THE ANTI-EGOTIST

KINGSLEY AMIS, MAN OF LETTERS

Fussell (Bad, 1991, etc.) certainly has come a long way from his early work as a conventional literary scholar. This breezy account of Kingsley Amis's career smartly adopts its subject's "no-nonsense, can-the-bullshit tone." More important, Fussell understands the guiding principles that link all of Amis's work as critic, poet, anthologist, restaurant reviewer, and, of course, novelist. Primarily about Amis's nonfiction writing, Fussell's jaunty and anecdotal study establishes Amis as a consummate man of letters, skilled in a variety of genres. Fussell sees beyond the popular notion of Amis as a mean-spirited reactionary, though he's still troubled by Amis's illiberal opinions. A "cultural democrat," Amis values honesty, civility, and lack of pretense. He distrusts egotists and is suspicious of most literary modernism, a predilection he shares with his college chum and compatriot Philip Larkin. Trained as a teacher of literature, Amis grew disillusioned with academic approaches to texts, preferring to take his case directly to common readers through the popular press. In the '80s, he even edited a poetry column for the tabloid Daily Mirror. If Amis seems ungenerous to American literature, says Fussell, it's only for its lack of modesty (in pursuit of "the masterpiece") and its cult of authenticity. Amis's antimodern aesthetic emerges fully in his literary criticism — celebrations of plain-speaking poets such as Tennyson, Kipling, and Housman — and in his work as an anthologist. As a poet, Amis, like Larkin, shook off the early Auden influence for a more demotic idiom and a more accessible style. Fussell, who counts Amis an acquaintance of some 40 years, indulges his own anglophilia at times, affecting British slang and extolling what he sees as their superior wit. Despite the oddities in diction and tone, Fussell is the perfect match for his subject — witty, thoughtful, brief, and, not least of it, accurate.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-19-508736-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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