In-depth critical analysis handled with a light touch and unfailing respect for the reader’s intelligence: cultural...

THE SHAKESPEARE WARS

CLASHING SCHOLARS, PUBLIC FIASCOES, PALACE COUPS

Bestselling author Rosenbaum (Explaining Hitler, 1998, etc.) examines the current state of Shakespearean studies and productions.

His attention-grabbing title refers primarily (and not entirely convincingly) to the opening chapters, which also contain the most daunting material: accounts of vehement academic disagreements about whether the different versions of Hamlet and Lear (including the heroes’ last words) represent Shakespeare’s revisions or printers’ variations; a blistering rejection of Vassar professor Don Foster’s claim to have discovered a funeral elegy by the Bard; lengthy discussions of such arcane matters as the respective merits of the Bad and Good Quartos as well as the First Folio. Despite Rosenbaum’s breezy, conversational prose and lively portraits of Harold Jenkins, Eric Sams, Gary Taylor, Frank Kermode and other key scholars, general readers may find themselves somewhat at sea here. Things pick up when the author shifts to Shakespearean directors like Peter Hall, whose passionate argument that a pause is necessary at the end of each line of iambic pentameter shows how textual discussions affect live performances, and Peter Brook, whose legendary 1970 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream forever changed the way Shakespeare was acted and read. Rosenbaum skillfully draws together a wealth of information to highlight a few key points, in particular the “bottomlessness” of Shakespeare, who in the view of scholars like Stephen Booth was able to make language embrace manifold contradictions and convey a multiplicity of meanings so that, as Brook put it, when we split open each line, “the energy that can be released is infinite.” Rosenbaum warmly evokes the sheer pleasure of reading Shakespeare, the dizzying play of feelings and ideas that “keep the mind in a constant motion.” Though he politely but bluntly skewers the windy bombast of such self-proclaimed “bardolators” as Harold Bloom, the author is as much in awe of Shakespeare’s life-embracing genius as anyone—indeed, because he examines it in such careful detail, he makes a far more persuasive (and very moving) case for the uniqueness of the Bard’s contribution to world literature and theater.

In-depth critical analysis handled with a light touch and unfailing respect for the reader’s intelligence: cultural journalism of the highest order.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-50339-0

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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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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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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

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