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Some time ago in The New York Review, Robert Mazzocco wrote that "if it is true Graves won't suffer fools gladly, it is even truer he suffers his betters not at all. His betters represent modernism, a bete noire." Naturally, Graves comes down hardest on his competitors, and in that notoriously cranky lecture, "These Be Your Gods, O Israel!" delivered at Oxford during the mid-Fifties, Yeats, Pound, Eliot, Auden, and Dylan Thomas are "unmasked." They represent, for Graves, fashionable poseurs who have never bothered "about the sense" of anything they wrote. Here he is scuttling Thomas: "I do not mean that he aimed deliberately off-target, as the later Yeats did. Thomas seems to have decided that there was no need to aim at all, so long as the explosion sounded loud enough." Graves' wit has always been chilly, but the elegance and forked gaiety which accompanies it in the poetry and which is so suitable to the patrician romanticist he is, has an off-putting effect in his essays. Discussing literary topics or techniques (the genesis of the word "baraka," for instance, or the "misdirections" of Keats, the "incoherences" of Blake: "Angels were thick on Blake's staircase: some divinely eloquent, some mouthing nonsense"), Graves usually gives the impression of speaking ex cathedra. Often you can cut the pedantry with a knife, and the opinions offered, when not consciously startling, rest on rationalist touchstones (the force inspiring poets is "love, controlled by reason") which are natty platitudes. Still, this is largely a fault of style or tone: beneath the magisterial bitchiness lies a very real attachment to art and craft.

Pub Date: July 25, 1969

ISBN: 0385018703

Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1969

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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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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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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