This volume affectionately looks at famous texts, though some points remain muddled.




A collection of essays focuses on venerable literary works.

Chaudhuri (War of Thrones, 2017) asserts in the preface that her goal in this book is to present some personal opinions on a few celebrated volumes. These texts include two by Shakespeare (Othello and Hamlet), one by Keats (Ode to a Nightingale), and one by the Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore (The Lost Jewels). Each one is examined with the help of writings by established scholars, including A.C. Bradley and T.S. Eliot. The author adds her own analysis to topics that include the question of Hamlet’s sanity and the reflection of the human experience in Keats’ poetry (in contrast to his esteem for nature). The works are treated tenderly; Chaudhuri clearly holds them all in high regard. As the author writes of Keats, “His poetry has rarely been equaled in descriptions of the beauties perceptible to the senses.” Such earnest praise shows that these oft-discussed volumes can still inspire strong emotions in modern readers. Additionally, the inclusion of Tagore among the more famous authors (at least to the average American reader) makes for a noteworthy juxtaposition. But some of Chaudhuri’s views can be confusing. The author compares Othello’s death to Iago’s life, saying that the Moor’s suicide is certainly tragic “but of, to live as Iago lives, devouring the dust and stinging—this is more appalling.” The phrasing is awkward and, while Chaudhuri’s assertion is eventually clear, such sentences may require rereading. This makes much of the book slow going. The author writes of Hamlet that “with the appearance of the Ghost a second time, the structure of the action emphasizes that the ‘command’ that made the climax of the exposition has failed to be performed.” The passage is nearly as wordy as the scene it is describing. Nevertheless, even readers familiar with these volumes can glean new, thought-provoking details. For instance, as Chaudhuri points out, readers do not really know how old Hamlet is. That such considerations can still attract attention helps to prove the author’s contention that these works are worthy of discussion.

This volume affectionately looks at famous texts, though some points remain muddled.

Pub Date: March 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5437-0244-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PartridgeIndia

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?