WHO KILLED HOMER?

THE DEMISE OF CLASSICAL EDUCATION AND THE RECOVERY OF GREEK WISDOM

Juvenalian ridicule, Ciceronian argument, and Cato-like censure animate a lively defense of the deadest of dead languages and dead white European males. Cynicism, skepticism, and invective are all Greek and Latin concepts, as Hanson (Greek/Calif. State Univ., Fresno) and Heath (Classics/Santa Clara Univ.) remind their readers while ruthlessly employing the same in this debate over the decline and fall of Classics. Killing off Homer and the teaching thereof, as they argue in their impassioned philippic, was ``an inside job by elite philologists and theorists of the present age.'' Their book, as they readily admit, is a later addition to the genre of the academic exposÇ made popular in the '80s by Allan Bloom, Camille Paglia, Dinesh D'Souza, et al., in which higher education is revealed to be suffering variously from philistine utilitarianism, feel-good social science, radical chic, sophistic theory, multicultural Balkanization, and self-promoting careerism. While the ensuing Culture Wars have raged over the humanities in general, Classics has also suffered from falling undergraduate enrollment, chronic underemployment for new Ph.D.s, and other scourges. Hanson and Heath are not so much right-wing revisionists as passionate Hellenists whose belief in Greece and Rome's central role in Western civilization is fervent and articulate. Writing against the multicultural grain, they stress the unique aspects of Greek and Roman society, e.g., the idea of open dissent in the polis and the concept of civilian militias and citizen-soldiers, and maintain the continued importance of The Iliad and The Odyssey. Their rigorous pedagogic program for returning Classics to a pride of place in the humanities, however, involves too many Draconian measures—scrapping the doctoral dissertation, ending post-doc fellowships, junking peer conference junkets—to be practical. An elegy that slaughters a hecatomb of sacred cows along the way.

Pub Date: April 7, 1998

ISBN: 0-684-84453-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1998

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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