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A pleasing divertissement for Austen fans everywhere.

A light and frothy tour of Austenworld and its Janeites.

“I didn’t last in Austenworld,” writes Pacific Standard senior editor Scheinman, “but for a time it was ludicrous, intoxicating, and sometimes heartbreaking.” If his mother hadn’t been a noted Austen scholar, he “might never have found [his] way in.” When young, he started with Austen’s juvenile notebooks, Austen’s own “record of fandom,” filled with “perverse celebrations of her literary enthusiasms.” In his witty, sly, and often humorous first book, Scheinman discusses his time as a graduate student when one of his graduate professors decided to hold the first-ever Jane Austen Summer Camp. “American enthusiasm for Austen is (as I would soon learn) passionate to the point of obsession,” he writes. At first, it “sounded dreamlike, a little unreal.” He notes that in the late 19th century, scholar and critic George Saintsbury coined the term “Janeite” for those devoted to her work, and the great novelist E.M. Forster was “one of the more conspicuous Janeites of his age.” To Scheinman, the gathering reminded him of a “religious diaspora, a far-flung church, whose functionaries convene in heterodox worship.” Let the tour begin. First, the costumes: “Dressing as Mr. Darcy at an Austen symposium is like playing Mickey Mouse at Disney World.” Then the panels, where “representatives of the academy” would mingle with “their civilian counterparts.” Followed by a little table talk at meal times: “they offer the most gossipy and delicious interactions.” Next, the theatricals, plays about Austen and her characters written and performed (in costume) by participants as well as screenings of films about Austen’s books. Last but not least, there’s the Ball. After all, Henry, Austen’s favorite brother, wrote that Jane “enjoyed dancing, and excelled at it.” Scheinman picks and pokes a little here and there, but he admits it’s “some of the best and cleanest fun available to an academic.”

A pleasing divertissement for Austen fans everywhere.

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-86547-821-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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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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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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