NEW AND SELECTED ESSAYS

Elegantly written—and elegantly imagined—critical essays on literature and the love it breeds; by the octogtenarian American poet laureate. Ranging over half of his literary life, from the 1940's to the present, these selected essays show off Warren as the versatile man of belles-lettres that he is. Sandwiched between opening and closing meditative essays on poetry are easy-moving studies of literary heavyweights and answers to timeless questions about books. In "Why Do We Read Fiction?," Warren answers, "because we like it," looking to novels not for "meaning" but escape. He does find meaning elsewhere, in Hemingway, for example, where the "shadow of ruin" behind his stories is given yet another new turn. In "Hawthorne Revisited," Warren wriggles out "the irremediable askewness of life" from The Scarlet Letter. A bio-graphically minded essay on Twain matches up the contradictions of the life and the writing and refreshes understanding of the pure "expression" of his language. Elsewhere, Warren takes up the overlooked. "Melville the Poet" rescues his verse from obscurity and opprobrium, and a long, reflective essay on Whittier incites some strong, old feelings on abolitionism. Other tributes go out to John Crowe Ransom and Robert Frost; Warren has almost nothing bad to say about anyone. The book ends with his well-known 1946 essay on Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Like everything else here, it still stands up and merits rereading. No slips of taste or shoddy judgments, yet no surprises, either. Just great, old-fashioned musing by a brilliant man.

Pub Date: March 29, 1989

ISBN: 394-57516-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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NUTCRACKER

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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