A concise, readable introduction to a literary archetype.


The Impiety of Ahasuerus: Percy Shelley's Wandering Jew

An exploration of the figure of the Wandering Jew in Percy Bysshe Shelley’s first and last mature poetic works.

Tinker, in her debut, traces the Wandering Jew character from his origins to his role in Shelley’s Romantic poetry. The character comes up throughout medieval Christian folklore as a man who taunted Jesus and was then made to wander the world until Christ’s return. The book’s first section focuses in part on the character’s specific incarnation as a man named Ahasuerus, who first emerged in a 1602 German work called Kurtze Beschreibung. Tinker carefully traces the lines of Ahasuerus’ influence, from a religious parable to the work of later writers, such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Christian Schubart. From these influences, Tinker proceeds directly to Shelley’s use of Ahasuerus, first in the 1813 poem “Queen Mab” and later in his 1822 verse drama Hellas. This structure allows her to follow Ahasuerus’ evolution very closely—from his portrayal as a Lutheran convert to his depiction as a heretic and healer. In her conclusion, she writes that “Ahasuerus is not a real man. He is a fiction, and not one, but many, recreated by many authors....Ahasuerus is merely a name, a form in whose shelter writers have reared virtual men who find salvation through knowledge and experience.” Tinker’s analysis will appeal strongly to readers interested in the intersections among religion, folklore and literature, and between European Christianity and Judaism from the medieval to the Romantic age. The author makes no revelatory assertions but writes clearly and competently and delivers a valuable introduction to her subject. She also provides an extensive bibliography for readers who wish to undertake further research.

A concise, readable introduction to a literary archetype.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2009

ISBN: 978-1439269534

Page Count: 174

Publisher: BookSurge Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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