiction, lyric and dramatic poetry, family memoirs, travel narratives, and advice books) written by 150 women of varying degrees of renown, she shows how women (of the upper and middle classes) used the proliferating print media to become ``influential in forming public opinion.'' Indeed, Baym predicts that today's predominant conception of 19th- century American women as non-participants in the ideological tasks of nation-building will, in time, prove wholly inaccurate: ``We may discover in time that representations of female selves as privatized and domesticated beings are actually minority strands in nineteenth-century American women's literature.'' Baym asserts that, from the early days of the republic, women were urged to read history, which was installed at the center of the earliest female curricula. As a result, antebellum women, just like men, deployed ``history'' for argumentative purposes, using it to advance a range of ideas about how things in America ought to be. They reformulated concepts of motherhood and womanhood to include an educational role that accommodated various forms of historical writing by women. Baym's fluid conception of what is historical enables her to explore the development of women's and America's cultural identity with great nuance. Her analysis of material both known and new takes account of the complexity of a national identity forged by both authorities and ordinary people. An elegant account that reveals new dimensions in women's relationship to American history and historiography.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 1995

ISBN: 0-8135-2142-4

Page Count: 325

Publisher: Rutgers Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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